Should the Dallas Cowboys rest their starters in Week 18?
By Riley Donald
For all intents and purposes, the Dallas Cowboys are nearly locked into the No. 4 spot in the NFC as we finish out the regular season and enter the playoffs. It isn’t guaranteed yet, as crazier things have happened, but it is highly unlikely they move up any higher in the NFC seeding. Because of that, you may begin to wonder what Dallas should do with their starters against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 18.
Do the Cowboys let them play and try to find a rhythm for the playoffs? Or, do the Cowboys sit them to preserve their health for the postseason? There is a case to be made for both sides, and I want to dive into each. Before we start that, let’s look at the playoff scenarios below.
To move up to No. 2 in the NFC, the Cowboys need the Rams, Cardinals, and Buccaneers to ALL lose. The Rams play the 49ers, Arizona plays the Seahawks, and the Buccaneers play the Panthers. To be honest, the only matchup there that looks like it could break the Cowboys’ way is the 49ers fighting for their Wild Card life and taking down the Rams. I have little hope that the downtrodden Seahawks take down the Cardinals, but Russell Wilson did throw four touchdowns last week. As for the Panthers beating the Bucs… I’d rather bet on a popsicle lasting 12 hours outside on an August day in Dallas.
The No. 3 spot is by no means out of the question, but you have to imagine the Rams will be playing hard. If the Rams win, it locks them as the three-seed at worst, if not the two-seed, depending on the Bucs’ result. A loss by the Rams paired with a Cardinals win could send them Rams to the Wild Card. The Rams will be playing to host a home game in round one and try to take care of business on their own.
This all brings us back to the question of whether the Cowboys play their starters the entire game on the off chance one of the above scenarios plays out or sit their guys and plan for the No. 4 spot, which is the case in more than 90% of the potential outcomes. Let’s take a look into each side of the discussion and talk it up in the chat as I am just as curious to hear all of your thoughts as well!