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 12 game vs. the Bengals?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Ben Roethlisberger
Why: The Pittsburgh Steelers caught lightning in a bottle in the 4th quarter of Week 12 where the scored 27 points. Yes, the offense was given short fields with an interception and blocked punt, but the unit was able to capitalize on those opportunities. Against the Bengals the Steelers will have to duplicate that success, mainly in the red-zone. This was featured earlier this week in an article by our own K.T. Smith:
Some will suggest the Steelers’ offense will go as far as Najee Harris’ legs will carry them, but it will ultimately fall back on the shoulders, or throwing shoulder, of Ben Roethlisberger. Can he carry the load? The trend with Roethlisberger over the course of the last month or so has been how he is protecting the football. This will have to continue, and big plays will have to be made for the Steelers to pull off the upset win and help the Bengals’ fan base find the esca-loser on their way out of Paul Brown Stadium.
X-Factor: T.J. Watt
Why: To me, this one is a no brainer. The Steelers struggled on defense with three of their big-name players missing last week. While T.J. Watt is not the only one to return as Minkah Fitzpatrick will also be in the lineup, Watt also missed the previous matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. Therefore, there is a lot of pain Watt needs to distribute to Joe Burrow to make up for lost time. Hoping that Watt is as close to 100% as he can be, I’m ready to see him remind this Bengals team that he is the best player they will face this season.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 12 game Sunday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!