You might have noticed the NFL team-by-team predictions with won-lost records posted to the new team sites and to the divisional blogs Wednesday morning.
In the past, I would have handled predictions for all NFC West teams. We now have reporters in place to cover each team, with only a few teams unmanned as the final hires are made. Each team's reporter filed his own prediction for the team in question without regard for how other reporters might view things.
For example, Minnesota Vikings reporter Ben Goessling predicted an 8-8 record and second-place finish for the Vikings, while Chicago Bears reporter Michael C. Wright predicted a 9-7 record and second-place finish for the Bears. Those predictions would be exclusive if viewed together. However, they were made independently.
Here in the NFC West, Seattle Seahawks reporter Terry Blount predicted a 12-4 record and first-place divisional finish for Seattle. I am handling the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals predictions for the time being. I predicted 10-6 for the 49ers without knowing Terry was predicting 12-4 for Seattle.
My feel is that Seattle and San Francisco will be in that 10-11 range for victories and that the healthier team will probably prevail as the division winner unless one of the other teams is better than anticipated. I'm leaning toward Seattle as the top team, but it's a tough call -- a lot tougher than the two-game gap between my prediction and Terry's prediction might make things appear from afar.