It’s that time of year where we question whether certain teams should or should not be resting their starters, and the Dallas Cowboys have been at the center of that discussion.
On Thursday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that Mark Sanchez would be active on Sunday against the Eagles, and receive the majority of playing time at quarterback. Rapoport also indicated that Ezekiel Elliott might be having a light workload with Darren McFadden also getting the majority of reps. McFadden came in for Elliott this past Monday night against the Lions in the second half.
A week after two starting quarterbacks — Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota — broke their legs, the decision to ease up on starters in the final week shouldn’t be too surprising. Besides, the Cowboys don’t even benefit from a win since they’re already the NFC’s top seed. As Rapoport mentioned, left tackle Tyron Smith will be out this week, as well, adding to the inclination to lighten the workload for his starters.
If the Bengals lose out it would drop the team to 10-6 and open the door for the Pittsburgh Steelers to swoop in for the AFC North title. Cincinnati owns the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh even after a Week 14 loss, so the Steelers would need to win out to take the division. The Bengals also own the tiebreakers over the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, the two wild card teams that could keep them out. So the scenario that keeps the Bengals out of the playoffs looks like this:
It’s not as easy for the Broncos, who don’t have a tiebreaker over the Chiefs, Jets or Steelers. It’s possible that even an 11-5 record could keep Denver out, but the most realistic scenario that leaves the Broncos on the outside looking in is three straight losses. If that happens, this is the what the scenario looks like to keep them out.