First things first, the Bucs need to defeat the short-handed Detroit Lions on Saturday to clinch a playoff spot. If that happens, head coach Bruce Arians says there is a scenario in which the team could rest a few starters for Week 17 before the playoffs.

“We’ll look at what possibly can change,” Arians said. “If we’re locked into a spot I wouldn’t be against resting a couple guys. But we’re still going out to win the ball game.”

Looking at the potential scenarios, I don’t see a path for the Bucs to be “locked into” a specific playoff spot after Week 16. If the Bucs win each of their next two games, against Detroit and Atlanta, they will be entrenched as the fifth seed no matter what happens with any other team, unless of course the New Orleans Saints were to lose their Week 16 and 17 games, making the Bucs division champions.

If the Bucs win Week 16 and lose Week 17, they could hypothetically fall all the way to the seventh seed, and a likely first round matchup with the New Orleans Saints. If the Rams win in Week 16 over Seattle, then lose along with the Bucs in Week 17, the Rams would still be the fifth seed thanks to holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over Tampa Bay.

If Seattle tops the Rams in Week 16, they win the division, but the Rams would still grab the fifth seed with a Week 17 win and a Bucs loss. If the Rams win in Week 16 and Week 17, they’ll win the NFC West, but Seattle would be in position to grab the fifth seed with a Week 17 win and a Bucs loss. There’s also a path for Arizona, with a victory over the 49ers in Week 16 and over the Rams in Week 17, to grab the first Wild Card spot. Given that possession of the fifth seed means a Wild Card date with the winner of the NFC (L)East, it might behoove the Bucs to keep their starters out there and play for keeps in Week 17, even if they win on Saturday.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Pete Wood
Pete Wood(@littlebrownjug)
11 months ago

I see zero benefit to resting starters in week 17. The Bucs, to some extent, are still trying to find themselves. I’d rather they figure things out in a meaningless regular season game, which the Atlanta game will not be, than in the playoffs. All hands need to be on deck for week seventeen. Too much at stake in the playoffs.

11 months ago

Arians is clueless. This team is not gelled because he hasn’t gotten the job done. Other coaches would have been much further along by now. This team probably will get in and lose the 1st playoff game.

Reply to  Buc76
11 months ago

I can’t argue with that assessment seeing that the Dolphins are the same record as the Bucs, and they have a far inferior roster. The Bucs have the GOAT, and he has former probowlers around him that make the probowl with Winston, and not Brady? With Brady only 1 Buc player makes the probowl, and he plays defense? Something is def wrong. It’s like the Bucs are a new Ferrari and someone has popped the hood and retarded its timing. Then again… Maybe they’ve proven to themselves what they can really do when they want to as displayed in the… Read more »

Reply to  Darktanian
11 months ago

For the record Batman did beat Superman. As far as the rest of what you said, I agree

11 months ago

On the flip side, there may be poetic justice if we play and beat Saints in the playoff.

11 months ago

I am not going to assume anything. And definitely looking past the Lions is a bad idea. We need to win at least one of the two last games, with all hands on deck.

11 months ago

I disagree, unless there’s someone with some kind of lingering injury that needs time off. This team has not shown enough consistency to justify anyone taking any time off.

11 months ago

Yes, Arians is clueless. 28 coaches can’t explain to him playoff scenarios so he can make informed strategic decisions? His attention to detail is abysmal,. and it’s shown all year. He has one career playoff win and obsessive Tom Brady has 30. Details matter.

11 months ago

It would make sense to rest some of the starters.. remember, they had 12 consecutive weeks of playing football. Another week not playing before the playoffs, I think could actually help this team..

11 months ago

This team isn’t good enough to rest any starters. Bruce said before the season, when people were talking about us going to the super bowl, that we haven’t done anything. That’s still the case, Bruce. We haven’t done anything and resting starters is the dumbest decision you’ve ever made, and you’ve made some dumb ones.

11 months ago

I hate the Saints and That smug ass Peyton. Would be a special Christmas gift to play Saints in playoffs and destroy them after they won the division. Lol.
As far as resting players? Dumb. Rarely works. This team has lacked consistency and we just had a Bye. Play em unless injured and figure out how not to start games in hole 14-17 points! Or will be short 1 and done playoffs.