The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrapped up their second-straight NFC South title on Sunday after beating the Carolina Panthers, 30-24.

Naturally, one of the emerging topics of discussion is whether or not the Buccaneers should play or bench their starters in Week 18 against the Atlanta Falcons. The Buccaneers can’t improve their seeding and it can’t get any worse, therefore, the game against the Falcons doesn’t mean anything when it comes to postseason positioning.

One can certainly make an argument for either side of the coin and Todd Bowles and co. will certainly look at the possibility of resting guys throughout the week.

“We’ll see how the injury situation looks. We’ll get together as a staff and talk this week,” Bowles told reporters Sunday. “We’ve talked about a few things, but we will talk about it more as far as people per position.”

The Buccaneers have dealt with major injuries all year long, so it makes sense to avoid risking more injury. But at the same time, execution, chemistry, and a lack of experience at certain positions have been big issues, as well. Meaning, the Buccaneers need to get as much playing time as possible in order to shape up as much as possible for the playoffs.

Regardless, don’t count on Tom Brady sitting out against the Falcons.

“It’s always up to Coach [Bowles], but yeah, that would bother me,” Brady said when asked about his thoughts on possibly sitting in Week 18. “I haven’t missed a game other than my ACL [injury] and then in 2016, I missed the first four games. Other than that, I’ve played them all.”

Brady stayed in the game throughout a 38-3 loss and a 35-7 loss, so it makes sense he wants to play in Week 18. He also knows the Buccaneers offense has a lot to clean up and it won’t be able to do that while sitting on the sidelines.

“I think statistically we have not done a lot of great things this year,” said Brady. “We haven’t been very good on third down, the red area, long balls, short balls, so I think everything needs to be cleaned up. That’s just the reality of where we’re at.”

He’s absolutely right. The Buccaneers even made some crucial mistakes during their win over the Panthers. Chris Godwin’s fumble on the first drive and the bad snap to Jake Camarda are the first two that come to mind.

Even though he was money in Week 17, Brady’s recent play hasn’t been the standard we are all used to seeing, either. So, it makes all the sense in the world to play Brady and co. for at least the first half and then go from there.

“I think we’ve got to keep going,” said Brady. “It’s football season and we’re football
players, it’s what we do – we play football.”

Featured image via Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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