NFC West: Schedule 09

Swine flu not Rams' toughest opponent

December, 18, 2009
12/18/09
12:51
PM ET

Projecting the Seahawks' record, revisited

September, 12, 2009
9/12/09
11:32
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Four potential "swing" games stand out when taking a final look at the Seahawks' schedule heading into the regular season.

I've highlighted those games in red while projecting individual game outcomes, a task made no less enjoyable by its futility:

Week 1: win vs. Rams

Week 2: lose at 49ers

Week 3: win vs. Bears

Week 4: lose at Colts

Week 5: win vs. Jaguars

Week 6: win vs. Cardinals

Week 7: bye

Week 8: lose at Dallas

Week 9: win vs. Lions

Week 10: lose at Cardinals

Week 11: lose at Vikings

Week 12: win at Rams

Week 13: win vs. 49ers

Week 14: lose at Texans

Week 15: win vs. Bucs

Week 16: lose at Packers

Week 17: lose vs. Titans



That would get Seattle to 8-8, one game better than I foresaw as likely in April. Matt Hasselbeck's health so far might explain the difference. I think it makes the Seahawks more likely to beat the Cardinals at home in Week 6. I could see them winning at Houston and at home against the Titans. For Seattle, no record between 7-9 and 10-6 would surprise me.

Projecting the Cardinals' record, revisited

September, 12, 2009
9/12/09
11:31
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The Cardinals' schedule appears manageable even though the potential exists for a slow start.

Home games against the Colts, Vikings and Packers stand out among the "swing" games I've marked in red on the schedule below.

The Cardinals have some of their toughest games at home, right where they want them. Arizona lost similar games last season, falling to the Giants and Vikings at University of Phoenix Stadium.

I've tentatively got the Cardinals going 1-2 at home against the Colts, Vikings and Packers. Switching one of those games into the win column could turn my 9-7 projection into the Cardinals' first season with double-digit victories since 1976.

Week 1: win vs. San Francisco

Week 2: win at Jacksonville

Week 3: lose vs. Indianapolis

Week 4: bye

Week 5: win vs. Houston

Week 6: lose at Seattle

Week 7: lose at NY Giants

Week 8: win vs. Carolina

Week 9: lose at Chicago

Week 10: win vs. Seattle

Week 11: win at St. Louis

Week 12: lose at Tennessee

Week 13: win vs. Minnesota

Week 14: lose at San Francisco

Week 15: win at Detroit

Week 16: win vs. St. Louis

Week 17: lose vs. Packers

The Cardinals have found ways to win at home against borderline playoff teams such as Dallas and Miami last season. They did not defeat good teams until the playoffs. This season will determine whether Arizona can become more consistent over the course of a 16-game schedule.

Projecting the 49ers' record, revisited

September, 12, 2009
9/12/09
11:22
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The 49ers' physical approach to training camp should, in theory, make them more dangerous early in the season, when other teams are still getting acclimated to playing full speed.

But in analyzing the 49ers' schedule, it's conceivable for this team to post a poor record early.

Winning at Arizona in the opener changes the outlook. A defeat to the Cardinals puts pressure on the 49ers heading into a four-week stretch featuring games against the Seahawks (home), Vikings (road) and Falcons (home).

One way I could see the 49ers getting to 8-8, with "swing" games in red:

Week 1: lose at Arizona

Week 2: win vs. Seattle

Week 3: lose at Vikings

Week 4: win vs. Rams

Week 5: lose vs. Falcons

Week 6: bye

Week 7: win at Texans

Week 8: lose at Indianapolis

Week 9: lose vs. Titans

Week 10: win vs. Bears

Week 11: lose at Green Bay

Week 12: win vs. Jacksonville

Week 13: lose at Seattle

Week 14: win vs. Arizona

Week 15: lose at Philadelphia

Week 16: win vs. Lions

Week 17: win at St. Louis



This outlook differs slightly from the one published in April. That one suggested a possible 3-2 record heading into the bye, followed by a 1-4 record over the next five games and a 4-2 push to close the season. One question now would be whether the 49ers' approach to training camp made them vulnerable to wearing down, or if it steeled them for a late push. The new outlook sees the 49ers possibly taking a 2-3 record into the bye on their way to 4-6 and, ultimately, right around 8-8.

Projecting the Rams' record, revisited

September, 12, 2009
9/12/09
11:16
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The Rams could improve this season and still conceivably take an 0-7 record into Detroit.

