Ceiling/floor for each NFC West team in 2016


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.

Let's get the dual-universe predictions going...

NOTE: Check back for the AFC on Wednesday.



Ceiling: 15-1. Arizona is certainly a Super Bowl contender, but in order to hit 15 wins, the Cardinals have to sweep Seattle, because they go on the road to Carolina and Minnesota. Honey Badger will have to return better than ever. The secondary is already thin. Chandler Jones proves to be good for more than 10 sacks.

Floor: 9-7. Much would go south here, especially considering Bruce Arians went 11-5 with Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley starting games in 2014. Running back David Johnson would falter carrying the load. Receiver Larry Fitzgerald would get old, fast. Carson Palmer? Think of the picks and fumbles in the NFC title game.


Ceiling: 9-7. A lot of people feel the Rams are almost there, but with a small draft haul (because of the deal for Jared Goff), nine wins is as far as we can go. Goff would have to unseat Case Keenum and play viably, with the WRs all playing over their heads, especially Tavon Austin.

Floor: 4-12. The floor is higher than the 49ers', based on overall talent. It would be quite tough for L.A. to finish this low, especially with its D-line. Reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley would seriously regress in this scenario, with the new-look secondary faltering sans Janoris Jenkins (and with T.J. McDonald a question mark).


Ceiling: 9-7. For the Niners to win nine games, Colin Kaepernick would have to take over for Blaine Gabbert early in the season. Not the 2014-15 Kaepernick mind you, but the version who won the 2013 wild-card game at Lambeau. If Gabbert starts all 16, I don't see the 49ers' ceiling being higher than .500. Receiver Torrey Smith produces, while the young DEs overachieve.

Floor: 3-13. There is too much talent on this team for the Niners to do worse than 3-13 or, truthfully, be anywhere close to that bad. Still, if running back Carlos Hyde is ineffective, linebacker NaVorro Bowman has a setback with that knee, and the secondary performs even worse than it did last year ...


Ceiling: 14-2. Seattle still has the capability to finish as the top seed in the NFC. Three things would most likely happen: 1) Running backs Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael would provide a prolific 1-2 punch. 2) The offensive line would shock everyone. 3) Rookie defensive tackle Jarran Reed would contribute immediately.

Floor: 9-7. Last year, plenty went wrong with the Seahawks, but they still finished 10-6. In the floor scenario, Russell Wilson can't put the team on his back for long spurts, plays are forced to Jimmy Graham repeatedly and former left tackle Russell Okung is badly missed (by Wilson).



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