Chip Kelly was adamant that the Philadelphia Eagles would play their starters this Sunday night against the Chicago Bears, regardless of the game’s influence in the standings. His opponent, on the other hand, is not so sure.
Turns out the Birds aren’t the only team that might not have that much to play for this week. If the Detroit Lions lose and the Green Bay Packers win earlier that afternoon, the Bears will be facing the same scenario no matter the outcome in Philadelphia. The final game of the year would determine whether or not they make the playoffs.
This mirrors the Eagles’ situation. If the Dallas Cowboys beat Washington, the NFC East champion will be crowned in Week 17 regardless of what happens Sunday night.
While Kelly insists his team still has something to play for—“We’ve got to be ready to play winning football”—Marc Trestman believes resting players is at least worth considering. For now, Chicago’s head coach plans to play his starters, but unlike Kelly’s plan, it’s not etched in stone. Via Adam Hoge of CBS Chicago (per ProFootballTalk):
“Could that change? Certainly. But right now, we’re focused on winning a game and there’s nothing else to discuss at this time. And at 7 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday night, if the situation needs to be re-evaluated again, it’s open for discussion.”
Obviously, making the playoffs comes before seeding, and that’s going to be much more difficult to do accomplish if a star player is injured the week before a play-in game.
At the same time, this week’s tilt between the Eagles and Bears is not “meaningless.” Whichever team wins on Sunday night will be guaranteed the third seed should they both go on to make the playoffs. That may seem minor, but it would delay a trip to Seattle, where the fourth seed will meet the Seahawks should it advance.
The Seahawks are 6-0 at home this season. Of course, any NFC team that has Super Bowl aspirations better count on playing there eventually.
It’s an interesting debate, and we could see two different philosophies at work this week. On one hand, having a healthy and well-rested roster is important. On the other, both squads could use the extra work to hone their skills, plus it can send the wrong message to the players.
Personally, I’d love to see both teams go into the game with a chance to clinch the division, and really create a high-stakes, playoff-like atmosphere at the Linc. Then we’d really get a sense as to whether the Birds are playoff-ready.
>> Trestman Leaves Door Open To Resting Starters [CBS Chicago]