Can the Chargers KO Kansas City?

The Kansas City Chiefs are mired in a four-game losing streak. They just allowed the Oakland Raiders to march into Arrowhead Stadium and snap a 17-game divisional losing streak. And their starting quarterback, Brodie Croyle, has never won an NFL game. So, are they finally ready to concede the AFC West?

In the wacky and wobbly West, the 4-7 Kansas City Chiefs are only two games out of first place. Their next two games, home versus the Chargers and away against the Denver Broncos, pit them against the two teams that stand between them and the division crown. While critics saw last week's 20-17 loss to the Raiders as crippling, the Chiefs players saw it as a wakeup call.

"It's just one game," said rookie receiver Dwayne Bowe. "We have to take it one game at a time. We lost (that) one, but we have to go out and try and win the next one and go from there."

The Chargers are determined to extend Kansas City's losing streak. Firstly, San Diego players vividly remember a 30-16 loss in week four that sent the Chargers to the locker room under a chorus of boos and "Marty!" chants. Secondly, the Chargers are in dire need of just their second winning streak of the season. Thirdly, it is imperative that the Chargers prove to themselves that they can win on the road.

"We've got them again at their place," Shawne Merriman said. "We haven't been as successful as we want to be on the road, but (Kansas City) is where we have to start. We have to start this week because we have more road games ahead."

The Chargers are just 1-9 at Arrowhead Stadium in their last 10 visits. Worse still is that the catalyst for last week's win, Philip Rivers, has struggled against the Chiefs. In three career games, he has completed 50 percent of his passes (54-of-108) for 574 yards with two touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 52.8.

Looking to pick up the offensive slack is Antonio Gates, who is coming off a 105-yard, two-touchdown performance. Gates has eight touchdown catches in seven career games against the Chiefs. He enjoyed the best day of his career in 2005 against the Chiefs, racking up 145 yards receiving and three touchdowns; both were career highs.

Norv Turner's plan of attack is to lean on Gates and attack through the air early on. If the Chargers can build a lead, it will allow Turner to work LaDainian Tomlinson and the running game while forcing the Chiefs to abandon theirs. That, in turn, allows Merriman and Phillips to get after Croyle in his third career start.

"They're a team that starts out very, very fast," said Herm Edwards of the Chargers. "They get off to a fast start. That's kind of been their history and they put you in pass situations where they can rush the quarterback and create some confusion. We've got to get off to a fast start."

If the Chargers succeed in getting off to a fast start, they can decimate the Chiefs' playoff chances just as quickly.

Lightning Quicks

--Perhaps the Arrowhead experience is more hype than horror. The Chiefs are just 2-4 in home games this season.

"We play at home this week and our home week is not very good, not very good at all," Herm Edwards said. "You'd like to have a home field advantage, but we haven't created that. We have another chance before the season gets away from us."

--As soon as L.T. zoomed past the 10,000-yard barrier, he opened the door for local media to question what's in store for the rest of his career. For example, could the reigning MVP play another six or seven years?

"No, I won't play that long," Tomlinson said.

So, how long will he play?

"I'm not ready to say."

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network. He has followed the Chargers for more than 14 years and covered the team since 2003.

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