TE Antonio Gates (Nick Laham/Getty)
The San Diego Chargers take to the road to meet the beleaguered Kansas City Chiefs. San Diego hopes to maintain its momentum from Thursday's stomping of the Oakland Raiders, while Kansas City seeks its first home win since September. Samantha Fillerup profiles five players to watch on Sunday.
1. Antonio Gates has always played well against the Kansas City Chiefs and this week should be no different. In nine career games against the Chiefs, Gates has recorded 49 receptions for 552 yards and 10 TDs. The Chargers and Chiefs last met in Week 10, when Gates tallied eight receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez seems to bring out the best in Gates, as the two have long jockeyed for bragging rights as the top pass-catching tight end in the league. Gonzalez won the matchup earlier this season in San Diego, posting season-highs of 10 catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
2. Chris Chambers, like Gates, was held without a reception versus the Raiders. That marks the second time Chambers has been shut out this season, with the first coming against the Chiefs. San Diego must work Chambers back into the mix, although he has shown no animosity towards his diminished role.
"Not at this point," he said. "We're getting wins anyway we can."
The Kansas City passing defense ranks No. 29 in the NFL and allows an average of 235.5 receiving yards per game. Chambers will look to exploit 32-year-old cornerback Patrick Surtain, who is battling a quadriceps injury.
3. Darren Sproles was more involved in the offense last week, setting season-highs in rushing attempts (nine) and total touches from scrimmage (12), which allowed him to deliver his first multi-touchdown game of the season. Sproles will be motivated to build on that momentum, as he's likely three games away from unrestricted free agency.
The Chiefs' rushing defense ranks second-to-last and allows an average of 161.8 yards per game. The only saving grace for the Chiefs has been takeaways, as Kansas City forces more than one fumble per game on average. Sproles, who has already lost two fumbles this season, must make ball security a priority during this week's contest.
4. Quentin Jammer played one of his best games of the season earlier this year against the Chiefs, breaking up three passes and making big plays against the run. He is having arguably the best season of his career and if he can average seven tackles per game over the final three contests, he will top 100 tackles in a season for the first time in his career.
On Sunday, Jammer will take on physical wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who is arguably the Chiefs' biggest offensive threat. Bowe is second on the team with 67 receptions for 847 yards and six touchdowns.
5. Shaun Phillips set a career-high with 2.5 sacks last week against the Raiders; now, he must prove he can deliver against someone other than Oakland. Of Phillips' 6.5 sacks this season, four have come against the Silver & Black.
Phillips faces a tougher matchup this week, as Chiefs tackles Branden Albert and Damion McIntosh do a far better job of blocking on the edge than Raiders OTs Kwame Harris and Cornell Green. Nonetheless, the Chiefs have permitted 33 sacks this season, the 11th most in the NFL.