With the AFC North wrapped up, the Pittsburgh Steelers can rest their starters — including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — for Week 17’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
Ed Bouchette of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette expects the Steelers to do just that. He expects Roethlisberger, as well as running back Le’Veon Bell, linebacker James Harrison, and possibly receiver Antonio Brown to rest.
Not all, but you can bet Ben, Bell, Harrison won't play. AB probably will lobby to play. No one slightly hurt https://t.co/ppshrQ3IB2
— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) December 26, 2016
In terms of its place in the standings, Pittsburgh is playing for absolutely nothing. The Steelers are locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Normally, resting players in these spots is a double-edged sword. While a team wants to be sure that it’s players are rested, it can’t let the players get rusty.
But frankly, that’s more of a concern for teams on a bye week, like the New England Patriots. If for some reason New England decided to bench Tom Brady in Week 17, he’d have two full bye weeks before he played.
The Steelers had their A-team out in Week 16’s over the Baltimore Ravens and are playing during Wild Card Weekend. So, getting to rest these players in Week 17 effectively gives these Pittsburgh players one bye week, not two.
Additionally, any rust concerns are completely negated when players are banged up. While Roethlisberger made some nice passes in Sunday’s come from behind victory, he’s clearly not at 100 percent. The Steelers certainly don’t want Big Ben rusty, but a deep playoff run is not going to happen if he isn’t operating at max effectiveness. That won’t happen if he’s this banged up.
Giving Big Ben and company a week to rest would be a positive for Pittsburgh heading into the playoffs.