One of the first thoughts in every fan’s mind is that the Colts can rest players in Week 17.
Football is a physically demanding sport, both in terms of conditioning and direct hits to the body. Generally speaking, the more rest a player can get, the more time he has for recovery.
NFL teams nearly all have winning records after bye weeks, and those are in the middle of the season.
This is Week 17.
Given the physical demands and the statistical evidence that rest is good, resting players whenever possible seems to be a no-brainer.
The counterargument to this is that no amount of practice can match game conditions—the speed, the physical intensity, dynamic game situations—and too much time off reduces the players’ conditioning to that level of play.
MLB, NBA and NHL teams occasionally face long layoffs during their playoff series when one team sweeps its opponent in four games and its future opponent goes the full seven games.
In 2007, the Colorado Rockies had to wait eight days before playing in the World Series. After winning 21 of 22 over the last three weeks of the season and going 8-0 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, they tanked in the World Series.
A case can be made for keeping players in "game shape," but that case seems less important in a physically demanding sport like football (soccer players and managers also know the value of extra recovery time).
Here are four areas in which rest during Week 17 will do the Colts good.
All season long, the O-line has struggled to protect Andrew Luck and generate any kind of consistent running game. An extra game isn’t going to help this unit, but fresh players might.
Against the Texans, the Colts should put their entire OL on the practice squad and find replacement players to take on Houston.
Old Man Wide Receiver
Reggie Wayne is a warrior, and if the coach told him to play against the Texans, he would give maximum effort on every play, just as he has done throughout his career. This is exactly why Wayne must be forced to the sideline in Week 17.
Reggie is 34 years old and playing in his 12th NFL campaign. Older athletes need more time to recover than younger players. Let the rookie wide receivers take a bow at home against the Texans while Wayne struts around in street clothes, waving at the fans.
Andrew Luck was sacked for the 40th time this season on Sunday. He also leads the league in QB “knockdowns”—and Luck is not the one doing the knocking.
While he is a big, strong young man who undoubtedly wants to play every week, he is too valuable to the Colts’ chances in the playoffs to take the risk that he will do something young and dumb—like not sliding at the ends of his runs.
Anyone on Defense
The Colts have had some injuries this season on defense, and their defense has not been spectacular. If any defensive player is nursing any injuries, no matter how small, he should be rested to let his understudies get some snaps.
Depth in the playoffs is critical and the Colts need every man healthy.