Patriots out to avoid historically bad start against Steelers

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The New England Patriots are hoping to avoid starting the season 0-2 when they visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, and Bill Belichick's team could be in line for a piece of unwanted history should they fail to perform against their AFC rivals.

New England suffered a 20-7 loss the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, Mac Jones and the offense struggling to get anything going as the Patriots' quarterback battled back spasms.

Should they lose by double digits again at Acrisure Stadium, it would mark the first time they have started a season with double-digit losses since losing three straight by that margin to begin the 1969 season.

The bad news for New England is that since Mike Tomlin became Steelers head coach in 2007, nine of the 10 games between Pittsburgh and the Patriots have been decided by at least a touchdown, with the average margin of victory being 14.7 points.

The good news? The Patriots have won seven of those matchups.

Yet the Patriots are hardly in an ideal situation to continue their dominance over the Steelers.

Jones has battled illness this week but is set to play in Pittsburgh. Yet, going against a defense that picked off Joe Burrow four times in the Steelers' season-opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals – their 25th overtime victory since the extra period was implemented in 1974, the third-most in the NFL – he picked a particularly bad week to miss practice time.

The Steelers are without star edge rusher T.J. Watt because of the torn pectoral muscle he suffered in Week 1 but avoiding leaving Pittsburgh having done something no Patriots team has done for 53 years promises to be a difficult challenge for Jones and New England.