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Week 3 X-Factor: Ryan Fitzpatrick

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Heading into their lone prime time game, the Bucs need the hot hand to stay hot

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Gotta ride the hot hand, right? Fitzmagic is sweeping the nation and it will be on full display in the Buccaneers’ lone prime time game (as it stands now) of 2018. With a desperate Pittsburgh Steelers team coming to town, Ryan Fitzpatrick has to maintain this level of blazing hotness in order to move the Bucs to 3-0.

The Steelers are the Steelers for a reason. They overcome adversity and are constant and consistent championship contenders. With all the drama surrounding Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, the Steelers’ backs are against the wall unlike any time in recent memory. A loss to the Bucs on Monday night may put an early nail in their postseason coffin.

It’s going to be on Fitz to continue to perform at a level of which we have never witnessed from him before.

The Steelers enter the game with the 14th ranked passing defense, despite being shredded by Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes last week for six touchdowns. Ryan Fitzpatrick is entering the game as the NFL’s number one quarterback with 819 yards and eight touchdowns - nine if you include the rushing touchdown he has.

The Buccaneers are also home of the number one receiver in DeSean Jackson, number nine receiver Mike Evans, and number three tight end O.J. Howard.

The Steelers are ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, so the running game might really get going which is why Peyton Barber is an honorable mention as far as X-Factors are concerned.

The Steelers and Bucs are ranked fifth and sixth respectively in points allowed, so we may be in for yet another shoot out, playing into the hands of Fitz and Ben Roethlisberger. Just because the Steelers are reeling right now is no reason to discount the fact that they still have the best receiver in the league in Brown or his partner in crime JuJu Smith-Schuster. Both guys will be going up against a young secondary that is currently allowing the second most passing yards in the NFL.

Now this isn’t to bash the defense. The defense has made key stops in key moments this season and appears to be vastly improved from last season. That also doesn’t mean they aren’t giving up loads of yards in the passing game. It’s that “bend don’t break” we’ve all become accustomed to.

One thing to note is that the Bucs are currently sitting at a +2 in turnover differential while the Steelers are -4. Again, that falls on Fitzpatrick’s ability to protect the football and make the smart decisions while Roethlisberger is more willing to take chances. Even Fitz’s one interception this season wasn’t his fault, it was squarely on the shoulders of O.J. Howard.

The Bucs are going to ride the hot hand and none is hotter than the right hand of Ryan Fitzpatrick. If the Buccaneers are going to finish off the most improbable three game start in recent memory - for them or any team given the fact that no one gave them a chance to even win one of these games - it’s going to take another magical performance from number fourteen.