Chargers Struggle vs AFC East

San Diego QB Philip Rivers is telling the critics that their 4-2 record speaks for itself. But a closer look at San Diego's struggles against good teams from the AFC East has many wondering if this year's Chargers are contenders or pretenders.

The question heading into San Diego's Halloween night matchup at Kansas City: Are the Chargers for real or just masquerading as a potential playoff team that only wins against inferior opponents?

   The Chiefs weren't very good when the Chargers beat them 20-17 on Sept. 25, but Kansas City has won three straight and is getting back in the AFC West race.

   When the Chargers have been matched against lesser rivals -- the Vikings, Chiefs, Dolphins and Broncos -- they've collected four victories. But their two losses came in contests San Diego believed would be statement games.

   The Chargers fell to the Patriots in Week 2 and Sunday to the Jets.

   "All I hear for six months was that the regular season didn't matter," struggling quarterback Philip Rivers said. "Now everyone wants to know what is the matter? We're 4-2. We had a chance to win the (Jets) game, but we didn't. The ball is going to be kicked off Monday night in Kansas City whether we won it or lost it."

V.Jackson
 Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty  breaks up a pass from Rivers to Chargers wideout Vincent Jackson on 9/18/2011 (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
   Rivers has misplaced his touch, one that made him among the most accurate passers in the game. He has thrown nine interceptions in six games, and his 11 turnovers easily eclipse his seven touchdown passes. His 82.3 passer rating is well off last year's mark of 101.8, when he became only the third player in NFL history, joining Steve Young and Peyton Manning, to compile three consecutive seasons with a 100-plus rating.

   Coach Norv Turner gave credit to the Jets' defense rather than saying Rivers' two fourth-quarter interceptions were an indicator of the quarterback's dwindling production.

   "Every team they've played, they've been able to disrupt the quarterback and make plays on third down and put pressure on the quarterback," Turner said.

   Safety Eric Weddle knows the pressure is on the Chargers to rebound quickly. He realizes the Chiefs aren't playing like the team the Chargers edged last month in San Diego.

   "It's going to be a tough game," Weddle said. "At Kansas City, Monday night, Halloween, it's going to be rocking.

   "The next team is not going to wait for us if we are sulking or resting on why we lost. We got to learn from it, get better and get out and work."

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