x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

NFL teams will not take a day off for final game of regular season

It is the final weekend of the regular season and a familiar question echoes across the NFL landscape. Will [fill in the blank] rest their starters for the play-offs?

Gary Kubiak, right, the Houston Texans head coach, says his team will treat the final game of the regular season just like any other game.
Gary Kubiak, right, the Houston Texans head coach, says his team will treat the final game of the regular season just like any other game.

 

It is the final weekend of the regular season and a familiar question echoes across the NFL landscape.

Will [fill in the blank] rest their starters for the play-offs?

Early indications suggest that some teams with little or nothing to gain will deploy their regulars.

There is always a chance of losing a player to injury, but coaches have observed that teams holding out their regulars in the final game often enter the post-season devoid of momentum.

"We'll go play this game like any other one," said Gary Kubiak, the Houston coach, whose Texans are locked in as the AFC's No 3 seed. Houston would enter the play-offs on a three-game losing streak if they fall to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

The New Orleans Saints, at home against Carolina Panthers, could improve their NFC standing from third to second if they win and the St Louis Rams upset the San Francisco 49ers.

Sean Payton, the Saints coach, has decided, "Our approach is going to be much like it has been. We're going to play all our guys."

The NFL has risen to such prominence that all games ought to be taken seriously.

And Roger Goodell, the commissioner, could use his bully pulpit to remind teams that the league's stature takes a slight hit whenever they treat real games like exhibitions.

But coaches should be allowed the option of bubble-wrapping key players on the final day of the regular season.

 

sports@thenational.ae