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 1 game vs. New England?
Let’s take a look...
Defensive X-Factor: Safety, Sean Davis
It is easy to suggest if Davis would have played in Week 1 vs. the Patriots, instead of Kam Kelly, the Steelers’ defense would have done better against Tom Brady and company. While this is probably true to an extent, Davis is a key component of the Steelers’ secondary. When he is in the back half, Terrell Edmunds, and others, don’t have to worry about a rookie not doing their part in the defense.
I’m not suggesting Davis is the lynch pin of the defense, but having him back in Week 2, if he does indeed play, will be a huge boost for the Steelers.
Offensive X-Factor: Running Back, James Conner
The Steelers tried to get Conner going early in Week 1, but then turned to Jaylen Samuels. By the time the Steelers would get around to getting Conner back in the game, they were in full on trail mode. In other words, throwing the ball took a precedence over running the ball.
If the Steelers want to win in Week 2, they will need to get Conner going early and often to control the clock and impose their will on the Seahawks’ defense.
This week I asked Field Gulls editor Kenneth Arthur a series of questions leading up to the game, and I asked him who he thought the Patriots’ ‘X-Factor’ would be. Here was his response:
X-Factor for the Seahawks in this one could be Shaquill Griffin. He was drafted 90th overall in 2017 and played quite well for a third round rookie thrown into a starting role opposite of Richard Sherman. When Sherman was cut in 2018, Griffin had to move over to the other side of the field and he struggled for a good chunk of last season. We still don’t know how good Griffin will really be long term and if he can maintain as a starter, but he has looked good so far and he reported this week that he lost 18 lbs compared to where he was at this time a year ago.
The Seahawks have to find a way to not only not get burned by JuJu, but to not get burned by James Washington or a receiver we rarely talk about; the Bengals got to Seattle last week not with Tyler Boyd but with John Ross. Seattle can’t lose sight of any potential Pittsburgh x-factors and the key might start with Griffin playing like a number one corner.
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 prime time game!