Commentary

First to clinch are no playoff cinch

First to clinch are no playoff cinch

Originally Published: January 2, 2009
By David Fleming | ESPN Insider
Leave it to the Arizona Cardinals to take 33 years to win a division title and then do so in the worst possible way. The Cards clinched the anemic NFC West on Dec. 7 and then caught Redbird Flu, losing four of their final six games and destroying the one thing you need the most this time of year -- momentum.

The problem with momentum is that it doesn't come with an "on" switch. And so in the NFL, peaking at the wrong time is just as bad -- if not worse -- than not peaking at all. This is a theory that's backed up by Insider research on the very Malcolm Gladwell-esque topic of "Early Clinchers," defined as teams that clinched playoff spots in Week 14 or earlier. What we found could be bad news not only for the Cards, but for the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans as well.

ALSO SEE