At this point in the proceedings, with playoff positions decided for some teams and the focus looking ahead to January football, coaches with little to play for now will invariably draw critics -- no matter what they choose to do.
Sit starters and they open themselves up to concerns that their team won't be sharp in the postseason. Play the starters now to keep them sharp and risk injuries. And that last point brings us to the Raiders, who lost franchise quarterback Derek Carr on Saturday after he suffered a broken fibula against the Colts.
At the time, the Raiders held a 19-point fourth-quarter lead. There was little benefit to having Carr in the game at that point, and now the team's best season since 2002 could already be lost with a game remaining in the regular season. But coach Jack Del Rio told reporters on Monday that he's not second-guessing his decision to stick with Carr.
"When you end up looking at the final score, we won by eight points; we won by one score basically," Del Rio said, via ESPN.com. "Andrew Luck, people here in the Bay Area, I think, have a pretty good understanding of what he is capable of. I know I do.
"We felt like you had to keep the pedal down on that opponent, that quarterback in that game. You're talking about a team facing elimination. We knew we were going to get everything they had to close the game anyway they could, and we were prepared for that."
Del Rio's not alone in his thinking; the first-place Cowboys played Dak Prescott against the Lions in Week 15, a game Dallas won, 42-21, and it sounds like the plans are to have him under center in the season finale against the Eagles. Same holds for the AFC-leading Patriots, an outfit notorious for not resting their starters. The expectation is that Tom Brady will play against the Dolphins.
There's also this: Carr has been sacked just 16 times this season, and the Raiders' offensive line ranks first in pass protection, according to Football Outsiders' metrics.
This all played into Del Rio's thinking to keep Carr on the field.
"I think the question would be a little different if it was like, 'Coach, don't you think you got a little conservative there? What the heck? You let them come back' and we were sitting here talking with a frown on our face because we hadn't won our 12th game," Del Rio explained before adding: "I'll just leave it at that."
The Raiders are now Matt McGloin's team. The former undrafted free agent out of Penn State last started a game in 2013, when he went 1-5 for the Raiders, completing 56 percent of his throws with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.