The Buffalo Bills have nothing to gain from playing their starters in Week 17 but they do have plenty to lose if they don’t play them at all
There’s really nothing on the line for the Buffalo Bills in Week 17 when they take on the New York Jets. At 10-5, they already have their first double-digit winning season since 1999 and are locked in at the No. 5 seed.
With that being the case, it would make a lot of sense to rest their starters and prepare for the postseason. Many teams choose to do this and with the bumps and bruises taken throughout a 16-game schedule, it could be a good chance to heal up.
As for the Bills, they haven’t come out and said what their plan is. Head coach Sean McDermott was asked about this and said he and general manager Brandon Beane will make a decision based on what they feel is right for them.
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"“Yeah, no, we’ll talk about it,” McDermott said via Kyle Silagyi of Bills Wire. “Brandon [Beane] and I will sit down and talk about it and make sure we do what’s right for the team.”"
While I can’t predict how their discussion will go, or what they think is the right course, I can say this team should seriously consider playing their starters — even if they don’t do so for the entire game.
There have been cases made for either strategy and we’ve seen it pay off to play the starters such as in the 2007 season when the New York Giants went all out trying to beat the New England Patriots in Week 17. They had nothing but pride to play for as they tried to knock off the 15-0 Pats.
New England wound up winning but the Giants played them tough and rode that confidence to a Super Bowl victory.
For Buffalo, they too could use a morale booster. After their impressive win on Thanksgiving Day against Dallas, they’ve gone just 1-2 and have scored a mere 17 points in each of those games — two of which were against playoff teams in Baltimore and New England.
Allowing their starters to go against New York would give the Bills a chance to build momentum and confidence going into the postseason. Even if they go out and have a few succesful series and decide to pull the plug, they could really use something to build on.
Buffalo has a championship-caliber defense but they can’t win it alone. They need the offense to rise to the occasion and playing in Week 17 will help in that endeavor.