When looking at the matchup between conference foes, 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 York?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Diontae Johnson
Why: Who knows if JuJu Smith-Schuster’s knee is actually a problem, or if it was merely a situation where it needed some extra rest. Nonetheless, with Chase Claypool becoming a bona fide deep threat, you can expect the Texans’ defense to give him not just a huge cushion off the line of scrimmage, but also some safety help over the top.
The Texans like to be that bend-don’t-break defense, and will give up the underneath passes keeping the plays in front of them. It just so happens Diontae Johnson is one of the toughest players to bring down in open space.
Like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands... https://t.co/gLtfFC1k8A— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) September 24, 2020
Johnson and Ben Roethlisberger have been working hard on their connection this week, and I think it pays huge dividends in Week 3 vs. the Texans. It also might just be the difference in the outcome of the game.
X-Factor: Mike Hilton
Why: Hilton has been on the field more than two-thirds of the time for the Steelers defense so far in 2020, and his impact has been obvious. With one sack, one pass defensed, and two quarterback hits in each game so far along with a fumble recovery last week, if Hilton can continue to perform at a high-level he’s the type of player who could even be used if the Steelers decide to occasionally spy on quarterback Deshaun Watson so he does not burn them with his legs. If Hilton puts up strong numbers again this week, it’s great news for the Steelers defense and the team as a whole.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 3 game at Heinz Field? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!