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Do the Green Bay Packers risk it for the first-round bye or does the team feel confident enough that they can win without the home field advantage?
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Sports Blogger – Michael Cavallo
Packers: to sit or play starters?
After the victory over the Browns on Saturday, the Packers are in great shape to end the season with the #1 seed in the NFC. With two more games remaining for the 2021 season, the Packers hold the tie breaker over the Bucs, Rams and Cardinals for the number 1 seed and have a game lead over several other NFC teams. If the Packers can win next week against the Vikings, do you consider sitting the starters for the last week of the season? If the Packers decide to sit their starters for the last week of the season, the Packers could possibly have two weeks off until they play their first playoff game. The two weeks off could be a blessing or a disaster. The weeks off is great for resting and healing, but the layover can cause rust and sluggish play. I’ve seen in the past when teams come off their first-round bye, they tend to start off slow and lethargic. It is extremely difficult to turn on the switch for game mode, so that is why many teams rather play each week and keep their momentum going. In football, the playoffs are all about which team is the healthiest and which team has the most momentum. For the Packers, it makes sense resting some key players, like Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has a fracture toe and during the last game he suffered a setback to that injured toe. Since Rodgers passed Brett Favre for the team’s touchdown passing record, what else is there to play for? Rest might be the best option for Rodgers going forward.
Momentum is key for a successful playoff run
Usually, the team that wins the Superbowl are the healthiest and has the most momentum going into the playoffs. For the Packers, the one way to build momentum is to play their star players. Since losing to the Vikings week 11, the Packers have won 5 in a row with two weeks left of the regular season. If the Packers can ride a seven-game winning streak into the playoffs, I will feel confident that they can make a deep run to the Superbowl. If I was the head coach for the Packers, I would play my starters next week against the Vikings and consider playing them the first half against the Lions. Playing them for a half (Week 18) allows them to have some extra rest and still provides competitive game reps. Also, the Packers are getting some key players back from injuries (David Bakhtiari (Tackle), Josh Meyers (Center), Billy Turner (Guard), Jaire Alexander (Corner), Za’darius Smith (Line Backer)), so I think it would be smart to get these players some game reps. It takes a while for a player to get into game shape. If these players don’t play week 17, I would strongly consider playing these players for the whole game against the Lions. It is extremely difficult to simulate game like conditions during practice time, so the more game reps the better.
When will a decision be made?
A decision to sit or play the starters won’t be made till after the week 17 game against the Vikings. The Packers are in excellent shape to finish on top of the NFC, but there are two teams that have a chance in spoiling that. The Tampa Bay Bucs has a record of 11-4 with two easy games left of the season against the Jets (4-11) and the Panthers (5-10). If they win out and the Packers lose both games, there will be a chance that the Bucs could end up with the #1 seed. As of now, the Packers hold the tie breakers over the Rams, Cardinals and Bucs. The NFC seeding tiebreaker is each team’s record against NFC teams. The Packers only have two loses against NFC teams, meanwhile the Bucs and Rams have three loses against NFC teams. The other team that has a chance in spoiling the Packers’ number one seed is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys sit a game behind the Packers in the NFC playoff seeding with a 11-4 record. Unlike the Bucs, the Cowboys hold the tiebreaker over the Packers. The Cowboys lost one game against an NFC team. Also, the Cowboys have two tough remaining games against the Cardinals (10-5) and Eagles (8-7). If the Cowboys win out and the Packers lose one of the two remaining games the Cowboys will end up with the NFC number one playoff seed. The Packers’ decision to sit their players won’t happen until after week 17. As of now, the Packers are a full steam ahead toward the NFC number one playoff seed.