Every Team’s Best Case Scenario – NFC

Every Team's Best Case Scenario - NFC
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Updated: Oct 20, 2022

Last week I covered what I thought each team in the AFC’s best-case scenario was. This week, it’s time to tackle the NFC which is much more variegated and has less true Super Bowl contenders than the AFC has.

Still, the NFC houses arguably the best team in the league and has a good amount of talent spread around the conference, so without further ado, here is each team’s best-case scenario in the NFC.

Philadelphia Eagles

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I think it’s safe to say this team is a Super Bowl contender. Through 6 weeks, they stand alone as the only team with an undefeated record. I’d even go as far as to say that their best-case scenario is having a perfect season, and I’m not alone on that. Larry Csonka, a player for the ’72 Dolphins who were the only team in NFL history to have a flawless record, is keeping his eye out for Philadelphia this season to match their feat.

Will the Eagles go 17-0 and win it all? Eh, probably not. I’m sure they’ll suffer at least one loss during the regular season, probably either a trap game or in Week 18 when they’ve already clinched and are resting their starters. Still, I believe a perfect season is this team’s ceiling. They have a stellar defense led by Darius ‘Big Play’ Slay, easily a top-tier one-two punch at receiver with Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown, and a great quarterback who can get it done through the air or on the ground.

Basically what I’m saying is even if they drop one or two games in the regular season, this team is primed to make a Super Bowl run.

New York Giants

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Okay, everyone who thought the Giants would be 5-1 and have a legitimate chance to win their division this season, raise your hand.

That’s what I thought, no one saw this coming. The most devoted Giants fans likely saw improvement under new head coach Brian Daboll, but I don’t think even they could’ve foreseen this team, which hadn’t changed its roster drastically since last season, getting off to such a booming start. A lot of it can be attributed to the resurgence of Saquon Barkley, who has been this team’s driving force on offense.

So, what is their best-case scenario? Going into the season, many likely would’ve said 5 or 6 wins, but now? I could see the G-Men make a nice little playoff run. I don’t think they’ll go to the Super Bowl since they have a lackluster passing offense (currently is bottom 3 in the league in yards) but I could see them winning a playoff game or finding themselves in the conference championship, likely up against division foe Eagles.

Dallas Cowboys

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Like the Giants, the Cowboys have also been a surprising team this season. Though, unlike the Giants, expectations weren’t low going into the season, but they hit rock bottom coming out of week one against the Buccaneers. A game where the offense is only able to muster up 3 points and Dak Prescott got injured. Safe to say, everyone was expecting turmoil to follow for ‘dem Cowboys.

However, instead of falling well below .500 and desperately wishing for Dak’s return, Dallas managed to go on a 4-game win streak under backup quarterback Cooper Rush who, up until their matchup this week against the Eagles, went undefeated in his first few career starts. They weren’t just feeding on bottom-feeder teams either, as they rattled off an impressive wins against the aforementioned Giants and a Bengals team who has a stout defense.

It’s hard to gage where this team could end up by season’s end, especially considering how good Dak will (or will not) look when he returns, which is shaping up to be back for their next game against the Lions. For right now, I think their ceiling is the same as the Giants, a small playoff run, but I don’t think they’ll grab their first ring in over 20 years.

Washington Commanders

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In what has been the best division in the NFL so far, the Commanders stand out as a truly bad team. They haven’t looked impressive during any game this season, and Carson Wentz has regressed so far that it’s hard to imagine he was once an MVP frontrunner back in 2017.

Their best-case scenario is for the future, and that’s that they have a good free agency and draft. This season is a wash, they’re not going to luck into the playoffs with a losing record like they did back in 2020, but maybe they can grab Bryce Young or CJ Stroud, or perhaps Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis. But as for this season? At best, they’ll have 6 wins, maybe 7.

San Francisco 49ers

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The NFC West is…weird. Three of the four teams have the same record at 3-3 while the fourth sits just one game behind the rest. With that being said, it’s hard to determine each of these team’s best-case scenarios because we’re not even close to finding who the best team out of these four really is.

On paper, it should be the Rams. They still have that great roster with guys like Cooper Kupp, Jalen Ramsey, and Aaron Donald who can wreak havoc, but we’ll get more into their struggles in the next entry. For now, let’s focus on the 49ers.

