With Patrick Mahomes sitting out, Chiefs visit Chargers in final tuneup before playoffs


Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST, CBS

BETTING LINE: Chargers by 3 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Chiefs 8-7-1; Chargers 6-10.

SERIES RECORD: Chiefs lead 68-58-1.

LAST MEETING: Chiefs beat Chargers 31-17 on Oct. 22 in Kansas City.

LAST WEEK: Chiefs beat Bengals 25-17; Chargers lost to Broncos 16-9.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Chiefs minus-11; Chargers even.

CHIEFS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Blaine Gabbert will make his first start since Dec. 30, 2018, when he was with the Tennessee Titans and played the Indianapolis Colts. Gabbert got the nod so that Patrick Mahomes could get the week off ahead of the playoffs, because the Chiefs already have clinched the AFC West title and the No. 3 seed. Gabbert has made 48 starts and appeared in 68 games over his 12-year career.

CHARGERS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Quentin Johnston has struggled in his rookie season, so a productive finale would do wonders for the No. 21 pick from TCU. What is particularly alarming has been an inability to stretch the field, producing one play of more than 30 yards after that was one of his best attributes in college. Johnston had three grabs for 29 yards against the Broncos, his third straight game under 30 yards since QB Easton Stick became the starter.

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KEY MATCHUP: Chiefs wide receivers vs. Chargers secondary. If ever Kansas City needed the right opponent to build up some confidence for its pass catchers headed into the postseason, a defense allowing 256 yards per game through the air would certainly qualify. The Chargers gave up gains of 54 and 41 yards to Broncos QB Jarrett Stidham, so the experienced Gabbert should be able to give the likes of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson and Richie James chances to make plays.

KEY INJURIES: Chiefs WR Rashee Rice (hamstring), WR Kadarius Toney (hip) and CB L’Jarius Sneed (calf strain) were declared out on Friday. RB Isiah Pacheco (quad bruise) is questionable. … WR Keenan Allen (heel) is set to miss his fourth straight game, while LB Kenneth Murray Jr. (shoulder) and OL Zion Johnson (neck) are doubtful to play in the finale. OLB Tuli Tuipulotu is questionable after rolling his ankle in practice this week.

SERIES NOTES: The Chiefs have won all three games against the Chargers at SoFi Stadium by a combined 12 points. Two of those games were decided in overtime. … Kansas City has won four straight in the series, having scored 30 or more in three of those games. … The Chiefs’ 14-point margin of victory over the Chargers in Week 7 marked the second time in the past 11 games where either team won by more than 10 points.

STATS AND STUFF: The Chiefs have 54 sacks this season, tying the 1997 team for third most in a season. They need two to pass the 2022 team (55) and seven to break the record set by the 1990 team (60). … Travis Kelce needs 16 yards receiving for his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season. That would extend his franchise record and the NFL record for a TE. It would also be the fourth-longest streak in NFL history overall. … Kelce needs one TD reception to pass Jason Witten (74) for the fifth most by a TE in NFL history. He needs three to pass Toney Gonzalez (76) for the Chiefs record. … Kelce also needs 10 catches to pass Gonzalez (916) for the most in club history. … WR Rashee Rice needs one TD to tie Johnny Robinson and Mike Garrett for the fifth most by a Chiefs rookie. … Rice needed 58 yards receiving to pass Dwayne Bowe (996) for the most by a rookie in franchise history. … C Creed Humphrey can tie Art Still for the third-longest streak of consecutive starts to a career in franchise history with his 51st on Sunday. … Chargers K Cameron Dicker is 7 of 9 on field goals of 50 yards or longer, and those seven makes are a team single-season record. … OLB Khalil Mack became the seventh active player with 100 or more sacks by picking up his 16th of the season against Denver. Mack (100 1/2) joined an elite group that includes Bills OLB Von Miller (123 1/2), Saints DE Cameron Jordan (117 1/2), Patriots DE Chandler Jones (112), Chiefs OLB Justin Houston (112), Rams DL Aaron Donald (111) and Falcons DE Calais Campbell (104 1/2). … QB Easton Stick has not thrown a touchdown or an interception in his past two starts. He has not completed a pass longer than 27 yards in that stretch. … RB Austin Ekeler has run for 39 touchdowns in seven seasons with the Chargers. LaDainian Tomlinson (138) and Chuck Muncie (43) are the only players in franchise history with 40 or more rushing scores. … The Chargers are trying to avoid their first 12-loss season since 2015.

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FANTASY TIP: Chiefs RB La’Mical Perine might be worth the gamble in hopes he becomes an unlikely fantasy star. There is no reason to risk Pacheco’s health in a game of no significance, and the Chiefs should want to bring someone else up to speed with Jerick McKinnon (groin) on injured reserve.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

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