The New York Jets defeated the San Diego Chargers on Sunday to advance to the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts next week. The most interesting part of the Jets run in the playoffs has been that it almost did not happen. Following a week 15 loss to the Falcons, the Jets were on the outside looking in. With games left against an undefeated Colts team and a division leading Bengals, the playoff chances for the Jets looked grim. In college football, two tough games left on the schedule would almost certainly mean losses for the Jets. But this is the NFL, and unlike college football, playoffs allow teams to rest players when their playoff seats are already decided.
Over the next two weeks, the Jets took advantage of both the Colts and Bengals taking it easy in preparation for the playoffs. They won both games and made the playoffs as the final team in. On Wild Card weekend, they had a rematch against the Bengals who had taken it easy on them the week before. The Jets won easily and after beating San Diego, will now get another shot at the Colts next week. Wouldn't it be funny if the team that the Colts and Bengals went easy on (allowing them to make the playoffs) ultimately knock both of them off?
Now the question ultimately arises, if there were playoffs in college football, would teams rest players late in the season much like the Colts and Saints did this year? If a team knew that they had a playoff game the next week, would they be willing to lose a season finale (most likely against a rival) to rest players?
I know the immediate reaction is to say no. Of course Georgia would not rest players against Georgia Tech. But take a minute and think about basketball. Georgia plays Georgia Tech every year and ultimately the game means very little to the season as whole. If Georgia had already clinched a spot in the SEC Championship and knew they would have a playoff game the week after, would they risk losing the Tech game to give their players a chance to get healthy before two games that really meant something?
I am personally torn on this subject. I would love to see a playoff but I also think it would take away from the regular season.
Leave your thoughts in the comments.
*Thanks go out to Evan and Earl for stirring up this conversation over email today.