The Green Bay Packers are in a position heading into week 18 that no other team in the NFL has. They have their seeding locked up. The question that arises now is what to do in a seemingly “meaningless” final regular-season game in Detroit. Should they play their starters, or not?
The Past Results…
The Packers aren’t the first team to be in this spot. Almost every year one team has everything locked up heading into the final week. The most recent instance of this was in 2020 when the Chiefs were 14-1 heading into the final week of the season. They decided to rest key starters such as Patrick Mahomes and others. They went on to win the AFC, but fell short in Super Bowl 55. In 2019, the Ravens rested their starters in the final week of the season. They proceeded to go one and done in the playoffs in shocking fashion. The last team that rested their starting QB the final week of the season that went on to win the Super Bowl were the 2009 Saints. This shows that maybe that extra week off has done more harm than good to teams.
The Pros of Playing Starters This Week
- Avoid the rust a two week bye might bring
- Give the makeshift offensive line more time working with the first string offense
- Rodgers can add on to his MVP season with a few more touchdowns
- Make the players happy (Rodgers and Adams have both voiced they’d like to play)
- Work on plays they’ve struggled with this season
The Cons of Playing Starters This Week
- Injuries. in a year that has seen so many Packers go down it would be heartbreaking to see more get hurt in a game with nothing on the line.
- No look at Jordan Love. With a huge offseason looming, any reps Jordan Love could get would be valuable for the Packers. They need to see if they really want to move forward with the 2020 first round pick
- The three loss curse. The past two seasons have seen the Packers go 13-3 and lose in the NFC Championship game. The Packers currently sit at 13-3 and would almost certainly finish 14-3 if they play starters versus a two win Lions team. In my eyes, get that fourth loss out of the way here, and not in the playoffs again.
In my eyes I think the Packers should play their starters in the first half, or maybe even the first quarter in this one. In 2011 the Packers rested almost evry key starter and that one didn’t turn out well for them, I think keeping the momentum going for these guys is important and adding some extra stats for the season doesn’t hurt either. I’d like to see Jordan Love and some backups get some reps in the second half and also make sure no other key Packers go down right before the playoffs.