As the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints continue their trailblazing form, the question grows bigger and bigger. It looks likely that it will be answered, or at least half of it anyway, come this Thursday when the Colts face the Jacksonville Jaguars. The question?
Should the Saints and Colts aim for 16-0?
Let's look at the positives first. You get the chance to go for the holy grail. To some, going undefeated might just be bigger than winning the Superbowl itself. Every year a new Superbowl champion is crowned. But it's rare to see a team go undefeated. To see either the Colts or Saints join the Patriots in the same decade would be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Why they should go for 16-0
Another reason why they should just go for broke and aim for 16-0 is the momentum it brings going into the postseason. The starters will play at an extremely competitive level all the way to the postseason, and they still get a week to rest before their playoff journeys begin. If everything goes as planned, the players will be fresh and they will remain competitive. It's a win-win situation.
It also brings an air of excitement to the city and keeps the hype on the team. All that attention would bring additional pressure on the team to succeed. It would be a pre-playoff test of how your players handle the pressure. This is particularly important to the New Orleans Saints, where most of their players have yet to taste Superbowl glory, while the Colts retain a large part of their 2007 Superbowl winning team.
Why they should not go for 16-0
It isn't a bed of roses though. The risk of injury would linger every time a player is slow to get up. That's the main motivation for the decision makers, Sean Payton and Jim Caldwell, to sit their starters. If they choose this route, they would hope giving them an extended period of rest would bring the players back, more rejuvenated than ever to make that final push for the season.
It also gives your backups a chance to shine. By the way the team performed this year, many of the players would expect a raise in salary. By having your backups play, and if they could do a commendable job, it gives you a bargaining chip on the negotiation table where they don't necessarily need to overpay if they have a capable replacement already on the team.
What they should do
Jon Madden pointed out in a recent interview that by resting some players while others play is creating a hierarchy system in your team, and it destroys the all-for-one, one-for-all concept. There's the risk of creating disharmony in the locker room if they try this, which is why they should't.
What they should do instead is put them in for the first half. Tell your first team players that they should try to put as many points on the board before the match is handed over to the backups. At halftime, regardless of the score, pull the entire first team offense and defense. This also gives the backups an additional incentive to not let the team down.