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Chargers Start Fresh With Familiar Foe

Another slow first half could come at a price

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    of the San Diego Chargers of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game on September 13, 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

    The way they run the football. The way they fly to the ball defensively.

    When coach Norv Turner looks at the Kansas City Chiefs, he doesn't just see the team his Chargers lost to in the season opener and now sit two games behind in the AFC West

    He sees the Oakland Raiders.

    One week after losing 28-13 to the Silver and Black, the Chargers will face a familiar brand of opponent on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

    “We’re playing a team that is very much by style like the Raiders,” Turner said. “They’re going to run the ball. They’ve got two outstanding running backs. They’re very patient with the run. They’re a very good defensive front, and they’ve got two outstanding corners.... I’m sure they’re going to use a game plan that’s very similar.”

    With, he hopes, a different result.

    Not only would a Sunday loss eliminate the Chargers' widest -- by matter of comparison -- playoff window by clinching the Chiefs' first division title since 2003, it would place the Chargers at least two games back of a wildcard spot, with three games remaining.

    The scenario would be grim; starting fast on Sunday is the key to avoiding it.

    Another stumble like the Chargers' recent 21-3 first-half deficit to the Raiders would allow the Chiefs the luxury of force-feeding running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, as the Raiders did with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush.

    So has been the story during the Chiefs' current three-game winning streak.

    Charles and Jones have combined to average 34 carries for 190 yards with three touchdowns over that span, with Kansas City leading by at least a touchdown at halftime in each of those games.

    The duo had 22 carries and 141 yards in the teams' first meeting this season, a total bolstered by a 56-yard touchdown run by Charles that helped the Chiefs to 21-7 halftime lead. They won 21-14.

    “Look, it's been playoff-type football, really, since we were 2-5, and we handled it pretty well up until [last Sunday],” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “We're still in the same position. We obviously know what this game means and what we have to do to stay alive. Winning this game doesn't get us anything, but it keeps us above water.”

    They just can't afford another sinking start.