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Patriots need to avoid the classic Miami trap game

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Miami Gardens has not been New England’s friendly confines.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Kenyan Drake’s heroics from last season serves as a reminder to never assume a victory down in Miami.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots will be traveling down to Miami this weekend to take on the Dolphins in a Week 2 matchup. Over the years, Miami has been a classic trap game, with horrible losses in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. That list has included teams that have won Super Bowls, so even some of the Patriots’ best have had trouble down in Miami.

This week isn’t a gimme game, either.

No matchups in the division will ever be a gimme game until the game is actually played.

While the Dolphins may be tearing down their roster to the studs in a rebuild effort, the Patriots should never take a division rival lightly in any circumstance. There are plenty of reasons for the Dolphins’ roster to play their tails off this week. For Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and his staff, it’s a measuring stick for their team to see where they are relative to the team with an ironclad grip in the division. For the Dolphins’ players, their performances against New England will not go unnoticed, especially if it’s a good one. With reports circling around that some players want out, a good performance could lead to an AFC contender pulling the switch on a potential trade to try to get an advantage on the Patriots for a potential AFC playoff matchup.

On the Patriots’ end of things, New England very much looks like a Super Bowl contender after their dominant victory over the Steelers. The Steelers are one of the teams that figure to be in the conference’s playoff mix, regardless of what fan overreaction went on over there.

You worry a bit about a potential letdown game after an emotional win and hanging up a banner to celebrate last season’s accomplishments. The Patriots must stay grounded, focus on the game they play Sunday and not overlook a division rival simply because everyone believes they’re going to be terrible.

Fortunately, no locker room better preaches that mantra than the Patriots.