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Will the Bengals Play Their Starters?

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Let's return to a theme that got our attention all last week. The Bengals have an interesting dilemma ahead of them. They have a chance to get the 3 seed in the AFC Playoffs instead of the 4 with a win and some help this week. However, they cannot get a bye. It will be interesting to see whether Marvin Lewis plays or sits his starters against the Jets.

Reasons for playing his starters:

  • In the event the Patriots and Bengals both win two Playoff games, the difference between the 3 and 4 seeds will be the difference between hosting the AFC Championship Game and playing on the road. You may scoff at this, but this happened three years ago when the Colts rode their home crowd to an 18 point comeback against the Patriots. That comeback probably wouldn't have happened if the game was in Foxborough.
  • The Bengals haven't looked all that great recently. There were a couple of losses to the Vikings and Chargers this month. A home win against a lousy Kansas City team wasn't convincing. Remember how the Giants caught fire two years ago playing their starters in a Week 17 game against the Pats that was meaningless on paper.
  • If the Bengals don't take care of the Jets next week, there's a chance they'll have a rematch in the Wild Card round. Would you really want to face an elite statistical defense and the league's best rushing attack in a cold weather Playoff game if you can avoid it?

Reasons for sitting his starters:

  • No matter what happens, the Bengals will host a Wild Card game and have to play on the road in a Divisional game. They cannot get a bye.
  • They can rest up for a Playoff game in the Wild Card round.

What do you think the Bengals will do?