The NFL regular season is almost over, but we have one week left and a whole lot going on during that week. Twelve teams have no chance at the playoffs, while nine teams have clinched a playoff spot. That leaves 11 teams with a shot at making the playoff this weekend.
Of the nine teams to have clinched a playoff spot, the 49ers and Ravens both have locked in the No. 1 seed, while the Chiefs are locked into the No. 3 seed and the Browns into the No. 5 seed. These teams have nothing to play for as it concerns the playoffs. The Lions and Rams, both could move up a spot in the seeding, but since they don’t have a ton to gain with a win, they likely won’t put anyone who is dealing with an injury on the field and could possibly rest some starters.
The Miami Dolphins have clinched a playoff spot, but a win on Sunday Night Football over the Bills means the AFC East championship, a likely easier opponent and home field advantage unless they face the Ravens.
Bookmark this post, as we will continue to update as news comes in.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Update: The Eagles still have a shot at the NFC East title, so the odds are good that they will play to win, but like all teams with a playoff spot locked up, they could rest players who aren’t 100% healthy. Here’s head coach Nick Sirianni speaking on the subject:
”Obviously, we always try to think through everything at all times and we are always thinking about those things,” Sirianni said. “We’re going to do whatever we need to do to win this game. But still, that’s a consideration because we think through all those different things.”
The Cowboys need to lose to the Commanders and the Eagles need to beat the Giants again to take the title. The Cowboys are 13-point favorites, so the Eagles chances are slim.
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
Head coach Dan Campbell is super pissed about how the Lions lost to the Cowboys in Week 17 and says he will play his starters this week against the Vikings. Since the team could move up to the No. 2 seed with a win and Campbell is kind of crazy, I think we can take him for his word for the most part.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Update: John Harbaugh will rest Lamar Jackson, giving Tyler Huntley the start, per Ian Rapoport. We can’t count on any of the regular starters to see significant time in this game.
The Steelers need a win here for their playoff chances, but that shouldn’t sway the Ravens to play their starters in a meaningless game. Head coach John Harbaugh hasn’t said if he will play starters or not, but did say he wouldn’t keep it a secret. Harbaugh has rested starters in the past and I’d expect him to do just that this season. But, we should learn more as the week moves on and we will update that here.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams
Update: Joe Noteboom, Tyler Higbee, Kyren Williams, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Ernest Jones are all OUT Sunday, per Sean McVay. Puka Nacua is likely going to try to get the rookie receiving record, as he needs just 29 yards.
Update: Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday that Sam Darnold would get the start against the Rams, per Clayton Holloway. Wentz vs. Darnold!
Update: Sean McVay told reporters Wednesday that Carson Wentz will get the start in Week 18 vs. the 49ers, per Mike Garafolo.
Update: Right after the 49ers win over the Commanders, Shanahan said, “We’ll definitely try to rest some guys, but you can’t rest everybody.”
The 49ers have nothing to play for, while the Rams can only move from the 7th to 6th seed, so both teams could end up resting starters. But, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has spoken about resting players in the past and he’s not a fan of it. He likes to keep his players ready to play, but he also has to be realistic about risking injury in a meaningless game. Christian McCaffrey has already been ruled out and we can expect the same for other nicked up players. Neither Sean McVay or Shanahan have spoken on the subject yet, but they will get asked multiple times this week and we’ll update this blurb accordingly.
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
Update: Head coach Andy Reid says they will rest Patrick Mahomes and other select starters against the Chargers, per Ian Rapoport.
The Chiefs haven’t been playing up to their normal standards most of the season, so it could make sense to get them some work, but, Andy Reid usually rests his main starters in meaningless games like this. I would expect that to hold true this year as well.
Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Update: Head coach Kevin Stefanski will rest starters, per Chris Easterling.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanki told reporters the team wants to finish strong against the Bengals, but he also said he’ll work through the decision to rest starters or not throughout the week. That’s usually a sign that they will rest some starters at least. We know Amari Cooper, and other injured players will likely rest.