The Patriots headed out to California with a 5-6 record, but they can come home to Foxboro above .500 if they can sweep two games in five days against the NFL's two Los Angeles franchises, starting with the Chargers.
Sunday's game marks the start of a three-game road trip for New England, which will stay in L.A. for a Thursday night contest against the Rams before flying back east.
It's the first time the Patriots will see Chargers starting quarterback Justin Herbert, who took over for Tyrod Taylor as the team's starter back in Week 2 and has played some electrifying football, despite recording just two wins in 10 games. The rookie has thrown 23 touchdowns against only seven interceptions with a quarterback rating of 100.9.
None of Herbert's starts have been blowouts, but Anthony Lynn's team continues to be snakebitten in close games, with a 4-16 record in games decided by fewer than 10 points over the last two seasons, including a 2-7 mark this season.
As for the Patriots, Cam Newton is on track to start despite landing on the team's injury report with an abdomen issue and being limited in practice this past week. He'll be looking for some redemption after a brutal performance last week against Arizona, when he completed only nine passes and finished with a career-worst 84 passing yards in a 20-17 win.
The game figures to be a must for New England's slim playoff hopes, as the Patriots are one game back of the Ravens and Raiders -- and two games behind the Dolphins and Colts, who occupy the AFC's final two wild card spots entering Week 13.
Here's how and when to watch Patriots (5-6) vs. Chargers (3-8) in Week 13.
When: Sunday, Dec. 6 at 4:25 p.m. ET
TV channel: CBS