You should remember that earlier this month I asked all of you whether or not you thought the Saints should rest key starters before heading into the playoffs, if given the opportunity. That was then, when perfection was still a possibility.
This is now...and the Saints have lost their last two games. With the Bears win last night over the Vikings however, the Saints have clinched the top seed in the NFC and now have that opportunity of taking their foot off the accelerator. But should they?
Going balls to the wall, putting together sixty minutes of solid football with their starters and making sure they win convincingly is just what this team - and the fans - need right now as they head into the playoffs. The Saints have been in decline for quite some time and now, more than ever, need to get back on track. A streaking Panthers team sans Steve Smith could be just what the doctor ordered. Isn't rest what the Saints earned with the bye week anyway?
Doing so runs the risk of injury, however. Sean Payton most certainly does not want to be responsible for the loss of a key starter just before the most important game(s) of his career. It's also an opportune moment to let everyone just relax and get back to full strength, completely recharged to make that final push. Finally, it's a good move because it prevents the worst case scenario for the Saints: Legitimately losing their third straight game with no excuses.
Of course there is the possibility they do both. The starters may take the field for the first half of play and ride the pine later in the game. It may even become a game time decision based on how things are progressing. Going this route may keep the team fresh but doesn't guarantee anything in the way of a confidence booster.
So... I ask you once again...to rest or not to rest? What do you hope to see Sean Payton do on Sunday?