The New England Patriots have held the rest of the AFC East under their boot for more than a decade, winning all but one division title since 2003. It would be easy to understand how the yearly torment could lead to emotionally battered players willing to concede the crown to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick with little resistance.
Yet there is a bravado emanating from South Beach, where the Miami Dolphins players sound ready to make a run at the Patriots. One example: earlier this offseason receiver Jarvis Landry said Miami would sweep New England in 2017.
"I think we respect all opponents we have, we obviously start the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and look forward to that," he said when asked how much he focuses on the Patriots. "We have many games prior to [the Patriots] that are going to be big focuses. But we understand that New England is at the top of the East right now. We understand that we need to have certain particular game plans for them, as they do for us. Taking that into account, I think one of the great things about Miami and this team, we've never been scared of the New England Patriots. We never will be. So, with that being said, when we play them late in the season, we'll be prepared."
It's true that the Dolphins have given the Patriots the most trouble of any team in the AFC East over the past handful of years -- though that's not saying much. Miami is the one team to disrupt New England run of division titles, taking the crown in 2008. The Dolphins also split contests from 2013 to 2015.
Coming off a playoff appearance in Adam Gase's first season, there is a lot to like in Miami. From a diverse set of wideouts, to power back in Jay Ajayi, to a good offensive line, to a solid defensive front led by Suh, Cameron Wake and first-round pick Charles Harris, to an improving secondary.
A lot will happen before the Dolphins and Pats meet in Weeks 12 and 14. As fans of football, let's hope the bravado in Miami doesn't wane before then and we get pivotal matchups for the AFC East title down the stretch for a change.