Injury-riddled Chiefs face tough road test against Patriots

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.

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