X Factors  

Chevy  

Niners' Walker, Falcons' Douglas among Week 6 X-factors

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 6:

Nate Solder, Patriots, OT: In Sunday's Cowboys-Patriots game, the potential return of starting tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who's missed the past three games with a back injury, could force the rookie Solder to return to his role as the quasi-tight end in unbalanced formations. However, if Vollmer remains sidelined, it could put Solder in a tough battle with DeMarcus Ware on the edge. While Solder has shown the athleticism and quickness to handle agile rushers, his ability to hold up in isolated matchups against a perennial Pro Bowler will be critical to Tom Brady's effectiveness in the pocket.

Delanie Walker, 49ers, TE: The loss of Josh Morgan (ankle) robs the 49ers of their second-leading receiver. To compensate for the loss, Jim Harbaugh will likely incorporate more two-tight end sets to create mismatches for Vernon Davis and Walker. With most of the Lions' attention likely directed to Davis, Walker could emerge as Alex Smith's top target in this pivotal matchup.

Harry Douglas, Falcons, WR: The absence of Julio Jones (hamstring) puts the onus on Matt Ryan to spread the ball to the Falcons' other receivers. Douglas has the potential to be the biggest beneficiary as a slot receiver against Carolina. With the Panthers showing vulnerabilities over the middle, this matchup could result in a big game for Douglas.

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Fred Davis, Redskins, TE: Sunday's game against the Eagles could be big for Davis, who is the Redskins leader in receiving yards despite being the third option in the pass game behind Santana Moss and Chris Cooley. The threat of the Redskins' potent running game coupled with the Eagles' defensive lapses could lead to several big plays from Davis off play-action. If Rex Grossman is able to find Davis, the Eagles could have a tough time slowing down the Redskins' balanced attack.

Demetrius Bell, Bills, OT: The Bills' ability to spread the field is predicated on their pass protection, which often pits their offensive tackles against elite pass rushers without help. On Sunday against the Giants, Bell, who has logged 28 starts in three seasons, faces the daunting task of handling Osi Umenyiora off the edge. If he can keep Umenyiora from taking over the game, the Bills' offense will have plenty of opportunities to take shots down the field.

Others to watch

James Casey, Texans, TE: Casey has the potential to create headaches for the defense with his speed and athleticism out of the backfield. With Andre Johnson on the sideline nursing an injury, Gary Kubiak could make Casey a bigger part of the game plan against the Ravens.

Greg Little, Browns, WR: With Colt McCoy in desperate need of a vertical threat to keep opponents honest, the Browns have inserted Little into the starting lineup to get more speed and explosiveness on the field. If the rookie can maintain his composure in his second career start, he could bring a big-play dimension to the offense.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks

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