By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots get to spend a few extra days out in sunny California, a nice bonus to having back-to-back games against Los Angeles opponents on their schedule. But as always, this is a business trip for New England.

There will be no fun and games on this trip. (You know, aside from the football game on Thursday night.) The Patriots are well aware of their postseason chances, which hinge not only on the team winning all four their remaining games, but getting some help along the way. With no margin for error, the team cannot lose focus the rest of the way.

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The Pats are in that position thanks to a four-game skid two months ago, plus an embarrassing loss to the Houston Texans in Week 11. But they’re back in the postseason conversation after winning four of their last five games, rounding into shape for the final stretch of the season. The Patriots got contributions from all three phases against the Chargers, leading to a 45-0 blowout victory. It was exactly what the team needed at the moment.

With three days between Sunday’s blowout win over the Chargers and Thursday night’s tilt against the Rams, the Patriots will now have a little bit of free time on their hands. They’ll be practicing at UCLA, but there isn’t much to do when they’re not preparing for the Rams.

They can use that non-football time to get even closer off the field, especially considering there isn’t much else for anyone to do during a global pandemic.

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“We spend a lot of time with each other anyway, but yeah, there’s nothing else to do out here except be in a hotel and get ready to play the Rams,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters on Monday. “I think it probably enhances our opportunity to interact. Although the environment puts some limitations on those. I think this is a team that has a lot of good leadership and guys work together well. Hopefully, that will be the case.”

The Patriots have opted to remain on the road a handful of times over the past few years, something the team always benefitted from. In a stroke of genius during the 2017 season, Belichick had the team spend a few days in Denver before heading to Mexico City for a game against the Raiders, preparing the team for the high altitude they’d be playing in that weekend.

The big advantage this time around was Patriots players getting some extra rest ahead of a short week.

“The big advantage last night — to play the game and come back to the hotel, watch the film — is players are resting. No travel involved,” Belichick said Monday. “It’s almost like having a home game. Those are good things. It’s a short week here, a real scramble for the Rams. But to not have any extra travel is a big advantage for us in terms of trying to get ready for the week.”

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WBZ gets you ready for Thursday night’s Patriots-Rams game starting Wednesday night with Patriots All Access at 7 p.m. After the Patriots and the Rams are done Thursday night, tune in to TV38 for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!

CBSBoston.com Staff