Rocky Road

The road has not been kind to the Chargers. And if they want to stay in the AFC West catbird seat, they need to spread their wings away from Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers play at Kansas City on Sunday.

While they are in first place, the Chargers limp into rowdy Arrowhead Stadium with a dismal 1-4 road record. They've lost their past two road games at Jacksonville and Minnesota.

What's crazy is that lone road win came at Denver, which is usually a house of horrors for the Chargers. But they demolished the Broncos 41-3, and they expected that would change their road fortunes.

Instead, it was just a tease.

"It could be the home crowd or the comfort of playing at home," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said of the road woes. "I don't know what it is, but we have played better at home and we need to find a way to play better on the road."

But many a Chargers team has crumbled in the Show Me State. And the Chiefs have shown they aren't intimidated by the Chargers after giving the team its lone home loss earlier this year. Overall, the Chargers are 5-1 at Qualcomm Stadium.

"What better place to test ourselves than by going to Kansas City, which is always a tough place to play," Tomlinson said. "And I'm sure it will be no different Sunday."

The Chargers' disappointing season will be made or broken on the road. After spending Sunday in Kansas City, the Chargers have road dates at Tennessee and Oakland. The Raiders game will close the regular season.

If nothing else, the Chargers will be used to being booed. Their fans let them have it early in Sunday's win over the Ravens.

"Don't get me started on that," said center Nick Hardwick, who is back in the lineup after missing four games with a foot injury. "Just give us time, let us work."

Their Sunday work will come in the hubbub of Arrowhead, a place where line calls and audibles can be lost in the wave of noise ricocheting around the venerable venue.

But the Chargers have to be encouraged about the Chiefs' struggles at home this year (2-4), despite the fact Kansas City is going for their first sweep of the Chargers since 2003.

The Chargers can't afford too many more road stumbles, as they lead the Broncos by just one game.

"We got five more games to go," wide receiver Vincent Jackson said. "We got out heads down and we're pushing hard."

What's been difficult is getting a win away from sunny San Diego. The weather won't be dreadful Sunday, but it won't be 72 degrees with a soft sea breeze, either.

"We definitely want to put a run together," defensive end Igor Olshansky said. "This has been an up-and-down, roller-coaster season for us. So this is going to be the biggest month for us. This is where our history is going to be written."

December's first chapter gets penned on Sunday. If the Chargers can survive their visit to Kansas City, this season just might have a happy ending.

SERIES HISTORY: 96th meeting. Chiefs lead, 50-44-1. The Chiefs have had their way in this matchup of late, winning three of the past four games. The Chargers have won just once in their last 10 visits to Arrowhead Stadium, where they were suffered one of their two regular-season losses last year. Earlier this year, the Chiefs handed the Chargers their lone home loss, 30-16.


--RB LaDainian Tomlinson said QB Philip Rivers' big day last week should carry over to Sunday's contest in Kansas City. "I think it was important because success brings confidence," Tomlinson said of Rivers, who threw for three touchdowns in the win over the Ravens. "When you have it, you're going to continue to believe that you're going to be successful."

--For the first since 2002, the Chargers head to Kansas City without Marty Schottenheimer at the helm. New coach Norv Turner hasn't fared well against the Chiefs, going 0-6 against them. Turner was 0-4 with Oakland, and he lost his other two games as coach of the Redskins and Chargers.

--Since 2000, Kansas City is 15-1 in December home games.

--K John Carney, the former Chargers Pro Bowler, was signed earlier this week by the Chiefs, and he will kick against his old team on Sunday.

--LB Donnie Edwards is in his first year during his second stint with the Chiefs. Edwards led the Chargers in tackles for five years before joining the Chiefs over the offseason. Once again, he is atop his team's tackles list, recording 87 to pace the Chiefs.

--It's believed Tomlinson, who raced past the 10,000-yard rushing mark last Sunday, would have to play for six to seven more years if he wants a shot at Emmitt Smith's NFL record of 18,355 yards. Tomlinson, 28, doesn't sound as if he will aim for that mark. "I've never set out to break Emmitt's record," Tomlinson said. "But if the opportunity presented itself, obviously, it would be huge. But if my heart is not in it, I'm not going to keep playing to break a record. I would never do that."

--Chiefs T Kyle Turley and WR Jeff Webb played at San Diego State.

--Hall of Fame WR Charlie Joiner, one of the Chargers' all-time greats, is the receivers coach for the Chiefs.

--S Eric Weddle, a rookie, is getting used to his sporadic playing time. "It was tough at the beginning not playing every down, going from college to here," said Weddle, a second-round pick who is used in the dime package. "I played so much in college and now I adhere to a certain role. I know what my job is here on this team."

--OL Damion McIntosh, a former Charger, is with the Chiefs.

--Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards and offensive coordinator Mike Solari played at San Diego State.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1994 -- Last time the Chargers won at Denver and at Kansas City in the same season. The Chargers prevailed at Denver earlier this year for their lone road win in five attempts.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's going to happen, and he's going to get through it and he's coming out of it." -- RB LaDainian Tomlinson on QB Philip Rivers lifting his game down the stretch.

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