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 6 game vs. the Seahawks?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Ben Roethlisberger
Why: I had Najee Harris’ name typed in as my X-Factor, and then I thought about it more. The more I thought about it, Harris is the lone steady force on the Steelers’ offense. He is going to bring it every week. But the real deciding factor in a tight game will be Roethlisberger. Can he deliver when it matters most? He did it in Week 5 vs. the Broncos, but until Roethlisberger’s game turns the corner, he will be both the boom, or the bust, of the Steelers. If he plays well, there is a good chance they win. If he struggles, expect the same from the offense. Let’s hope we see more of Week 5 Roethlisberger, and less Weeks 2-4.
X-Factor: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Why: The Seahawks two biggest offensive threats in this game look to be D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Locket. The biggest thing with either player would be hitting on a splash play, and the earlier it is done the more it could impact the game. If Minkah Fitzpatrick can help keep those guys from springing lose in the secondary, the patch to victory becomes a much easier road. Additionally, if Fitzpatrick can make the splash play himself, it’s icing on the cake.
John Gilbert (Field Gulls)
X-Factor: Geno Smith
Why: The answer to this has to be Geno Smith. He’s spent the past five plus seasons backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson. Now he gets his first shot to start since he ended Eli’s consecutive games streak in 2017, and it comes in a primetime game on the road against a defense that has been very good so far this season. The Pittsburgh defense has been able to generate pressure without blitzing a lot so far this season, and that could mean problems for a quarterback who historically hasn’t been great at dealing with pressure and hasn’t played regularly since 2014.
He certainly has the weapons around him in DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Gerald Everett, Chris Carson and others to lead Seattle to victory. However, if he does not play well or if he gets injured, it looks like the only depth at the position behind him is likely to be second year man Jake Luton, who started three forgettable games for Jacksonville last season.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 6 game at Heinz Field? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!