A season that once held so much promise now holds this fact: The Chargers are already 3 1/2 games behind the AFC West-leading Broncos.
"Before you start pointing fingers, you have to look at yourself," tight end Antonio Gates said.
That's easier said than done.
While no players other than cornerback Antonio Cromartie, via Twitter, have questioned coaches or schemes, one doesn't have to be an expert in body language to know the Chargers are a beaten bunch.
Those heads that were once held high, those players who once took the field with a swagger, those coaches and executives who once had the ultimate confidence their maneuvers would pay dividends are tough to find.
The Chiefs could be the perfect tonic for the Chargers. But playing in Arrowhead Stadium is never easy, and the Chiefs, conversely, are at least playing with confidence after competing against the Cowboys and breaking through last Sunday for their first win, upending the Redskins.
Another nugget that can't be ignored: The Chargers have only one more victory than the Chiefs (1-5).
So while this game once had a big circle around it as one the Chargers should win, nothing is certain.
LB Shawne Merriman
Well, that's a start. But winning this game and the following week at home against the Raiders could get the Chargers to 4-3 and put three divisional wins in their pocket.
That likely won't be enough to overtake the Broncos. But we saw last year, no lead is too safe -- although this year's Broncos' team doesn't share much with the one that collapsed so mightily last year.
The Chargers can't worry about their AFC West brethren. They have enough problems -- can't run the ball, can't pass block, can't stop the run, can't win on third downs -- to keep their minds busy.
"We don't like being in this position, but we have great character on this team and we have guys that have played at an extremely high level," Turner said. "They believe in each other, and I expect them to play well."
That's the thing with the Chargers -- everyone always expects more than they can deliver.
Right now, they are just a mediocre team like the bulk of the NFL. Nothing special, nothing awful. Just flat-out average.
If they want to shed that reputation, winning in Kansas City on Sunday would be a start.
SERIES HISTORY: 98th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series 50-46-1, the Charges have won three in a row, including the last two at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers last lost to the Chiefs in September 2007, a 30-16 setback in San Diego.
--It says the Chargers will be playing the Chiefs, but their rivals' uniforms will say the "Dallas Texans" in this legacy game to toast the 50th anniversary of the AFL. The Chiefs first played in Dallas; the Chargers first played in Los Angeles.
--TE Antonio Gates is stressing to look ahead instead of behind regarding the team's sluggish start. "You evaluate and move forward," he said. "That's the only way you can survive in this league."
QB Philip Rivers
--Walt Daniels, a longtime member of the team's game-day staff, died when falling from a coach's booth prior to the game against the Broncos. He was 66 years old and a fixture as a referee on the local high school football scene.
--The Chargers have won two straight games at Arrowhead Stadium.
--Chiefs G Mike Goff started 87 consecutive games for the Chargers during his five-year tenure in San Diego, which ended after last season.
--Chargers receivers coach Charlie Joiner held the same position with K.C. from 2001-2007.
--With 124 rushing yards, K.C.'s Larry Johnson eclipses Priest Holmes and becomes the Chiefs' all-time leading rusher. The irony is he'll likely do it with Shawne Merriman on the field; Merriman prematurely ended Holmes' career with a clothes-line hit.
--The Chargers were able to get to Chiefs QB Matt Cassel when he was with the Patriots last year. They sacked him four times as he was 22 of 38 passing for 203 yards and an interception in a 30-10 loss to San Diego.
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Number of Chiefs interceptions in Philip Rivers' six career starts.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have nothing to say at this moment." Chargers general manager A.J. Smith, when approached by a media member for a comment on his team's disappointing play.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Chargers had hopes that Antwan Appplewhite, an undrafted free agent, would continue to improve after showing some promise last year. But Applewhite was bothered by a hamstring injury this year and the decision came to undergo surgery. He was placed on IR and is out for the season.
The Chargers filled his spot by bringing back cornerback Dante Hughes, who spent two years with the Colts and was released at the end of this year's training camp.
With Applewhite out of the equation, the pressure grows on an outside linebacker's group that has only two sacks, both from rookie Larry Ellison.
--WR Buster Davis, a former Chargers first-round pick, continues to be a healthy, game-day inactive.
--DT Ian Scott, if nothing else, is supplying another body so others along the line don't become gasses as the game wears on. Scott did have a tackle for a loss in his first game on Monday.
LB Shaun Phillips
--LB Shawne Merriman doesn't have a sack this season. Merriman did show a bit more Monday night after giving his sore groin an extra week of rest because of the bye, but he is still not having a dramatic affect on games.
--WR Chris Chambers continues to have little to show for his work -- and has some wondering just why the Chargers surrendered a second-round pick for him in 2007. Chambers had only two catches Monday and has eight on the season for 102 yards and a score.
--FS Eric Weddle needs to pick up his play after consecutive dreadful games. He was picked on in the loss at Pittsburgh and wasn't keen on his assignments against the Broncos. Going into his second season as a starter, the Chargers thought he would be more polished.
GAME PLAN: The Chargers are known as a passing team, but considering how much trouble the Chiefs have in stopping the run, a ticked-off LaDainian Tomlinson eager to prove he has something left and a front line proving it is having trouble pass-blocking, the Chargers should get back to the basics and pound the ball with Tomlinson. If they did, in Arrowhead Stadium, somewhere Marty Schottenheimer would be laughing.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Chargers pass defense vs. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel.
The Chargers are getting picked on through the air and it's because it can't take any quarterback to the ground -- a measly seven sacks on the season. What that is doing is exposing the secondary, although CB Antonio Cromartie had a decent game Monday night, only to somewhat spoil his effort by complaining about the officiating after the game; safeties Eric Weddle and Steve Gregory just had tough games. Cassel isn't going to do anything spectacular or risky and he is riding a hot streak in which he has thrown for six touchdowns in his last four games with no interceptions. The Chargers, in their last two games against Ben Roethlisberger and Kyle Orton have seen quarterbacks complete nearly 75 percent of their passes for 568 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.
Chargers pass protection vs. Chiefs pass rush.
C Scott Mruczkowski and rookie RG Louis Vasquez have been getting attacked consistency on base pass rushes and blitzes. That needs to be fixed, or that tandem will continue to be tested. LB Tamba Hall was once an end on the team's 3-4 alignment but has switched to an outside linebacker in the Chiefs' new 4-3 look. Whatever the scheme, he seems to play well against the Chargers. The last time he saw them he had two sacks and two forced fumbles. In 2006, Hall had two sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception in games against the Chargers. And Philip Rivers was sacked a career-high five times in the Broncos game.
Chargers run defense vs. the Chiefs RB Larry Johnson.
The Chargers had their best effort of the season stopping the run in their loss to the Broncos. So just maybe they are starting to shore up an area which has been a clear-cut blemish all season. The Chiefs are determined to get Johnson going, although they don't have much to show for giving him the ball so much. The Chiefs are ranked No. 25, collecting an average of 98 yards per game. But they had 110 yards in the win over the Redskins. With the addition of DT Ian Scott, the Chargers could be better here in stopping the run.
INJURY IMPACT: C Nick Hardwick (ankle) is out until December. ILB Kevin Burnett (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday and could be done this week. DE Travis Johnson (groin) didn't work out and will be compromised in the least if he plays Sunday. OLB Jyles Tucker (illness) should be ready for Sunday. RG Louis Vasquez (knee) was limited in his Wednesday work but will play Sunday. ILB Stephen Cooper (knee) was able to work but will likely wear a knee brace during the game. P Mike Scifres (groin) practiced, but it is obvious in games he is still injured.