After seeing Pro Football Weekly just obliterate the 49ers chances (predicted record: 3-13), Lindy's provides a bit of a breath of fresh air. In fact they actually go against some of the conventional wisdom. While they project Seattle to win the division, they project the Cardinals in last place and the Rams and 49ers tied for 2nd. In projecting the various team units, they use a numerical rating system, instead of letter grades. The plus to this system is we can add it all up and see where that leaves each team.
Considering this was published in June, it's not all that simple projecting how teams will fare. Injuries happen, teams surprise, teams disappoint and any other assortment of things happen. Rating each unit and adding them up is basically looking at a team in a vacuum and ignoring their schedule and outside factors.
What's interesting about these ratings is comparing them to other teams. Over at Daily Norseman, Gonzo put together the NFC North rankings, and according to those, the 49ers and Rams would be tied with the Vikings for the best ratings in that division.
I'm glad the 49ers special teams is getting some recognition. They state that it's difficult to find a more reliable kicker, punter and long snapper. I'd love to see some kind of statistical look at long snappers. They say Brian Jennings is one of the most consistent in the game. Although it's not important, I might just have to start tracking his various snaps. Of course, without tracking the rest of the league, it kind of puts you in a vacuum. One option is tracking Jennings and the 49ers opponent each week. It's not perfect, but it'd be interesting to see just how consistent he is.
Lindy's threw out one particularly interesting fact. Frank Gore has a chance to become the first 49ers running back with three straight 1,000 yard seasons. Furthermore, he finished 6th in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage, obviously thanks in large part to his high number of receptions.
All in all I don't mind the ratings they've thrown out there. I think the secondary and linebackers could end up being better than the ratings would show, but there are enough question marks to be cautious. I actually wonder if they've overrated the NFC West in some categories. The general thought is that the West will be relatively weak once again. Personally I don't buy that as I think all four teams could improve this season. However, it is interesting that they rate three of the four NFC West teams the same or higher than the best NFC North team. I'll certainly take it, but interesting to consider anyways.