At 10-3, the Bolts are just a game behind the Chiefs (11-2) in the AFC West division standings. The Chargers, however, have lost nine straight to the Chiefs, dating back to the start of the 2014 season.
In order to have a chance against the Chiefs, the Chargers have to figure out how to contain second-year pro Patrick Mahomes, who leads the league in passing yards (4,300) and passing touchdowns (43).
“He’s the best quarterback in the league this year so far," Chargers pass-rusher Joey Bosa said. "To be successful against them, obviously you’re going to have to slow him down.”
The Chargers could win the division for the first time since 2009 with a defeat of the Chiefs, along with Kansas City losing one of their two remaining games (on the road against the Seattle Seahawks or at home against the Oakland Raiders) while winning out.
"We have to get going, start shifting gears and hurry," QB Philip Rivers said.
“It’s good to win. We haven’t won 10 games since 2009. That’s a long time, and it’s hard to do that in this league. ... But we have to move on in a hurry.”
The Chargers can also clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Chiefs, which would be the franchise’s first since 2013, ending the Bolts’ longest playoff drought since missing eight straight postseasons from 1996 to 2003.
The Chargers have not defeated the Chiefs since a 24-21 overtime victory in the final game of the 2013 season that propelled them to the postseason in 2013, so things could come full circle with a win over Kansas City.
This is a game-by-game breakdown of the Chargers’ misery at the hands of Kansas City over the past five seasons.
Oct. 19, 2014: Chiefs 23, Chargers 20 -- Kansas City ended a five-game winning streak for the Chargers by playing keep away from Rivers, holding on to the ball on offense for nearly 40 minutes. The Chargers ran just 49 plays and recorded just 251 yards of total offense. Kicker Cairo Santos made a 48-yard field goal to win the game for K.C. with 21 seconds left.
Dec. 28, 2014: Chiefs 17, Chargers 9 -- The Chargers just needed a win over the Chiefs against backup quarterback Chase Daniel to reach the playoffs for a second straight season but could not get anything going on the offensive side of the football. The injury bug plagued the Chargers the second half of the season. The Chargers started five different players at center and finished the season with their top two playmakers (Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen) and starting cornerbacks (Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett) unavailable.
Nov. 22, 2015: Chiefs 33, Chargers 3 -- Rivers was held to a season-low 178 passing yards and pushed the Bolts’ losing streak to six games.
Dec. 13, 2015: Chiefs 10, Chargers 3 -- December in Kansas City means another "L" for the Chargers, as Rivers was sacked a season-high five times and the Bolts scored just three points again facing a rugged Kansas City defense.
Sept. 11, 2016: Chiefs 33, Chargers 27 -- The Chargers led 24-3 midway through the third quarter, which prompted some fans to file out of Arrowhead Stadium. However, the Chargers somehow managed to let Kansas City tie the game in regulation and win it in overtime.
Jan. 1, 2017: Chiefs 37, Chargers 27 -- The Mike McCoy era came to an end soon after, when president of football operations John Spanos relieved the beleaguered head coach of his duties after media availability.
Sept. 24, 2017: Chiefs 24, Chargers 10 -- Even with a change of head coach in Anthony Lynn, the Chargers still couldn't change their luck against the Chiefs, losing at the StubHub Center. Rivers threw three interceptions in his team’s first four possessions.
Dec. 16, 2017: Chiefs 30, Chargers 13 -- In a nationally televised game with playoff implications, Rivers threw three interceptions against the Chiefs for the second time in the season, which led to 10 K.C. points.
Sept. 9, 2018: Chiefs 38, Chargers 28 -- Mahomes had an impressive debut in his first year as the team's starter, with Alex Smith now in Washington, and the Chargers forgot to cover Tyreek Hill. But the Chargers moved the football on offense. Rivers threw for 424 passing yards and three touchdowns -- the most yards Rivers has thrown in a season opener in his NFL career. The Chargers also got a combined 292 yards from scrimmage from running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.