When looking at the matchup between AFC vs. NFC 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 15 game vs. the Panthers?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Najee Harris
Why: With Kenny Pickett out of the game, the focus will be on the running game. Not that Mitch Trubisky isn’t capable of potentially throwing the team to success, but the three interceptions thrown in Week 14 will likely keep Matt Canada thinking about a ground-and-pound approach to this game.
Can Najee Harris have a big game? Could he notch his first 100-yard game of the season? it would be a great time to do that, but also to see him be more of a dual threat player who isn’t just capable of running the ball, but also catching the football out of the backfield.
Say what you want about the other running backs, but this is still a one-back system, and it’s time for the 2021 first round pick to show up and show out.
X-Factor: Defensive Line
Why: It’s not a secret the Pittsburgh Steelers have been struggling to stop the run over the last six quarters. With Carolina getting things going their last two games by leaning heavily on the run game, the Steelers have to find a way to slow it down. For me, it starts with the guys upfront on the inside. Although they don’t have to be the ones making tackles every play, the defensive line need to fill the lanes and absorb blockers in order for the Steelers run defense to be effective. Much like last week, they either have to get the job done or the Steelers will be in trouble.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 15 game Sunday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!