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Steve Keim: Clinching division title early can be tricky for teams

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It’s a conversation Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim ultimately wants to have.

If -- or when, at this rate -- the Cardinals clinch the NFC West with games to spare, Keim will meet with coach Bruce Arians to discuss playing time for the final game or two. During their meeting, they’ll discuss which risks outweigh the other: injuries or rust.

“That can be difficult, because some teams can get into almost the mindset of a preseason mode, where you’re playing your backups and you’re resting starters,” Keim said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Monday morning. “Then, when it’s time to go, those players have had so much time off that they’re not in football shape or mentally prepared and ready to go.

“I think it’s a double-edged sword and it can be tough.”

The Cardinals are on pace to secure the No. 2 seed, which would give them a bye during wild-card weekend. That would give Arizona’s starters two weekends off should Arians sit them in Week 17 against Seattle.

The other risk, as with any game, is injury.

When the time comes to decide what the Cardinals should do, Keim and Arians will have a series of conversations about it. But they won’t be stressing the decision.

“I know this: I’m just happy to be in that position where we may have to have that conversation,” Keim said.