When looking at the matchup between AFC and NFC, there are players who can be viewed as ‘X-Factors’.
What is an ‘X-Factor’?
I would describe an ‘X-Factor’ as a player who can truly alter the outcome of the game, single-handedly. Not just a plug and play type player, but a player who always has to be accounted for, no matter what.
As a clear-cut example of what an ‘X-Factor’ player would look like, think Troy Polamalu. Polamalu’s skill set made him a force to be reckoned with on every play. So, who are the ‘X-Factors’ for the Steelers Week 8 game vs. Miami?
Let’s take a look...
Offensive X-Factor: Mason Rudolph
Rudolph is the easy choice for the Steelers’ offense for plenty of reasons. Obviously, the quarterback position is the most important position in the NFL, but you have to hope Rudolph can step up and perform better than he has against the Rams’ defense. I doubt the Steelers will have much success running the football, so this game will come down to the arm of Mason Rudolph. I have faith he can get the job done, but the real question is whether the play calling will actually give him a chance to win the football game when it matters most.
Defensive X-Factor: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick is the choice for the defense because he seems to be the straw which stirs the drink in the back end of the secondary. If Jared Goff is indeed under pressure on Sunday, look for Fitzpatrick to jump some routes and try and add to his 4 interceptions on the season. Fitzpatrick has been an electric player since coming to the Steelers via trade after Week 2, and he has proven to be worth every penny of the asking price when the team shipped a 2020 first round pick to the Dolphins for his services. As he gets more comfortable in the system, he will only get better.
This week I asked Turf Show Times editor Joe McAtee a series of questions leading up to the game, and I asked him who he thought the Rams’ ‘X-Factor’ would be. Here was his response:
I know this is probably supposed to have me come up with a player, but I’m going to go with a position unit. The offensive line. The 2018 Rams had the best offensive line perhaps of my life. Two members from that line, LG Rodger Saffold III and C John Sullivan, are no longer Rams. The interior has had a few various lineups this year featuring five different players but looks to be set with David Edwards at left guard, Brian Allen at center and Austin Blythe at right guard. They’ll need to continue to develop as young players (Edwards is a rookie while Allen red-shirted last year, essentially), and the veterans on the outside in LT Andrew Whitworth and RT Rob Havenstein simply have to play better in the second half of the season as they did in the first.
Who would be your ‘X-Factor’ for the game? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the upcoming game!