The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Cleveland Browns in Week 17. It is the Steelers’ last home game, and, hopefully their eighth victory.
When looking at the matchup between AFC North 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 17 game vs. the Browns?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Ben Roethlisberger
Why: On the offensive side of the football, who else could you pick for this?! Roethlisberger is playing in the final home game of his career, and the hope is he delivers one more memorable moment for the fans in attendance at Heinz Field, and everyone watching in prime time across the country.
You have to think Roethlisberger is feeling some serious nerves heading into this game, so don’t be shocked if the start of the contest is a little rocky. But as long as No. 7 protects the football, I expect him to settle in and have a steady performance vs. the Browns. Would it be great to see him throw for 300+ yards and 4 TDs? Absolutely. Am I expecting it? No, recent history has shown those days might be behind Roethlisberger for a lot of reasons. The hope is Roethlisberger can find a way to win this last home game, and give the fans one last moment in the proverbial sun before the page gets turned at the quarterback position from Roethlisberger to, well, who knows.
X-Factor: T.J. Watt
Why: This comes down to an issue of health more than anything. When T.J. Watt plays the entire game and isn’t coming off of an injury where he missed the previous week, the Steelers have done very well. Last week, although he played the majority of the defensive snaps, it was obvious to anyone watching that T.J. Watt was not himself in dealing with the rib injury which hasn’t even been reported or acknowledged by the Steelers. If Watt is back to full strength, or at least close, he can resume his typical role in wrecking the opponents offense. If that is the case, it will be the difference between the defense being proactive rather than reactive with all that they do.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 17 game Monday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!