When looking at the matchup between inter-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 5 game vs. the Broncos?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Ben Roethlisberger
Why: Have things ever been this bad for Roethlisberger? Has the fan base ever been this down on the future Hall of Fame quarterback? To be honest, his play this season has been bad, and a large reason for the slow start. Nonetheless, these reasons, and many more, are why he is an X-Factor in the game vs. the Broncos. Fans are expecting, almost waiting, for Roethlisberger to turn the corner and start playing the way he has in the past. Is today the day? If the Steelers want to avoid a 1-4 start, it better be.
X-Factor: Devin Bush
Why: The strength of the Broncos offense is the running game. If they are forced to put the ball in the air, there are all kinds of things the Steelers can do both in pressuring the quarterback and in coverage. But to get there, the Steelers simply have to stop the run. To do that, look for the Steelers former first-round pick to step up if they’re going to shut things down.
Joe Rowles (Mile High Report)
X-Factor: Dre’Mont Jones, Malik Reed and Noah Fant
Why: On defense I’d say Dre’Mont Jones and Malik Reed are the two unsung Broncos to keep an eye on. Both look like they should be able to find ways to the quarterback and need to to force Roethlisberger into mistakes. Jones is the Broncos best pass rusher with a very good burst and a refined pass rush repertoire, while Reed is the edge rusher who’s taken over for Bradley Chubb. With the Steelers run game so iffy, I expect Fangio to dial up stunts to try and create one-on-ones for them both. On offense, the player that should have a big day is Noah Fant. He’s an athletic mismatch due to his size and speed, and has shown hints of it through the opening month of the year.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 5 game at Heinz Field? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!