Game Scout: Chiefs at Chargers

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at San Diego Chargers (8-7)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Marv Albert, Rich Gannon
*Keys to the game: Chiefs coach Andy Reid doesn't want to enter the playoffs riding a two-game losing streak, but he must balance the desire to hit the postseason with momentum with keeping his team as healthy as possible. RB Jamaal Charles needs 20 yards to become just the third Chief to reach the 2,000 total yard mark in a season, and he might see just enough snaps to reach that target before hitting the showers along with several other starters. The Chargers won a 41-38 shootout in Kansas City in Week 12 and will know by game time if they're playing for a spot in the playoffs or closing up shop for the season. QB Philip Rivers threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting and has a career 29-6 (.828) record in December. He'll rely on short drops and quick passes to thwart the pass rush and pick on the Chiefs' inconsistent secondary.
*Matchup to watch - Chiefs CB Sean Smith vs. Chargers WR Keenan Allen: Smith was one of the victims as Allen racked up nine catches for 124 yards in the first meeting, and was benched last week after being called for a pair of holding penalties.
*Player spotlight - Chargers RB Ryan Mathews: He needs 89 rushing yards to become the first Charger to reach 1,000 in a season since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2007. More important, his emergence has provided balance to the offense and is helping keep Rivers out of the third-and-long situations in which protection becomes an issue.
*Fast facts: The Chiefs seek seven road wins for the first time since 1966. ... The Chargers have won eight of the past 10 meetings at home.
Whether they are eliminated from the playoff race by kickoff or not, the Chargers will come out swinging while the Chiefs will be more focused on getting home healthy and resting up for their wildcard game next week.
*Our pick: Chargers 31-20

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