"This is our playoff game," Vermeil said of 7-8 Kansas City's last opportunity to test itself against one of the league's elite teams this year, the 11-4 Chargers. "It would be nice to finish the season not being a loser anymore."
That's a fact. The Chiefs never did make it out of the debit side of the ledger after losing their first three games. Just when they got close, taking a 3-4 record into a winnable game at Tampa Bay, Priest Holmes was hurt in the third quarter and lost for the season.
Kansas City eventually lost four straight games to fall to 3-8.
The Chiefs have since rebounded with four straight victories, though only one (Denver) came against a winning team. That's why a road victory at San Diego, a team with no real incentive at stake, looms as an important game to the visitor.
"We know what they are," Vermeil said of the Chargers. "They played extremely well (in an overtime road loss at Indianapolis last week) and had a chance to win. They're a playoff football team and they've proved that by playing consistently well all year. I'm happy for Marty Schottenheimer."
And now Vermeil would like to exit this forgettable season, one that began with realistic Super Bowl aspirations for a team returning from a 13-3 season in 2003, with some good feelings for this players and coaches.
"Finishing strong helps the momentum in the offseason program," Vermeil said. "It makes your vacations better, your weight training program better, makes your organized team activities better and makes your minicamps better.
"I know it makes the wine taste better.
"It makes everything you do better," Vermeil added. "Hopefully, that helps you become a better football team."
SERIES HISTORY: - This will be the 89th meeting between the Chiefs and Chargers. Kansas City leads the series 47-41-1 after winning five of the last seven meetings. But San Diego won the first meeting in Kansas City back on Nov. 28 by a 34-31 county.