By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Dolphins players are feeling pretty confident going into the 2017 season, especially for their AFC East showdowns with the Patriots. But head coach Adam Gase is taking a more measured approach.

Speaking to Mike Florio on the PFT Live podcast, Gase explained that he prefers being in a division with an opponent as tough as the Patriots. It certainly can’t hurt to be “battle-tested” from facing tougher regular season competition once you get to the playoffs. Win or lose, going against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will help the Dolphins know how good they really are.

“I think this is good for us because we get to go against the best twice a year and you know exactly where you stand in the NFL,” Gase said. “Last year they beat us twice and they beat us pretty handily both times. We really put ourselves in a hole and they let us know that we have a long way to go.”

To be fair to Gase and the Dolphins, they only lost by a touchdown in Week 2 in Foxboro, battling back from a 31-3 deficit in the second half as Ryan Tannehill shredded the Patriots defense for 387 yards and two touchdowns. It took second-quarter injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, who was shredding the Dolphins himself, to make that comeback possible. But Tannehill nonetheless deserves credit for playing well in that second half.

Week 17 was a different story, as the Patriots waxed the Dolphins 35-14 in Miami. The Dolphins followed that up with a decisive 30-12 loss at the hands of the Steelers in the Wild Card round. Gase & Co. ostensibly learned a thing or two about how hard it really is to win in the NFL with those games.

The Patriots will give the Dolphins as good of a litmus test as ever in the 2017 season. They don’t play each other until Week 12, and then again in Week 14 on Monday Night Football. The Patriots’ track record under Belichick suggests that they will be playing some of their best football of the season by the time those games come around.

It will be at that point when the Dolphins find out how close they really are in the AFC East.

Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS, CBS Radio, or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @Dolloff985 and email him at


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