The New England Patriots have been struck with an epic amount of injuries this season. They have stars and regular rotation members either out for the season or just plain old banged up on both offense and defense. Somehow, they have not only kept themselves in the playoff picture, but find themselves already in the postseason heading into the final week of the year. All they have to play for this weekend against the Buffalo Bills is a first-round bye, but they might be better off conceding the game and resting their depleted roster.
While a free win in the playoffs would seem like a good thing, it may not be necessary. In fact, the Patriots might actually be better off losing to the Bills this weekend. Not having the luxury of the bye would mean that they would be forced to keep their guard up, and if they got a big win against a wild card team that could be the kind of momentum-building victory that can catapult a team all the way to a championship.
And, they won’t have a shot at that championship if they don’t get themselves healthy. Tom Brady isn’t a young man anymore, his receivers are hobbled and the defense has several key players who could come back rested and ready for a playoff run if Bill Belichick gave them this week off.
If the Patriots go all out this weekend they earn themselves a week to rest afterwards, but they can guarantee themselves the week of rest if they don’t go for the win this weekend. Sure, they take the risk that they might not get out of the first round, but if they don’t take that risk, they will most likely end up losing later on anyway, just like they have the last few years.
If the Patriots want to win a championship this year, and that is always the goal as long as Brady and Belichick are still around, they might just have a better chance to get there if they concede the win this week against the Bills and get the rest they desperately need.