X Factors  

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Bears' Williams, Jets' Maybin among Week 5 X-factors

Jeff Hansch/US Presswire
Bears tackle Chris Williams will have his hands full against the Lions pass rush on Monday night.


Most of the attention going into games is on the stars, but lesser-known players often end up being the difference-makers. Here are a few players who could have a great impact in Week 4:

Chris Williams, Bears, G: The Bears discovered their running game in Week 4, but the challenge of moving the ball against the Lions' front line will be a formidable task with Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams clogging the middle. Williams must find a way to create a push at the line of scrimmage for Matt Forte to have any chance of finding running room between the tackles. If the Bears are successful on the ground, it will be the direct result of Williams winning his fair share of battles against Suh and Williams in the trenches.

Aaron Maybin, Jets, OLB: The loss of Bryan Thomas to injury puts the former first-round disappointment squarely in the spotlight of this pivotal AFC East matchup. Maybin is coming off the best performance of his brief pro career -- a sack and forced fumble against the Baltimore Ravens -- and is expected to see more time as a situational pass rusher. With the Patriots averaging 40.8 pass attempts a game, Maybin will have plenty of opportunities to get to Tom Brady in the pocket. How well he fares could be the deciding factor for the Jets.

Tommy Kelly, Raiders, DT: The Texans will challenge the strength, power and discipline of the Oakland front line with their synchronized zone-blocking scheme. Arian Foster and Ben Tate are capable of exploiting open creases for big gains, so the pressure is on Kelly to win his battle at the point of attack. If he is able to get consistent penetration into the backfield, he will disrupt the timing of the blocking scheme and prevent Foster and Tate from getting on track.

Ricky Jean Francois, 49ers, NT: The potential absence of Isaac Sopoaga due to a staph infection pushes Jean-Francois into the starting lineup to help slow down the Buccaneers' power-running attack. The toll of banging with LaGarrette Blount often wears down defenses and leads to big gains in the late stages of the game. To discourage this tactic, Jean-Francois must be a factor by splitting double teams and controlling the A-gap on both sides to allow the 49ers' linebackers to have a free run to the ball. If they are able to keep Blount under wraps early, it could put the pressure on Josh Freeman to win the game through the air.

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Kelvin Hayden, Falcons, CB: Hayden has become the Falcons' nickel back, which means he will spend time matching up with each of the Packers' talented receivers -- Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver and James Jones -- based on personnel packages or formations. Aaron Rodgers doesn't hesitate to target the favorable matchup, so plenty of balls could head in Hayden's direction in critical situations. Given the Falcons' inability to matchup with the Packers' receiving corps last postseason, the play of Hayden could be the tipping point in this game.

Others to Watch

James Carpenter, Seahawks, OT: The Giants' pass rush is one of the best in the business with Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck crashing off the edges. Pierre-Paul and Tuck are especially dangerous coming off the right side, which puts immense pressure on Carpenter to hold up in isolated matchups.

Alex Henery, Eagles, K:  The Eagles dismissed David Akers in favor of Henery, but he has been maddeningly inconsistent from short range. He has only connected on 72.7 percent of his attempts, including only five of seven from 30 to 39 yards. With the swirling winds in Buffalo providing a serious challenge, Henery's ability to put it through the uprights is a concern.

Jason Hill, Jaguars, WR: The Jaguars' offense has been abysmal with Blaine Gabbert under center, but the rookie quarterback needs more playmakers to emerge. Hill has the potential to be difference-maker with his size and speed, but the ball needs to head in his direction to maximize his potential. Against a Bengals' defense that's stout against the run, this could be the week he gets his chance to shine.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks

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