Monday, December 24, 2007

Looking out for yourself

Hey folks:
First off, a very Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate that holiday and a very belated Happy Hannukah to all of my Jewish brethren.
I have a question, one that I'm sure the newspapers, ESPN and sports talk radio will be asking this week -- what is a playoff team's obligation to play its starters in what is a meaningless game for them when that game is meaningful to its opponent?
I bring this up because the Giants face the undefeated Patriots in the final week of the regular season, while teams such as the Colts and Cowboys -- already locked in for the playoffs -- could determine which team in each conference earns the final wild-card nod.
The Colts play host to Tennessee in the final game of the regular season with the Titans needing a win to get in the AFC playoffs over the Cleveland Browns, who face the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams are tied with a 9-6 record. The Titans control their destiny (based on record against common opponent) but in a wacky twist, should both teams lose, the Browns get the nod because of a stronger conference record.
The scenario is easier in the NFC. The Washington Redskins, who play host to the Cowboys, are in with a win. The Minnesota Vikings, who face the Denver Broncos, are in with a win and a Washington loss, while the New Orleans Saints, who face the Chicago Bears, need a win and losses by both the Skins and Vikings to get the final playoff spot.
I touched on this a little in an earlier post, but as much as I would love to see the Giants go all out as the last team standing between the Pats and regular-season perfection, I truly understand giving their banged up starters rest.
Same goes for both the Colts and the Cowboys.
It's a tough call, but in the end, these teams are obligated to do what's best for them.
While it will be tough to see the Pats run up-and-down the field against the Giants' reserves, or the Redskins and Titans celebrate playoff berths against the Colts' and Cowboys' "B" teams, the bigger shame would be seeing any one of these teams suffer an injury that could affect the playoffs.
What do you think?
Until next time, take care and God bless.

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