A Non Quarterback X-Factor for Every Single NFL Team

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A Non Quarterback X-Factor for Every Single NFL Team
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“Make him go to Manningham.”

Just after Tom Brady's pass just evaded the outstretched hands of Wes Welker in Super Bowl XLVI, Bill Belichick crouched before his defensive backs on the sideline and uttered those famous last words.

“Make him go to Manningham.”

Belichick had identified the Giants' main threats, telling his team “This is still a Nicks and Cruz game” as Zoltan Mesko punted the ball back to the Giants with 03:46 seconds left. What followed is the moment that lingers in the mind of all NFL fans from that night.

With Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks lined up to the right hand side of the field, the Patriots left Sterling Moore alone with Manningham on the left-hand-side. Moore was supposed to get help over the top from Patrick Chung, but Chung was drawn infield because of Eli Manning's eyes shooting towards Cruz and Nicks initially.

Instead, Manning whipped around and threw a dart between Moore and Chung to Manningham, who snatched the ball out of the air, endured a hit and kept his feet in bounds.

The most important play in the biggest game of the season was made by the New York Giants' X-factor on offense.

Manningham was the Giants X-factor last year because teams looked to shut down Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Nicks and Cruz drawing coverage afforded Manningham opportunities to make big plays. That catch in the Super Bowl led to the Giants' game sealing touchdown from Ahmad Bradshaw.

Manningham isn't the best receiver. In fact, he's not even in the elite class. He has a lot of talent and can make big plays, but lacks consistency. Just because he is not the best player on the roster, it doesn't mean that he can't be one of the most important from week-to-week.

Just like a James Harden, Manu Ginobili or Lamar Odom, when he was with the Lakers, if your X-factor performs, you generally expect to win football games. Here is a player for each team who is appreciated as much as Mario Chalmers. (OK, OK. That's the last of the basketball similes.)

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