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 9 game vs. the Bears?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Why: The Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base has been down on Minkah Fitzpatrick this season. Not because he hasn’t played well, but because he hasn’t had those big, and timely, splash plays. He has made plays, the pass break up in Week 8 on the throw intended for Jarvis Landry is a prime example, but he has yet to get his hands on a thrown pass. I think that all changes in Week 9. A rookie quarterback on the road, in prime time and a defense who can shut down what they do best is a recipe for taking chances. Most quarterbacks avoid Fitzpatrick’s side of the field like the plague, but Fields might be young enough, and brave enough, to test the All-Pro. I expect Minkah to have his hand in at least one turnover, maybe more, and this will silence the critics. At least for this week.
X-Factor: Najee Harris
Why: Jeff tried his best to steal my answer, but I was having none of it. I’ve been all about this being a Najee Harris game for quite some time. Although the Bears have a solid defense, their weakest point is they are 25th against the run and give up 125 yards per game. If the Steelers defense does it’s job and shuts down Chicago’s offense, which is ranked dead last in the NFL, this could play out to be a game where the Steelers just continually feed Harris the ball. As long as he’s getting good runs, good blocks, and churning out the yards, there would be no reason to go away from the strategy.
Patti Curl (Windy City Gridiron)
X-Factor: Bill Lazor, Offensive Coordinator
Why: This may seem a little out of left field but I’ll say offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Even though I know multiple voices go into the offensive game plan, I’m going to use him to represent the fact that the Bears seem to go back and forth between designing a game plan acknowledging they have poor pass protection and a rookie quarterback and pretending they don’t. If the latter happens, the Steelers pass rush is going to make this a painful game for Bears fans and Justin Fields’ ribs.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 9 game in prime time? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!