Sunday's Chargers-Chiefs game could make or break a season. A Chargers win all but eliminates the…
TV: CBS, Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
SERIES: 96th meeting. Chiefs lead, 50-44-1. The Chiefs have had their way in this matchup of late, winning three of the past four games. The Chargers have won just once in their last 10 visits to Arrowhead Stadium, where they were suffered one of their two regular-season losses last year. Earlier this year, the Chiefs handed the Chargers their lone home loss, 30-16.
PREDICTION: Chargers 23-17
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Chargers are looking for QB Philip Rivers to build on his strong outing last weekend. The biggest concern is the Chiefs' pass rush led by DE Jared Allen against San Diego's sporadic pass protection. TE Antonio Gates has just 20 catches for 201 yards over the past four meetings, but Kansas City has a bigger matchup issue now that Rivers is developing chemistry with big-play WR Chris Chambers.
Rookie reliance: With QB Brodie Croyle ailing, Damon Huard took the first-team practice reps this week and might get the call. Considering the Chargers' strong pass rush and the possibility RT Chris Terry might not be available due to a death in his family, the Chiefs' desperately need RB Kolby Smith to follow up his 150-yard starting debut with another strong effort.
Chargers: DE Luis Castillo (ankle) is out at least three more weeks.
Chiefs: Croyle (back) is questionable; RB Larry Johnson (foot) will miss his fourth consecutive game; CB Patrick Surtain (shoulder) said he thinks he'll play.
FAST FACTS: Chargers coach Norv Turner is 0-6 lifetime against the Chiefs as a head coach. ... Chiefs rookie WR Dwayne Bowe leads all rookies with 49 receptions and 731 receiving yards.
--DT Jamal Williams was out again to rest his knees. This is a precautionary measure and he will play Sunday.
--CB Antonio Cromartie will remain in the starting lineup after taking over for Drayton Florence last week on the first unit.
--QB Philip Rivers was average at Arrowhead last season when the Chargers fell to the Chiefs, 30-27. He was 25-of-43 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Pass protection was a huge challenge as Rivers was sacked four times.
--RB Michael Turner is still finding carries difficult to come by. That's especially true under Norv Turner as he seems more motivated to finds ways to insert Darren Sproles into the action instead of Turner.
--S Clinton Hart and the Chargers linebackers will need to lend a hand in defending TE Tony Gonzalez. Last year in Kansas City, Gonzalez caught six passes for 138 yards.
--QB Damon Huard, who struggled to a 39.3 passer rating in the first half of Kansas City's win at San Diego earlier this season, rallied nicely in the second half when he hit 11 of 16 second-half passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns to rally KC from a 16-6 deficit to a 30-16 win.
--QB Brodie Croyle will get a chance to practice Friday after doing only some light throwing on the side Thursday because of his bad back. If Croyle isn't able to do something close to a regular workout, he won't play against San Diego and Damon Huard will start in his place.
--QB Tyler Thigpen, who has been the Chiefs' inactive No. 3 quarterback all season, has taken the backup's snaps all week as a prelude to being active Sunday in the event that Brodie Croyle isn't.
--CB Patrick Surtain returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday's workout with a shoulder/neck injury.
--S Jarrad Page returned to practice Thursday after seeing doctors the day before about some headaches he was experiencing.
--T Chris Perry missed a second day of practice Thursday and is not likely to be available Sunday while attending to the funeral of his mother.
--T Kyle Turley is expected to start at right tackle for the Chiefs against San Diego. He would replace Chris Terry, who left the team to arrange the funeral of his mother.
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