To say the Niners have been inconsistent would be an understatement. They’ll go from looking terrible against mediocre and subpar teams like the Broncos and Falcons to stomping all over the reigning Super Bowl Champs in front of the nation. Their best-case scenario is hard to decipher, but I realistically could see them winning the division.

Do I see them doing anything else? No, not at all. The 49ers aren’t going to make a deep playoff run this season, especially with how injured they’ve been through just six weeks. Maybe they’ll make it out of the Wild Card round- if they make it to the playoffs in the first place, but that’s it. I think their fans should be more worried about how well some of their star players are going to recover from their individual injuries.

Los Angeles Rams

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Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

To be fair to the Rams, alongside dealing with a Super Bowl hangover (much like their opponents in said Super Bowl), they too have taken a lot of injuries to kick off the year and are limping into their bye with a 3-3 record.

At the same time, it’s never a good sign when your starting quarterback leads the league in picks and has one of the lowest passer ratings among other starting QBs, though, again, that could be attributed to injuries that have been especially harsh on the O-Line.

Like the 49ers, the Rams could easily win the division, but could they really do much more than that? With the amount of talent they have to showcase, you can never truly count them out, but I think it’s a stretch to say this team will go back-to-back. They just have to hope they can get some guys back in time for the playoffs- if they make it- but even then I don’t see this team making some miracle run back to the big game.

Seattle Seahawks

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Considering the Seahawks were expected by many to be one of the worst teams in the league after Russel Wilson’s departure and the naming of Geno Smith at quarterback, this .500 start has actually been a pleasant surprise for Seattle fans. By no means are they a great squad, but I don’t think any of us expected them to be in the division race 6 weeks into the season.

That being said, there still a tier below the 49ers and Rams, and probably aren’t going to be winning their division this season, but they might grab themselves a Wild Card spot this season. Probably not, but there’s a chance.

What happens this season isn’t important, it’s what the future holds. This team has a lot of young stars such as Kenneth Walker and surprise 5th-round gold Tariq Woolen, who has already accumulated 4 picks in his first 6 career games, tied for first in the league at the moment. If they continue to develop their rookies and other young players, as well as continue to hit home runs in the upcoming drafts, this team could easily find success in the post-Wilson era.

They’ve already had more success than Wilson and the Broncos this season.

Arizona Cardinals

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The Cardinals, simply put, have been a huge disappointment so far this season and already look flat much earlier than they have in prior seasons.

While I’m sure no one tagged them as Super Bowl contenders this season, being bottom of the division after 6 weeks of football is a huge dive below the bar. Maybe Kliff Kingsbury reversing his usual fall off a cliff that happens in the second half of the season and instead using it in the first so they can do something in January. Or maybe Kingsbury is simply not a good coach.

Either way, this team doesn’t have much of a ceiling to strive towards. Things could potentially turn around when DeAndre Hopkins gets back from his suspension, which could explain why Kyler Murray has looked subpar in every performance this season, but even then they’ll probably flame out come playoff time like they usually do.

Best-case scenario is Kliff Kingsbury gets a few wins going and learns how to keep the momentum up and running, something he’s struggled with since his Texas Tech days.

Minnesota Vikings

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As much as I want to hop on the Vikings hype train (mainly because Justin Jefferson is such a joy to watch), I can’t bring myself to do it. Minnesota may be 5-1, but it doesn’t feel like it. None of their wins have been impressive (aside from week one vs. the Packers) and they keep teams that should be far inferior in the game for far too long. The only truly good team they’ve played is the Eagles, and they were completely shut down in that one.

The Vikings will win their division, no doubt about it. Aaron Rodgers looks like his age has finally caught up to him and he has no one to throw to, and the Bears and Lions aren’t even in the conversation. But how far will that take them? The Divisional Round? Maybe, but I don’t see them going any further than that.

Maybe I’m completely wrong about them, we’ll get a better idea of just how good the Vikings are this November when they play the Bills and Cowboys. If they beat Dallas and just keep it close with the Bills, then I’ll be ready to label this team as a true contender. But, for now, I’ll have to say their ceiling is winning the division and a playoff game. No conference championship appearance for them this year.

Green Bay Packers

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As alluded to above, I have little faith that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will be able to turn it around after blowing back-to-back missed opportunities against the teams in New York to climb back into the division race. After dropping two games in a row, they are now two games behind their rivals to the west and don’t look like they’re going to recover anytime soon.

