Week 17: Monitoring Motivation

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I just wanted to post an article ahead of running the model. Week 17 is always unique — we have to be extra careful about betting on teams that may be resting their starters. Here’s some teams that we need to monitor:

Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are locked into the 1 seed and already announced that they’ll be resting starters. We can’t trust the model’s output on them at all.

Buffalo Bills
The Bills are locked into the 5 seed in the AFC. The reporters out of Buffalo is Josh Allen is going to play, but it’s hard to trust that he’ll play an entire game. The Vegas consensus has the Bills as 1.5 point favorites over the Jet at home, which means Vegas isn’t buying that the Bills will play their starters a full game.

Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are locked into the 6 seed in the NFC. With recent injuries to Dalvin Cook and Adam Theilen just coming back, it makes sense that they’ll rest their starters.

Houston Texans
The Texans clinched a playoff birth and can finish no worse than the 4 seed. They can move up to the 3 seed, but only if the Chiefs lose at home to the Chargers. The Chiefs have the 1pm game and the Texans play at 4, so the Texans will very likely be locked into the 4 seed when they play. That said, Bill O’Brien has said that he plans on playing his starters regardless. I’m inclined to believe O’Brien, for a few reasons.
-The Texans are playing the Titans. The Titans need a win to clinch a playoff birth, and I’m sure the Texans would love to knock them out.
-The Texans have to come up with a game plan. Pulling the plug on who’s playing 30 minutes before kickoff isn’t exactly a viable option. You need to make a plan and stick with it.

Update: The Texans have Watson, Hopkins, Stills all as questionable. One of these guys certainly could be inactive if the Chiefs are winning. It makes things a lot less clear to how the Texans will handle this game then I originally thought.

Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are eliminated from the playoffs, and there’s early reports that they may rest their starters. Sean McVay has shown a tendency to rest players in meaningless games, so it’s a report that I’m inclined to believe.

Every other team can be treated as a normal week. If we hear anything else, I’ll update this post.

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