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See Which Teams Are Resting Starters in Week 18 and Other Injuries Before Making Bets

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in NFL Football

Jan 6, 2022 · 6:39 AM PST

Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) runs off the field after a 34-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)
  • Some NFL teams will be resting starters during Week 18 of the regular season
  • Quarterback Joe Burrow will be sitting out for the Cincinnati Bengals
  • Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur is indicating that he’ll play his starters for at least part of their game against the Detroit Lions

As the football season wraps up this weekend, not too many teams are planning on resting their NFL starters for the full game.

The NFL is certainly getting its money’s worth in terms of excitement and intensity by extending the regular season by one game from 16 to 17 games for the 2021-22 campaign.

Only two of Week 18’s game slate of 16 don’t either involve a potential playoff team or will potentially be having an impact on postseason qualification or positioning. The flipside of that is it’s going to make it very difficult for teams to be resting starters to get them healthy for the playoffs.

Who’s sitting? Who’s playing? These are important questions to know the answer to before taking a look at the Week 18 NFL odds.

Which NFL Teams Are Sitting Starters In Week 18?

Team Are Starters Sitting Out?
Cincinnati Bengals Yes
Cleveland Browns Yes
Green Bay Packers No
Kansas City Chiefs No
Dallas Cowboys Yes
Tennessee Titans No
Philadelphia Eagles Yes

Here are some of the notable players sitting out Week 18:

  • Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
  • Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby, Kareem Jackson
  • Cowboys: Trevon Diggs, Tony Pollard, Micah Parsons, Tyron Smith, Anthony Brown, Jayron Kearse, Darian Thompson
  • Eagles: Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson (Questionable), Landon Dickerson (Questionable)
  • Bengals: Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, DJ Reader, Jalen Davis, Cam Sample, Tee Higgins
  • Browns: Baker Mayfield, Denzel ward, CJ Uzomah (questionable), Kareem Hunt
  • Ravens: Lamar Jackson
  • Seahawks: Bobby Wagner
  • Bears: Justin Fields
  • Raiders: Darren Waller (questionable)
  • 49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo (expected to play)
  • Vikings: Adam Thielen
  • Lions: Penei Sewell
  • Packers: Aaron Jones

Jalen Hurts and Many Other Eagles Starters Expected to Sit

It does not sound likely the Eagles, who have already clinched their spot in the playoffs, will activate many of their players from the COVID list ahead of their Week 18 matchup with the Cowboys.

Jalen Hurts was not one of those players on the COVID list, but he is also unlikely to play many snaps, if any at all. It is sounding like we will have Gardner Minshew starting at quarterback for Philadelphia.

Bengals Burrow to Take a Seat

Already having clinched the AFC North title, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking toward the greater good when it comes to the Bengals vs Cleveland Browns regular-season finale.

Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor announced on Wednesday that starting quarterback Joe Burrow will be resting on Sunday. Backup Brandon Allen is the anticipated starter under center for Cincinnati.

Burrow is being given the week off to rest a sore right knee and an injured right pinkie finger before the playoffs get underway. The Bengals will also be missing starting running back Joe Mixon. He’s out after testing positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, now that they are officially out of the playoff picture, the Browns are shutting down QB Baker Mayfield for the final game of the season. He will require offseason surgery on a torn labrum on his non-throwing shoulder.


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Fellow AFC North QB Lamar Jackson has also been ruled out with injury for the Ravens. Tyler Huntley will get the start versus the Steelers.

Packers Taking Preseason Style Approach

The Green Bay Packers have already clinched the top seed in the NFC. They’ve secured home-field advantage through the postseason.

Rightly, you might ask, what do the 13-3 Packers have to play for as they travel to Detroit to face the 2-13-1 Lions? To be frank, nothing.

That’s certainly the way oddsmakers are viewing this game. The NFL betting trends on this Packers vs Lions game are zipping all over the place like a yo-yo.

Green Bay opened as an 11-point road favorite over Detroit. Then, after the Arizona Cardinals upset the Dallas Cowboys and the Packers clinched the NFC’s #1 seed with a win over the Minnesota Vikings, the line actually swung to where the Lions were slight favorites.

That’s when Packers coach Matt LaFleur indicated that playing his starters for at least part of the game against Detroit was his plan for Week 18. Suddenly, the Packers were back to being the 2.5-point chalk.

Why is LaFleur willing to send QB Aaron Rodgers out there with a broken toe in a meaningless game? Well, there is the reality that Green Bay is getting a first-round bye. They’ll be the only NFC team not playing in the first round of the playoffs.

LaFleur doesn’t want his entire starting lineup sitting down and not playing at all two weeks in a row. Look for him to treat this game like an NFL preseason contest. The Green Bay starters will probably play the first quarter, then give way to the backups. Just long enough so that rust shouldn’t be an issue when they return to action during the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.

Chiefs In a Difficult Place

No team finds itself more between a rock and a hard place than the Kansas City Chiefs. Last week’s loss to the Bengals cost KC the top seeding in the AFC.

To make matters worse, this week’s Chiefs vs Broncos game is scheduled for Saturday in Denver. That means Kansas City coach Andy Reid must make a tough call. Does he give key players like QB Patrick Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce time off? Or does to he go all in to win and hope against hope that the woeful Houston Texans will somehow find a way to beat the #1-seeded Tennessee Titans on Sunday?

The best chance for the Chiefs is to fashion a quick and healthy lead at Denver. That would permit Reid the opportunity to give his key players at least some down time during Week 18.

It is expected that KC running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (collarbone injury) will be sitting out.

Cowboys, Eagles Should Be Resting Starters

If you’re Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, you should be telling all of your key players that Saturday’s regular-season finale pitting the Cowboys vs Eagles at Philadelphia is off limits.

There’s no reason whatsoever that running back Ezekiel Elliott, who’s been nursing an ailing knee for most of the season, should carry the ball even once. Likewise, what good is going to be served by Dallas allowing quarterback Dak Prescott or wide receiver Amari Cooper to play even a single snap?

In fact, after losing wide receiver Michael Gallup last week to a season-ending ACL injury, the Cowboys should be keeping Cooper encased in bubble wrap until it’s time for their postseason kickoff.

On the flip side, the Eagles are also locked into the playoffs. They’re going to either be the #6 or #7 seed. They’ll be playing on the road and really, does it matter where?

That’s why Eagles QB Jalen Hurts also doesn’t need to see the field on Saturday. Hurts has an ankle injury that could use a week to heal. So Philly should let Gardner Minshew take all the offensive snaps on Saturday.

We’ll be updating this page leading up to the weekend’s games as more key NFL starters are ruled out so be sure to check back.


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