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Allen Park — After three uninspiring preseason performances, Lions head coach Matt Patricia nudged reporters to look up preseason numbers of “some of the teams and see where they finished.”

The trail of breadcrumbs could lead to his Patriots, which went 1-3 last preseason with Patricia as defensive coordinator, with the win coming in Detroit. New England then rolled off a 13-3 season and another Super Bowl berth.

“I think our fans totally understand that this is a hard-working team,” said Patricia, whose team is 1-2 heading into Thursday's preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns. “Hopefully whatever the team looks like now in preseason, it’ll look better in September. And then hopefully in September, then it’ll look better in October.”

The Patriots defense struggled in September, allowing an average of 32.0 points per game in a 2-2 start before winning 11 of the last 12 games, never allowing more than 27 points the rest of the regular season.

Last season, four of the 12 playoffs teams finished 0-4 or 1-3 in the preseason. Only Pittsburgh (3-1) finished with a winning record.

“There is definitely a flow to this, I would say, that is a little bit normal,” Patricia said. “How long that process takes, I’m not going to put an answer on that.”

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.