DAVIE, Fla. -- Leave it to Randy Starks to tell the stone cold truth.
While everyone on the Dolphins talked the corporate line about Monday Night's game between the undefeated Dolphins (3-0) and undefeated New Orleans Saints (3-0) being just another game, Starks, the team's no-nonsense defensive tackle, preached brutal honesty.
Starks said this is a big game.
"Of course the next game is always the biggest," Starks said before breaking step with coaches and teammates, "but at the same time this is two undefeated teams. A lot of people didn't put us in this situation.
"We already beat one good team. It'd be nice to beat another one for the second week in a row. And it's on Monday night, prime time. Everybody can see what we have."
Before that can happen the Dolphins have to solve a lot of problems.
New Orleans feeds off of quarterback Drew Brees, one of the best in the business. Brees directs a high-powered offense that's tough to slow down once it gets going.
Then there's coach Sean Payton, an innovator who serves as the team's inspirational leader. He's back from his yearlong suspension related to the bounty scandal and he received a hero's welcome.
The Saints' defense has been re-born under the guidance of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who held the same position in Dallas. And then there's the ear-splitting noise in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
With this being a Monday Night game the crowd in New Orleans will have had a few hours to do what they do best -- party.
"It's a good place to play," cornerback Brent Grimes said. "I like it, it's cool. It's just a lot of energy in the building. And it's Monday night. They're going to be pumped up."
The Dolphins' biggest problem is the Saints' offense. New Orleans, which had the NFL's third highest-scoring offense last season at 28.8 points per game, is sixth in the league in total offense this season at 404.3 yards per game.
Brees is one of the NFL's elite signal-callers, and Grimes, who used to play for Atlanta and faced Brees twice a year, knows him well.
"He has the ability to make the throws," Grimes said, "but on top of the ability he knows the game, he's smart, he makes great pre-snap reads, he knows where blitzes are coming from, he can make tight throws that other quarterbacks can't make, and he has the confidence to make those throws."
Brees is third in passing (1,021 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions) and has some of the best weapons in the league.
That list includes Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, the NFL's third-leading receiver with 358 yards and four touchdowns.
Add in wide receiver Marques Colston (21 receptions, 202 yards, one touchdown) and running back Darren Sproles (65 yards rushing, 163 yards receiving) and the offense begins to take on a dangerous form.
Defensively, Ryan has instilled an aggressiveness the Saints haven't always had.
"They're playing fast," coach Joe Philbin said. "They're getting off blocks, they're tackling well, they're pursuing to the ball, their defensive line is showing up. Just all the good, fundamental principles of defensive football are showing up. He's done a nice job."
The Dolphins have a huge task ahead. But they also have an opportunity to turn heads nationally. Starks has an idea of what people think of the Dolphins nationwide.
"They probably think we've just been lucky, got wins in, probably not as good as we think we are, things like that," he said. "But that's all talk."
Starks realizes the Saints pose numerous challenges. But he also realizes the Dolphins are pretty good, too, and they have a chance to show that to everyone in America on Monday night.
"I think as long as we take care of business, keep stacking up wins, I mean, you can't deny us if our record is good," he said.
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