Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

To Play or Not to Play

Today, the Chicago Bears (11-4) take the gridiron for their final regular season game of the 2010-2011 schedule. Who else do they play other than their longtime division rivals, the Green Bay Packers (9-6). A few weeks ago, the Bears secured a playoff spot when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings and were crowned the NFC North Division champions. When the Vikings upset the Philadelphia Eagles last week (on a Tuesday night), the Bears were guaranteed at least the second seed in the NFC playoffs and secured a bye in the first round of the playoffs. If the Atlanta Falcons (12-3) somehow lose to the Carolina Panthers (2-13), and the Bears defeat the Packers, the Bears will be the first seed and have the home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That being said, do they play their starters?

Around this time each season, NFL teams debate whether or not to play their starters. With the playoffs starting next weekend, teams will consider resting their stars and minimizing potential injuries. Of course, the Bears are guaranteed a bye week so they will not play until the weekend of January 15-16. If they opt to bench their starters, or give them limited playing time, they will have essentially two weeks off. Is that too much rest? Will that create the potential for rustiness and a chance to get bounced after one playoff game?

The Green Bay Packers are not guaranteed a playoff spot yet. They need a win this afternoon to secure a spot in the postseason. Their goal is simple. Win and they are in. What type of opponent can they expect today? With the Bears run full steam ahead in an effort to eliminate a team from the postseason? Will the Bears go through the motions and let the Packers win? Since the Falcons/Panthers game is an early start, by kickoff of the Bears/Packers game, the Bears will know if they have a legitimate shot at the number one seed.

I'm not certain about the proper course of action. I'm leaning toward playing the starters in the first half and then playing the second and third string. Perhaps they can shut down the Packers, get a comfortable lead and coast into the bye week and look ahead to their potential playoff contenders.

On a side note, the NFC West Division could send a team with a losing record to the playoffs. Tonight, the St. Louis Rams (7-8) battle the Seattle Seahawks (6-9). The winner of this game will be the division champion. If St. Louis wins, they be .500 at 8-8. If Seattle wins, they'll be 7-9.


11 Comments
daverock
bill belichick would go full throttle against the packers if his patriots were in this situation, the bears should do the same. i'll be disappointed if the bears rest their players. they have one of the healthiest teams in the nfl right now; they'll get rusty if they rest their starters for 2 weeks. i don't have any facts to back this up, but from my memory, it seems that the bears play poorly after bye weeks. and i believe rodgers is just a far superior quarterback over cutler; given the chance in a playoff situation, the packers will walk all over the bears. take them out now if they can.
Dave Rock   Sunday, January 2, 2011
billpearch
I'm worried about rustiness, too. I guess we'll see in a few hours.
Bill Pearch   Sunday, January 2, 2011
billpearch
The Patriots still have Tom Brady in the game at the start of the second half. They're winning 24-0.
Bill Pearch   Sunday, January 2, 2011
k8day
The Seahawks are the first team ever to have a losing record and win a division championship.
K8Day   Sunday, January 2, 2011
billpearch
Now watch them win the Super Bowl.
Bill Pearch   Monday, January 3, 2011
jef
The offense was terrible, but I'm glad they played to win and kept their starters in. I watch almost every Sunday for entertainment and it wouldn't have been fun to watch them play their 2nd and 3rd strings and get blown out by Green Bay.
jef   Monday, January 3, 2011
hawkwolf
With the exception of performances by a few teams the NFL season has been the poorest this year in the last ten. The major contenders looked like they have not cared about what happened and the major surprises have not been as good as they should have been. Is this years performance tied to the fact that there maybe a major labor dispute looming on the horizon or has it gotten to the point that the NFL has so many things to distract from it that the game personnel have become lack luster. At this point, my pick for winning the Super Bowl would have to be The Atlanta Falcons with QB Mark Ryan.
BeanCounter37   Monday, January 3, 2011
jef
Anything can happen in the nfl (especially this season), but with the way the Patriots continually attack, they're my pick to win the super bowl.

The Bears have been a major surprise for me this year. I figured they would be a .500 team before the season started, but most people thought that was being optimistic.
jef   Monday, January 3, 2011
RickMonday
i think the only way the Patriots lose is if Brady gets hurt. Their defense is very underrated.
RickMonday   Monday, January 3, 2011
hawkwolf
The Atlanta Falcons with Matt Ryan are going to be hard to beat.
BeanCounter37   Monday, January 3, 2011
billpearch
Honestly, I don't think any team in the NFC is unbeatable. They all have weaknesses.
Bill Pearch   Monday, January 3, 2011
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