In a roundabout way, the Kansas City Chiefs ‘earned’ a bye week with their loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. If they had won, they would still technically be alive for the AFC West title, but considering the Denver Broncos are playing the hapless Oakland Raiders this weekend, the odds of the Chiefs catching them would’ve been extremely slim.
Kansas City is now locked into the no. 5 seed in the AFC, and has the option to rest as many of their starters as they choose. There is an ongoing debate over whether or not resting their starters is a productive thing to do. On one hand, you get a much more rested, healthier team than you would normally have, but on the other, it can cause some rust and kill momentum.
Personally, I believe in both arguments and that it’s a ‘take the good with the bad’ type of situation that should be handled on a case-by-case basis. In Kansas City case, they have several people who need a break, and some who still need to get some game action in.
Jamaal Charles needs a rest. He’s been 39 percent of the Chiefs’ total offense and already has 329 touches on the season. Kansas City has nothing to gain by playing him. Plus, rookie running back Knile Davis could use some more playing time, and needs to prove he can get control of his shaky hands before Kansas City trusts him in the playoffs.
In the secondary, the Chiefs need to use the game as an audition for rookie Marcus Cooper and veteran Dunta Robinson to see who should get more playing time in the postseason. And obviously, any players nursing injuries (Justin Houston, Branden Albert) should take the game off to get to 100 percent.
Finally, Alex Smith and all of the Chiefs’ receivers and tight ends should play. These guys proved against the Colts that they still have plenty of room to grow. The injury risk is worth it here because Kansas City is as good as done if the passing game lays another egg the way they did against Indy. Charles is not going to beat playoff-caliber teams on his own –- the passing attack needs to do everything in their power to get it together.