By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Last October, the Patriots beat the Dolphins in Miami 41-14. Their longest touchdown drive was 15 yards. Three return touchdowns in the second half and that 15-yard TD drive set up by a blocked punt accounted for 28 of the 41.My point, the Patriots' offense had a quiet night down there. Monday could be the same story. The Dolphins are not seen as an NFL power in 2011, but their defense is underrated. "I don't know how people rating 'em but trust me, they look good on film," warned Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch. The key, Branch said, is the unpredictability of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. "Coach Nolan's doing a great job," lauded Branch. "Everywhere he's been though, even when he was in San Francisco, guys were aggressive. They got two good corners, safeties are good . . . they bring everything. It's hard to get a good grip on what they're doing because once he gets you with something, he comes back and hits you with something else. They're always going to hit you with another look."The secondary is decent but the depth and talent of the Miami front-seven iswhat will keep the Dolphins in games. Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Kendall Langford and Jared Odrick are the key guys on the front; Cameron Wake,Karlos Dansby, Jason Taylor andKevin Burnett areblitz threats among the linebackers. "Honestly, it's all about adjusting on the fly," said Branch. "For a coach like Nolan, you don't know what you're gonna get, we have to be on our game. They're gonna be thinking, 'We have to get to 12 before this or that happens.' Overall, first game, hostile environment, we have to be ready."Much easier said than done. And that's why this may be a much closergame than expected. Vegas has installed the Patriots as seven-point favorites.
By Tom E. Curran