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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Injury-riddled Chiefs face tough road test against Patriots

Kansas City is without Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry ,and will start Tyler Palko at quarterback for injured Matt Cassel. Palko has thrown 13 NFL passes and has never started a game.

November 20, 2011|By Lance Pugmire
  • Quarterback Tyler Palko, throwing under pressure from Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil last week, will start for the Chiefs in place of injured Matt Cassel.
Quarterback Tyler Palko, throwing under pressure from Broncos defensive… (Peter Aiken / Getty Images )

Take away the running back, the tight end and the best defensive back, and the pain becomes excruciating.

When the Kansas City Chiefs fell on Philip Rivers' Halloween night fumble and created a three-way tie for the AFC West lead, however, the adversity of injuries to Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry seemed possibly surmountable.

But then quarterback Matt Cassel suffered a hand injury last week needing surgery, and now the road takes the Chiefs (4-5) to AFC East-leading New England (6-3).

Time to cry uncle.

The Chiefs are 14-point underdogs, having installed Tyler Palko as starting quarterback.

Palko vs. Tom Brady?

"It really doesn't matter ... what anybody else believes," Chiefs Coach Todd Haley said.

Palko, 28, has thrown 13 career NFL passes and has never started a game. The left-hander did beat out Joe Flacco as a college quarterback at Pittsburgh, and has proceeded to play for the New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, the California Redwoods of the United Football League and the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

"Sometimes you have to scrape the bottom before you can reap some benefits," Palko told reporters this week.

Whether this matchup qualifies as a benefit is in the eye of the beholder. Palko gets a slight break because New England is expected to be without cornerback Devin McCourty, while safety Patrick Chung is questionable with foot pain.

Led by Brady's 3,032 yards and 23 touchdowns, New England pounded its division rival New York Jets, 37-16, last week at MetLife Stadium.

And Brady would certainly love to attain a measure of revenge against a team that knocked him out for the season in the 2008 opener. The Chiefs defense ranks 22nd in the league.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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