Full post at http://harwoodandfields.blogspot.com/2011/12/winter-hibernation.html
15 weeks of concussions, squeaky joints, bad hammy's and torn muscles. Turf toe, broken hands, high ankle sprains. Hot summers with 3 a days to full pads in the winter. It all adds up and it leaves teams like the Texans and Steelers reeling in pivotal games and teams like the Colts, 'Phins and Rams out of it before they can even get off the starting block. Wanna see what that looks like over 15 weeks? The chart below shows how many players were affected by injuries sustained over the first 15 weeks of the season:
Of the 59 players listed as out this past week, 25 were starters. A multitude of players that did in fact play were hampered by the injuries that had them listed as so. Ben Roethlisberger, Lamar Woodley, Willis McGahee to name a few. For playoff teams, the difference between, say a 12-4 number 2 or 3 seed that backs into the playoffs racked with injuries compared to rested, healthy and physically uninhibited 11-5 or 10-6 3 seed team can be monumental (Here's looking at you Texans). Its a common practice among teams already locked up in a playoff spot weeks before the first postseason game, but, I contest, if your guaranteed a playoff spot, why not take the chance let your starters get healthy and let your backups carry the load for the final game or two. Especially if the last two games are winnable without starters (here's looking at you Pittsburgh).
Teams wanna see the Andre's Johnsons,
Ray Lewis' and Patrick Willis' on the field
and not on the sideline in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, teams aren't always afforded such a luxury so early in the season. Teams that could benefit include a Raven's team who need to get healthy up the middle to generate the anchor for a defense dependent on it (Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata), the 49er's who will need Frank Gore 100% to control games against the NFC's offensively daunting playoff bunch and the Atlanta Falcons whose walking wounded include a Michael Turner, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Jasn Babineaux, Tony Gonzalez, two starting CB's and pass rushers. But, alas these teams will have to rough it in the next to weeks to maintain or gain ground on the plethora of teams in the playoff hunt.
However, and ironically enough, the two teams that can actually employ this tactic RIGHT NOW, are the last two participants in the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here's how and why they must take the opportunity to get healthy and get healthy now.
Read analysis on teams to rest now at http://harwoodandfields.blogspot.com/2011/12/winter-hibernation.html