The Kansas City Chiefs have locked up the fifth seed in the NFL playoffs next week, no matter what happens around the league this weekend. The question being pondered by Head Coach Andy Reid and as well by Kansas City Chiefs fans, is if the Chiefs should rest their starters this weekend in the season finale against the San Diego Chargers?
In the past, I have been of the opinion that a team should play to win each and every game. Anything else is a loser’s mentality. As I have gotten older, and the joints, muscles, and bones have gotten more temperamental, I have backed off this position because I no longer view it as black or white. Every situation has certain components that must be weighed.
A football player takes the field knowing, deep down, that they are always one play away from having their game, season, or career ended. It is part of the game they love. I don’t think they dwell on it; if they did, they couldn’t perform as they do.
That being said, the Chiefs really can’t take a chance of suffering any major injuries on Sunday in a meaningless game. What if Jamaal Charles goes down? Or Alex Smith? Or Derrick Johnson? If Kansas City were to lose any of these guys to injury going into the playoffs, the hopes for that first post season win in 20 years would dim considerably.
You may argue that after last week, the Chiefs need to get back on the field to get that sour taste of Sunday’s debacle against the Colts out of their mouths. There is some degree of truth to that but these guys are professionals. They know they played about as poorly as they could against Indianapolis. It has been pretty clear that the players recognized just how bad it was on Sunday.
It has to marked up as an aberration. The Chiefs may not have been dazzling every week but they were competitive in every game until this past weekend. Sometimes that just happens in the world of sports. As hard as it might be, we as fans must try not to panic. Their play on Sunday was terrible but that has not been the case for most of the season.
I don’t think playing all the starters Sunday against the Chargers will fix the pass rush, or make Alex Smith throw the ball past the first down marker on occasion, or make receives stop dropping passes, or improve pass coverage. Those things have to be fixed in practice.
There is no guarantee the players will be 100% mentally focused on this game anyway, especially since it has little meaning for them, and it is just something they need to get through.
These guys are professionals. I don’t think they will carry last week’s poor play into either Cincinnati or Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs, whether they play or not. Unless, of course, everyone plays and compound the damage with another poor day.
There is certainly no guarantee if the Chiefs do play their stars, they win. There is no guarantee that they will even play well.
The Chiefs should be taking no chances. Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, and any other regular that is banged up, or very hard to replace, should be inactive for the Chargers game. Let them get a little healthier, mentally and physically, and head into the playoffs in a strong state of body and mind.
This game is meaningless for the Chiefs in the grand scheme of things but in a totally different way than the last game was last year. In 2012, the Chiefs were trying to play out the extremely difficult season with pride and heart. They do not have anything to prove in those departments this season.
Hopefully, Reid will decide that sitting the stars will have more positive ramifications than negative. I would certainly like seeing Chase Daniel and Knile Davis this week by choice rather than next week out of necessity.