“What’s a Coach to Do?”
It’s the final weekend of the NFL season, and the division winners and wildcard teams are about to head to the postseason.
Sunday has a couple of meaningful games, especially that NFC-North showdown between the Packers and Lions with first place at stake for the winner, and the loser becoming a wildcard team and having to play next week.
And of course, the AFC-West’s final go round becomes important, because the Raiders, who have lost QB-Derek Carr, will entrust the offense to backup Matt McGloin, when they close out against Denver. Kansas City meanwhile can win the West, with a Raiders loss and if KC takes care of business and beats down the beaten up Chargers.
But there are questions to be answered other places.
Dallas has clinched home field advantage for all NFC playoff games. Sunday is meaningless to them. They want to get thru it healthy. What do they do with their two rookie of the year candidates, quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliot when they take the field in Philadelphia?
Play them to pile up stats at the risk, what if they got hurt? Then Dallas has to answer the other quarterback question, who plays if Prescott doesn’t?
Do you risk playing Tony Romo, who has been a faithful backup since coming back from the stress fracture treatments for his back. Do you get him ready for post-season as an insurance policy it something were to happen to Prescott in a playoff game?
But are you taking a chance on Romo playing and getting hurt this weekend, and wiping out his market value, if you wanted to trade him in the offseason? Mark Sanchez is the third QB and could obviously start, in what has been a throw-away season for him.
You can use the same logic in posing the questions about Tom Brady and New England, as they go to Miami. He’s gotten them to (13-2), so you want him ready to start the second season, as they chase another Super Bowl trophy.
And ditto for Eli Manning and the Giants, who have locked it all down, but must play Washington.
And the idea of exposing Russell Wilson when Seattle plays San Francisco becomes a hot topic of debate in the Northwest.
Pittsburgh doesn’t care what anyone thinks. They are resting Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell for the opening day of post season play. They won’t take part in the annual grudge game with Cleveland.
Tough call for the NFL too. Fans are still paying good money, and will ask whether they deserve to see the starters, not the scrubs, the final weekend of the season.
What’s a coach to do on this coming weekend of games?