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Ron Rivera unsure whether Panthers will rest stars

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Even an undefeated team can't avoid the difficult questions.

The 13-0 Carolina Panthers have plowed over every opponent placed in front of them during the 2015 season. Having already clinched a first-round bye, coach Ron Rivera was treated to inquiries about whether he will rest star players as the season wanes or play for 16-0.

"I can't tell you what I'm going to do," Rivera said on Friday, via ESPN.com. "I can't tell you what my mindset is going to be. We're going to play each game and we'll play the players as necessary.

"It's about being smart down the stretch. Again, the ultimate goal is to win (the Super Bowl). But at the same time I've got to look at things, weigh things. But I don't know what I'm going to do."

Surely players and fans will want to go for an undefeated season and an attempt to match history. Don Shula is already on record saying he hopes the Panthers go undefeated and win the Super Bowl.

The Panthers need a win and an Arizona loss this week to clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage leading up to the Super Bowl. Rivera will play his players until home field is clinched.

If that is accomplished this week or next, then Rivera will decide what to do about his stars.

"That's the hard thing,'' Rivera said when he gets asked about resting players. "Everybody wants to know now. I'll be honest with you -- I don't know. I really don't know what I'm going to do.

"I'm taking everything in, I'm listening, I'm trying to avoid as many of those discussions (as I can), but here we are discussing it again.''

After already seeing injuries to running back Jonathan Stewart (foot), which will keep him out at least this week, and corner Bene' Benwikere (out for season), you can't blame Rivera if he decides to bubble wrap his players before the postseason.

The rest of us, of course, will plead loudly for the stars to play for 16-0.

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