Reid will soon decide on playing starters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's not going to happen Sunday, when the Kansas City Chiefs play against the Raiders in Oakland. But at some point Andy Reid is going to face a decision on whether or not to rest some of his key players in what will be a meaningless regular-season game.

Here's the situation for the 10-3 Chiefs regarding the postseason: They can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday before they kick off against the Raiders at 4:05 p.m. ET if the Dolphins lose their game against the New England Patriots in Miami, which begins at 1 p.m. ET.

If the Dolphins win, the Chiefs can clinch that playoff spot by beating Oakland anyway. If Miami loses, the Chiefs are in but they will still have a chance to win the AFC West championship. The Denver Broncos need to win two of their final three games to clinch the division title.

So the Chiefs will, one way or the other, have something on the line in Oakland. No way should Andy Reid back off with a chance, however slim, that the Chiefs could win their division.

If they beat the Raiders, the Chiefs will play the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 22 with their division title hopes alive. The season's final regular-season game on Dec. 29 at the Chargers, however, could well be meaningless.

If by then the Chiefs have clinched their playoff spot and have been eliminated from the division, that's when Andy Reid needs to treat it as a preseason game. Remember, as a wild-card postseason entrant, the Chiefs wouldn't get a bye in the first round.

So Reid needs to get his starters some work. Then, at some point, perhaps in the second quarter, he needs to remove as many key players as possible from the game. This list includes Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, Dontari Poe, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry, among others.

Reid addressed the possibility on Monday in his news conference, but of course didn't reveal how he's going to handle the matter.

“I've done both, gone both ways with that," Reid said. “I have held people from games and (at other times) played people just depending on what I feel we need to get ourselves ready if we have that opportunity to continue to play.

“We're not there yet. You're only allowed to suit so many guys and then you want to win every game. You work it out (the way) you think it works in that situation. They're all different."