Frankly, Rodgers has looked so unlike himself that I’m almost convinced he’s been replaced with a lookalike. And he’s once again doing his usual ‘teasing retirement’ charade, though this time I think he actually means it. Honestly, with how he’s played this season, the Packers might be better off. Their ceiling for this season is…maybe a playoff birth? They’ll be a Wild Card team and likely won’t make it past the first round, though.

Looking to the future, the best-case scenario for you cheeseheads out there is either: A. Jordan Loves develops greatly and takes huge strides to become the replacement for Rodgers or B. Packers either draft or sign a good QB that can lead this team to greatness that they haven’t seen since 2011.

Chicago Bears

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For the love of all that is holy, hope that Justin Fields develops into the great quarterback the Bears were hoping for when they drafted him. And that he gets some good wide receivers.

Detroit Lions

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Dan Campbell may be a likable guy, but if he’s shown one thing this season it’s that he has a long way before he becomes a good- or even just a competent coach. A lot of the Lions’ losses can be boiled down to poor scheming and playcall.

And defense. Their defense is abysmal.

They aren’t winning anything this season. Maybe 4 or 5 wins but that’s it. So Lions’ fans, as they continue to do year after year, will have to look to the future and hope Dan Campbell becomes more than just a likable guy. Oh, and a QB that isn’t Jared Goff might be able to help.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Tom Brady, like Aaron Rodgers, is beginning to show his age this year. While the Tampa Bay defense continues to shine (currently ranked #6 in the league according to Pro Football Reference), their offense has yet to take off, only scoring 30 points once in a loss to the Chiefs and finishing with under 20 points in half of their games so far.

A lot of the offense’s struggles can be attributed to an injured O-line, but Brady also just looks like age has finally caught up with him, even having an old man-esque meltdown on a weekly basis.

I think they’re still going to win the division, but that’s more a product of weak competition than it is actually being a good team. Besides maybe getting out of the Wild Card round I don’t see Brady getting his eighth ring in what could possibly be his last year. It might be time to start looking forward to the post-Brady era here soon, not only for the Bucs but for the league as a whole.

Atlanta Falcons

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While I don’t think this is their year to make significant noise in the post-season, Atlanta is going to be a team to look out for in the coming years. They got a lot of good, young players like Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Calvin Ridley once he’s reinstated. That’s just on offense, though, as on defense they have one of the best, most underrated corners in the league in AJ Terrell.

Unfortunately, Tom Brady is still in their division and the Bucs’ defense is among the best in the league, so they’re not going to win the division this year, but with how weak the NFC has looked as a whole outside of the NFC East, they could squeak into the post-season as a 6th or 7th seed. Maybe. That’s their best-case scenario for this season. Hopefully, Desmond Ridder develops into a solid NFL quarterback or Marcus Mariota has a career revival like Geno Smith has had this season.

New Orleans Saints

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Life after Sean Payton and Drew Brees looks bleak for the Who Dat nation, at least so far. They have some young studs on this team, but they just look directionless week after week.

Of course, like many other teams off to slow and disappointing starts, injuries can take a lot of the blame for this, especially in the receiving room. Michael Thomas, Chris Olave, Jarvis Laundry- all three of their starting wideouts have missed significant time this year. Other notable injuries have occured too, such as cornerback PJ Williams being placed on IR thanks to a quadricep injury.

Their best-case scenario is simply getting healthy, especially in the receiving room, as then they have a chance at making the playoffs and establishing more of a footing in their weak division.

Carolina Panthers

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The Panthers are the only team this year to already achieve their best-case scenario for this season, and that was giving Matt Rhule the boot, who has been one of the more disappointing hires in recent memory.

Now, they embark on what feels like their umpteenth rebuild since Riverboat Ron went up north to D.C. Figuring out the quarterback position should be first and foremost on the list, not for this season but for the future. The Sam Darnold experiment went terribly and the Baker Mayfield one currently going on seems to be just as bad, if not worse. Fortunately, this draft boasts a good amount of quarterback talent and the Panthers are arguably the worst team in the league, so they should have their pick when Draft time rolls around

Their best-case scenario for this season is that they get a hefty return for their supposed fire sale and come out on the other side with the number one overall pick. Then, hopefully whoever they get (probably a QB) is able to develop and lead this team back to greatness they haven’t seen in years.

Those are each team in the NFC’s best-case scenarios in my opinion, but what are your thoughts?

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