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Capsules for the NFC West Division

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2006 record: 9-7

Outlook: Injuries hurt the Seahawks in '06, but they still managed to win their third West title in a row. The division is better now; are the Seahawks?

Best-case scenario: QB Matt Hasselbeck and RB Shaun Alexander stay healthy, reigniting an offense that tumbled to No. 19 overall last year.

Worst-case scenario: The mediocrity that the Seahawks displayed last season, a year after reaching the Super Bowl, turns out to be more fact than fiction.

Parting shot: Seattle lost more in the offseason than it gained and could fall behind in an improved division.

2007 schedule

Sept. 9 Tampa Bay, 2:15 p.m.

Sept. 16 at Arizona, 2:05 p.m.

Sept. 23 Cincinnati, 2:05 p.m.

Sept. 30 at San Francisco, 2:05 p.m.

Oct. 7 at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m.

Oct. 14 New Orleans, 6:15 p.m.

Oct. 21 St. Louis, 2:15 p.m.

Oct. 28 BYE

Nov. 4 at Cleveland, 2:05 p.m.

Nov. 12 San Francisco, 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 18 Chicago, 6:15 p.m.

Nov. 25 at St. Louis, 11 a.m.

Dec. 2 at Philadelphia, 11 a.m.

Dec. 9 Arizona, 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 16 at Carolina, 11 a.m.

Dec. 23 Baltimore, 2:15 p.m.

Dec. 30 at Atlanta, 11 a.m.


2006 record: 7-9

Outlook: The club spent oodles of dollars adding eight potential new starters as Frisco tries to continue its upward march.

Best-case scenario: QB Alex Smith continues to improve, RB Frank Gore has another eye-popping season and the revamped defense is stout.

Worst-case scenario: The offseason moves don't pay off as expected, and the 49ers' progress comes to a screeching halt.

Parting shot: The 49ers could be 3-0 in the division after the first month and force the rest of the West to catch up.

2007 schedule

Sept. 10 Arizona, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 16 at St. Louis, 11 a.m.

Sept. 23 at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m.

Sept. 30 Seattle, 2:05 p.m.

Oct. 7 Baltimore, 2:15 p.m.

Oct. 14 BYE

Oct. 21 at New York Giants, 11 a.m.

Oct. 28 New Orleans, 2:15 p.m.

Nov. 4 at Atlanta, 11 a.m.

Nov. 12 at Seattle, 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 18 St. Louis, 2:15 p.m.

Nov. 25 at Arizona, 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 2 at Carolina, 11 a.m.

Dec. 9 Minnesota, 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 15 Cincinnati, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 23 Tampa Bay, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 30 at Cleveland, 11 a.m.


2006 record: 8-8

Outlook: The Rams addressed needs with talent upgrades through free agency and the draft, positioning themselves for a return to the playoffs.

Best-case scenario: New personnel helps produce at least a middle-of-the-pack defense in support of a potentially explosive offense.

Worst-case scenario: The defense and special teams fail to improve, heaping too much burden on QB Marc Bulger and his colleagues on offense.

Parting shot: If coach Scott Linehan and his staff prove to be good talent evaluators, the Rams could emerge in a highly competitive West race.

2007 schedule

Sept. 9 Carolina, 11 a.m.

Sept. 16 San Francisco, 11 a.m.

Sept. 23 at Tampa Bay, 11 a.m.

Sept. 30 at Dallas, 11 a.m.

Oct. 7 Arizona, 11 a.m.

Oct. 14 at Baltimore, 11 a.m.

Oct. 21 at Seattle, 2:15 p.m.

Oct. 28 Cleveland, 11 a.m.

Nov. 4 BYE

Nov. 11 at New Orleans, 11 a.m.

Nov. 18 at San Francisco, 2:15 p.m.

Nov. 25 Seattle, 11 a.m.

Dec. 2 Atlanta, 11 a.m.

Dec. 9 at Cincinnati, 11 a.m.

Dec. 16 Green Bay, 11 a.m.

Dec. 20 Pittsburgh, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 30 at Arizona, 2:15 p.m.


2006 record: 5-11

Outlook: Once again, the Cardinals have changed coaches as they continue to look for a way to dispose of the "futile franchise" tag.

Best-case scenario: Two new starters shore up a miserable offensive line, giving QB Matt Leinart time to throw and RB Edgerrin James room to run.

Worst-case scenario: Leinart slumps, James stumbles, and the defense — No. 29 last year — continues to flounder.

Parting shot: One of these years, the Cardinals' moves will pay off and they'll win again. Or ... maybe not.

2007 schedule

Sept. 10 at San Francisco, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 16 Seattle, 2:05 p.m.

Sept. 23 at Baltimore, 11 a.m.

Sept. 30 Pittsburgh, 2:15 p.m.

Oct. 7 at St. Louis, 11 a.m.

Oct. 14 Carolina, 2:05 p.m.

Oct. 21 at Washington, 11 a.m.

Oct. 28 BYE

Nov. 4 at Tampa Bay, 11 a.m.

Nov. 11 Detroit, 2:15 p.m.

Nov. 18 at Cincinnati, 11 a.m.

Nov. 25 San Francisco, 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 2 Cleveland, 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 9 at Seattle, 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 16 at New Orleans, 11 a.m.

Dec. 23 Atlanta, 2:05 p.m.

Dec. 30 St. Louis, 2:15 p.m.