Don't take my word for it. Look at the schedule.

It is plausible to think Vegas might see the Rams as underdogs in every game they play this season. You know Lions fans are counting that Week 8 game against the Rams as one of their potential victories in 2009.

I think it's important -- and possible, if not likely -- for the Rams to make an early statement as they redefine expectations. But it's still tough to find more than four victories on the Rams' schedule based on what we think we know.

I've bolded projected Rams victories while marking potential "swing" games in red:

Week 1: lose at Seattle

Week 2: lose at Washington

Week 3: lose vs. Green Bay

Week 4: lose at San Francisco

Week 5: lose vs. Minnesota

Week 6: lose at Jacksonville

Week 7: lose vs. Indianapolis

Week 8: win at Detroit

Week 9: bye

Week 10: win vs. New Orleans

Week 11: lose vs. Arizona

Week 12: lose vs. Seattle

Week 13: lose at Chicago

Week 14: lose at Tennessee

Week 15: win vs. Houston

Week 16: lose at Arizona

Week 17: lose vs. 49ers



Do I think the Rams will go 0-7 to open the Steve Spagnuolo era? No. Can I reasonably project a Rams victory against any one of their first seven opponents, particularly with three of the first four on the road? Not without getting creative.

The Rams will surprise some teams this season. I could see them returning from their bye week to beat the Saints with a strong ground game. I think they could win a couple of games in the division. But it's probably tough even for a Rams fan to project immediate success as the Rams rebuild.

In retrospect, the 6-10 projection made in April seems optimistic.

How is my logic flawed?

Another way to track NFC West schedules

September, 9, 2009
9/09/09
1:43
PM ET
NFL Rank Team Percentile Among Google Calendar Subscribers
10 49ers 45th
14 Seahawks 37th
29 Cardinals 22nd
31 Rams 16th
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Gmail users might be interested in team-specific subscriptions for use with Google Calendar. This chart shows each team's popularity among users.

Subscribing to a calendar imports that team's schedule information. Google is also promising real-time scoring updates.

The Patriots, Steelers, Cowboys, Bears and Eagles fill the top five spots. The 49ers rank 10th, best among NFC West teams, followed within the division by the Seahawks (14th), Cardinals (29th) and Rams (31st). The Jaguars were last.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

In light of events elsewhere, I thought about posting one-sentence blog entries clarifying the retirement plans for Steve Young, Joe Montana, Dave Krieg, Jim Zorn, Jake Plummer, Neil Lomax, Jim Everett and every other prominent quarterback with ties to current NFC West teams.

Consider it done. All plan to remain retired, to my knowledge. 

Every NFC West team plays the Vikings this season. We'll have plenty of time to ignore -- er, analyze -- the Favre story line if he does sign with Minnesota.

Predicting the Rams' record

April, 17, 2009
4/17/09
1:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Do not automatically write off the Rams. At the very least, consult their schedule first. And then consider that it's still only April. Much can change before the games start counting.

Every team has a chance to develop the intangible qualities that turn flawed teams into contending ones. The Rams can become relevant in the division through improved offensive line play if it helps Marc Bulger salvage his once-promising career.

From this early vantage point, however, the Rams appear headed for a difficult first season under new coach Steve Spagnuolo. Having already discussed projections for the Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks, it's time to look at the Rams. I'll break up the season into sections and project records along the way. My initial projection calls for a 6-10 record.

It's tough to find a road victory for the Rams in the first month of the season, even though they did beat the Redskins at FedEx Field in Week 2. That victory might even work against the Rams this time, if the surprise factor helped last time. The Rams aren't going to go 0-4 for a second consecutive season, in my view, but 1-3 seems likely.

The next four games appear more favorable, but the toughest two -- against Minnesota and Indianapolis -- are at home. I think that works against the Rams. You figure teams are going to lose road games most of the time. If the Rams were playing the Vikings and Colts on the road, with the Jaguars and Lions at home, we might have an easier time projecting success. I'll tentatively and somewhat ambitiously go with 2-2 during this stretch.

The Rams' schedule appears more favorable in the four games after the bye. Having three of four games at home will help. The problem during this four-game stretch: all four opponents feature Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks. Drew Brees, Kurt Warner and Jay Cutler were Pro Bowl players last season. Matt Hasselbeck was previously a Pro Bowl choice. Let's go with 2-2 here.

