Analysis  

 

Ceiling/floor for each NFC East team in 2016

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Ceiling ... You can be a U.S. Senator one day!

Floor ... Will you be moving out before you're 28?

The highs and lows of expectations -- they're all around. From our parents. From our employers. And, of course, we turn around and project the same on our favorite football teams. If everything breaks right, the Kansas City Chiefs will go 12-4. If everything breaks down -- that is, Justin Houston misses too much time and Jamaal Charles isn't himself -- maybe 7-9 is on the horizon. With the margin of victory so slim in today's NFL -- the realization of former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's vision of parity -- a five-game swing is actually a pretty narrow range. And the cool thing? We can do this for every franchise, you and I.

Well, I did. Below you will find the hypotheticals -- the hot-dogs-and-apple-pie version as well as the doom-and-gloom scenario -- for every team in the NFC, with the AFC coming Wednesday. Bear in mind, these scenarios include eventualities where everything either goes very right or very wrong. In other words, don't get upset at the mere mention of the possibility that the Packers could go 8-8. Much would have to go awry -- like the return of Brian Brohm. Yet, if you still have an issue with these narratives, @HarrisonNFL is the place.

NFC EAST

DALLAS COWBOYS

Ceiling: 12-4. The defense stays afloat while it is without two of its better pass rushers (the suspended duo of DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory). Dak Prescott performs like he has in the preseason against real schemes, holding down the fort until Tony Romo returns. Either Ezekiel Elliott or Alfred Morris takes advantage of running behind the best offensive line in the business.

Floor: 6-10. I don't think this team will go 4-12 again, even with Romo set to miss more time. Last year, Dallas lost a bunch of close calls and also had receiver Dez Bryant go down. After what we've witnessed this preseason: Dak Prescott > Matt Cassel. That said, what if Prescott's preseason (78 percent completion rate, five TDs, zero picks, 137.8 passer rating) was a mirage? The depleted defense can't lose linebacker Sean Lee to injury again.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Ceiling: 11-5. Receiver Sterling Shepard proves to be an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. Veteran Victor Cruz produces like the 2012 version of Victor Cruz. The looks-good-in-the-showroom defense plays itself into being at least a top-15 unit. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins becomes one of the steals of free agency. Coach Ben McAdoo keeps the 'stache.

Floor: 5-11. The right side of the offensive line becomes more than a worry, causing the offense to get off to a pitiful start. Running backs Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa sputter. Ron Dayne comes out of retirement. Truthfully, I think the Giants will be closer to 11-5 than 5-11.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Ceiling: 10-6. Quarterback Sam Bradford plays lights-out football, running back Ryan Mathews stays healthy all season and Doug Pedersen proves more than ready to be a head coach. The offensive line performs consistently, providing the offense time to gel.

Floor: 4-12. The secondary can't hold the fort, with Malcolm Jenkins unable to play at such a high level again, and the pass rush isn't stout enough to compensate. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is forced to play before he's ready, with WRs dropping passes like it was 2015. That's 4-12, folks.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Ceiling: 12-4. The defending NFC East champs have everything go their way. Rookie receiver Josh Doctson contributes immediately. Undrafted rookie back Rob Kelley takes the next man up mentality to heart and runs with it. And the Josh Norman signing greatly improves Washington's defense.

Floor: 5-11. After a career year, QB Kirk Cousins takes a large step backward. Matt Jones fumbles consistently. Inside linebackers Will Compton and Mason Foster struggle on early downs, Su'a Cravens develops slowly, thus negating the newly improved secondary's effect on third.

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