In past seasons I've solicited input before determining which upcoming NFC West games to attend. The periodic feature disappeared for stretches because there were times when only the Cardinals were participating in meaningful games.
The schedule makers have anointed the 49ers as the team to beat in 2010, giving them four prime-time games -- twice as many as the Cardinals commanded in their first season following Kurt Warner's retirement. Think Ken Whisenhunt might use this to his motivational advantage at various points between now and December?
Looking at the chart, it's pretty clear I'll be attending the 49ers-Seahawks game in Week 1 and the Saints-49ers game on ESPN in Week 2. With the Rams in Oakland also in Week 2, I might be able to double up on NFC West games that week.
I'll sketch out potential NFC West travel plans by week. Let me know which games you think deserve strongest consideration at this point.
Week 1: 49ers at Seahawks.
Week 2: Rams at Raiders on Sunday, Saints at 49ers on Monday
Week 3: Chargers at Seahawks
Week 4: Seahawks at Rams
Week 5: Saints at Cardinals
Week 6: Raiders at 49ers
Week 7: Cardinals at Seahawks
Week 8: TBD (49ers are in London)
Week 9: Cardinals at Vikings
Week 10: Seahawks at Cardinals
Week 11: Bucs at 49ers
Week 12: 49ers at Cardinals
Week 13: Rams at Cardinals
Week 14: Seahawks at 49ers
Week 15: 49ers at Chargers
Week 16: Cowboys at Cardinals
Week 17: Cardinals at 49ers
This would add up to eight Cardinals games, eight 49ers games, six Seahawks games and three Rams games, subject to change based on how the season plays out.
I generally favor division games over comparable or slightly better non-division games. Monday night games take priority because ESPN holds the rights and these are generally good matchups anyway. Sometimes I avoid Thursday night games because the late starts complicate postgame gathering efforts and because midweek travel disrupts my ability to carry out normal blogging duties.