Here is the main argument for resting players: We need them healthy for the playoffs. Ok, so, play for 13-15 weeks with the same regiment, same intensity, and get your body used to the hits and brutality of football. Then, take a few weeks off, take your bye and go into the playoffs close to a month removed from when you and your team were at your peak. Great.
Looking at the last decade, 4 of the 9 Super Bowl champions have not had a first round bye. Of the 5 winning teams that had a first round bye, only 1 was a top seed. The equation there is resting your players after you have secured top seed does not equal winning. This decade there has not been a Super Bowl of two #1 seeds.
What about the paying fans and season ticket holders? Do they pay ridiculous money to watch a game with Curtis Painter at quarterback? Do they want to see the team go undefeated? Do the fans want to see history made? I seem to recall a few years back (2005?)when the Colts rested their starters after clinching the top seed. They lost first round to the Steelers. Let's see what happens this year.
I guess the bottom line for me is you work from May or June to get into a great rhythm, hit a stride and peak at the right time. You get there, you're team is hitting on all cylinders, good enough to clinch a first round bye, but don't ruin your rhythm and 'rest' players. The reason I use quotes for the word "rest" is because who actually knows what these players do when they should be 'resting.' I know Tony Romo went on a tropical vacation a few years ago with a high profile celebrity then lost. And from the rather disturbing news from around the league as to what players do in their free time (Vick, PacMan, Henry, Burress) I don't necessarily know if free time is good for the players of this league.
There isn't much to gain, financially, in terms of chemistry and in terms of winning by resting players.