The Patriots have been in this situation before, but have rarely boasted as depleted a roster this late in the season as they do in 2015 -- Tom Brady's top three offensive weapons have all suffered injuries in the last eight weeks and Devin McCourty and Dont'a Hightower are among New England's sidelined defensive players. With that in mind and two divisional games looming, mastermind Bill Belichick has already been presented with a typical coaching dilemma: whether to sit his starters.
"We do the best we can to manage all those things (nagging injuries, more serious injuries and players coming back to action)," Belichick explained to reporters on a conference call Monday. "They're all somewhat of a consideration. We just gotta try to balance it. Each part of the question requires some thought and every decision impacts other things as well. You can't act independently. When one thing happens, there's a residual effect to it one way or another.
"We'll just have to do the best we can to balance all those things out. It's something we'll have to give some thought to and get as much information as possible because there are some guys that are in various states of physical health."
If the Pats can knock off the Jets this weekend, essentially ending their rival's season and securing home-field advantage, there's no reason why Belichick shouldn't sit every meaningful starter, save for the opening drive, against the Dolphins in Week 17. However, if New England falls at MetLife Stadium on Sunday and the Bengals knock off the Broncos, the Hoodie will have a massive choice on his hands if he wants to avoid a potential trip to Cincinnati in the AFC Championship Game.