The Falcons are one of the few playoff-bound teams with nothing to play for this weekend. That means they might give their banged-up stars some more rest if they need it. At the top of that list sits wide receiver Roddy White , who has been bothered by a knee injury for a few weeks. He didn't practice at all this week and is considered a game-time decision for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers. He has played through the pain lately and shined in Week 16 against the Lions, catching eight passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
I think the Falcons should approach this game per usual with their healthy players. The NFL has shown us time and time again, especially recently, that it's those teams who have to keep fighting, who keep putting their foot on the pedal that have the greatest success in the playoffs. The Falcons learned the danger of resting their starters in 2010 when they did so in Week 17 and then couldn't wake up for a home playoff game the following week against the Packers, the eventual champion. This year, Atlanta will get a bye week anyway, so I say the team should play the season out and go from there.
But there is a "but."
I can see head coach Mike Smith scaling back the activity of some guys who are not at 100 percent, and that includes White. I think he will play, but he is very risky, and I wouldn't have a problem if the team sat him after a quarter or so. If you have Matt Ryan , Julio Jones or Tony Gonzalez , roll with them as you normally would. But I'd be a lot more careful with White. He was tremendous last week, but I think I would examine replacements in Week 17 if they are plausible.