NFL considering ending season with divisional games

The undefeated Colts lost to the Jets in Week 16 after resting Peyton Manning and others during the second half. (AJ Mast / Associated Press)

ORLANDO, Fla. — In an effort to have teams play their top players through the final games of the season, the NFL is considering making the final week — and possibly weeks — of the season all divisional matchups.

“Potentially Week 17 will all be divisional games,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday during his closing remarks of the NFL Annual Meeting. “That will address this to some extent. It will not necessarily eliminate the issue.”

Goodell said the league actually is considering making the final two games of the season divisional games for teams.

While teams who have clinched playoff berths routinely have rested key players late in the season, an uproar of sorts erupted when the unbeaten Colts sat many starters in the second half of a Week 16 game they eventually lost to the Jets.

The rationale — as it is for teams that sit players — is to minimize injury risks and to have key players as healthy as possible for postseason play.

By scheduling teams against division opponents in the final week (or weeks), it could force teams to play key players because a divisional title — and playoff berth — could hang in the balance.

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