BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots can get back to .500 for the first time since October if they can beat the Chargers in L.A. on Sunday.

New England cannot afford any more slipups, and although the Chargers are 3-8 on the season, they should not be taken lightly. L.A. has been keeping things close all season, and any missteps on Sunday could be the final nail in the coffin for New England’s playoff hopes.

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Will the Patriots win their fourth game in the last five weeks come Sunday? Here’s how the WBZ-TV and CBS Boston sports team sees Sunday’s game playing out:

Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports

The Patriots play two games in five days and both are in Los Angeles. The Chargers on Sunday, and the Rams on Thursday night.

The Chargers are 3-8 but just like the Texans, they’re better than their record shows. The Patriots know this.

The Pats also know they have to run the table to get into the playoffs, and they need a whole lot of help from the outside. Cam Newton and the offense need to pick up their game for anything good to happen.

Why not against the Chargers? The time is right.

Patriots 28, Chargers 17

Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports

This is the first of two games that are critical to any outside chance of the Patriots making the playoffs. They’ve won three of four and are playing good complementary football. That has to continue.

L.A.’s last three games have been against the AFC East. They lost by eight to Miami, beat the Jets by six points, and fell to Buffalo by 10. Go back and look at the Dolphins game — that is how the Patriots need to play to win.

Patriots 28, Chargers 24

Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports

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The Pats need to take both games in L.A., and their first one against the Chargers would most likely be the easiest to win.

The Chargers have a good young quarterback in Justin Herbert but it’s just that. He’s young and rookies make mistakes that cost games.

The Pats need to ride whatever momentum they have from that Cardinals win and get to .500. A strong running attack and better defense and the Patriots should get the victory.

Patriots 30, Chargers 21

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

The Chargers are the greatest 3-8 in NFL history. They really have a ton of talent, and they create a must-see game every week.

But the reality is that they can only beat awful football teams. Their three wins have come against the 0-11 Jets, the 1-10 Jaguars, and the 2-8-1 Bengals (in Week 1, when Joe Burrow took his first NFL snaps).

Against teams with capable coaches, the Chargers lose. And so, we will get a fun game and a narrow Patriots victory.

Patriots 20, Chargers 18

Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

The Patriots have lost to bad teams this year, but the Chargers are not a bad team despite being 3-8. And L.A. has only beaten the worst of the worst this season, so we’ll really find out a lot about the Patriots on Sunday.

As always with the Patriots, this one is going to be close to the end. But as long as they take care of the football and the defense forces Herbert into a mistake or two, New England should keep their playoff hopes alive for a few more days.

Patriots 23, Chargers 20

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Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Chargers game on WBZ-TV — the home of the New England Patriots! Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m., and after the game switch over to TV38 for full postgame reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!

CBSBoston.com Staff