A look at the strengths, weaknesses, rehab issues and what to expect in the NFC West, as provided by SN's NFL correspondents:
San Francisco 49ers
The strength: Led by Patrick Willis(notes), the 49ers have a fast, aggressive linebacking crew. Their defensive philosophy is to take away the big play and trust the linebackers to take care of any short plays in the middle of the field. The 49ers don't have a sack master on the nfl jersey
squad, but they have six players capable of registering six sacks.
The weakness: No offensive line has been as bad as the 49ers' over the past three seasons. The team overhauled its line in the offseason, but it is young and still developing. The 49ers hope the line jells by midseason. Still, there's a lot that can go wrong before then.
The rehab: OLB Ahmad Brooks(notes) emerged as the team's pass-rush specialist last year. However, he suffered a lacerated kidney in camp and won't begin practicing until next week. Brooks said he hopes to return to action for the Week 2 Monday night game against the Saints.
The key addition: CB Phillip Adams(notes) was the least celebrated of the team's picks. But with PR Kyle Williams (toe) and CB Will James (ankle) out of action early, Adams likely will return punts and be the team's No. 4 corner early. He also will have a big role on the team's coverage units.
The bottom line: The 49ers must weather a punishing first half schedule that puts them on the road for three of the first four games and also sends them to London for a "home" game. If they emerge with a 4-4 record, they should be happy. The second half is easier, and the rest of the NFC West looks weak.—Matt Barrows
The strength: The receiving unit is deep in talent. Larry Fitzgerald(notes) might the NFL's best wideout, and Steve Breaston(notes) is underrated. Early Doucet(notes) is a solid No. 3, and the team is excited about undrafted rookie Stephen Williams(notes). He is 6-5, has good speed and is willing to make catches in traffic.
The weakness: It's impossible to predict with any certainty what the team will get out of Minnesota Vikings jersey
QB Derek Anderson(notes). He has a powerful arm but lacks touch on some passes. He tends to throw everything very fast. Anderson has completed only 52.9 percent of his career passes and has a career passer rating of 69.7.
The rehab: Fitzgerald is running routes this week and should be able to play Sunday at St. Louis after an MCL sprain in the preseason opener. He probably won't be 100 percent, however, and his conditioning has suffered. That will be tough to regain in just a week. As a result, Williams could play a few more snaps.
The key addition: OLB Joey Porter(notes), 33, didn't play much in preseason, so it's hard to say if he has lost some speed. But Porter is in great shape and the Cardinals will turn him loose off the edge. If he can get double-digit sacks, this defense should be pretty good—especially considering the line should be the team's best in years.
The bottom line: The Cardinals have enough talent to compete in the weak NFC West. But to win the division, they will need Anderson to improve his accuracy and to run the ball effectively.—Kent Somers
The strength: After the retirement of Arizona's Kurt Warner(notes), Matt Hasselbeck(notes) is the best quarterback in the NFC West. Hasselbeck was intercepted 10 times in the final four games last season, but he is a three-time Pro Bowler who is the only reason the Seahawks have any chance to bounce back this season. The Seahawks must keep him healthy.
The weakness: The offensive line is in flux after line coach Alex Gibbs retired eight days before the start of the season. Rookie LT Russell Okung(notes) will miss Week 1 with a high ankle sprain, and Ben Hamilton(notes)—the veteran signed to play left guard—has been demoted to backup center. Not only that, but three of the team's 10 linemen were acquired after Aug. 31.
The rehab: Lofa Tatupu(notes) is coming back from a torn pectoral muscle that cost him the final 10 games. He wore a brace through much of the offseason to protect that muscle, but his strength is back to where it was before the injury. The defense will rely heavily on him, so it needs him to be 100 percent.
The key addition: Rookie S Earl Thomas(notes) has the kind of speed you can't coach and instincts you can't teach. At 21, he will be an instant playmaker in a secondary that desperately needs one. The Seahawks allowed the most passing yards in the league in 2008 and third most in Dallas Cowboys jersey
2009. Thomas' range will immediately provide a boost.
The bottom line: It might get worse before it gets better for the Seahawks, who are 9-23 over the past two seasons. Of the 53 players on the roster, 27 were acquired after Pete Carroll took over as coach last winter. The rebuilding has begun, but it's going to be at least a year before the Seahawks can think about putting it all together