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Tuesday, January 12, 2010
X factor: Beanie Wells, Cardinals RB

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

NFC: Cardinals | Saints | Vikings | Cowboys AFC: Jets | Chargers | Ravens | Colts

A look at a player who could be a difference-maker this weekend.

Kurt Warner's aerial mastery during the Cardinals' 51-45 wild-card victory over the Packers overshadowed Arizona's 156-yard rushing performance.

Wells
Beanie Wells averaged 6.5 yards per carry in Sunday's playoff win.
Rookie Beanie Wells gained 91 of those yards on 14 carries, with a long run of 42 yards. He stands out to me as a potential X factor in the divisional round.

Wells had carries of at least 9 yards from four of the five primary personnel groups Arizona used against Green Bay. The team even trusted him in pass protection at times, a sign the Cardinals' coaches are pleased with his progress. They haven't handed anything to Wells, making him earn carries.

Wells has responded.

I like his chances for a 100-yard game against New Orleans in the NFC divisional round Saturday at the Superdome, provided the Cardinals do not fall behind. The Saints have struggled against the run. They allowed 19 rushing touchdowns during the regular season. Only the Raiders, Rams and Giants allowed more.

Questions about Wells' toughness at Ohio State have faded. Wells likes to punish defenders. He has a mean stiff-arm. The Cardinals are blocking well enough on the edge for Wells to turn the corner.