When it comes to odds, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a very small chance at landing the No. 1 seed in the AFC during the final week of the 2017 regular season. However, with that said, the New England Patriots would need to lose to the New York Jets at home next Sunday and there’s probably not even one of you reading this post that expects that to happen.
So, should the Steelers sit several of their starters on Sunday in their regular season finale being as nobody expects the Jets to beat the Patriots? Head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t commit to that happening during his Tuesday press conference but also didn’t completely rule out the possibility of that happening, either. In short, Tomlin says his team will plan to beat the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field to close out the regular season.
“You can talk a lot about the structure of this week and the things that you try to get done but the reality is is that it’s a football game,” Tomlin said. “We plan to play to win that football game. Who we choose to employ, or utilize, or activate, we’re in the process of discussing. But make no mistake about it, the expectation will be what it is. The people that we put on the field, we’ll expect them to play and play winning football. That will be our mentality as we prepare. We don’t try to overthink some of these things. You can if you allow yourself to. We set out on this thing to dominate the AFC North and we’ve got an AFC North game this weekend at our place.”
After his opening monologue, Tomlin was asked pointblank if he plans on resting any of the team’s starters against the Browns this coming Sunday.
“I’m undecided as I stand here right now,” Tomlin said. “Like I mentioned, it’s obvious that those discussions, or those type of discussions, are in play. We’ll do what’s best for us short term and long and we won’t look back.”
Tomlin was then asked if there currently being a tiny shot at ultimately getting the No. 1 seed in the AFC plays into his Week 17 plans at all.
“You know, it doesn’t,” Tomlin said. “We’re going to play and play to win the football game and I think when you just keep it that simple, it’s a football game, it’s a regular season football game, it’s AFC North football, we’re going to play to win it.”
Tomlin was then asked if he has any concerns about extended layoffs for players that might ultimately sit out the regular season finale as well as the team’s first-round bye.
“I don’t,” Tomlin said.
While we’ll ultimately have to wait and see if Tomlin sits any of his starters against the Browns, he did say on Tuesday that wide receiver Antonio Brown won’t play in the regular season finale due to him still attempting to recover from the left calf injury he suffered in the team’s Week 15 loss to the Patriots.
“No real update on Antonio,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “Hadn’t seen him today. Obviously, he’ll be out again this week. Maybe we’ll have an update on him and his status a little later in the week.”