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Thursday, November 18, 2010
Futile NFC West projections, take 467

By Mike Sando

710ESPN Seattle host Dave Grosby asked for updated NFC West projections during our recently completed conversation on the Seahawks Huddle program.

I might have better luck purchasing a lottery ticket.

It's been that kind of year for projections in the NFL overall.

A week ago, the Arizona Cardinals appeared in prime position to finish as well as 8-8 given their road through the NFL's easiest second-half schedule -- provided they defeated Seattle in Week 10. They lost to the Seahawks, and badly, amplifying questions about their overall competency.

I still think 8-8 could win this division.

Right now, Seattle has the simplest road to a .500 season. The team sits atop the NFC West with a 5-4 record. Seattle has a 3-1 division record and two road victories. Getting that victory at Arizona bought some room for error. The Seahawks could lose one of their four remaining home games and still finish 8-8.

The chart sizes up remaining schedules for NFC West teams. First, let's take a stab at paving the road to 8-8 for each team in the division.

Seattle Seahawks

Record: 5-4

Chances for 8-8: 50 percent

Most likely road to 8-8: Win home games against Kansas City, Carolina and St. Louis. The Seahawks probably will be favored in each of those games. They also face Atlanta at home. The Falcons will be coming off two road games when they travel across the country to play Seattle -- with a Monday night home game against division-rival New Orleans waiting for them on the other side. Keeping Matt Hasselbeck in the lineup is key.

St. Louis Rams

Record: 4-5

Chances for 8-8: 25 percent

Most likely road to 8-8: The Rams need to win one of their next two games, then win at Arizona before returning home to beat Kansas City and San Francisco. Losing to the Cardinals at home in Week 1 and against the 49ers in overtime last week makes the Rams' road much tougher. The team has not yet won on the road. Upsetting the Falcons in Week 11 might be a must for the Rams given their schedule.

Arizona Cardinals

Record: 3-6

Chances for 8-8: 25 percent

Most likely road to 8-8: The Cardinals could get to 8-8 by winning their remaining home games and beating Carolina on the road. After visiting Kansas City in Week 11, the Cardinals return home for three games, a critical stretch that will likely determine whether Arizona posts a losing record for the first time under coach Ken Whisenhunt. Losing to the Chiefs would mark five consecutive defeats for the Cardinals. Could they recover?

San Francisco 49ers

Record: 3-6

Chances for 8-8: 25 percent

Most likely road to 8-8: The 49ers could get there by winning their next two games, winning at home against Seattle in Week 14 and then winning their last two games (at St. Louis, home for Arizona). The team has won three of its last four, raising hopes. But the 49ers play four of five games on the road after facing the Bucs at Candlestick Park in Week 11. The 49ers have yet to win in an opponent's home stadium this season. The Rams will be looking for payback in Week 16.

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