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 2 game vs. the Patriots?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Mitch Trubisky
Why: Last week I went with T.J. Watt as the Steelers’ X-Factor for the game vs. the Bengals, but this week I had to look to the offense. When looking at the offense, who needs to step up more than the quarterback?
I’m not suggesting Trubisky was bad last week. He wasn’t. He was safe, and he was calculated. Overall though, he was very average. It was the first game of the regular season, so you figure there is an acclimation period, but the Steelers need better quarterback play to beat the Patriots at Acrisure Stadium Sunday.
Before those who want to blame the offensive line chime in, understand Trubisky was sacked just once last week, and it was when he decided to run out of bounds for a 2-yard loss, equating in a sack. He had time, but wasn’t able to deliver outside of the two overtime drives. Let’s hope that is where the offense picks up on Sunday, and Trubisky is able to utilize the middle of the field and hit on some downfield passes to spark the offense early and often.
It’s the only way the “Kenny” chants will subside this Sunday in Pittsburgh.
X-Factor: Alex Highsmith
Why: While it would be easy to list players such as a Malik Reed in Jamir Jones to step up in the absence of T.J. Watt, I’ll look for the other player starting at outside linebacker who had 3.0 sacks last week to make some noise at the position. Alex Highsmith had the best game of his career a week ago, and it’s now time for him to be the man on the edge over the next several weeks. What better time to start then in the home opener against an offense that has yet to get going. While other players such as Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cam Heyward need to keep doing the things they do, it’s the ability of Alex Highsmith to put some pressure on the quarterback from the edge they could make the difference in Week 2.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 2 game Sunday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!