Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers -- Week 9

Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego (outdoors, grass)

When: Thursday, 8:20 p.m., ET (NFL Network and local CBS)

Spread: Chargers by 8

Forecast: 58 degrees, slight chance of rain and a light breeze.

Records: Chargers (Overall: 3-4, AFC West: 2-1); Chiefs (Overall: 1-6, AFC West: 0-2).

Past results: Two most recent regular-season meetings -- Sept. 30, 2012: Chargers 37, Chiefs 20; Oct. 31, 2011: Chiefs 23, Chargers 20. Series record: The Chargers lead 53-51-1. Chargers have won eight of the last 10 and four straight at Qualcomm.

What matters: Fans should never be put in a position to cheer against their team. Unfortunately, this happens from time to time when a loss is perceived to improve the future of the franchise. Usually, this scenario plays out at the end of a season when poor teams jockey for draft selections.

Many Charger fans face this predicament at midseason because they perceive that a loss to the Chiefs may lead to the immediate dismissal of coach Norv Turner and perhaps even GM A.J. Smith.

A growing number of Chargers fans believe a midseason dismissal of these two would provide hope that the season could be salvaged. They envision the possibility of the season concluding with the Chargers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans without Smith and Turner on the field. Most intelligent fans would admit this is an extreme longshot but one that doesn't exist at all if Smith and Turner keep their jobs.

These same fans fear a Chargers win would provide more fuel for the franchise’s spin that that they can turn it around under Smith and Turner. In this scenario, Smith and Turner would be retained to the end of the season, or at least until the Chargers are eliminated from playoff contention. Either way, another season would have been wasted.

Chargers owner/president Dean Spanos has remained silent on the issue. Therefore, there are no guarantees Smith and Turner would be fired if the Chargers lose, leaving many fans conflicted about their desired outcome for the game.

Who matters: Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles rushed for 92 yards and a TD in Week 4 against the Chargers. He has 595 rushing yards, and the Chiefs rank first in the AFC with 155.1 rushing yards per game. The Chargers have the second-best run defense, allowing 80.0 rushing yards per game. Charles had just five carries for 4 yards Sunday against the Raiders.

The scariest thing for the Chargers is QB Matt Cassel may be playing for his future. Cassel was benched in Week 6 in favor of QB Brady Quinn. The Chiefs then had a bye in Week 7 and Quinn suffered a head injury last week early against the Raiders. Cassel may be able to retain the starting job with a strong performance. But Cassel has only completed 59.7 percent of his passes this season. He has thrown 10 interceptions and only six touchdowns. His passer-rating is a dismal 69.0.

Key matchups: If San Diego's defensive front can consistently pressure Cassel, San Diego will probably win. In Week 4, the Chargers defense sacked Cassel twice. Cassel was 24 of 42 for 241 yards, two TDs and three INTs for a passer-rating of 60.7. Smith’s main focus in the offseason was to improve San Diego's pass rush, but those efforts have not paid off. The Chargers have only 12 sacks, 24th in the league.

Injuries of note: WRs Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem may miss the game with hamstring injuries. WR/KR Richard Goodman (hamstring) was placed on the injured reserve list Monday. This would leave only WR Malcom Floyd, Danario Alexander and Seyi Ajirotutu as the healthy wide receivers. Alexander was signed last week and Ajirotutu on Monday. Neither has caught a pass this season.

The Chargers could sign WR Mike Willie off of their practice squad, or rookie TE Ladarius Green could be an extreme option at receiver.

RB Ronnie Brown led all receivers with seven receptions for 85 yards against the Browns. Brown is San Diego's second-leading receiver with 27 catches for 257 yards, so he'll likely be heavily targeted again.

Brown and the rest of the available receivers do not provide a true deep threat to complement WR Floyd. That makes it easier for the Chiefs defense to shut down Floyd and force the Chargers to rely on short passes and the running game. RB Ryan Mathews leads the team in rushing with 354 yards but has yet to have a 100-yard game this season and has only one TD. 

Inside stuff: Defensive coordinator John Pagano believes Charles will be used a lot more than he was Sunday against the Raiders. “[Charles] is one of the great running backs in the National Football League,” Pagano said. “I think they are going to increase his carries. I think it's going to be a lot more [than last week].”

Connections: Chargers FB Le'Ron McClain played for the Chiefs in 2011. ILB Demorrio Williams spent the last four seasons with the Chiefs (2008-11). RB Jackie Battle spent his first five seasons with the Chiefs (2007-11). OT Jared Gaither played 10 games for the Chiefs last season before he was waived.

Record watch: TE Antonio Gates (78) needs three touchdown catches to match WR Lance Alworth (81) for the franchise record. OLB Shaun Phillips has 65.0 career sacks, fourth in team history. Phillips needs a half-sack to tie Lee Williams (65.5) for third, and he needs two sacks to tie Gary “Big Hands” Johnson (67) for second.

Looking ahead: The Chargers will travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers (3-4). A match-up between two inconsistent teams and a critical game for both.  

Prediction: Chiefs 18, Chargers 16.

Food Drive: Fans can join with the Chargers and help the San Diego Food Bank by supporting the Chargers' annual Holiday Food Drive. The fan who brings the most nonperishable food items to the game will receive a special 50th Anniversary autographed football. Donation bins will be set up around the stadium.

Follow the Chargers and Dan McLellan on Twitter @CBSChargers and @sandiegosports.