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Welker, Branch Inactive Against Dolphins

Wes Welker and Deion Branch (Jim Rogash / Getty Images)

Wes Welker and Deion Branch lead the list of inactive players for New England’s final game of the 2010-2011 season against Miami. Welker is out for non-injury reasons while Branch is nursing a bum knee. The two are joined by Tully Banta-Cain (groin), Dan Connolly (concussion), Ron Brace (elbow), Brandon Deaderick, Mike Wright (concussion), and Aaron Hernandez (hip).

The Patriots are 13-2 and have the AFC’s #1 seed locked up, so resting up should do pretty well for the Patriots; it almost won the Celtics an NBA title last season. Having Week 17 off, and getting a bye week after that will really go a long way to maximizing the recovery of the injured players before getting them practice for a few days before the second round.

It’s when you start sitting healthy players when you run into problems. The Colts love doing that, and that strategy hasn’t worked out too well for them. Tom Brady will go, and while it wouldn’t be surprising to see Brian Hoyer at some point, Bill Belichick has been known to play Tom Brady with up to 40-point leads, so Brady looks to go for a good chunk of the game, especially with the best record in the NFL on the line.

Plus, the Patriots have a Super Bowl embarrassment to shake off, as well as a 2010 Wildcard exit. They’ll be much too focused to rest healthy players a whole lot.

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