When looking at the matchup between AFC 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 16 game vs. the Chiefs?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Offensive Line
Why: If the Steelers stand a chance in this game, the offense has to be better than it was in Week 15. If the offense is going to be better, it will need the big guys up front doing a better job in both facets of their game. Run blocking and pass protection. Against the Titans the Steelers could do very little vs. the Titans’ defensive front, in terms of opening holes for Najee Harris. On top of that, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t have time to get comfortable in the pocket, and early pressure rattled the veteran quarterback.
For the upset against the Chiefs to come to fruition, the offensive line will need to play one of their best games of the season. Doing so would allow the Steelers’ offense to have balance in the run and pass, and string together drives to keep Patrick Mahomes and Company off the field. No unit this season has dictated the outcome of games like the offensive line, and that will continue in Week 16.
X-Factor: Isaiahh Loudermilk
Why: This is once again a roundabout explanation. Yes, Kansas City has a dynamic passing game, even if Travis Kelce isn’t playing. What the Steelers struggle to defend is the run. The Chiefs are a team that are smart enough to continue to run the ball if the Steelers aren’t able to stop it. The return of Montravius Adams at nose tackle will help, but with Chris Wormley out and Loudermilk expected to get the start, if he can take on blocks, keep the linebackers clean, and stay in his lane, the Steelers might be able to stop the run against K.C. which would make a huge difference.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 16 game Sunday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!