New England Patriots: The key X-factor against Tom Brady and the Bucs

Matt Judon #9 and Deatrich Wise Jr. #91 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Matt Judon #9 and Deatrich Wise Jr. #91 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots X-factor against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is their pass rush, and one of their top players in particular.

The defense will have to be the difference-maker against the best quarterback in NFL history, Tom Brady, and Tampa Bay if the Patriots are to even their record at 2-2.

If the defense doesn’t step up, the Patriots will face a disastrous 1-3 beginning to the season, which could very well spell its de facto end.

The Tom Brady circus is in town and we will all have ring-side (or big top side) seats to this extravaganza on Sunday night.

The New England Patriots X-factor against the Bucs

All of the pass-rushers are in play. They include Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, and possibly Josh Uche if he is healthy. But one player is the key.

That would be Matt Judon. He has to be the X-factor on the defense and thus the game against Brady and his offensive machine.

No pass rush and sacks, no chance against the GOAT. No big effort from Matt Judon who leads the team in sacks, and no win. It’s not quarterback hits, not pressures, it’s sacks and only sacks.

Judon is the team’s best pass-rusher and a good candidate to be their best defensive player this season.

He broke out against the Saints with two and a half sacks, upping his season total to three and a half in three games.

He’s a ferocious pass rusher with outstanding speed, and he will have to have another monster game against Brady if the home team is to have any chance at all to emerge with a win.

Even if he does as he did against the Saints, the rest of his defensive teammates will also have to step up, as well. And that includes interception master, J. C. Jackson.

Matt Judon was the New England Patriots top free agent signing, and he’s playing like it

Judon came to New England as their highest-paid free agent. To date, he’s been as advertised. He’s on his way to a terrific season.

Judon signed a $54.5M four-year contract with $30M fully guaranteed according to

That was a good chunk of the team’s spending of owner Robert Kraft’s money in free agency. ESPN’s Mike Reiss pegged that amount at $159.6M in guaranteed money.

Judon is looking to be worth every cent. A big game by Judon leading to a win against Brady would be a statement game not only for him but for the defense and the entire team.

Absent a bundle of sacks against Brady, it’s light out in that tilt and likely for the entire season. Rebounding from a one and three start would be difficult at best.

Big things were expected earlier from Judon and he’s justified all those positives thus far. If Judon can keep his sack rate at one per game, he’s a cinch to be a Pro Bowler for the third year in a row.

In addition, he could maybe earn an All-Pro nod and even contend for the Defensive Player of the Year prize.

The New England Patriots need that type of effort from Matt Judon on Sunday night against Brady and company. Judon has the talent, the grit, and the competitive fire to be that X-factor.

Absent a big game from him and the defense, the Patriots could be looking at a long cold rest of the fall and winter at or near the bottom of the AFC East again.

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Hopefully, Judon will step up, shred the Bucs offensive line, get a haul of three sacks, and lead the defense and the Patriots to a huge win.

We don’t have long to wait to see. In three days on Sunday night, it’s game time at Gillette Stadium.