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Kansas City to give strong test to San Diego’s weak side

The Kansas City Chiefs are displaying a defending champion’s resilience.

The San Diego Chargers are being labeled as weak-minded, lacking intestinal fortitude and — yes — soft.

Sure, the Chargers are 4-2 and possess a one-game lead over the Chiefs (3-3) in the AFC West, but as quarterback Philip Rivers leads his team into always-tough Arrowhead Stadium for a Monday night game, rallying Kansas City is ready to push back.

The change in momentum actually started Sept. 25, as the Chiefs crossed midfield attempting to upset the host Chargers, only to have quarterback Matt Cassell force an ill-advised pass that Chargers safety Eric Weddle intercepted to preserve a 20-17 victory.

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The Chiefs fell to 0-3 that day, yet they have since adapted to season-ending injuries to key members of their 2010 division-title team: running back Jamaal Charles, tight end Tony Moeaki and defensive back Eric Berry.

Running back Jackie Battle stepped in and ran for 119 yards in a victory at Indianapolis on Oct. 9, when the Chiefs trailed, 24-7, and won, 28-24. Cassell has found receiver Dwayne Bowe for 496 yards and four touchdowns this season.

And the Chiefs’ defense forced six turnovers last week in a 28-0 upset at division rival Oakland (4-3).

The Chiefs are 8-2 at home in their last 10 games there, and their upset of visiting San Diego in last year’s Monday night opener was the springboard to their division-title run.

Now, the Chargers will work to pound running backs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert against the league’s 25th-ranked run defense, while hoping Rivers stops his erratic ways (seven touchdowns and nine passes intercepted). In last week’s loss at the New York Jets, which included a blown 11-point lead, Rivers was 16 of 32 and unorganized in the last two minutes.

Worse, the secondary gave up three touchdown passes to the same receiver, Plaxico Burress — a painful defeat that did nothing to calm thoughts that Coach Norv Turner doesn’t properly emphasize mental toughness.

With the AFC West lead on the line, the theory gets tested again by the Chiefs.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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