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Fearless Prediction: Chiefs (3-7) at Chargers (7-3)

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Game Snapshot

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS (Dick Enberg, Dan Fouts)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Chargers' deep group of offensive playmakers poses a significant issue for the Chiefs, who were helpless in allowing 403 total yards in a 37-7 home loss to the Chargers in Week 7. However, RB Jamaal Charles has provided a bit of a spark to the ground game the past two weeks and the Chargers do give up 118.5 rushing yards per game. Kansas City can keep the score within reach if it can sustain drives and shorten the game. But San Diego's offense will be difficult to slow down if QB Philip Rivers receives adequate protection and is able to work against the Chiefs' overmatched secondary. FAST FACTS: The Chargers have won the past four meetings by an average of 11.5 points. ... WR Chris Chambers has 10 catches for 249 yards in three games with Kansas City.

Personnel News

Chiefs:
  • OLB Andy Studebaker will get his second NFL start on Sunday against San Diego, replacing Mike Vrabel. Studebaker was the defensive player of the game against Pittsburgh, with two interceptions, five tackles and he shared a sack. Vrabel continues to recover from a left knee injury that will likely make him inactive for the second consecutive week.
  • G Wade Smith will get his second consecutive start at right guard when the Chiefs play the Chargers in San Diego. Smith opened last week's victory against Pittsburgh in place of Andy Alleman, who is recovering from a knee injury.
  • CB Travis Daniels is the newest player to step into the nickel back role for the Chiefs. He worked that spot in last Sunday game against Pittsburgh. He's the fourth cornerback in 10 games to hold that role. Because of the shoulder injury that ended the season for Maurice Leggett, Daniels is also getting some practice time at safety.
  • TE Leonard Pope is now working with the No. 1 offense and he caught his first touchdown pass in a Chiefs uniform against Pittsburgh. Pope has primarily worked as a blocker, as the Chiefs have gone to more max pass protections to help QB Matt Cassel.
  • WR Lance Long will be adding some duties as a kick and punt returner, along with his role as a slot receiver when the Chiefs go with three wideouts. Long's 30-yard catch on a big third down play in the fourth quarter sparked the comeback against Pittsburgh. He's filled in for Jamaal Charles on kick returns and with Maurice Leggett gone for the season, Long will likely become the No. 2 punt returner after Bobby Wade.
Chargers:
  • DE Luis Castillo (calf) didn't work in practice Thursday and could be out this week. He was taken off the field on a cart last week and hasn't practiced.
  • WR Vincent Jackson (ribs) practiced Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.
  • OLB Shaun Phillips (ankle) practiced Thursday and will start on Sunday, although he can become fatigued as the game wears on and could be spelled frequently.
  • DL Travis Johnson (groin) practiced Thursday and will be part of the defensive line rotation this week.
  • OLB Shawne Merriman (foot) didn't work in Thursday's practice, and he usually does after sitting out Wednesdays. He should go on Sunday but could be limited.
  • C Nick Hardwick (ankle) was a limited participant Thursday and is at least a week away from playing.

Inside The Camps

Chiefs:
It was just less than a month ago that Chris Chambers walked out of the office of Chargers head coach Norv Turner unsure what the future held for his football career.
"My playing time was shrinking and that was a sign, but I wasn't expecting what happened," Chambers said of his release by the Chargers on Nov. 2. "My minutes were getting cut here and there and didn't get a lot of encouragement."
About 36 hours later, Chambers was in his new football home: Arrowhead Stadium, as the Chiefs claimed him on waivers.
As the Chiefs head to San Diego to face the Chargers, Chambers' part in the team's offense continues to grow. In three games, he's caught 10 passes for 249 yards and he has a pair of touchdown catches.
"I'm definitely playing with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder because of the way things ended in San Diego," said Chambers. "I'm just looking to prove to myself and my teammates that I can help them win games."
Chambers has already shown he can help them win games, as he did last Sunday against the Steelers. His 47-yard catch set up the tying touchdown, and then the 61-yard catch and run in overtime made the winning FG possible.
"Chris Chambers has done a great job creating another element of big play possibilities for us that we really didn't have early on in the season," said quarterback Matt Cassel.
Despite the chip on his shoulder, Chambers said he won't lose his focus or amp up his intensity for this weekend's game against his old team.
"It's my job, so I will be professional about it," said Chambers. "It will be fun just playing in that stadium, beautiful weather and see the fans and my teammates that I enjoyed playing with. I'm just looking to have fun for the most part."

Chargers:
The buzz this week leading to Sunday's game against the Chiefs was the Chargers' riding a five-game winning streak to first place in the AFC West.
And the addition of veteran Jon Runyan.
But while Runyan coming aboard in the wake of Jeromey Clary going on the injured reserve list could have a big potential impact, what does it mean this week?
Brandyn Dombrowski will make his third NFL start as the Chargers try to patch together their line. Runyan is expected to see the field soon, but Sunday is likely considered too soon for the veteran's debut.
Dombrowski, who spent all of last year on the Chargers' practice squad, will be left to man the right flank. Dombrowski filled in well in Sunday's victory in Denver when Clary when down. But he is expected to give way to Runyan, sooner rather than later.
This Sunday he'll wrestle a rookie in left end Tyson Jackson and outside linebacker Andy Studebaker.
The Chargers have improved their running game of late, and that means running on occasion to the right side. In order to be effective, Dombrowski will have to hold his own.
That said, the Chargers remain a pass-happy attack, meaning keeping quarterback Philip Rivers free of pressure.
The Chargers were more concerned about the Broncos' pass rush last week, which led to short and intermediate pass routes.
But with the Chiefs not showing much of a push, the Chargers would like to use that extra time to dust off their vertical game to Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd.
To do so, Rivers will need an extra second or two, and not heat from the right side left vacant by Clary's season-ending ankle injury. PREDICTION: Chargers 27-21
Tagged: Chiefs, Chargers, Chris Chambers, Mike Vrabel, Jon Runyan, Wade Smith, Philip Rivers, Nick Hardwick, Shaun Phillips, Malcom Floyd, Shawne Merriman, Travis Johnson, Luis Castillo, Vincent Jackson, Matt Cassel, Travis Daniels, Leonard Pope, Jeromey Clary, Andy Alleman, Andy Studebaker, Jamaal Charles, Lance Long, Brandyn Dombrowski, Tyson Jackson

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