The Vikings have played their way out of a postseason spot, but there is still a game left to be played.
Minnesota, which has already clinched third place in the NFC North, will travel to Detroit to play the Lions, a team that has already clinched last in the NFC North. For the two teams, there is not a lot to play for in the season’s final game.
That’s exactly why the Vikings should rest their starters. The team has had plenty of ups and downs and now it’s time to move on from this year. I’ll make the case with the following points:
Losing gets the team a better draft position
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The Vikings have a chance to lose and move down in the NFL standings. That would help them at this point, considering the team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. There's no reason to win this game. At this point, it's better for the team to go 6-10, then it is 7-9.
There was no preseason slate this year
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This game could act as an opportunity to see what the team has in certain players. RB Mike Boone has done well in limited play at running back this year. DT James Lynch, DE D.J. Wonnum, LB Blake Lynch, CB Harrison Hand and others could use more reps and more experience. In a year where these rookies didn't get as many chances to impress, the Vikings could see what they have down the depth chart in Week 17.
A workload can take a toll
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RB Dalvin Cook has carried the ball 312 times already, which is the most in his career. Mainly, Cook has stayed healthy this season. Why jeopardize a key offensive player's health in a game that doesn't matter? QB Kirk Cousins has been sacked 36 times this season. With the way the Vikings offensive line has played, he's likely to get hit and pressured if he plays Sunday. Why not ease some of his workload and see what Sean Mannion, Nate Stanley or Jake Browning can do?
This game doesn't mean anything
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I've seen a lot of Vikings fan arguing why the team should not rest players, due to them having the entire offseason to rest. But NFL games are physically demanding and the Vikings no longer have anything to play for. Do I think the Vikings will rest their starters? My guess is no. Do I think they definitely should? I do. It's hard to rationalize playing this game at full strength and winning it.