The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14. It is the Steelers’ latest road game, and, hopefully their seventh 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 14 game vs. the Vikings?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Najee Harris
Why: The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back has been as dynamic as advertised in his first professional season, but he will have to really step up his game on a short week vs. the Vikings. The Vikings defense is vulnerable against the run, surrendering 131.5 yards per game. In fact, they are one of the few defenses who struggle more than the Steelers stopping the run.
Maybe this is a tough ask for the rookie on a short week, but if there was a time when it would be great to watch Najee run wild, it would be this week. A clock controlled game with drives ending in touchdowns is the recipe for success,
Harris has rushed for 779 yards, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, with 7 total touchdowns, 5 rushing and 2 receiving. In this Week 14 Thursday Night Football game it would be a tremendous boost if the Steelers feed Najee early and often, and the team sees the benefits of their efforts in a big way.
X-Factor: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Why: I was tempted once again go with T.J. Watt, but he could be an X-factor all the time. He just needs to keep doing what everyone around the NFL knows he could do. But the reason I went with Fitzpatrick is because of several aspects to where he could help the Steelers specifically this week. First, after having two straight games with a take away, if he could manage another that would be huge against a team that doesn’t turn the ball over. Additionally, being there on the back end to help out with Justin Jefferson is it going to be very important in stopping the Vikings offense. Add in support in the run game and there’s a lot that Minkah Fitzpatrick is going to need to do to help the Steelers contain the Vikings.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 14 game Thursday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!