This article is part of our Exploiting the Matchups series.
Week 17 always has an added layer of challenge, trying to sort out all the injuries, "injuries", and rest situations. As of Thursday morning, the Chiefs and Steelers are expected to rest their starting QBs, but that's about all we've seen in terms of announcements/declarations.
While Kansas City is the only team locked into a specific playoff spot, there are three others — Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Tampa — that already qualified for the tournament and can only rise or fall by one seed. The Steelers apparently don't care about the difference between the No. 2 seed and No. 3, so it'll be interesting to see how Buffalo responds.
The Bucs have a little more to play for, as a win assures them of a first-round matchup with the NFC East champ, while a Week 17 loss could lead to a game against the Saints or Seahawks next weekend. That sounds pretty significant to me, but we already saw Bruce Arians remove Tom Brady at halftime last week, so don't be too surprised if key players are removed early or don't handle their typical workloads.
In terms of the non-playoff teams, it's a little tougher to figure things out. They won't usually bench their starters, but it is fairly common in the season finale to give backups more playing time than usual.
One team I'm a little wary of is Atlanta, who could still draft as early as third overall or as late as ninth. I don't think the Falcons will bench