Week 17 is always tough to decipher who will play and who will rest. You can be assured that the Texans and the Packers will rest players with no chance to move up or down in the seedings but putting in their backups can be precarious as well at times. For teams completely out of it you can feel good about the starters playing if they are healthy. If they aren’t 100% healthy there is a good chance they’ll sit. I’ll go through the scenarios below and guess on if teams will want to play their starters or not.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS vs BUF – 1 PM
New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs and 1-seed:
They will play all out since Baltimore and Pittsburgh both play in the afternoon.
NEW YORK JETS @ MIA – 1 PM
They will play all out in the early game since they won’t know their fate.
TENNESSEE TITANS @ HOU – 1 PM
Tennessee clinches a wild card spot and 6-seed and returns to HOU in the wildcard round:
They will play all out no matter and Houston should be resting many starters.
HOUSTON TEXANS vs TEN – 1 PM
They are the 3-seed regardless of outcome.
They will most likely rest starters. Ben Tate could see a good amount of work but I could see him losing time to Derrick Ward.
BALTIMORE RAVENS @ CIN – 4:15 PM
Baltimore clinches AFC North Division, a first-round bye and the 2-seed:
1) BAL win at CIN
Baltimore clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs at 1-seed:
They will play all out since the Steelers play at the same time and should be able to beat Cleveland anyway.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS – 4:15
Pittsburgh clinches AFC North Division, a first-round bye and 2-seed:
Pittsburgh clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs and 1-seed:
1) PIT win at CLE + BAL loss at CIN + NE loss vs. BUF
Pittsburgh is the wildcard and 5-seed and visits DEN or OAK in wildcard round
1) PIT loss at CLE
2) PIT win at CLE + BAL win at CIN
Like the Ravens they will play their starters since they play at the same time as the Ravens. News on Ben Roethlisberger’s status is slim right now. Keep an eye on it because Batch means a lot of Mendenhall in a nice matchup.
DENVER BRONCOS – 4:15 PM
Denver clinches AFC West Division and 4-seed:
1) DEN win vs. KC
2) OAK loss vs. SD
The AFC West thankfully is in the west so these games are at the same time and Denver won’t know if Oakland is going to win or lose. The starters will play.
OAKLAND RAIDERS – 4:15 PM
Oakland clinches AFC West Division and 4-seed:
1) OAK win vs. SD + DEN loss vs. KC
Oakland clinches a wild card spot and 6-seed and visits HOU in the wildcard round:
1) OAK win vs. SD + CIN loss vs. BAL + TEN loss at HOU
2) OAK win vs. SD + CIN loss vs. BAL + NYJ win at MIA
CINCINNATI BENGALS vs. BAL – 4:15 PM
Cincinnati clinches a wild card spot and 6-seed and visits HOU in the wildcard round:
1) CIN win vs. BAL
2) NYJ loss at MIA + OAK loss vs. SD
3) NYJ loss at MIA + DEN loss vs. KC
If they win they are in and none of the crazy back door scenarios could happen before they play, so they will all play.
GREEN BAY PACKERS vs DET – 1 PM
They’ve clinched home field throughout NFC Playoffs and 1-seed.
They will rest their starters much of the game. Matt Flynn could be useful but will be without some weapons. Randall Cobb would be my choice in this one.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS @ STL – 1 PM
San Francisco clinches a first-round bye and 2-seed:
1) SF win at STL
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS vs CAR – 1 PM
New Orleans clinches a first-round bye and 2-seed:
New Orleans is the 3-seed:
1) NO loss vs. CAR
2) NO win or tie vs. CAR + SF win at STL
The Saints should play most of this one out. The 49ers should easily be able to beat the Rams and I could see the Saints doing some scoreboard watching but since they play at the same time I don’t see them letting up unless the Niners get out to a huge lead which they don’t do that often.
DETROIT LIONS @ GB – 1 PM
Detroit is the 6-seed and visits NO/SF in wildcard round
Green Bay will rest their starters. Rodgers and company may come in for a bit but they will rest for most of the game. Detroit most likely needs to win not to face the Saints in the dome so they should go all out. Play them with confidence.
ATLANTA FALCONS vs TB – 4:15 PM
1) ATL win vs. TB + DET loss at GB
Atlanta is the 6-seed and visits NO/SF in wildcard round
1) ATL loss vs. TB
2) ATL win vs. TB + DET win at GB
This one is precarious. If Green Bay loses in the early game, which they very well might since Detroit has something to play for and they don’t, Atlanta could easily be locked in to the 6th seed and rest their starters.
NEW YORK GIANTS vs DAL – 8:20 PM
NY Giants clinch NFC East Division and 4-seed:
1) NYG win or tie vs. DAL
DALLAS COWBOYS @ NYG – 8:20 PM
Dallas clinches NFC East Division at 4-seed:
1) DAL win at NYG