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Who is the Steelers’ X-Factor in Week 8 vs. the Baltimore Ravens?

Who is the X-Factor for the Steelers in their Week 8 game vs. the Ravens?

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8. It is only the Steelers’ third road game of the season, and hopefully their seventh win of the 2020 regular season.

When looking at the matchup between AFC North rivals, 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. Baltimore?

Let’s take a look...

Jeff Hartman

X-Factor: Chase Claypool

Why: The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense is versatile, and dynamic, and one of the reasons it has developed into such a unit is the depth they have at the wide receiver position. If the Ravens decide to put Marlon Humphrey, their best cornerback, on JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Marcus Peters on Diontae Johnson, it leaves a winnable matchup at the WR3 position.

Jimmy Smith would usually take that third option, but Smith’s availability for the game is in doubt. Let’s just assume Peters and Humphrey are able to neutralize their opposition. This means a player like Chase Claypool could, and should, be able to dominate with Randy Fichtner, and Ben Roethlisberger, putting Claypool in a position to succeed.

In case you forgot what he is capable of...

There is no doubt the Steelers’ have tremendous depth at wide receiver, and anyone is capable of being ‘the guy’ every time the Steelers offense takes the field. Could it be someone like James Washington?

It absolutely could, but I will put my money on Claypool. His stat line might not be mind-blowing, but I see him being a difference maker in the game in a big way. Hence why he is my X-Factor for this huge divisional game.

Dave Schofield

X-Factor: Cam Heyward

Why: The Steelers defensive captain is anchoring the best interior defensive line in the NFL by far. Yet, by the 2019 standards, Heyward has yet to completely take over a game as he had did in last year‘s All-Pro campaign. As the Steelers defense looks to slow down the Ravens’ NFL leading rushing attack, the guys in the trenches will need to control the line of scrimmage. With Heyward as their leader, stopping the run would go a long way for Steelers victory.

In 2019, Heyward had a sack in each matchup against Baltimore. If he could keep up the trend and get to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson again on Sunday, the Steelers defense could be setting up Ben Roethlisberger and the offense to not need a large point total in order to secure a victory.

Perhaps we can see more of this on Sunday...

Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 8 game at M&T Bank Stadium? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!