DE Jacques Cesaire (Donald Miralle/Getty)
The Chargers head to Kansas City with a dose of confidence and sole ownership of first place in the AFC West. Despite a season which has been a roller-coaster ride, the Chargers are hoping they are playing the best ball at the season's most critical juncture.
The Chargers have won two of their past three, with those wins coming over the Super Bowl champion Colts and Sunday's conquest of the Ravens.
"We are in control of our destiny," safety Marlon McCree said. "We just can't get too far ahead ourselves. We know we have a tough game ahead of us."
Going to Kansas City has always been a chore for the Chargers. They have won at Arrowhead Stadium just once in their last 10 visits, including last year when the Chiefs gave the Chargers one of their two regular-season losses.
"In December, the weather becomes a factor," linebacker Matt Wilhelm said of the Chiefs' success at home. "And they got 70,000 plus loyal fans that live and breathe Kansas City Chiefs football because of the great tradition they have. All those factors put together make it a tough place to play."
Earlier this year the Chiefs delivered a 30-16 home loss to the Chargers.
"We feel Kansas City came in here and stole a victory," Wilhelm said. "And we are banking on coming in there and playing in all three phases of the game."
That's what the Chargers did in handing the Ravens their fifth straight loss.
Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for three touchdowns and didn't commit a turnover; the defense held the Ravens to 210 yards; the special teams featured four Nate Kaeding field goals.
"It's definitely important to have all three phases of the game and pull together and have a team victory," Wilhelm said. "That is what makes a stretch run realistic."
As spotty as the Chargers' play has been, the defending AFC West champions have a one-game lead over the Broncos. And they are getting healthy, with Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick returning to action after missing four starts.
What the Chargers have to find is the winning formula away from Qualcomm Stadium. They are 1-4 on the road, with their lone win coming at Denver.
"I don't know what it is but we have played better at home and we need to find a way to play better on the road," running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "And what better way to test ourselves than by going to Kansas City, which has always been a tough place to play? And I'm sure it will be no different on Sunday."
At least they arrive feeling good about themselves again.
"Going down the stretch, if we continue to play like this, we are going to get on a roll that we all have been hoping to get on," Tomlinson said.
Rivers hasn't forgotten the Chiefs game from earlier in the year.
"We know one thing, we're upset about the way the Kansas City game ended a couple of weeks ago," he said. "And we are going to their place, where I know they are good in December -- but we don't care too much. We're going to go in there and have our game faces on."
--RB LaDainian Tomlinson became the 23rd player in NFL history to eclipse the 10,000-yard rushing mark. After rushing for 77 yards Sunday, Tomlinson has 10,048 yards.
--WR Chris Chambers continues to get more comfortable with Philip Rivers. The two read each other with pre-snap body language and the result was a 5-yard scoring reception.
--OLB Shawne Merriman rebounded after having but one tackle in the loss at Jacksonville. He had a team-high seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
--C Nick Hardwick (foot) has returned to the starting lineup after missing four games.
--CB Antonio Cromartie, who has six interceptions, has replaced Drayton Florence in the starting lineup.