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 13 game vs. the Falcons?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Kenny Pickett
Why: I’ve said before, Pickett could be the offensive X-Factor every week for the rest of the season, if I wanted to go that route. However, in this game, I believe Pickett will be the decisive factor in this game.
The Steelers’ offense has been leaning on the running game since the bye week, and I hope this continues, but injuries to Najee Harris (abdominal), Jaylen Warren (hamstring) and Benny Snell (knee) gives me pause. In other words, this could be a game where Pickett needs to do a little more than just “don’t kill us”, as Mike Tomlin would say.
This could be a game where we learn a lot about Pickett. Could the running game continue to carry the offense? It absolutely could, but at the same time, Pickett’s play will likely determine the offense’s overall success.
X-Factor: Cam Heyward
Why: When it comes to the biggest strength of each of these teams in regards to the rankings in the NFL, it’s the Falcons rushing offense and the Steelers rushing defense which stand out. Therefore, it’s important the Steelers win this battle of strength on strength. Last week, Cam Heyward had a down week as he had another epic battle with Colts offensive lineman Quenton Nelson. With Nelson getting the better of Heyward this time, although the Steelers ultimately got the win, I look for Cam to have a bounce-back week against the Falcons. If the Steelers captain can help lead the charge in slowing down the Falcons’ run game, it would go a long way towards a victory.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 13 game Sunday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!