The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 16. It is the Steelers’ latest home game, and, hopefully their seventh victory.
When looking at the matchup between AFC 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 16 game vs. the Raiders?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Kenny Pickett
Why: I’ve said before Pickett could be the X-Factor every game he suits up as a rookie starting quarterback, and I stand by that comment. However, I also feel there are games where you are going to need your quarterback to step up and make some big plays.
This would be one of those games, in my opinion.
The Raiders have a very porous secondary, but you have a feeling this is a game where the Las Vegas defense is going to sell out to stop the run and force the game into Pickett’s hands. Will the rookie be able to stand tall, in the frigid temperatures, and sling his way to victory? Let’s hope he gets the job done...
X-Factor: Steelers CBs
Why: Even though the Steelers are going up against the NFL’s leading rusher, and their run defense has been hit or miss as it’s either lights out or a complete disaster, I just have a feeling about going in a different direction. Based on last year‘s matchup, it was a huge touchdown to Henry Ruggs that really changed the tide. With the Raiders having one of the most prolific wide receivers in the NFL in Davante Adams, it could come down to the cornerbacks doing their part in the Steelers pass defense to get the job done. As much as the Steelers have been impressive in their run defense at times, they are the number one pass defense over the last four games in the NFL not allowing more than 188 yards in any game. Against the Raiders, even in the cold, they’re going to need it.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 16 game Saturday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!