The final four games feature two very likely road defeats (at Tennessee, at Arizona). Let's say, perhaps conservatively, that the Rams split the two home games. They go 1-3 in the final month in reaching 6-10, a four-game improvement from last season.

St. Louis Rams Regular Season Schedule (2009)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, at Seattle Seahawks, 4:15 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, GREEN BAY PACKERS, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at San Francisco 49ers, 4:15 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, MINNESOTA VIKINGS, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.

Week 9: BYE

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, ARIZONA CARDINALS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, HOUSTON TEXANS, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, 1 p.m.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The relative dearth of prime-time games on the West Coast this season -- including no prime-time games for Seattle in any venue -- might make John Madden feel better about his decision to retire from broadcasting.

Madden, speaking on his KCBS radio show in the Bay Area, said he decided to retire before the NFL released its schedule for the upcoming season. The decision might have been tougher in retrospect if the Sunday night schedule featured more West Coast venues.

Madden wants to spend more time with his family. That's hard to do given the time Madden spends commuting by bus from his Bay Area home to games.

Madden on KCBS, via the Washington Post's Mark Maske: "I decided before that [schedule came out]. But if you look at the [Sunday night] games, there's not only no Raider games, no 49er games, there's no games in California. And there's only one game on the West Coast, and that was in Arizona. Everything else is in the East, so it would be the type of thing where you go away in August and you come back in January. Like I said, I just get to the point in my life that that's not the deal any more. That's not it."

The Seahawks will go without a prime-time game for the first time since 1983. Arizona plays two Sunday night games this season, one at home against the Colts, another at the Giants. No other West Coast teams are scheduled to appear on Sunday nights this season, even as a visitor.

Predicting the Seahawks' record

April, 16, 2009
4/16/09
5:13
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

With the 49ers' and Cardinals' 2009 fates already set in permanent marker, it's time for a look at how the Seahawks might finish, based on their recently released schedule. My initial read shows seven or eight victories, with the season possibly hinging on a Week 6 home game against the Cardinals.

The Seahawks' first four games are pretty easy to assess. Seattle should beat the Rams at home in the opener. The Colts should beat the Seahawks during a 10 a.m. PT kickoff at Indianapolis. In between, the Seahawks figure to split with the 49ers and Bears. That would give them a 2-2 record through four games, a reasonable projection.

The next four games -- against the Jaguars, Cardinals, Cowboys (road) and Lions -- will likely determine whether the Seahawks contend for a playoff spot. Three of the four are at home, but a Week 6 defeat to Arizona at Qwest Field might make it tough for the Seahawks to take back the division. That game stands out from afar as a pivotal one. I'm not yet convinced we can give Seattle the benefit of the doubt, so let's go with 2-2 during this four-game stretch.

The schedule becomes less favorable in the season's third quarter. Three consecutive road games will test the Seahawks. I see Seattle winning one of the three -- probably against the Rams -- before returning home to avenge their 2008 defeat to the 49ers. A loss at home to San Francisco would likely prove severely damaging. Let's take Seattle in that game for a 2-2 record during the four-game period in question.

The final month is unforgiving. Road games against the Texans and Packers will be difficult for Seattle to win. The Seahawks should win at home against the Bucs. But the injury problems that derailed Seattle last season -- affecting older players such as Patrick Kerney, Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones -- could begin to mount late in the season. With me so far?

That could prove problematic against a rugged Titans team in Week 17. I expect the Titans' record to drop off this season, but that could raise the stakes for them in the final game. Until the Seahawks earn back the benefit of the doubt, I'll tentatively project a 1-3 record over these closing four games.

It all adds up to 7-9, a three-game improvement over last season, with a chance to get to 8-8 or 9-7 by beating the Cardinals in Week 6 and finding a way to finish stronger in December.

Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule (all times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, ST. LOUIS RAMS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, CHICAGO BEARS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, ARIZONA CARDINALS, 4:05 p.m., Fox
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, DETROIT LIONS, 4:05 p.m., Fox

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:15 p.m., Fox
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, at St. Louis Rams, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, 4:15 p.m., Fox

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Houston Texans, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, TAMPA BAY BUCS, 4:15 p.m., Fox
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, TENNESSEE TITANS, 4:15 p.m., CBS

Predicting the 49ers' record

April, 15, 2009
4/15/09
5:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Having solved the Cardinals for 2009, the 49ers command our attention following release of their schedule. Can you find more than eight victories for San Francisco without wearing the 49ers Starter jacket your family has owned since 1984?

