West Division Playoffs Wins StDev
SF 40.3% 60.5% 8.3 1.42
SEA 35.2% 52.8% 8.0 0.96
ARI 14.7% 20.9% 6.2 3.30
STL 9.8% 15.2% 5.9 2.75
So according to this, we're projected at 8.3 wins with a standard deviation of 1.42. The most interesting team listed is Arizona because of their 50% standard deviation, while St. Louis is not too far behind. I think this goes to show just how wide open this division could be if things go right for the various teams. While Arizona could be bad, they are not guaranteed of that, unlike some other teams around the league.
One "anti-49er" opinion I have (if you want to even call it that), is that I think Seattle is way to undervalued. The Sports Guy mentioned in his follow up piece today, but I think it's obvious to most anybody. Things went south pretty badly for Seattle last year and they still went 9-7. They have questions, like any other team, but if they can stay healthy I think they could be one of the elite teams of the NFC. Of course, if Alexander gets hurt and/or Hasselbeck shows signs of age, that's a useless point.
Just for the heck of it, I also checked out Football Outsiders 2006 DVOA Projection (ignore my poor formatting).
West Division Playoffs Win SD
SEA 79.5% 79.8% 13.6 2.66
ARI 2.4% 12.8% 5.6 2.31
SF 1.5% 7.8% 4.8 3.10
STL 1.7% 7.0% 4.6 3.88
Seattle clearly underperformed and while Arizona certainly struggled, they fell pretty close to their projected win level. With the 49ers and Rams overperforming their projection it certainly made the NFC West a lot tighter.
Finally, FO had their own subjective predictions based on the DVOA projections. They had their various writers predict who they thought would beat their projection and who they thought would fall shorts. The 49ers managed to fall in both categories:
Doug Farrar: San Francisco. There's only one playoff contender in the NFC South (the NFC West's foe this season), and the Seahawks are the 49ers' only threat in the West. They had the easiest projected schedule before the Vick thing and the fact that Arizona is starting to look like a huge migraine for Ken Whisenhunt. I think San Francisco will have enough on the ball to surpass the 8.1 win projection.
Ned Macey: San Francisco. Our 8.1 projection may be lower than other people picking them as a real sleeper, and I still think we are too high. This projection is largely based on the projected weakest schedule in football. I think that Arizona, Seattle, and St. Louis are all a little better than we are projecting which takes wins off of San Fran's ranking. Meanwhile, the 49ers were the fourth worst team in football last season. Nate Clements is not that good.
They both make excellent points and actually use the idea of a "weak schedule" to their own advantage. The 49ers definitely have some weak opponents on paper, but facing off against teams like the Ravens, Bengals and others is no small feat.
Also, I think the Nate Clements point is kind of pointless, personally. Yea he's not highest paid DB in football good, but he's also not bad. If you don't consider his salary, he's certainly one of the best corners in football.
EDITOR'S NOTE 3:00PM - Unrelated, but HowTheyScored has the Week 1 prediction diary up to the left. I've thrown up the games to predict, so the more who want to join the merrier.