Who will be the X factors this weekend?
QBs Ben Roethlisberger and Jake Delhomme are X factors this weekend, according to Scouts Inc.
After breaking down film and critiquing the teams playing in divisional games, Scouts Inc. tells you who the X factors will be in each game.
• Chargers RB Darren Sproles: He isn't a secret anymore, and this free-agent-to-be has officially burst onto the public scene after a spectacular all-around performance in San Diego's home victory over the Colts. Sproles' instant acceleration makes him extremely dangerous, and the Chargers are doing a very good job of getting him in a position to make plays. He can run between the tackles, but is certainly better attacking the edge. Plus, he is a very accomplished receiver on screens, which will be an especially useful tool to help slow down Pittsburgh's ferocious pass rush. Sproles could also see more action due to LaDainian Tomlinson's nagging groin injury. But will the elements or soft field surface at Heinz Field slow him down, and how will he handle his blitz pickup responsibilities against much bigger men like OLBs James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley?
More X Factors
Find out who Scouts Inc. thinks will be the X factors in the other three games. Insider
• Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: Because of his somewhat reckless style, he is always a bit of an X factor. He is extremely talented and makes a ton of big plays, but he also tries to do too much at times and is not one to give up on a play. This trait is magnified because of his supporting cast. Pittsburgh has a marginal run game, and while the pass-catchers are solid, the protection is poor. Roethlisberger's offensive line is often overmatched, and that should be the case once again Sunday. Those are the situations when Roethlisberger tends to press and lose his patience or put the offense on his back. Matching this with the fact that he was last seen leaving Heinz Field on a stretcher with a concussion in Week 17 and it is very easy to understand why Roethlisberger is the ultimate X factor.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
2008 NFL Playoffs
The road to Tampa for Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1, 2009, began Jan. 3 with the wild-card playoff round. Will the Steelers or Cardinals replace the Giants as champs?
Championship Game results: NFC | AFC
COLUMNS/FEATURES• Wojciechowski: May the bitter team win
• Chadiha: McNabb lets good times roll
• Football Outsiders: Numbers Crunching
• Sunday Countdown: Predictions and more
• Clayton: First and Goal
• Garber: This Philly Story seeks proper ending
• Clayton: Peaking Steelers should advance
• Chadiha: Eagles will soar in desert
• Wojciechowski: Book Eagles for Tampa
• Football Outsiders: Any Given Sunday
• Football Outsiders: Quick Reads
CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES (Jan. 18)
Steelers 23, Ravens 14• Polamalu's INT return secures win
• Playoff page | AFC North blog
Cardinals 32, Eagles 25• Fitzgerald leads Cardinals to first Super Bowl
• Playoff page | NFC West blog ... East
DIVISIONAL ROUND (Jan. 10-11)
Steelers 35, Chargers 24• Walker: The Bus sparks Parker
• Williamson: Bolts need season-long urgency
• Recap: Steelers knock out Chargers
• More | AFC West blog ... AFC North
Ravens 13, Titans 10• Graham: Battered Ravens pass physical
• Kuharsky: Titans failed to answer critics
• Recap: Turnovers doom Titans
• Zoom Gallery
• Fleming: Can anyone stop the Ravens?
• More | AFC North blog ... AFC South
Cardinals 33, Panthers 13• Sando: Desert bloom for Arizona's faithful
• Sando: No denying Cards' makeover
• Yasinskas: Carolina's big plans fall apart
• Recap: Delhomme's 5 INTs doom Panthers
• Zoom Gallery
• More | NFC West blog ... NFC South
Eagles 23, Giants 11• Wojciechowski: Book Eagles for Tampa
• Mosley: Giants lost to better team
• Recap: Defense smothers Giants
• Zoom gallery
• Chadiha: Eagles' defense hitting stride
• More | NFC East blog
WILD-CARD ROUND (Jan. 3-4)
Ravens 27, Dolphins 9• Wojciechowski: Scary Ravens' D
• Recap: Ravens' defense overpowers Dolphins
• More | AFC North blog ... AFC East
Eagles 26, Vikings 14• Mosley: Eagles' run continues
• Recap: Westbrook, big plays carry Eagles
• More | NFC East blog... NFC North
Cardinals 30, Falcons 24• Sando: Cards' winning identity
• Recap: Strong second half powers Cards
• More | NFC South blog ... NFC West
Chargers 23, Colts 17• Williamson: 5-6 Sproles comes up big
• Recap: Chargers shock Manning, Colts in OT
• More | AFC South blog ... AFC West