With top seed clinched, Falcons say they’ll ‘play to win’ vs. Bucs

Published: December 24th, 2012
By Bucs Beat Feed

When the Bucs visit the Falcons on Sunday, Atlanta will already have sewn up the No. 1 playoff seed in the NFC. That begs a common question at this time of year: Will they play their starters and key players or rest them for the playoffs?

They offered no direct answers after defeating the Lions on Saturday night to solidify their seeding.

“We’re going to play the game to win,” coach Mike Smith said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s how we approach it. It’s an important game because it’s a division game. All games are important. Does it have no bearing? It really does because we want to win every time we go out there to play.”

Still, nowhere in that quote does Smith say he’ll actually play his starters.

It’s an unprecedented situation for the Falcons’ current staff. Though they earned the No. 1 seed in 2010, they needed to win their finale against the Panthers to clinch. That win was followed by a devastating loss to the Packers in their playoff opener, something the Falcons aren’t forgetting.

To that end, Smith said he’s going to go about things differently leading up to this season’s playoffs.

“We’ll handle it differently in terms of our workload and the days that we are going to work during our bye week and what our schedule will be,” he said. “We are not going to do anything like we did last time.”

It appears what that means for Sunday’s game won’t be revealed until later.