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San Diego, CA - As poorly as the San Diego Chargers have been playing lately, they know they have enough time to make a playoff run.
Getting a win over the lowly Kansas City Chiefs would be a good place to start.
The Chargers look to come out of their bye week rejuvenated and avoid dropping their third straight game Sunday when they host the Chiefs.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made the Chargers -16 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on the Chiefs +16 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
San Diego (3-5) was expected to contend for the Super Bowl this season, but has already lost as many games as it did last year, when it advanced to the AFC championship game.
Despite their struggles, the Chargers are only one game back of AFC West-leading Denver.
"I think we realize we're in a very tough position right now," defensive end Luis Castillo said. "But at the same time, the attitude is we realize there's hope, because it's a lot tougher to be 3-5 in a division where you're four or five games behind already."
The Chargers hope to come out for the second half of the season fresh following an 11,000-mile, two-loss road trip through Buffalo and London. San Diego hasn't played since losing to New Orleans 37-32 in Wembley Stadium on Oct. 26.
The Chargers return to action with a new defensive coordinator after linebackers coach Ron Rivera was promoted to replace Ted Cottrell, who was fired two days after the loss in London.
Defense has been a major disappointment for San Diego this season after it led the NFL with 30 interceptions and 48 takeaways last year.
The Chargers have no sacks or interceptions in the last nine quarters and have only six picks and 10 takeaways on the season. They are also last in the league in pass defense (265.1 yards per game) and 23rd in scoring defense (24.9 points per game).
"I think we're better than 3-5, but we have to play it as it says right now," inside linebacker Matt Wilhelm said. "Our record says we're 3-5. With the changes that have been made, I think we're excited to go out and play."
Offensively, San Diego has been one of the strongest teams in the league. Led by Phillip Rivers, the Chargers are third in scoring (28.0) and should be able to put up points against the Chiefs (1-7), who give up an average of 27.9 points.
Rivers, who leads the NFL with a 107.8 passer rating and has thrown 19 touchdowns and six interceptions, has passed for 855 yards, eight TDs and two picks in his last three games.
LaDainian Tomlinson has gotten off to a slow start, but hopes having a week off helped his injured big toe heal. The toe didn't seem to bother him as much against the Saints, as the two-time defending NFL rushing champion ran for 105 yards on 19 carries - his second 100-yard game of the season.
Tomlinson hasn't had any trouble running against the Chiefs lately, amassing 508 yards and five touchdowns on 68 carries in his last three games versus them. He should be able to find some running room Sunday, as the Chiefs are last in the league in rush defense (182.4) and have given up an NFL-high 14 rushing touchdowns.
The Chargers and Chiefs split their two meetings last season with each team winning on the road, but this season's Kansas City team has been in a funk.
The Chiefs have lost four in a row since a 33-19 win over Denver on Sept. 28 and have dropped 16 of 17 dating to last season.
Kansas City looked like it would earn its second victory last Sunday as it led Tampa Bay 24-3 with a little more than 2 minutes to go in the second quarter, but the Buccaneers rallied to win 30-27 in overtime. It was the biggest lead the Chiefs ever lost.
"We still have to learn how to finish the game," coach Herm Edwards said. "We have to make plays in certain parts of the game that you need to make. I think that comes with some experience."
Tyler Thigpen, making his third career start, was 14-for-25 for 164 yards and a touchdown and also caught a 37-yard TD pass from wide receiver Mark Bradley last Sunday. Thigpen has thrown for 444 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in his last two starts after throwing three picks in his first.
Running back Larry Johnson, suspended for this week's game by the NFL for violation of player conduct policy, will miss his fourth straight game.
Kolby Smith, who had started the three previous games while Johnson served a team benching for violating franchise rules, was lost for the season with a knee injury early in the second half against the Buccaneers.
That means rookie Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries last Sunday, will likely get a bulk of the carries versus San Diego.
Top Betting Trends
All games in this series since 1992
SAN DIEGO is 18-15 against the spread versus KANSAS CITY since 1992
KANSAS CITY is 19-14 straight up against SAN DIEGO since 1992
20 of 33 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
SAN DIEGO is 2-2 against the spread versus KANSAS CITY over the last 3 seasons
SAN DIEGO is 2-2 straight up against KANSAS CITY over the last 3 seasons
2 of 4 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at SAN DIEGO since 1992
SAN DIEGO is 10-7 against the spread versus KANSAS CITY since 1992
SAN DIEGO is 10-7 straight up against KANSAS CITY since 1992
11 of 17 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at SAN DIEGO over the last 3 seasons.
SAN DIEGO is 1-1 against the spread versus KANSAS CITY over the last 3 seasons
SAN DIEGO is 1-1 straight up against KANSAS CITY over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[RB] Jamaal Charles injured last game, "?" - Ankle - 10/26/08
[WR] Kevin Robinson expected to miss at least six weeks. - Knee - 08/27/08
[QB] Damon Huard IR - Hand - 10/22/08
[P] Dustin Colquitt missed last game, "?" - Groin - 10/26/08
[CB] Patrick Surtain injured last game, "?" - Quad - 10/27/08
(!) [RB] Larry Johnson is downgraded to doubtful - Disciplinary - 10/27/08
(!) [QB] Brodie Croyle IR - Knee - 10/19/08
[WR] Buster Davis missed last game, "?" - Groin - 10/26/08
[DB] Quentin Jammer injured last game, "?" - Hamstring - 10/26/08
[LB] Shawne Merriman IR - Knee - 09/10/08
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Posted: 11/05/08 9:38 PM ET