Patriots Use Bye To Prepare For Stretch Run

With a pair of games against the resurgent Dolphins book-ending games against the Colts, Jets and Saints, New England has a tough road ahead.

After a much-needed weekend of relaxation following their tour of London, the New England Patriots are about to get back to busy with a more worthwhile opponent on the horizon.

The Patriots will face a legitimate test this weekend when they host the resurgent Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

For the first three weeks of the season, it looked as if the Patriots would be running neck-and-neck with the Jets for AFC East supremacy -- especially after the Jets beat them at the Meadowlands in Week 2 -- but the Dolphins invited themselves to the party with a big win Sunday against New York to pull to within one-half game of their division rivals.

It's a three-team race. The Patriots are preparing to put their best foot forward Sunday to avoid dropping the first game of the season series to each of their two prime AFC East counterparts.

"We had a couple tough games with them last year and we're certainly well aware of all the skill players they have and the toughness they have in the running game on both sides of the ball and a good job that they do down there coaching," head coach Bill Belichick said.

"We'll try to pull things together here after the Jets game and add that to all the other information we had from earlier in the week and get to work on these guys, get back on the field tomorrow and try to get an extra day -- a little extra jump on them -- which I am sure we'll be able to use."

The Patriots will have to be wary of Miami's Wildcat offense. The Dolphins picked them apart early last season with their unorthodox attack, but the Patriots bounced back in the rematch to earn the series split. Opposing teams have complained about the Wildcat, but few have been able to stop it, which is the Dolphins continue to run it with tremendous success.

"I think the most important thing is that we're sound on it and we're prepared for it," Belichick said. "If we get it, we at least know how to play it and the different things that come out of it, but they certainly do a lot of other offensive groups -- formations and personnel grouping besides that and we have to be ready for all those. It's certainly a challenging aspect to the whole preparation process.

"We want to be able to defend that, but at the same time we don't want to commit so much time to it that we don't do a good job on the other things they do as well. Hopefully, we'll be able to use a little bit of the extra time this week to get those bases covered, but it's definitely a preparation problem they present."

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