The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. It is the Steelers’ second road game, and, hopefully their second 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 3 game vs. the Browns?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Najee Harris
Why: The Steelers fan base has been quarterback bashing for the last week or so, and that is understandable considering the play of Mitch Trubisky. However, if I’m going to narrow my focus on one player, not a unit, which can impact the game on Thursday night in Pittsburgh’s favor, it isn’t the quarterback.
No, it’s the running back, Najee Harris.
If the Steelers want to be successful against the Browns they need to control the clock. In other words, they need to run the football. Harris’ game in Week 2 vs. the New England Patriots was a mixed bag. There was a sign of the burst he showed as a rookie, but he also missed some glaring holes which could have gone for big gains.
Chalk it up to knocking the rust off all you want, but in Week 3 it is time for the man who was the team’s top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to prove he is more than just a cow bell back, but a game-changing running back. Get Harris going, and watch the Steelers beat the Browns for the third straight time.
X-Factor: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Why: There are multiple reasons why Minkah Fitzpatrick is the biggest defensive X-Factor for the Steelers on Thursday night. First, he’s got a takeaway in each of the Steelers first two games. If he can continue that trend, it will help the Steelers offense out immensely. Additionally, the Browns are averaging 28-points a game through two weeks. With everything said, Fitzpatrick is often the last line of defense. Even with T.J. Watt out for several more weeks, the Steelers have another player who could potentially be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. If Fitzpatrick keeps up his stellar play, it’s good news for the black and gold.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 3 game Thursday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!