Matt Nagy took some heat during the summer when he decided to rest his starters for the final two games of the preseason. Even though there was still work to be done and gains to be made (especially on the offensive side of things), the idea behind it was to give the Chicago Bears’ starters a healthy start to the 2018 regular season.
It was a bold stance, to be sure (and it was brought back up after their Week 1, heartbreaking loss to the Packers). But a welcome one too, because it put the Bears in the best position to be in a healthy enough spot to compete from the get-go.
Just don’t expect history to repeat itself with the NFL playoffs on the horizon.
The Bears will keep fighting as long as there's a seed at stake, Matt Nagy said. "[Resting starters] is not even in the world of consideration for us. We're trying to win."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) December 19, 2018
Nagy appears to have no interest in resting his team’s healthy starters for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers … and with good reason.
Unlike when the Bears were trying to wrap up the preseason, this team is still playing for something more than the No. 3 seed. Chicago has a shot at one of the top two seeds in the NFC, which would send the Bears straight into the Divisional Round after a bye on Wild-Card Weekend. And while home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs is a long shot, a more likely scenario would be snagging the No. 2 seed which is currently being held by the Los Angeles Rams.
Should the Bears and Rams finish with the same record, the Bears would get the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye because they own the head-to-head tie-breaker by virtue of their Week 14 win earlier this month. But for that to happen, Chicago would have to win out and Los Angeles (which has lost back-to-back games) take a fall in one of its final two contests. Sure, the Rams will be favored against the Cardinals and 49ers in the next two games, but stranger things have happened in games between division rivals.
After taking a cautious approach to the end of the preseason, the Bears will give it a full go until their playoff seed is set. This line of thinking falls in line with how they approached the end of the preseason by prioritizing player health and preparedness for games of consequence in the regular season. Just as it was during the summer, it’s a good approach to take, as there isn’t a team in football that couldn’t use an extra week to rest up and be properly prepared for a postseason run. And even though the Bears haven’t performed as well as we would have liked after extended stretches of time off (like after the bye against the Dolphins or mini-bye versus the Giants), having a rested and healthy team is better than the alternative.