The final week of the regular season is routinely a quirky slate in the NFL. On one hand, you have massive games that can determine division titles, playoff berths, and seeding. However, there are also situations where teams already have their postseason position locked up, which makes this coming weekend not remotely important. In those situations, you oftentimes see teams rest starters, particularly quarterbacks.
As we look ahead to Week 18, we’re going to keep a running tab of the quarterback situations for the playoff teams that are deciding to keep their stars on the shelf.
Head coach John Harbaugh told reporters on Wednesday that MVP favorite Lamar Jackson will not play against the Steelers on Saturday. Tyler Huntley will get the nod with Josh Johnson serving as his backup. Baltimore has already clinched the AFC North and is the No. 1 seed in the conference, so the next time Jackson will be on the field will come in the divisional round.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers will start Sam Darnold in the regular-season finale against the Rams, head coach Kyle Shanahan announced Wednesday. That puts Brock Purdy safely on the bench with San Francisco already having the No. 1 seed in the NFC in its hands and the NFC West title.
“Brock’s the only guy for sure I don’t plan on playing,” said Shanahan, via The Mercury News.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are emphasizing health over seeding as Sean McVay will start Carson Wentz and rest Matthew Stafford in the regular-season finale against the Niners, per NFL Media. Currently, L.A. is slotted in as the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture. While the Rams have a postseason spot clinched, they could drop to the No. 7 seed with a loss and Packers win, so this decision does come with some consequences.
Wentz signed with the Rams back in November. After getting the start on Sunday, Wentz will have started for four different teams over the past four seasons.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes’ regular season is over. With the Chiefs locked in as the No. 3 seed in the AFC, head coach Andy Reid announced Wednesday that he will rest Mahomes in Week 18 to prepare for the playoffs and start Blaine Gabbert at quarterback against the Chargers. Gabbert’s last start in the NFL came in Week 17 of the 2018 season when he was a member of the Tennessee Titans.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski noted on Wednesday that Joe Flacco will not play in the regular-season finale and the team will start Jeff Driskel. P.J. Walker will serve as Cleveland’s top backup. The Browns are locked in as the No. 5 seed, so Sunday’s matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals does not carry any weight for them. Driskel was signed off of the Cardinals practice squad a week ago after rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson was placed on injured reserve. The veteran has 11 starts throughout his career heading into Sunday.