Biggest X-factors for conference championship games

8Taysom Hill, quarterback, New Orleans Saints

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Payton clearly likes having Hill on the field. In situations where a quarterback run would make sense, he sends Hill out in the Wildcat. Only, Hill’s background as a quarterback means that the defenses have to respect the pass.

Hill does a lot of other stuff, too. With the Saints trailing 14-0 to the Philadelphia Eagles and facing a fourth-and-one from deep in their own territory, Payton called for a gutsy fake punt (watch here), entrusting Hill to pick up the yards. If that failed, Eagles would have been in position to at least go up 17-0 and probably would have won the game. But it didn’t fail.

When the NFC Championship Game is over, Hill isn’t going to have overwhelming stats. But he could well be an integral part of some of the game’s biggest plays.