Patriots

Bedard: Shaq Mason referendum coming vs. Fletcher Cox, and other Eagles-Patriots thoughts

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There are fewer scarier sentences for an offense in today's NFL than, "Fletcher Cox is playing really well."

The Eagles' 6-foot-4, 310-pound defensive tackle is about fearsome a sight as there is in the league. If you were to draw up the specifications for an ideal interior tackle, Cox would be it. He's got long arms, big hands and is built like a Mack Truck. He's got tree trunks for legs and his upper body strength is incredible.

That's what is waiting for Patriots right guard Shaq Mason in Sunday's matchup with the Eagles. In the past, you'd like this matchup from a New England perspective. Mason, 26, had steadily built himself from a fourth-round pick into one of the elite guards in the NFL to the point the Patriots rewarded him with a lucrative contract extension last year.

And in their only other matchup, Super Bowl LII, Mason more than held his own against Cox. Of the four pressures Mason allowed in a game with 51 dropbacks, two came courtesy of Brandon Graham, who does not kick inside as much this season. Yes, those Graham pressures were huge, including the game-deciding strip-sack, but Mason did an outstanding job against Cox and overall.

Will that happen again? The only thing we know for sure is that entering this matchup, Mason hasn't played close to his previous levels. Whether or not he regains his form on Sunday could