The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. It is the Steelers’ first game of the season, and, obviously, the first on the road.
When looking at the matchup between AFC rivals, 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 1 game vs. Buffalo?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Devin Bush/Joe Schobert
Why: I am breaking my own rules with this pick of Bush and Schobert. Why? Not just because of their overall importance to the Steelers’ defensive scheme, but also because we have only seen the duo play a handful of snaps together this preseason since Schobert was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars via trade. How important is this duo to the Steelers’ success? Last season the Pittsburgh defense had Avery Williamson and Ulysees Gilbert III/Marcus Allen as their inside linebacker duo when they traveled to Buffalo. Think Bush/Schobert is an upgrade? Absolutely. If Bush and Schobert can negate the underneath routes, all while also stuffing the run, it will go a long way to slowing down the high powered Bills’ offense. If they fail, it could be a long day at the office for the Steelers. Hence why they are my X-Factor(s).
X-Factor: The Offensive Line
Why: I’m taking Jeff’s broken rule and going to the extreme. While I was thinking of who I was going to choose between Kendrick Green or Dan Moore Jr. I thought why not just include the entire group. With the only returning starter from 2020 being Chuks Okorafor, a player many fear is still the weakest link, this offensive line has to come together or the Steelers offense will be extremely limited with what they can attempt to do against the Bills. Although Kevin Dotson has looked outstanding whenever he takes the field, he is just one player among the five and can’t do it all. The success of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, as well as the entire 2021 season, might completely hinge on this position group.
Corey Giacovelli (Buffalo Rumblings Contributor)
X-Factor: Gabriel Davis
Why: Everyone is saying that the X-Factor for the team this Sunday and the whole season for that matter is receiver Gabriel Davis. Davis is entering his second year in the league after an impressive rookie season. Even though he is the fourth receiver in the offense, that does not matter much when you have an offense that spreads out the personnel like Buffalo. Davis has shown he can be trusted in big situations like he showed in the playoff game against the Colts last season with multiple tough catches on the sidelines. With his size and athleticism, he is always a threat near the goal line and has also proven useful in the run blocking game.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 1 game in Buffalo? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!