Biggest NFL x-factors for all 32 teams

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GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 19: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the ball against linebacker Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter of the game at State Farm Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The 2022 NFL season is on the horizon. And each team has a performer worth keeping an eye on throughout the season that could be a difference maker.

He could be a veteran newcomer to the franchise. It may be a second-year NFL player who came on strong during his rookie campaign. It may also be a talented performer given more of an opportunity thanks to numerous changes on the roster.

When it comes to being an “x-factor,” the bottom line is that he is supposed to be a difference maker. And for some of the 32 NFL clubs, he could be a player than elevates a team that was on the verge of a Super Bowl title the last few years and helped them hoist a Lombardi Trophy.

The choices here are those who will take the field (opposed to coaches). And a few of the selections go under the category of food for thought.

Arizona Cardinals: OLB Markus Golden

Over the last two offseasons, Kliff Kingsbury’s squad has lost a quality pass rusher. Following a breakout year in 2020, linebacker Hasson Reddick (now a member of the Eagles) – a former first-round draft choice of the Cardinals – took the free-agent route to Carolina. This past off season, dynamic Chandler Jones opted to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Outside linebacker Markus Golden has spent the vast majority of his seven NFL seasons in Arizona. Opposite Jones in 2021, he racked up 11 sacks. But he may now be the key to whatever pass rush the Cards can muster these days, unless J.J. Watt rebounds in a big way.

Atlanta Falcons: WR Olamide Zaccheaus

Similar to the Chicago Bears this offseason, the Atlanta Falcons seem to be on search for quality wide receivers. The team did use the ninth overall pick in April’s draft to secure the services of USC’s Duke London. But the club has signed a bevy of performers and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

All of the new faces could put a little more pressure on three-year wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus. A year ago, he played in all 17 games and was tied for fifth on the team with 31 catches – good for 406 yards and three scores. Worth noting that the Falcons added Bryan Edwards via a trade with the Raiders.

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