The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11. It is the Steelers’ latest road game, and, hopefully their sixth victory.
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 11 game vs. the Chargers?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Offensive Line
Why: I typically hate to choose an entire position group, but this game certainly would fall into the category of can the offensive line dominate a rather mundane defensive front? The Chargers sport the 32nd ranked rush defense. If the Steelers can dominate the line of scrimmage it will open up the rest of their offense. If they can protect Ben Roethlisberger and give him time to throw, it will certainly aid in opening up the entire playbook. With Roethlisberger not getting to practice this week, a quarterback’s best friend is a solid running game. If the offensive line wins, there is a good chance the Steelers win as well.
X-Factor: Devin Bush
Why: The Steelers are missing three key defenders in this matchup. With T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Joe Haden all out for the game, it would be easy to choose one of their replacements as the X-factor. While I considered James Pierre, Tre Norwood, or Taco Charlton, ultimately I went with a defensive player who needs to step up his game. It’s easy to say that Devin Bush has been a disappointment in the 2021 season. If the Steelers defense is going to slow down the Chargers, they need somebody else to step up in the absence of the other players. With Bush having both a 9-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown as well as an interception the last time the Steelers played the Chargers, perhaps he can find some of his previous magic.
Michael Peterson (Bolts From the Blue)
X-Factor: Austin Ekeler
Why: I would say running back Austin Ekeler could be the x-factor in this game. The Steelers have a rather weak run defense and that entire unit could look a lot worse with Minkah Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt not being able to return in time. Ekeler is due for a big rushing performance, and I’m sure he’s hungry to make up for a bad drop he had against the Vikings.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 11 game in prime time? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!