WHEN THE CHIEFS PASS
It's ironic that Damon Huard will start Sunday's game for the Chiefs. Other than Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, no one has thrown for more yards against the Chargers than the 284 Huard put up in Week 4 this season, when Kansas City dropped San Diego, 30-16. How rusty KC's backup quarterback is after a two and a half game hiatus remains to be seen, but he'll be facing a defense that isn't playing all that well at the moment.
The Chargers lead the league in takeaways, but their defense has forced only seven turnovers in road games this year. They aren't pressuring the quarterback like they did last season, either. Shawne Merriman has only six sacks this year, and as a team the Chargers have only 23. The good news for San Diego is their secondary has improved quite a bit since their early-season struggles. They rank second in the NFL in interceptions.
Antonio Cromartie leads the team with six, but still hasn't cracked the starting lineup despite his remarkable sophomore season thus far. He's got the tools to match up with Dwayne Bowe, so we'll see what happens. The Chargers gave up 164 yards to Bowe in Week 4, and also gave up a touchdown to Tony Gonzalez. Kyle Turley starts at right tackle for the Chiefs Sunday.
WHEN THE CHARGERS PASS
Philip Rivers leads the league in turnovers (12 interceptions, 5 lost fumbles), but that hasn't deterred Norv Turner from calling passes, as Rivers has 35 or more attempts in three of the last four weeks. Until last Sunday's game against Baltimore, he had struggled, throwing five interceptions combined against Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Minnesota. Rivers picked apart the Ravens, however, who had no answer for Antonio Gates, and even left him wide open on a couple of occasions.
That won't happen in Kansas City. Gates had a solid game in the first meeting between the Chargers and Chiefs, but didn't find the end zone. The Chiefs traditionally use safety Jarrad Page against Gates, and have found success in stopping the All-Pro tight end.
The midseason addition of wide receiver Chris Chambers, who arrived in a trade from Miami, has been a marginal success for the Chargers. Chambers hasn't been the deep threat San Diego might have envisioned (only one catch longer than 21 yards), but he's been a consistent target for Rivers. Right tackle Jeromey Clary has replaced Shane Olivea as San Diego's starter at right tackle.
WHEN THE CHIEFS RUN
Larry Johnson is out again, but the Chiefs might have some hope that rookie Kolby Smith can find running room against the Chargers after his 151-yard effort last week. He'll be facing a run defense that's actually better than it appears to be on paper.
San Diego is giving up 4.2 yards per carry this year, but that's inflated by rookie Adrian Peterson's 296-yard performance in Week 9. In recent weeks the Chargers shut down Joseph Addai, did an admirable job against Jacksonville's two-headed attack, and stuffed Willis McGahee a week ago.
The only weak spot for San Diego is nose tackle Jamal Williams. Usually a dominant inside force, Williams' knees are bothering him this year, and he can't play full-bore on every snap.
WHEN THE CHARGERS RUN
LaDainian Tomlinson broke the 10,000-yard barrier last week against Baltimore, but in reality he limped over the finish line in doing so. Tomlinson has been held under 80 yards rushing for the month of November, and his last 100-yard effort came seven weeks ago. It's not really his fault – the Chargers still aren't blocking people the way they did last year.
Don't expect San Diego to come out running, even after seeing the Raiders run all over Kansas City last week. Norv Turner has committed to a pass-first offense. Tomlinson traditionally has poor games in Kansas City, anyway.
The Chiefs' coverage units may be in trouble this week, as they'll be forced to adjust to to a new kickoff man in veteran John Carney, who's kicks won't fly as far as Dave Rayner's. That will make defending Darren Sproles, averaging almost 27 yards per return, difficult.
The Chargers lead the AFC West, but there's a lot of grumbling going on in the locker room. San Diego has underachieved this season, and has just one road win. Head coach Norv Turner is winless for his career against Kansas City, and 0-2 against Herm Edwards.
The Chiefs have lost three straight games at Arrowhead Stadium. Can they really lose a fourth?
Chiefs 16, Chargers 10
Film Review: Chiefs vs Chargers
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