My initial look at the schedule shows 7-9 or 8-8, depending largely on how the quarterback situation evolves. I'll break the schedule into sections for the sake of analysis.

I'm seeing a potential 3-2 record heading into the bye week. Everything changes if the 49ers pull an upset at Arizona. I don't see the Cardinals overlooking a division opponent at home to enter the season. Looking at Week 2, we know the Seahawks have won their last two games at Candlestick, even when they were struggling last season. That second game of the 49ers' season, against Seattle, stands out as a pivotal one for San Francisco, in my view.

The season appears to get tougher in the first five games following the bye. Am I unreasonable to see a potential 1-4 record for the 49ers during those games? Let's say they win one of the home games, against either Tennessee or Chicago. I'm thinking the 49ers will have a hard time winning road games against the Colts and Packers. Even the Texans have been relatively tough at home.

The hard-nosed mentality Mike Singletary is trying to instill could serve the 49ers well during the closing stretch to their schedule. I've got them winning four of their final six in getting to 8-8, avoiding a losing record for the first time since 2002. It's not a given, though.

The longer I look at those final six games, the more I could see 3-3 instead of 4-2. Let's figure they win two of the three home games during that stretch (Jaguars, Cardinals, Lions). Let's say they win at St. Louis. The 49ers would then need to win at Seattle or Philadelphia to reach 4-2 over the final six.

San Francisco 49ers Regular Season Schedule (all times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:15 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, ST. LOUIS RAMS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, ATLANTA FALCONS, 4:05 p.m.

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, TENNESSEE TITANS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 10: Thursday, Nov. 12, CHICAGO BEARS, 8:20 p.m., NFL Network
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Seattle Seahawks, 4:15 p.m.
Week 14: Monday, Dec. 14, ARIZONA CARDINALS, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, DETROIT LIONS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at St. Louis Rams, 1 p.m.

Predicting the Cardinals' record

April, 15, 2009
4/15/09
3:04
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The schedules are set. The rosters are not. We can have some fun anyway by forecasting how NFC West teams might fare based on their schedules.

I'll start with the Cardinals. Predicting individual games can be rough this far out, but taking the schedule in sections can make the process a little easier. My initial expectation is for the Cardinals to win between eight and 10 games. Let's go with 9-7 for now.

My reasoning: I'm thinking Arizona probably heads into its bye week with a 2-1 record. I would favor the Cardinals against the 49ers in the opener and then I would give them a good chance at splitting the next two. If they do not win at Jacksonville, they could rally to beat the Colts in Arizona, sort of how they found a way to beat Dallas at home last season.

I see the Cardinals going 2-2 over their next four games (Texans at home, Seahawks and Giants on the road, Panthers at home). They could go 3-1, but I wouldn't automatically hand Arizona a victory at Seattle. The Seahawks played Arizona tough at Qwest Field last year under some pretty rough circumstances. 

November sets up as a tough month for Arizona, with three of four games on the road, but I still see a likely 2-2 record for the Cardinals in those games. The Cardinals have beaten the Seahawks in Arizona every time since 2005, when Seattle fielded its Super Bowl team. And then it's reasonable to think the Cardinals could win at St. Louis in Week 11.

The final five games set up nicely for Arizona. The Cardinals get three games at home and a road game against the Lions. I'm thinking 3-2 sounds reasonable for that stretch.

Add it up and you've got a 9-7 record for the defending NFC champs. They get to 10 victories if they steal another game on the road, perhaps at Seattle or San Francisco.

I'm sure everyone agrees with every aspect of this mini-analysis, but I'll check the comments just in case. And here's the schedule for reference:

Cardinals Regular Season Schedule (all times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, SAN FRANCISCO 49ers, 4:15 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS, 8:20 p.m., NBC
Week 4: BYE
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, HOUSTON TEXANS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at NY Giants, 8:20 p.m., NBC
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, CAROLINA PANTHERS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at St. Louis Rams, 4:05 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, MINNESOTA VIKINGS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 14: Monday, Dec. 14, at San Francisco 49ers, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, ST. LOUIS RAMS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, GREEN BAY PACKERS, 4:15 p.m.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Strength of schedule has its limitations, but it's still a powerful indicator when used correctly. I wanted to pass along a few NFC West-related nuggets from ESPN Stats & Analysis:

The 49ers' final eight games are against opponents with a .340 winning percentage last season, lowest for any team's final eight games. The Cardinals' schedule strength over the final eight games stands at .344, second-easiest in the league.

