Heading into the season, it seems like there are going to be at least three huge games in the NFC:
Week 2 - Sunday Night Football, 49ers at Seahawks
Week 14 - Seahawks at 49ers
The NFC Championship game
The two NFC West rivals appear to be on a collision course in that final game.
The 49ers, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, bested the Seahawks for the division crown by virtue of a tie against St. Louis. The Seahawks throttled the 49ers 42-13 in Week 16.
The 49ers have more than just the Seahawks to worry about, though. The division takes on the AFC South and the NFC South in 2013. Couple that with a season-opening game against the Packers, and San Francisco has one of the tougher schedules in the NFL.
Seattle has two of its first three games at home, including the marquee game against the 49ers, before having a brutal stretch between Weeks 4 and 8, with four of five games on the road. They'll travel to Houston and Indianapolis before taking on Tennessee at home. After that, they have road games at Arizona and St. Louis.
The Rams appeared on the verge of breaking out at times during 2012, and two tight games against San Francisco (0-1-1) showed they can compete in the NFC West. Their third place schedule could help them stay with the top dogs, but a tough stretch of road games at San Francisco and Arizona in Weeks 13 and 14 will test the mettle of this young team.
The Cardinals, with new head coach Bruce Arians, look to find a new identity with a new coaching staff and quarterback. Arizona started strong in 2012 but fell apart down the stretch, costing former coach Ken Whisenhunt his job. They'll start the season at St. Louis and will be tested in Weeks 3-7 with road games at New Orleans and Tampa Bay, a home game against Carolina and a road game at San Francisco. Then they have Seattle and Atlanta at home.