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: Ben Roethlisberger
Why: The day after news broke of Roethlisberger telling close friends, people in the organization and former teammates this is likely his last year, it would be fitting of him to go out and put up an outstanding performance in front of the Heinz Field crowd, vs. the hated Baltimore Ravens.
Roethlisberger is also facing the NFL’s worst pass defense, and if they want to claim victory there is a good chance he will have to be both efficient and accurate in Week 13. If the Steelers want to win, they will need some magic in Roethlisberger one last time.
X-Factor: Alex Highsmith
Why: It would be easy to pick a player such as Devin Bush who really needs to improve his game, but if Bush just plays adequately it would be enough of an improvement for the defense and wouldn’t necessarily be an X-factor. The reason I chose Alex Highsmith is because, with T.J. Watt returning to the team on Saturday, Highsmith goes from the player the Ravens would avoid an outside linebacker to the one that they will likely go toward. Additionally, Highsmith will likely be matched up against former Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva. One thing which has seemed to be apparent with Villanueva this season is he struggles on the pass rush when a player has a quick change in direction. With Highsmith’s most dangerous move being his spin move, it very well could come up big in the right spot for the Steelers on Sunday. Add in the fact this is Steelers-Ravens, it seems like it’s the perfect game for an outside linebacker to burst onto the scene, much like James Harrison did in 2007 with 3.5 sacks and an interception.
Kyle Barber (Baltimore Beatdown)
X-Factor: Lamar Jackson, Rashod Bateman, Odafe Oweh
Why: If we’re going with the obvious pick, it always is, and will always be, Lamar Jackson. He’s special. So frequently, he has put the team on his shoulders and carried them to victory.
If you want more of a unique answer, I’d have to say it comes down to two first-round rookies. The first being wide receiver Rashod Bateman. He has yet to score his first career touchdown and I think you and I both know these games tend to have magic in them. This feels like a game where Bateman could snag his first touchdown.
The other rookie mentioned is outside linebacker Odafe Oweh. He’s become a wrecking ball competing for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He’s leading the team in pressures (40) and is No. 20 in the NFL under said category. And while the numbers are all good and impressive, he also passes the eye test. He’s not just managing to get gaudy numbers, he’s a force. The Ravens hit on that draft pick.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 13 game? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!