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Smith gives players 3 days off, not yet sure how much starters will play next week

  • 7090f0cc03417c24240f6a706700aff2.jpg

    Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel (22) intercepts a pass intended for Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, rear, during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) (The Associated Press)

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    Atlanta Falcons tight end Michael Palmer, center right, celebrates his touchdown with tight end Tony Gonzalezduring the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski) (The Associated Press)

With the NFC's top seed secured, Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith has yet to decide how much his starters will play in next week's regular season finale against Tampa Bay.

Smith's primary concern is for players to relax during a three-day break they earned by winning 31-18 Saturday night at Detroit to clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Though Atlanta (13-2) has won two straight and five of six, Smith says the Falcons will "play the game to win" when the Buccaneers (6-9) visit the Georgia Dome next Sunday.

Smith plans to change the practice routine after the Tampa Bay game, indicating that players seemed overworked two years ago when Atlanta blew its No. 1 seed and were blown out at home by Green Bay.


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