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Ceiling/floor for each NFC South 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 Packerscould 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: 11-5.Matt Ryan moves past being a good player to the premier status he was prematurely awarded after three years in the league. Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman form one of the top 1-2 punches in the league, assisting the defense with ball control.

Floor: 4-12. Seeing the same swing for the Falcons as the Bucs, although I feel Atlanta will finish behind its rival. Dwight Freeney feels his age (36) ... meaning there's no pass rush. Again. Youngster Keanu Neal's success is thwarted by his preseason knee injury. Mohamed Sanu? WR3.


Ceiling: 14-2. Mike Shula retains his play-calling magic with Cam Newton running point. Jonathan Stewart = healthy. Sans Josh Norman and facing a relatively tough schedule, the Panthers' best hope is to be 14-2. Remember, in 2015, Carolina played the weak AFC South and NFC East.

Floor: 9-7. The division is not strong enough to knock the Panthers down to .500. But if the kids in the secondary struggle to fill the Norman void -- and the edge rush isn't there again -- Carolina could lose much more often in 2016. Receiver Kelvin Benjamin starting slowly after missing 2015 with a torn ACL would turn bad quickly.


Ceiling: 10-6.Cameron Jordan doesn't end up having to singularly provide the pass rush. Stephone Anthony comes into his own at linebacker, receiving more than just tutelage from James Laurinaitis. Mark Ingram rushes for 1,200 yards, providing time on the bench for the Saints' dog-tired defense.

Floor: 5-11. Speaking of Ingram, Drew Brees needs help. In the 5-11 scenario, 37-year-old QB hits the career wall, leaving even more in the defense's hands. Tight end Coby Fleener is on-again, off-again, like he was for much of his career in Indy. Still, Brees and New Orleans are too good at home to only win three games.


Ceiling: 11-5. A lot would have to happen here, starting with Jameis Winston continuing his progression in Year 2 to a point that would make him a top-15 quarterback. The Bucs must get something from the TE position, and Robert Ayers would provide 10 sacks in his first year in Tampa.

Floor: 4-12. Dirk Koetter struggles in his transition to head coach. Doug Martin resembles the 2013and '14Doug Martin, not the 2015 vintage. Veteran pass catcher Vincent Jackson shows his age, with Mike Evans struggling with a basic function of being a wide receiver: catching the football. Honestly, I think the Bucs go 8-8.

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