In sports when a team clinches a conference it means they have secured first place in the conference for the season.
This means they are the number one team in their half of the league and have guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
In the NFL each conference is going to have sixteen teams. Each conference is going to have four divisions within it.
The top two teams in each division are going to get a spot in the playoffs. There are also three more wild card positions that are given to teams with the best records that did not win their division.
The team which clinches the conference is going to be the top-seeded team in their conference.
Why clinched conferences are important
There are three main reasons why clinching a conference is important. Those reasons are a home-field advantage, better matchups, and a first-round bye.
In the NFL playoffs whichever team has a higher seeding is going to get home-field advantage. When a team wins their conference this means they are going to be the number one seed in the conference.
Therefore no matter who they play they will get to enjoy a home-field advantage. This can be a crucial factor in playoff games as fans can get quite loud. The added travel and lack of comfort playing on the road also help the home team.
Teams that have clinched their division are also going to benefit from getting a bye in the first round. The first round of the playoffs is going to feature six teams in each conference while the winners get a week off.
This means that the top seed only needs to win two games in order to reach the Superbowl. This makes a massive difference in a team’s playoff odds and is likely the most valuable aspect of winning the conference.
Having good matchups in the playoffs is another incredibly important factor. Since the conference winners are the top seed they are going to play the lowest remaining seed.
This means they will likely get to play the weakest competition remaining in their conference. After the bye of the first round, the conference winners will play the lowest-seeded team remaining.
Oftentimes this is a wild card team that has managed to win their first game. These games are by no means a cake walk but the advantageous matchup makes things a lot easier for the one seed.
What is a clinched division?
A clinched division in football occurs when a team secures the top spot in their four-team division.
Division winners in the NFL are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Division winners make up the top four seeds in the conference.
Whichever division winner has the best record in the regular season will also clinch the conference.
What is clinched wild card?
Now that you know what a clinched conference is in football you may be wondering what a clinched wild card is.
Wild cards in football are playoff positions given to teams that did not win their division.
As we mentioned earlier there are going to be four division winners in each conference. A recent rule change resulted in three wild card teams being added in each conference.
Previously each conference would have two teams with byes for the first round of playoffs and two teams would be wild cards.
Now only one team is awarded a bye and three teams are given wild card positions.
When a team has clinched a wild card it means that they have secured a spot in the playoffs. A clinched wild card team is one that has made the playoffs without winning their division.
Oftentimes wild card teams can have great win-loss records but cannot with their division due to a high calibre opponent in the division.