4. Who are the biggest X-factors?
The Bears' Mitch Trubisky might be the biggest X-factor in the entire 2018-19 playoff field. He authored a six-TD game vs. the lowly Bucs, earned Player of the Week honors for tallying four more scores without a giveaway in taking apart the Lions and finished among the best single-season quarterbacks in franchise history.
But he's also tallied a touchdown-turnover ratio of 5-8 in games in front of a national audience and enters his first-ever elimination game since high school. The Bears don't need Trubisky to be heroic — they need him to handle the offense with care, letting the defense do much of the heavy lifting. Whether he can oblige will most determine how far Chicago advances.
As for the other three X-factors on display this weekend, on Philly's side at Soldier Field this weekend, we'll go with Nelson Agholor. The Bears have the Pro Bowl-caliber producers to minimize the damage of Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz; it's Agholor from the slot whose speed could give Sherrick McManis problems.
McManis has held up well thus far in place of Bryce Callahan, who is on IR, but Agholor has caught fire of late, with three touchdowns among his 10-156 receiving over the past two games.
For the Cowboys, how fortuitous is it having Richard's knowledge of Seattle's pass catchers entering Saturday? Although we just got done extolling their ground attack, the Seahawks will visit a Dallas run 'D' led by Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch that allowed only one 100-yard rusher in its final 13 games. It has the sideline-to-sideline speed to potentially make Seattle beat it through the air, where Richard has the Cowboys young DBs playing confidently and, this weekend, with a unique understanding of how Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett will try and win.
Finally, the Seahawks didn't trade up in the draft to pick a punter in Round 4 for him not to be an X-factor. The rookie out of Texas has absolutely been as advertised, ranking second in gross average (48.2) and No. 6 in net (42.5). Seattle's defensive strength is defending the pass, not the run, and Dickson gives it a nice weapon to ensure Dallas has to drive the length of the field.