Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss on the possibility that the team rests its starters: I view this game as being similar to a fourth preseason contest when the third preseason game doesn’t go as well as planned. I could envision a scenario where the Patriots want to develop a little momentum on offense, and if that comes early, they start making some personnel changes such as Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski taking a seat. On defense, key players such as cornerback Darrelle Revis and linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, among others, figure to be "protected" as well. The team also has the luxury of allowing some of its injured players extra time to recover, which I’d expect them to do. So their approach preparation-wise won’t change, but I do believe their personnel-related approach will be different than the norm. How significant, and if Brady and Co. play at all, is obviously something we'll be watching closely.
New England has locked up the #1 seed, but the offense isn't exactly clicking, so they may want their starters to play extensively to see if that momentum returns. It's a guessing game as to how long they'll play. At this point were expecting 2-3 quarters from Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.