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Must-win for both teams

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Dec 23, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/preview?gameId=251224012" target="_blank">ESPN</a>

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/chargersvchiefs03.jpg" alt="Chargers at Chiefs" />

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Ticker) -- The San Diego Chargers ended the perfect run of the Indianapolis Colts and defeated the two-time defending champion New England Patriots. Another difficult road test awaits them.

    On Saturday, the Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle of AFC West rivals fighting to stay alive in the playoff race.

    The Chiefs have won 17 straight December home games, last losing in 1995. But that will not intimidate the Chargers, who went into Indianapolis last week and handed the Colts their first loss of the season, 26-17. In October, the Chargers snapped the Patriots' 21-game home winning streak with a resounding 41-17 victory.

    Despite those impressive wins, San Diego still needs help to make the playoffs. The Chargers have a slim chance to win the AFC West title, but need first-place Denver (11-3) to lose at home to last-place Oakland on Saturday. If that happens, San Diego then will host Denver in the regular-season finale for the division crown as long as it beats Kansas City.

    The Chargers are tied with Pittsburgh for the second AFC wild-card spot, one game ahead of Kansas City. But the Steelers hold the tiebreaker advantage with a 24-22 win over the Chargers in October.

    Jacksonville (10-4) holds the first wild-card spot and closes the season with games against Houston and Tennessee, who have a combined record of 6-22.

    The Chiefs were in the driver's seat for a playoff spot, but spoiled that with back-to-back road losses against Dallas and the New York Giants. They close with consecutive home games against San Diego and Cincinnati, which has already clinched the AFC North title.

    Drew Brees and tight end Antonio Gates led the Chargers to a 28-20 win over the Chiefs in the first meeting this season on October 30. Brees passed for 324 yards and connected with Gates for three touchdowns.

    Gates and Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez are regarded as the NFL's best tight ends. In three games against the Chiefs, Gates has 20 catches for 286 yards and six touchdowns, including 10 for 145 in the October 30 contest.

    Strong safety Sammy Knight will need help from a linebacker in his matchup against Gates.

    "He (Gates) will beat anybody physically one-on-one, he's just too big and strong," Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. "You have to vary your coverages against him, but you can't go one-on-one."

    Gonzalez caught a 16-yard TD in the first meeting and Trent Green threw for 347 yards and two TDs, but was sacked four times.

    San Diego sacked Peyton Manning four times, including two by rookie linebacker Shawne Merriman, in last week's win at Indianapolis. Along with their ability to pressure the quarterback, the Chargers also rank first in the NFL against the run and limited Edgerrin James to 25 yards on 13 carries last week.

    The same cannot be said for the Chiefs, who yielded 220 rushing yards to Tiki Barber in last week's 27-17 loss to the Giants.

    "I didn't think that could happen to us," Vermeil said of his team's inability to stop Barber. "It was an embarrassing performance. I was embarrassed by our tackling."

    The Chiefs entered that game ranked sixth in the league against the run and held San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson to 69 yards on 17 carries in the first meeting. Tomlinson has rushed for 1,323 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.

    Kansas City's Larry Johnson has capitalized on his chance to be a feature back, taking over that role after Priest Holmes was placed on injured reserve and recording a franchise-record seven straight 100-yard games. He produced 167 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.

    Matchup to watch: Chiefs right tackle John Welbourn will have to watch for blitzing strongside linebacker Merriman, who has a team-leading nine sacks.

    Series: The Chiefs lead, 47-43-1, but the Chargers have won the last three meetings. San Diego's Marty Schottenheimer coached the Chiefs from 1989-98.

    Next week: San Diego hosts Denver, December 31 Kansas City hosts Cincinnati, January 1

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