As bad as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have it, at least they're not the Kansas City Chiefs.
A dark horse in the AFC West heading into the season, coach Romeo Crennel's team has had little beyond adversity thus far in 2012 -- and to top it off they'll enter a Week 6 Sunday at Raymond James Stadium with backup quarterback Brady Quinn making his first start in nearly three years.
Not only has Kansas City dropped to the division's basement, but it faces the Bucs with an NFL-high 19 turnovers and coming off a desultory stretch in which starting quarterback Matt Cassel had compiled an ugly 66.2 passer rating prior to a concussion in last week's home loss with Baltimore, which was greeted by cheers from the local crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.
Offensive lineman Eric Winston called the home fans' reaction "100 percent sickening."
Crennel was more diplomatic.
"This team needs to do more things to win," he said. "That's what we're going to work on, try to get this team to do more of the right things so that we can win."
Quinn last started in the NFL on Dec. 20, 2009, defeating the Chiefs while with the Cleveland Browns.
He was 3-for-3 for 32 yards and led Kansas City to a fourth-quarter field goal upon entering the game last week against the Ravens. A touchdown connection with Dwayne Bowe in that series was called back on a penalty.
"It felt great to be out there," Quinn said. "Matt is our starter and I just prepare every week like I am a starter, and I prepare myself for the moment."
The ex-Notre Dame star has completed 52.5 percent of his passes for 1,934 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions while starting 12 of 15 career games.
On defense, the Chiefs went from giving up 24 points in four straight games to holding Baltimore to just three field goals.
"If we will play like that going forward, we give ourselves a chance to win," Crennel said.
Running back Jamaal Charles has a league-best 551 yards on 102 carries with two scores, along with 15 catches for 118 yards and a TD. He broke out for 106 yards on 18 attempts when the Chiefs beat Tampa Bay, 30-27, at home on Nov. 2, 2008.
The Buccaneers opened 2012 with a six-point defeat of Carolina, but have gone on to lose three in a row by a combined 15 points. In spite of the skid, Tampa Bay is optimistic against Kansas City.
"You know what's great about this team is everybody's so encouraged. Nobody's down," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said.
The up-and-down Buccaneers scored 34 and 22 points in two of their games this season, but slipped beneath 20 points in two others.
Not surprisingly, quarterback Josh Freeman threw for 110 yards at Dallas in a 16-10 loss on Sept. 23, but burst out for 299 against Washington in a 24-22 loss at home a week later.
Ex-San Diego Charger standout Vincent Jackson reeled in six balls for 100 yards and a score against the Redskins, reaching triple digits for the second time in three games. Against Kansas City, he's averaged 63.8 yards and scored three times in 10 career games.
On defense, Tampa Bay is 27th in the league, allowing 419 yards per game. Still it's stiffened late in games and has given up just three second-half field goals in the last two.
"You look at us on tape, and you say: 'Wow.' It's a play here or a play there," offensive tackle Donald Penn said. "It's going to come, because it's right there."
The all-time series is tied, 5-5, though Tampa Bay has won three in a row. The Bucs beat the Chiefs, 30-27, when they last played in Kansas City in 2008, and won a 34-31 decision in Tampa Bay in 2004.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
With a relative novice in Quinn at the helm, the availability of the league's second-most prolific rushing attack could be a valuable asset for the Chiefs.
Back after missing most of last season with an injury, Charles has averaged 153.6 yards per game in his last three -- and has a league-high 133.8 scrimmage yards -- 551 rushing, 118 receiving -- per game for the season. Against the NFC since 2010, he's averaged 118.7 rush yards per game, compiling 831 yards in seven games.
His dynamic style could be an issue for the Buccaneers' front seven and make it incumbent upon linebackers Quincy Black, Mason Foster and Lavonte David to tackle well. Injury replacement Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, brought in as a starter in Week 3, will create the edge for the Bucs when they defend the run and figures to be a primary target for the Chiefs to investigate.
Though they've won just two of nine games combined, the teams have been maddeningly close to adding at least a few more to that total. And both have the weapons on offense - the Chiefs with Charles running, the Bucs with Jackson receiving - to pose a legitimate threat here. In the end, expect the absence of Cassel to allow Tampa Bay to limit Kansas City's runners enough to make a difference. Tie goes to the home team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buccaneers 20, Chiefs 19