Arizona's final four games are against teams with a .234 winning percentage last season, lowest in the league. Consecutive games against the Rams and Lions affected the rate significantly. The 49ers face the Rams and Lions in consecutive weeks to end the regular season, but they also drew the Cardinals and Eagles among their final four opponents.

Perhaps it's time to do something on how easy NFC West teams have it when it comes to NFL scheduling. On the other hand ...

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The NFL schedule makers were kind to the Cardinals and not so kind to the rest of the NFC West.

We pick up the conversation in Kurt Warner's hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Rams fan Jeff, weighing in via Facebook, knows his team faces long odds this season:

"I've always kinda felt like a team needs to earn its respect, like you mentioned, Mike ... but man, 4 cross country road games in the first six weeks? And the first three home games are short little trips for Midwest teams? It's the NFL, every week is tough ... go get 'em, Spags."

  Ken Whisenhunt on 2009 season
  NFL.com Video
  Coming off a loss to the Steelers in SB XLIII, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt looks ahead to the 2009 season.

The Rams' status at the bottom of the NFC West food chain left them vulnerable even before the NFL sent them on the road for three of their first four games. But with the 49ers and Seahawks each drawing the maximum six 10 a.m. PT kickoffs, Rams fans aren't alone in feeling as though their team could have fared much better in the schedule department.

"Shafted again -- this is a bigger deal than the league wants to admit," Jesse of New Mexico wrote, also via Facebook. "I have to think the only other interested party (other than depressed Hawks and 49ers fans) may be Vegas oddsmakers. That might be an interesting expression of the problem: Track the over under, and the spread for the last 5 years for West Coast teams playing early n the East [Coast]."

The Seahawks play only one game in the Eastern time zone this season, a 10 a.m. PT kickoff at Indianapolis in Week 4. But each of the five remaining road games eligible for the earliest possible start time will indeed begin at 10 a.m. PT.

The 49ers play two games in the Eastern time zone, visiting Indianapolis in Week 8 and Philadelphia in Week 15. Those games and four others also begin at 10 a.m. PT.

West Coast teams lobbied the NFL to cut down on the early starts, but to no avail. Owners did pass a resolution adjusting the scheduling rotation so that teams drawing the AFC West and NFC West would not play San Diego and Oakland in the same season or Seattle and San Francisco in the same season.

As 49ers president Jed York put it March 23: "I understand the inequity of the Patriots playing two games back-to-back on the West Coast [as the case was last season]. We need to come together as a group of West Coast teams. You've got [five] teams that are literally traveling 3,000 miles for one game two or three times a year. If it is playing a later game, I think it makes sense."

Is the NFC West suffering from an inferiority complex? Might complaints from fans and teams qualify as whining? Shouldn't teams in this division worry about scheduling perks after fielding more competitive teams for several years?

(Read full post)

West Coast Teams, 2005-2008
Record vs. St. Louis in 10 a.m. PT Games Record in other 10 a.m. PT Road Games
Record in all 10 a.m. PT Road Games
Record in all non-10 a.m. PT Road Games
Record in All Road Games
Seahawks 4-0 4-10 8-10 6-8 14-18
49ers 3-1 2-17 5-18 4-4 9-22
Cardinals 4-0 1-15 5-15 4-8 9-23
Raiders 0-0 6-15
6-15 3-8 9-23
Chargers 0-0 10-9 10-9 7-3 17-12

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Chargers emerged victorious in West Coast teams' efforts to reduce 10 a.m. PT kickoffs. San Diego drew just one early start in 2009. Prime-time road games against Pittsburgh and Tennessee helped the Chargers cut down on the number.

West Coast Team
2009 Games at 10 a.m. PT
49ers
6
Seahawks
6
Raiders
5
Cardinals
4*
Chargers
1

The 49ers and Seahawks each drew the maximum number of 10 a.m. PT kickoffs with six apiece. San Francisco's road games against Seattle and Arizona cannot begin that early. Same goes for Seattle's road games against San Francisco and Arizona.

The Cardinals came out more favorably. Three of their four early kickoffs begin at 11 a.m. in their time zone. I've included those in the chart, but those starts shouldn't be quite as difficult for Arizona, at least in theory.

The first chart shows how West Coast teams have fared in early kickoffs since 2005, separating games played against the Rams. That chart does not count neutral-site road games involving the 49ers and Chargers.

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