As I've said before, I'm not a big fan of resting starters (unless we have a lead, that is) even when the near term goal has been reached. The mess that Colts management caused by pulling starters in their matchup against the Jets is unforgiveable and many Colts fans have protested loud and clear. From this Patriots fan's perspective, they opened the door for Jabba the Hut and his merry band of green men to possibly make the playoffs, undeserved of course. But from a different viewpoint, I think it's dangerous to the rhythm of the team. Do I believe it can be necessary? Yeah sure. Vince Wilfork has been battling an injury for a few weeks now and another week's rest may do him some good. Of course, one could argue a few reps could help the big man get his game face on. My head hurts.
But resting Tom Brady and his receivers for an entire game is, arguably, not a good idea. Again, rhythm and timing are 2 things I think vitally important to a passer and his receivers. Look how long it took Tom Brady to get back into game shape with is receivers. The season's pressers were full of little hints that Wonderboy and his and of receivers were not in sync.
That being said, it is very likely we will see some people benched. Only Hoodie knows. But what I DO think is that Belichick and his coaching staff are very conscious of the how game ready their players need to be for a playoff run. I also don't think you'll see Bill Belichick get railroaded by Kraft or Nick Caserio in the same way the Colts' Bill Polian most likely slapped around Jim Caldwell. No sir.
There is a very remote chance the Texans could make the playoffs and winning is most always one of the best ways to help your chances. That says to me that Houston will be playing its collective butts off. I do not see an opponent that will phone this one in. They will play as hard as they can for as long as they can and it's my opinion they will use their starters to do it.
In terms of stats, Houston is 5th in total offense and 2nd in passing yardage per game and total yardage in the air. Quarterback Matt Schaub has logged an impressive 4,467 aerial yards coupled with 27 touchdowns. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have the league's leading receiver as your target. Andre Johnson, with 1,504 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 15.8 yard average per reception is a freak of nature. Honestly, with our playoff spot in the bag I'll get to enjoy watching a great football player like Andre. Ranked 31st in rushing yards per game, Houston struggles on the ground. Given the Schaub/Johnson connection, I would be surprised to see them pound the rock that often.
On the Patriots side, look to see Wes Welker rested by Belichick. Julian Edelman needs the reps and Wes needs to heal; he's gotten banged up collecting league leading stats, so it's time to give him a break. I'd also like to see more action against Houston's 13th ranked rushing defense. Sammy Morris can be injury prone, so I'd rather see him rested but Laurence Maroney could use more reps as well as the returning Fred Taylor. Let's get BenJarvus Green-Ellis in there, too.
If anything, I want to see a good football game and that means one with both teams battling it out. Given their lock in the playoffs, I do agree that the Patriots should rest some key starters. Only (game)time will tell who those starters will be.