For roughly the 10th time in the last 10 years, the New England Patriots enter the season as the prohibitive favorites in the AFC East. New England was a surprising value last year and even then they were -275 to win the division; they cruised to 14 victories and the title even with Tom Brady suspended four games for Deflategate.
There is no such suspension for Brady this year, and the Pats are massive favorites to win the division after winning the offseason through a slew of bold moves (notably: trading for Brandin Cooks and signing Stephon Gilmore in free agency).
Despite that, the presumptive top challengers to New England, the Miami Dolphins, are not scared. So says defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who told NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" that the Dolphins have "never been scared" of the Pats and "never will be."
"I think we respect all opponents we have. We obviously start the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and look forward to that. We have many more games prior to [New England] that are going to be big focuses," Suh said. "But we understand that New England is at the top of the [AFC] East of the right now. And we understand that we need to have certain particular gameplans for them as they do for us.
"One great thing about Miami and this team is we've never been scared of the New England Patriots and we never will be. With that being said when we play them late in the season we'll be prepared."
It's June, so this is going to get run, but the reality is that Suh's only echoing a sentiment the Dolphins espoused during the 2016 season when they were making a playoff run. The belief from coach Adam Gase is that the Dolphins have to believe you can beat the Patriots if they want to succeed. That's a good thing. It's the same thing as a player believing they're the best at their respective position; if you don't think you're the best at something, good luck actually achieving your goals in the competitive world of the NFL. (Or anywhere, really.)
Suh is on board with that notion, even while understanding that there are plenty of non-Patriots games that will help to decide if the Dolphins season is a success or not.