Week 17 is annually one of my favorite slates because there are a lot of soft skills needed. Not only do we need to do our usual work on injury fallouts and depth chart changes, but we also need to be aware of motivation. Some teams are locked into their playoff seed, others don’t care what seed they get, some are still fighting for the playoffs, some were just eliminated from the playoffs and others are in evaluation mode.
Note that this year is a bit different as seven teams will qualify for the playoffs rather than six. The biggest difference is that the No. 2 seed in each conference no longer gets a bye.
The purpose of this article is to identify where teams are at for Week 17 and highlight some specific personnel situations. I will update it as more news comes out later in the week.
1. Chiefs (14-1)
SITUATION: Have already clinched No. 1 seed
OUTLOOK: Andy Reid and the Chiefs have a long history of resting starters in this spot. I expect Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and any other key player to sit. That means Chad Henne and the second-stringers against the Chargers. Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle and Darwin Thompson are my favorite plays if you think Chad Henne can generate offense (I’m skeptical).
2. Bills (12-3)
SITUATION: Must win or have Steelers lose to clinch No. 2 seed
OUTLOOK: This one is worth looking at closely. First of all, the Steelers play the desperate Browns at 1pm ET and have already announced that Ben Roethlisberger will rest. If the Steelers lose that game (they are 9.5-point underdogs), the Bills will have nothing to play for. Of course, both games are at 1pm. But I could still see the Bills resting their starters here for all or part of the game. After all, the value of the No. 2 seed has been decimated by the removal of the bye and the lack of fans in the stands. The player I’m most interested in is Gabriel Davis, who think will play the whole game regardless of how the Bills handle the situation. But even that I am not certain of as Davis has a real role for the first-stringers. There’s no way I would touch Josh Allen, Stef Diggs, John Brown etc.