The Green Bay Packers have officially locked up the NFC’s top seed, meaning they have nothing to play for, at least in terms of the NFC’s ladder, next week against the Detroit Lions. The question now turns to the semi-yearly debate for teams with a locked up one-seed going into the final week of the regular season: Would taking two weeks off make a team too rusty for playoff football?
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams, two of the team’s three Pro Bowlers, have stated that they would like to play some against the Lions in Week 18. Rodgers is the leader in the Most Valuable Player Award race at the moment and Adams is approaching the franchise’s season-long receiving yards record.
When head coach Matt LaFleur was asked about sitting starters against the Lions, he stated that he hadn’t really given it thought until after the Packers had locked up the top seed in the NFC and that his “gut is these guys are gonna play at least a little bit next week.” It sounds like the Packers will play their starters, but the question is just how much. Does his gut say a quarter? A half? Enough to get Adams the receiving record?
Due to the situation Green Bay is in, DraftKings has not released the Packers-Lions line yet, but they have announced 14 of 16 lines for Week 18. The other exception is next week’s Bengals-Browns game, with the Browns still yet to play against Pittsburgh (Monday Night Football) in Week 17. The Bengals have already locked up the AFC North, with the Browns eliminated from the playoff, but can finish anywhere from the top seed in the AFC to the fourth seed.
Below is what the playoffs will look like if favorites win the final 17 games of the NFL regular season, with the lookahead lines filled in for the Packers-Lions and Bengals-Browns games.
What the playoffs will look like if the betting favorites win next week pic.twitter.com/CLyW1eRTSB— Justis Mosqueda (NFL Owner) (@JuMosq) January 3, 2022
For reference, the Packers were 11-point favorites in the lookahead line, but that was before this week’s slate of action put them in a position to potentially rest their starters for a significant amount of the game.