Buccaneers: Should team rethink not resting players in finale?

Tom Brady, Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Brady, Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not be rusting their starters for the final week of the regular season. Is this the right approach for the Buccaneers though?

The subject of NFL teams choosing to either rest or not rest their starters at the end of the regular season has become something of a lightning rod issue amongst fans. There are pros and cons to both approaches, but the thing is, it’s not simply black-and-white. Each team has different situations, which can cause some pros outweigh the cons and vice versa.

Bruce Arians has come out and said that the Bucs will not be resting anyone in week 18 when they take on the Carolina Panthers. The reason being, is that they want to try and secure the number two seed in the NFC. The lone exception may be Mike Evans, being that he has been hobbled as of late, so if he’s unable to go they won’t push the issue. However, they do hope to see him try and get the 54 yards he needs for yet another 1,000-yard season in his increasingly legendary career.

Speaking of nagging injuries though, this might be where the problem lies.

The Buccaneers started getting healthy which helped their Super Bowl championship run in 2020. Fast forward to 2021, and they are now all a sudden one of the most banged up teams in the entire league. While trying to secure the number two seed in the conference is certainly commendable, now that there is only one by week in the playoffs with the extra teams added, the difference between two and three really doesn’t mean all that much. Is it really worth risking further injury over? Sure, it gives the possibility of another home game increased likelihood, but with the talent the Bucs have, they can win anywhere. That is of course if that talent is healthy.

As for their potential opponents in these games? As of right now the seven seed in the NFC is the Philadelphia Eagles, a team the Buccaneers know all too well when it comes to playoff football. Of course, should the Los Angeles Rams defeat the current six-seeded San Francisco 49ers this weekend, then the Saints become the seven seed should they defeat the Atlanta Falcons. If not, then the 49ers become the seven-seed and the Bucs still play the Eagles.

Of course, in order for the Bucs to move up to two the Rams would need to lose, which would keep the 49ers at six and the Eagles at seven. Of course, the Eagles are now dealing with COVID issues going into a essentially meaningless game, so their seeding is up in the air as well pending on their result. To be fair though, we would love nothing more than for a repeat of 2020 when it comes to the three games against the Saints.

The “TL; DR” version of all that mumbo jumbo is this. The Buccaneers have almost no control over their seeding destiny as far as who their opponents are concerned.

Another argument against testing starters is that it halts any momentum a hot team may have entering the playoffs. The Bucs are one do the league’s best teams, but they’ve played far from their best as of late. Perhaps a gentlemen’s bye week would be just what the doctor ordered to get the banged up Bucs back on track.

At the end of the day, the team knows more than us, and there really isn’t a wrong answer here. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t watch this final game holding our breath and praying for good fortune.