Will Falcons play their starters against Bucs?
The Falcons could have very limited ability to impact their playoff position in Sunday’s game against the Bucs, but at this point, Atlanta maintains it will play to win.
Coach Mike Smith on Wednesday suggested he would not rest his starters or coach differently but wasn’t entirely specific, either.
"Our preparation week is going to be no different than any other week," Smith said. "We know there are some things that are set in concrete. We know we’ll be playing the following week. We don’t know who or where or when and we’ve just got to go through our normal preparation and prepare to beat Tampa Bay.
"That’s our entire focus this week. We’re not thinking about the second season."
The Bucs have lost nine straight games and hope to end the season by snapping the dubious streak.
The Falcons, meanwhile, could be locked into the sixth seed by the time the game kicks off at 4:15 p.m. If the Lions defeat the Packers at 1 p.m., the Falcons would be unable to move into the fifth seed. If the Lions lose, the Falcons would clinch the fifth seed by beating the Bucs.
All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez said the Falcons want to play to win after their 45-16 thumping at the hands of the Saints on Monday night.
"It’s business as usual around here," Gonzalez said. "We’re going to try to go out and win a football game against a really good team that beat us earlier in the season. I don’t think anybody’s mindset around here is that we’re going to go ahead and rest, especially after last week the way we performed against the Saints. We have to go out there and put on a good performance going into the playoffs."