2010 NFL Schedule Released: San Francisco 49ers’ Season Outlook
The NFL has finally released its 2010 schedule, and that means it’s time to speculate on how teams will do before ever playing a down.
The San Francisco 49ers finished last year with an 8-8 record and a second place finish in the NFC West Division. This year, I predict they will improve on that record and win the division handedly.
Of course, I assume that Alex Smith builds on the success he had late last season and that the team drafts some help at cornerback, safety and the offensive line.
Other reasons I think this will happen are that last year San Francisco swept the Cardinals and had a 6-2 division record. They also play the AFC West this season, and outside of the San Diego Chargers no team in that division is a playoff or Super Bowl contender.
Furthermore, the NFC West is an even weaker division than last year. The Cardinals have loss key players in starters Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, Bernard Berry this offseason.
Seattle is either too old or too young in key positions and will be breaking in several new rookie starters, while Saint Louis with a rookie quarterback at the helm will just hoping to avoid being the league’s worst team again.
Now let’s take a look at how I believe the San Francisco 49ers’ schedule will play out.
Right from the start, team faces a huge test having to play three of their first four games on the road. Neither Seattle nor Kansas City should scare the 49ers, but on the road anything can happen. Just ask Pittsburgh how rude a host an inferior Kansas City team can be.
San Francisco hosts New Orleans in week 2, and has to travel to Atlanta in week 4. I see them beating the Seahawks and Chiefs, but losing to New Orleans and Atlanta. A 2-2 start to the season might not be what Niners faithful would hope for but when you have to play on the road that much it’s a very good start in my opinion.
The team then hosts the Philadelphia Eagles, and I think that the team will win that game. Philadelphia will still be breaking in new starting quarterback Kevin Kolb. They’ll also be coming off an emotional game against the Washington Redskins and former star Donovan McNabb the week before.
The 49ers then play Oakland, at Carolina, Denver, St. Louis and Tampa Bay, with a Week 9 BYE mixed in. The only chances for losses could be at Carolina or Denver, but I don’t see it.
Besides having the game played at home, Carolina’s passing game will probably be lead by inexperienced Matt Moore and is still a work in progress, while the defense is still in need of a pass rush now that Julius Peppers is in Chicago. With Niners defense being one of the best in the league against the run, the Panthers strength should be easily countered.
San Francisco plays the Broncos in London, but Denver traded away its best player, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, for the second consecutive season and I don’t think we’ll see another 6-2 start from them. The Bronco’s will probably take a step back while Head Coach Josh McDaniels continues to build his team with his players.
At this point in the season the 49ers would be 8-2 and most likely have a commanding lead in the division.
Let’s also not discount how important a factor the late season BYE could be. They’ll have the opportunity to fully recover from their trip to England and reenergize for the second half of the season.
The team then has to travel to Arizona, and though they swept them in 2009 it is difficult to beat any one team four times in a row. That’s not to say they can’t win, but predicting a seven game win streak during a season for any team not from Indianapolis is a reach.
Week 13 is a game against the Packers at Lambeau Field, and with probable cold, harsh weather conditions, I see Green Bay winning. Unless the Green Bay line is worse than it was in 2009, I find it tough for most opponents to win there this season.
San Francisco finishes the season hosting Seattle, at San Diego, at St. Louis, and finally at home versus Arizona. Besides San Diego, I don’t predict a loss.
Seattle and St. Louis will probably be near the bottom of the division and league. Arizona (whom I predict to finish no better than 8-8 and probably at 6-10) will probably be out of the division and playoff races by this point and not have much left to play for.
So there you go 49er fans. I’m predicting your team to finish 11-5 and win the NFC West. The team would host a playoff game, and with some luck they could possibly compete for a first round BYE in the playoffs.
San Francisco’s return to prominence begins this season, and in a big way.