At times during the past week I went back and forth about this being a must win game for New Orleans. Even with home field advantage locked up, I felt it was still important to come out week 17 with a victory, having lost two in a row.
It's smart to rest your key player's with nothing to gain. But is there nothing to gain in this situation? With the streak of being undefeated taken on your home field, then another loss at home to a team that was 2-12 at the time that they beat 38-7 earlier in the season.
With another division rival that's come on strong as of late, I felt it was best to come in and win, re-gain some confidence, then carry that on to the playoffs. The only problem is, that if they came in trying to win with all their starters, then lost, that would leave a really bad taste in their mouths for almost a month. Killing their confidence even more, leading to the most important game of the teams best season in history.
In this case I feel it was smart to rest the teams best player. Mark Brunell is a good veteran and seems very capable of winning. Sean Payton seems to have a lot of confidence in Brunell. Carolina will be missing their star receiver and will be mostly limited to running the ball. Jonathan Stewart has totaled over 300 plus yards in the past two weeks, but without their star wideout New Orleans should be able to concentrate on just stopping the run. Easier said than done, but with New Orleans leaving their best player on the bench, maybe they still walk out with a win.