The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17. It is the Steelers’ last road game, and, hopefully their eighth 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 17 game vs. the Ravens?
Let’s take a look...
X-Factor: Offensive Line
Why: The Pittsburgh Steelers have their work cut out for them against the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. While the defense has a more simplistic job of stopping the Baltimore running attack, easier said than done, the offensive line has to be the X-Factor in the game.
Can they keep Kenny Pickett upright?
Can they open up lanes for the running backs?
If the answers to the aforementioned questions are ‘No’, then this will end similarly to the Week 14 game when the Ravens went into Pittsburgh and won 16-14. However, if they can answer ‘Yes’ to the above questions, then you can seriously consider this a game they could, and probably should, win, even on the road. It all starts up front for the offense.
X-Factor: Defensive Line
Why: The last time these two teams me the defensive line got pushed around. In fact, it was really the only phase of the game, other than turnovers, where the Steelers didn’t hold an advantage. The Ravens were able to run for 215 yards against the Steelers who have since improved and only allowed 79 yards total in the last two games. The Steelers being able to slow down the Ravens running attack will likely be the biggest determining factor in the outcome. If the defensive line gets pushed around again, the Steelers will really have their work cut out for them.
Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 17 game Sunday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!