The LA Chargers are currently the fifth seed in the AFC and the team might be able to lock in that spot in the AFC before kicking off in Week 18. The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals are playing at 10 a.m. PT on Sunday with the Chargers game not kicking off until 1:25 p.m. PT.
If Baltimore loses to Cincy then the Chargers will lock in the fifth seed regardless of the outcome of their Week 18 game against the Denver Broncos. With absolutely nothing on the line, the Chargers have an opportunity to rest players if this happens.
And that is exactly what the team will likely do. Brandon Staley all but confirmed that to be the case when speaking to reporters on Wednesday. He didn't directly say that he would rest starters but if you read between the lines it is pretty clear.
Some Chargers starters will naturally still play a small number of snaps as the entire team cannot sit and some guys do need reps before the playoffs. However, there are a contingent of players who simply should not see the field at all.
6 Chargers who shouldn't play a single snap in Week 18 if the Ravens lose:
1. Justin Herbert
The most obvious person on this list. If the fifth seed is locked in then the Chargers don't even need to give Justin Herbert one series. The team does not have to worry about rust being a factor and they cannot risk any sort of injury. They don't need him to play in this game.
2. Keenan Allen
If Justin Herbert doesn't play then Keenan Allen shouldn't either. I would still give Austin Ekeler a very small number of carries and give him a chance to score a touchdown or two. I would even give Mike Williams a series or two just to get his legs under him.
After a lingering hamstring issue that bothered him for most of the season, I would not play the 30-year-old Allen.
3. Trey Pipkins
Trey Pipkins has been dealing with an MCL issue all season and even if the Ravens win you can make the case for sitting Pipkins so he can rest. Pipkins aggravated the injury again last week and there is no point in risking it.
4. Corey Linsley
Corey Linsley is the most important member of this offensive line and his odometer does have some miles on it. After dealing with several lingering problems throughout the year, giving the veteran center a break before the playoffs would be ideal.
5. Khalil Mack
Defensively, you could make the case for just about every big-name player to play. Joey Bosa is going to want to get some snaps under his belt after just coming back from injury last week. Derwin James is going to want the same after missing three of the last four games. Sebastian Joseph-Day should play a series or two and some of the starting cornerbacks are naturally going to play, even if it is just for a quarter or half.
The one big name you can circle to not get a single snap is Khalil Mack. Mack has been consistent all season long and has really held up this pass rush without having much help. Give the veteran pass rusher a break so he is as fresh as can be in the playoffs.
6. Bryce Callahan
I would play Michael Davis and Asante Samuel Jr. a very limited amount. The one cornerback I would refrain from using is Bryce Callahan, who is the oldest of the bunch and plays a key role as the slot cornerback.
This isn't only to give the veteran some rest, though. It also could give guys like JT Woods and Deane Leonard and chance to play actual defensive snaps to see what they have in an NFL game. Ja'Sir Taylor is already getting a chance, now it is time for the other rookies.
Most of the other starters not on this list won't play much but they will likely log at least a series-worth of snaps. These six should not touch the field at all.