In 2015, the 12-3 Patriots lost to a 5-10 opponent on the last day of the regular season, missing out on home-field advantage in the process because the No. 2 team in the AFC won that day. Could history repeat itself on Sunday? The Patriots now face the same situation: Last time they were 12-3 and preparing to face the 5-10 Dolphins. This time, they’re 12-3 and preparing to face the 5-10 Jets. Last time, they just had to win to clinch home-field advantage over the AFC No. 2 Broncos. This time, they just have to win to clinch home-field advantage over the AFC No. 2 Steelers. Last time, the Patriots lost to the Dolphins, the Broncos won their regular-season finale, and when the two teams met in the AFC Championship Game it was in Denver, where the Broncos won a close game that went down to the final seconds. Move that AFC Championship Game to New England and it’s probably the Patriots, not the Broncos, going to the Super Bowl. That’s how important Sunday’s games are. And that’s why it’s so surprising that the Steelers are, according to offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, planning to rest their two most important players, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Le'Veon Bell. That’s not a meaningless game for the Steelers. It’s a game that could be the difference between playing the AFC Championship Game at home and playing it in New England.
As Steelers consider resting starters, they should remember 2015
Pro Football Talk | Dec 29