The Jets have an interesting decision to make. No matter what happens against the Bills, they will be heading on the road for the Wild Card round of the Playoffs. The team could sit its starters to avoid injury and get the backups some experience, knowing that a loss would only end the slim hopes of getting the 5 seed instead of the 6. While I do think it is possible for both Wild Card teams to win a pair of road games given their quality, I am not sure fighting for the spot is really a good enough reason to keep playing on its own.
There really is no magic formula for something like this. There are plenty of examples of either approach working and failing. In 2007 the Giants and Patriots both played their starters in a high intensity Week 17 game even though both side already had everything clinched. New England was going for a perfect regular season, but the game changed nothing about the Playoff race. It was a well played game by both sides. The Giants and Patriots rode the momentum from that game and both ended up in the Super Bowl. The Giants suffered injuries to three key players during that game. They lost center Shaun O'Hara for a Playoff game, but it is difficult to argue the game against New England did them anything but good.
On the other side, both Super Bowl teams from last year, the Colts and Saints, rested their starters down the stretch and took late season losses playing with backups.
It seems like the kind of thing that is more of an art than a science. Different teams benefit from different things.
I personally would like to see the Jets play this game to win. It has nothing to do with this theory that the team plays worse with more rest. I still have a difficult time accepting it. This team has mostly similar parts to last year's squad that crushed Houston on opening day and Tampa Bay on 10 days of rest. I have a tough time believing these guys and these coaches forgot how to prepare with an extra layoff. I think there have been other issues in those losses.
The reason I want to see the Jets play is that we really haven't seen a complete effort since the first meeting with the Bills. That was the last time everything was working. I think this is a valuable opportunity to try and get things working and build some momentum for the Playoffs. This team seems a lot more like the 2007 Giants, searching for a spark, than last year's Colts and Saints, who dominated during the first three months of the season. A week off would be nice, but these guys are conditioned to play every week. Yes, injuries would be a risk, but I think there are greater things to be gained.
I say this with one caveat. The Jets should sit anybody who would be playing hurt. If a week off will make an ailment anybody has feel a lot better for the Playoffs, even Mark Sanchez, that guy should sit.
What do you think?