Sunday's Chiefs-Chargers contest is not a play off game, but the Chiefs are approaching it that way.
KC's five game losing streak left them down and out, but three straight victories have the Chiefs at 4-5 overall, just one game out in the AFC wild card race.
To stay in the playoff hunt, KC needs more victories.
The Chargers have been a major disappointment this season, losing seven of their last eight games.
Quarterback Philip Rivers has put up big passing numbers, but he's had to, as his team has fallen behind in almost every game they've played this season. Their recent loss to Oakland is typical. Rivers threw three 4th quarter touchdown passes and a pair of two-point conversion passes, as his Chargers lost 37-29. Great stats, horrible result.
The star-crossed quarterback is capable of greatness (including several dramatic comebacks versus Kansas City) and capable of self-destruction (several meltdowns against the Chiefs).
Rivers has forged an impressive 12-5 mark versus KC, but his Chargers dropped both meetings with KC last year.
This season, Rivers has completed 69 percent of his passes, good for 3,033 yards. He's tossed 19 TD passes, but also has suffered 7 interceptions, including several pick-sixes.
One former Charger coach says "Philip has just enough talent to make you think Super Bowl, but makes too many mistakes. I heard he was a 'coach-killer,' but I don't think that's true. He just has a knack for making the critical error at the worst possible time."
Of course, Rivers has had to carry this year's Charger offense. The Bolts had hoped that first-round draft pick Melvin Gordon would put a "charge" in the Chargers run game, but the rookie has been disappointing. He's only managed 3.6 yards per carry, on his way to 413 yards through nine games.
The receiving numbers are more impressive, with six men passing the 300-yard mark. Keenan Allen leads the way with 725 yards and four touchdowns on 67 receptions. Danny Woodhead's next at 45 grabs for 521 yards and three TDs. The most dangerous target might be Malcolm Floyd, who has over 400 yards and three touchdowns on just 21 catches.
Longtime star Antonio Gates has been good- but not great- with 28 catches for 312 yards and two TDs.
The Chargers defense is ranked 24th overall, having given up 372 yards per game. (The Chiefs are 11th, at 341 yards a game).
In terms of scoring defense, the Chargers are a putrid 28th, surrendering 27.7 points per game. That compares with a Chiefs defense that's ranked number 14, with a 21.7 point-per-game average.
The game will be played in sunny San Diego, where the Chiefs have lost eight of their last ten games.
But, in the NFL, desperate teams almost always ride their intensity to better-than-average performances (last Sunday's win at Denver is a prime example of that).
The Chiefs beat the Chargers in Southern California last season, and they're riding a three-game winning streak.
Most signs seem to point to a Kansas City victory.
You can see the game on KCTV5.
Our pregame coverage begins at 10 a.m., with the Price Chopper Game Day Show.
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