By Dave Thomas
Most athletes and coaches will tell you that one game does not make a season.
That said, there is no denying that Saturday evening's AFC West showdown at Arrowhead Stadium between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs is big.
In winning the first meeting 24-10 in Los Angeles back in September, the Chiefs looked to be in the driver's seat early in the season. In fact, the AFC West crown was all but being given to them with the Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and Denver Broncos nowhere to be found.
Fast-forward a little over a month later and we had ourselves a race. Yes, the Raiders are still in the hunt for the division crown, but they need help in order to win it. With the Broncos out of the race, it basically comes down to the Chargers and Chiefs over the next three games to decide it all.
So, what can you expect these next three weekends?
Chargers Carry Confidence Into Nation's Heartland
In heading to Kansas City for this all-important meeting, the Chargers know that even if they come away with a loss, they are still alive in the division. Things would get all but impossible for the Bolts to make up the necessary ground over the final two weeks to catch the Chiefs.
Winners of four straight, the Chargers have this Saturday's game in Kansas City, a Christmas Eve date in New Jersey with the floundering New York Jets, and a New Year's Eve home tilt with the rival Oakland Raiders.
In winning their last four games, the Chargers have been dominant in all four contests for the most part. In a 30-13 thumping of the visiting Washington Redskins last Sunday, the Chargers were never really threatened most of the day.
After hosting the Chargers on Saturday, the Chiefs will close out the season at home on Christmas Eve to Miami and on the road in Denver on New Year's Eve. Although Miami is in the hunt for an AFC Wild Card and the Broncos have won and played better in their last two games, Kansas City should be favored in both.
Few Notable Injuries Headed Into Showdown
When you play one of your division rivals with major stakes on the line, you want to go into the contest healthy. Before departing for Missouri, the Chargers noted their injury report, a report that does not find any major red flags on it other than one possible loss in the secondary.
Through Thursday practice, the Bolts reported that tight end Hunter Henry (42 receptions, 551 yards, four TD's) did go through a full workout despite dealing with a calf injury.
In dealing with a calf injury, corner Casey Hayward (35 tackles, four INT's) was the only member of the team listed as questionable for Saturday evening. Hayward did not practice with the team on Thursday.
So, with a relatively healthy squad and confidence to boot, Los Angeles will look to even the season series and control its own destiny through the remainder of the season.
Los Angeles reported the following injury update as of Friday:
- (TE) Antonio Gates (Rest) – Full Practice
- (TE) Hunter Henry (Calf) - Full Practice
- (DT) Corey Liuget (Toe) – Full Practice
- (T) Russell Okung (Knee) - Full Practice
- (ILB) Denzel Perryman (Abdomen) - Full Practice
- (S) Adrian Phillips (Hamstring) – Full Practice
- (C) Spencer Pulley (Knee) – Full Practice
- (CB) Casey Hayward (Calf) – Did Not Practice
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