The benefit of having everything clinched by Week 17 is that you can do what you want with your lineup.
Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid is going to take advantage of that.
Reid said Monday that he’ll rest his starters this week, according to Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star.
"We'll do that; we'll rest up some guys,” Reid said.
That will have some impact on the MVP race, which might be over if Patrick Mahomes doesn’t play.
Patrick Mahomes unlikely to play much, if at all
The decision to sit starters likely means Mahomes plays very little, if at all. That probably ends the MVP conversation, because Aaron Rodgers has taken a big lead in the race and Mahomes can’t catch him if he doesn’t play.
Because there is only one bye in each conference in the expanded playoff field, some division winners have nothing to play for. That’s the unintended consequence of opening up the field for another wild-card team and keeping those teams in contention. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills will be playing for seeding, but that’s probably not enough incentive to play starters when those teams have a playoff game on wild-card weekend.
There’s a trickle-down effect. If the Bills sit everyone against the Miami Dolphins, they could be handing the Dolphins a playoff spot — the Dolphins are in with a win — and making it tough on a team like the Indianapolis Colts, who need some help.
But that’s the benefit of clinching before Week 17 for a team like the Bills.
Many teams still fighting for playoffs in finale
Most games in Week 17 either have teams that were eliminated already or battling for something tangible. The NFC East race still is ongoing between the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Washington Football Team. The Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams are battling for two wild-card spots. The AFC South title hasn’t been decided between the Tennessee Titans and Colts. The second-place team there will be in a wild-card mix with the Dolphins, Colts, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
But for teams that have no incentive to move up, it could be a week off. The Chiefs have already decided on that, it seems. Perhaps Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and others play a series or two, because teams can get rusty if they take a week off before a bye. But it won’t be much playing time.
Week 17 has a lot of intrigue left. But there won’t be much in the Chiefs game, and some others.
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