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Every NFL team plans to play to win in Week 17

We told you earlier on Monday that the Indianapolis Colts don't plan to rest their starters Sunday against the Houston Texans even though the Colts are locked into the No. 5 seed.

Even though the entire AFC playoff field has been decided, we may have the first season in memory where no teams rest their starters in Week 17.

The top three AFC seeds -- the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots -- are all fighting for a playoff bye. That leaves in the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals as teams that could theoretically rest in the AFC. The Ravens still have a chance at the No. 3 seed, but not a bye.

"Our guys are going to play the game full-speed to win the game. How that type of thing would shake out is definitely a consideration, but I would expect it to be a tight game all the way through," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was even more definitive that he wouldn't rest starters, pointing out that the strategy hasn't really worked for his team in the past.

"I think it's important for our team to play well. We are going to play to win the football game. [We're playing for] improvement," Lewis said via

In the NFC, every contender is fighting for a bye, a division title, or a playoff spot except the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons. Coach Mike Smith doesn't want to rest either with a bye week coming up.

"We're going to play the game to win," Smith said via the Atlanta Falcons. "That's how we're going to approach it. It's an important game because it's a division game. All games, I think, are important. In terms of the importance of it, does it have no bearing? It really does, because we want to win every time we go out and play."

The NFL has tried to prevent teams resting starters in Week 17 by backloading division games. That's helped, but that's not really the reason why it appears teams won't rest starters this year.

It looks like conventional wisdom has changed over the years. The Patriots, for instance, almost always played starters no matter what in Week 17, and more squads have adopted that approach.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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