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Bills' Spiller, Broncos' Decker among Week 12 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 big impact in Week 12:

Steve Smith, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant, Eagles, WRs: Vince Young was able to guide the Eagles to a critical win over the New York Giants largely due to the contributions of a trio of unheralded receivers. Smith, Cooper and Avant made key grabs at different junctures of the game and helped Young find his rhythm. Facing a Patriots secondary that has been vulnerable, they must continue to deliver to help the Eagles stay in what should be an offensive shootout. If they can combine for 10-plus catches and more than 150 receiving yards, Philly could deliver another surprising upset.

Caleb Hanie, Bears, QB:The loss of Jay Cutler threatens to destroy a promising season in Chicago unless Hanie proves to be a capable backup. While he showed encouraging signs during his brief appearance in the NFC Championship Game, Hanie's lack of experience is a major concern for an offense that has struggled at times to move the ball through the air. Against a Raiders defense capable of putting immense pressure on the quarterback, Hanie must display confidence, poise and leadership while efficiently leading the offense.

C.J. Spiller, Bills, RB: After being expected to provide a big-play element, Spiller has offered little as a part-time player. With Fred Jackson out for the season, however, Spiller gets another chance to showcase his skills as a feature back against a Jets defense that is stout against the run. In spite of the challenge, Spiller must find a way to consistently churn out yardage to provide balance for the offense and alleviate pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick. If Spiller can approach the 100-yard mark as a rusher, it would allow the Bills to utilize the "small-ball" offense that sparked their early season success.

Eric Decker, Broncos, WR: The Broncos' No. 1 receiver must do a better job of supporting Tim Tebow. While the young quarterback has been erratic as a passer, Decker hasn't helped Tebow by dropping a few passes that were surprisingly on target. Given the conservative nature of the Broncos' passing game, Decker must take advantage of those opportunities to keep the Chargers from condensing available running lanes with eight- and nine-man boxes. If Decker can come up with one or two explosive plays (receptions of 20-plus yards), the Broncos can torment the Chargers with their old-school approach.

Unsung heroes

Just as important as X-factors are unsung heroes. Check out the man who is quietly getting it done for the perfect Packers. **More ...**

Prince Amukamara, Giants, CB: The rookie corner came up with a big interception in his debut against the Eagles, but appeared vulnerable to the deep ball on several occasions. Against the Saints, Amukamara faces the daunting task of covering a receiving corps that specializes in big plays down the field. With Drew Brees prone to take several deep shots a game, Amukamara will need to win his fair share of isolated matchups to keep the Giants in the game.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks

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