When it comes to question marks for Super Bowl XLVII, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver/punt returner/kick returner Jacoby Jones is quite possibly the biggest unknown variable that either team has for Feb. 3's epic showdown.
Dictionary.com defines X-factor as the following: a hard-to-describe influence or quality.
After the 2012 regular and postseason that Jones has had for the Ravens, that statement doesn't describe any of the 106 participants (53-man rosters x2) in the big game more than it does the 28-year-old from New Orleans.
His stats aren't particularly impressive. Jones had 30 catches for 406 yards and a touchdown in the regular season, and he has added four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs. He also added three total special teams touchdowns this season, two as a kick returner and one as a punt returner.
On a game-to-game basis, we haven't seen a lot of production with the current lineup the Ravens run out.
That can be expected, as Joe Flacco has major weapons in RB Ray Rice, WRs Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith and TEs Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. Jones falls somewhere towards the end of that list, and for good reason—the Ravens have plenty of other weapons.
Still, the 2012 season has plenty of Jones' handiwork that helped the Ravens win games. Examples of that include an 86-yard performance against the New England Patriots, a kickoff return for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys and a punt returner for a TD against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Ravens won all three of those games by three points or less.
Head to the playoffs, where Jones' 70-yard touchdown catch to tie the game against the Denver Broncos made national headlines. Say what you want about the Broncos' inability to defend a play they knew was coming, but Jones was in the right place at the right time, and he made the biggest play of the postseason for the Ravens so far.
In other games, however, Jones hasn't shown up at all. He didn't register a receiving stat in the OT loss to the Washington Redskins, and he doesn't particularly jump out as someone that Jim Harbaugh is going to specially game-plan for.
In the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers, how do we predict what his impact will be?
There's going to be chances for him to make an impact. From the opening kickoff on, Jones has a chance to make a major dent on this game for his team. It's often the guys we never expect (David Tyree rings a bell) who make the big plays and wind up in the NFL history books.
Jones is going home to New Orleans for the game, he plays a pivotal role on an underrated aspect of the game of football (special teams) and as the third WR in Baltimore, he's got the speed and experience to make things difficult on a stout San Francisco defense.
Yet no one is talking about him.
They should, though, because Jones is the ultimate X-factor for Super Bowl XLVII. His influence is hard to describe, but he's an integral part of the Baltimore attack, and San Francisco should recognize that well in advance to the opening kickoff on Feb. 3.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.