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Sliding AFC West teams collide
NFL picks
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NEW YORK — It might be less of a collision and more of a mere bump in the night when the Chargers and Chiefs meet tonight.
It will be televised on the NFL Network. Both teams are in free-falls. San Diego started out 3-1 and now has lost three straight, looking progressively worse in each outing. A 7-6 loss at Cleveland was the low point.
Unless, that is, the Chargers manage to lose at home to Kansas City, which has crashed to the bottom of the AP Pro32 rankings and has dropped four in a row, six of seven. San Diego (No. 22, AP Pro32) is an 8-point favorite.
The way the Chargers are playing, there aren’t many teams that would be underdogs against them. Their passing game is falling apart both throwing the ball and defending it. They have trouble protecting Philip Rivers, whose performances have been spotty, and they miss big-play receiver Vincent Jackson, now with Tampa Bay.
“We’ve not been able to put together the kind of consistency we need to,” said coach Norv Turner, whose job security is teetering. “Usually, it’s a different thing in each situation where you have an opportunity to make a big play. You only get so many in a game.”
Opponents get more chances against Kansas City than most others, though. The Chiefs, who go back to starting Matt Cassel at quarterback with Brady Quinn out with a concussion, have a stunning 25 turnovers (13 interceptions, 12 fumbles); next worst in the AFC is Buffalo with 17.
Count on a few takeaways for the Chargers. ...

The picks:
No. 28 Buffalo (plus 10) at No. 3 Houston — Both teams coming off byes. Bills really need it, Texans not so much.
No. 19 Tampa Bay (plus 1 1/2) at No. 25 Oakland — Raiders barely edged weak Jaguars at home, now get another — and better — Florida opponent.
No. 9 Baltimore (minus 3 1/2) at No. 29 Cleveland — Rested and angry at themselves for their blowout loss before the bye, Ravens will roll. ... RAVENS, 23-10
No. 8 Denver (minus 3 1/2) at No. 21 Cincinnati — Peyton’s comfort level makes picking the Broncos very, uh, comfortable. ... BRONCOS, 27-24
No. 20 Arizona (plus 11) at No. 6 Green Bay — Maybe a trip away from the desert will help the collapsing Cardinals. Nah. ... PACKERS, 31-13
No. 11 Miami (minus 2 1/2) at No. 16 Indianapolis — Got to love way Dolphins are overachieving. Same for Colts. ... DOLPHINS, 17-16
No. 30 Carolina (plus 3 1/2) at No. 18 Washington — Cam vs. RG3. Go with the team that can protect the ball better. ... REDSKINS, 27-20
No. 14 Detroit (minus 3 1/2) at No. 31 Jacksonville — Lions are immature enough to fall into this trap. Or barely avoid it. ... LIONS, 22-20
No. 5 Chicago (minus 3 1/2) at No. 26 Tennessee — Bears have best secondary in the league right now. ... BEARS, 27-13
No. 12 Minnesota (plus 5) at No. 13 Seattle — Did Vikings come down to earth with loss to Bucs? Yep. ... SEAHAWKS, 23-16
No. 10 Pittsburgh (plus 3 1/2) at No. 2 New York Giants — A pair of teams on the upward path. Giants climbing faster. ... GIANTS, 24-20
No. 15 Dallas (plus 4) at No. 1 Atlanta — Wonder how the Cowboys will blow this one. ... FALCONS, 28-27
No. 17 Philadelphia (plus 3 1/2) at No. 23 New Orleans, Monday night — Time for Eagles to put up or shut up. Hush ... SAINTS, 30-20

2012 RECORD:
Against spread: 4-9 (44-70-3). Straight up: 7-7 (66-52)
Best Bet: 3-4-1 against spread, 6-2 straight up.
Upset special: 5-3 against spread, 3-5 straight up.