December 29, 2017
When the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Oakland Raiders Week 16, they clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, thus setting up a decision on whether or not to rest their starters in a game that is meaningless in terms of playoff seeding.
Doug Pederson has decided that the best course of action for his team heading into the playoffs is for his starters to play.
"I want all the starters to play," he said.
OK, so that settles that. Why, Doug?
"The idea is to just keep the starters going," Pederson explained. "I don't want to not play them, and then it's three weeks later and you're playing a game. I think that would be foolish on my part, so I want to make sure that they stay in the moment, but at the same time be smart with how much they play, how long they play, and go from there."
As we noted a couple weeks ago, over the last 10 years, by my count, 11 teams have had home field advantage wrapped up heading into the final game of the regular season. Nine of those teams rested their starters. (By rested, we mean they either deactivated healthy starters, or pulled them out of the game early for preservation purposes.)
The record of those nine teams in their first playoff game: 3-6. A list of the teams that rested their starters, and their end results:
Over that same span, other No. 1 seeds that played their starters, whether or not they needed to win that final game or not, had a combined record of 9-2 in their first playoff game.
There is certainly reason to worry about the team losing its edge by getting too much rest. Of course, if another important player gets hurt, Pederson is sure to face heavy criticism.
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