1. San Francisco 49ers (15.0)
Offense: Everything revolves around RB Frank Gore, who is coming off his fourth straight 1,000-yard season. The 49ers drafted more blocking help in RT Anthony Davis and RG Mike Iupati. TE Vernon Davis and WR Michael Crabtree give QB Alex Smith a chance to thrive. Grade: 3.0.
Defense: ILB Patrick Willis is a flat-out stud. Takeo Spikes is an excellent complement. NT Aubrayo Franklin is an ideal 3-4 space-eater. The Niners had 44 sacks in '09 (third in NFL) without a star pass rusher. CB Nate Clements' high salary overshadows improving young secondary. Grade: 4.0.
Special teams: K Joe Nedney, 37, keeps rolling along. P Andy Lee is Mr. Reliable. Ted Ginn Jr. should revive return game. Grade: 4.0.
Coaching: Mike Singletary's toughness and passion for the game has rubbed off on players. Grade: 4.0.
On the spot: Smith. It's now or never for 2003 No. 1 overall draft pick.
Prediction: The division is there for the taking. Record: 10-6.
2. Arizona Cardinals (14.0)
Offense: Kurt Warner's retirement and Matt Leinart's release put Cleveland castoff Derek Anderson under center. At least he's got a great target in WR Larry Fitzgerald. Anquan Boldin is gone, but youngsters Steve Breaston and Early Doucet are ready to fill in. RBs Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower need to generate running game. Grade: 3.0.
Defense: DEs Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell (seven sacks each in '09) and rookie NT Dan Williams are a formidable three-man front. OLB Joey Porter will have plenty of pass rush opportunities. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and SS Adrian Wilson are rock-solid in the secondary. Grade: 4.0.
Special teams: K Jay Feeley and P Ben Graham thrive in warm weather. LaRod Stephens-Howling handles return duties. Grade: 3.0.
Coaching: Despite losses, Ken Whisenhunt will find a way to keep team competitive. Grade: 4.0.
On the spot: Anderson. Replacing Warner is impossible task.
Prediction: Even with QB issues, a favorable schedule gives them a chance. Record: 7-9.
3. Seattle Seahawks (13.0)
Offense: Everything depends on the health of QB Matt Hasselbeck, who has missed 11 games the past two seasons. LT Russell Okung was drafted sixth overall to protect Hasselbeck. TE John Carlson is best receiver after WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh was released in part because of the remarkable career revival of former draft bust Mike Williams. RB Justin Forsett must provide ground game. Grade: 3.0.
Defense: LBs Aaron Curry and Lofa Tatupu are all that's left from an overhauled front seven. CB Marcus Trufant is good when healthy and rookie FS Earl Thomas may be a future star. But trading CB Josh Wilson weakens the secondary. Grade: 3.0.
Special teams: Leon Washington is a great addition to the return game. Age hasn't affected K Olindo Mare's leg. Grade: 4.0
Coaching: If nothing else, Pete Carroll brings a college-type enthusiasm. Grade: 3.0.
On the spot: DE Chris Clemons. Seahawks desperately need a pass rush from him.
Prediction: Seahawks hope to at least be competitive. Record: 6-10.
4. St. Louis Rams (10.0)
Offense: Workhorse RB Steven Jackson returns after back surgery due in large part to having to carry the team on it (NFC-high 1,416 yards and team-high 53 catches). Top draft pick Sam Bradford is a talent, but he lacks proven receivers or an O-line to protect him. Grade: 2.0.
Defense: MLB James Laurinaitis's surprisingly strong rookie year (120 tackles, two sacks, two INTs) was the lone bright spot. The Rams were wise to re-sign FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, but he alone can't save generous secondary. Grade: 1.5.
Special teams: The kicking game is a positive with K Josh Brown and P Donnie Jones. Rookie Mardy Gilyard's speed will upgrade return game. Grade: 4.0.
Coaching: Steve Spagnuolo can't implement pressure tactics with limited talent. Grade: 2.5.
On the spot: DE Chris Long. It's time Howie's boy played like the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Prediction: Nowhere to go but up, but it's a long climb. Record: 2-14.