SERIES HISTORY: 113th regular-season meeting. Chiefs possess a 57-54-1 series lead with five consecutive wins, including a 33-27 OT win in Week 1 after trailing 27-10 in the fourth quarter.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Chiefs, who have earned a playoff berth, can seize the AFC West division title and earn a first-round bye with a win and an Oakland loss.
It took overtime back in the season opener before the Chiefs were able to beat San Diego at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won that game with 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and the extra time.
That proved necessary because the Chargers held a 21-point lead midway through the third quarter. The Chiefs' defense played poorly, giving up three touchdowns in the first half, and allowing San Diego to convert six of seven third-down plays.
But in the second half, both sides of the Chiefs came out of the locker room and elevated their play. The defense was stifling and the offense scored three touchdowns, including the winner in OT on a 2-yard run by quarterback Alex Smith.
He ended up throwing for 363 yards, his most productive game of the season. They could also use a big contribution from running back Spencer Ware, who had 199 total yards in the opener. In the last three KC-SD games, Ware has 38 touches for 352 yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs could use more of the same in San Diego.
There's some real concern about the Chargers having a new-look offensive line on Sunday as three starters skipped practice for the second straight day. Left tackle King Dunlap, left guard Orlando Franklin and center Matt Slauson are all battling injuries.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Chargers TE Antonio Gates vs. Chiefs safeties Eric Berry and Ron Parker. He's the Old Man River of the San Diego offense, as Gates is finishing up his 14th season at 36 years of age. Over his career, Gates has torched the Kansas City defense, grabbing 104 passes for 1,316 yards and 15 touchdowns. No other team has given up more catches, yards and scores to Gates than the Chiefs. So far, Gates has 48 catches for 498 yards with six TD receptions. In the Chargers' last four games, his numbers have been 18 catches for 203 yards and a touchdown. Berry and Parker have tussled with Gates many times over the last six or seven seasons. While the Old Man may not be the first place quarterback Philip Rivers looks these days, there's no question he's very comfortable throwing to No. 85.
--Chiefs RT Mitchell Schwartz vs. Chargers DE Joey Bosa. When these teams played in the first week of the regular season, Bosa was not on the field. San Diego's top draft choice had been a preseason holdout and was on a league exemption after reporting just a few days before the opener. Then, injuries kept him out of three more games. Once Bosa got on the field, it did not take long for him to make an impact. In 11 games, Bosa leads San Diego with 9.5 sacks, including five in the last four games and two last Sunday in Cleveland. The K.C. pass protection shut out Denver's pass rush last Sunday and they'll need a similar performance against Bosa and the Chargers.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
--Out: LB Justin Houston (knee)
--Questionable: CB Phillip Gaines (knee), RB Spencer Ware (rib)
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
--Out: RB Melvin Gordon (hip, knee), CB Craig Mager (shoulder)
--Doubtful: T King Dunlap (knee)
Chiefs WR/RB/KR Tyreek Hill. The fifth-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft has been among a handful of big-play producers on offense and special teams in the league this season. Hill's 11 touchdowns include scores of 86, 78, 70, 68 and 50 yards. Overall, he has 1,680 all-purpose yards on 129 touches, for an average of 13 yards per touch. Plus, he has six tackles in the kicking game. When the Chiefs and Chargers opened the season back on Sept. 11, San Diego did not get a real taste of Hill's speed and quickness. He was on the field for just 20 snaps (10 offense, 10 special teams) and touched the ball four times for 44 yards. Hill did have K.C.'s first touchdown of the 2016 season, a 9-yard pass play with quarterback Alex Smith.
-- Chiefs QB Alex Smith has four consecutive seasons with at least 3,000 pass yards, the second longest streak in franchise history, and is on pace for the highest completion percentage (66.6) in team history.
-- RB Spencer Ware has 1,368 scrimmage yards (921 rushing) and ranks eighth in the NFL. He can become the 10th player in team history to reach 1,000 yards in a season.
-- Chiefs DT Dontari Poe is the first DT in NFL history with a passing TD and a rushing TD in his career.
-- Chargers QB Philip Rivers passed for 322 yards and three TDs last week. He ranks fifth in the NFL with 4,117 passing yards and has eight seasons with 4,000, tied for third in league history. He has five seasons with 30 passing TDs, sixth in NFL annals.
-- Chargers TE Antonio Gates has 110 TD catches, the second most by a tight end in NFL history. He needs seven yards to record his 13th consecutive season with 500 yards and at least four TD catches, which would be the second-longest streak in NFL history.
Is this it for the Chargers in San Diego? Depending on which version of events one believes, it could take a miracle for the Spanos family to stay in town for the 2017 season, so disenchanted have they apparently become with city politicians. Under this circumstance last year, the Chargers waxed a disinterested Miami team. Kansas City will not be disinterested, as it can win the division and a first-round bye with help from Denver. It takes care of business here against a depleted opponent.
OUR PICK: Chiefs, 23-17.