Optimism runs high around the NFL in the couple of weeks leading up to training camp with fans around the league envisioning what a best-case scenario for their team looks like.
While the positive vibes are fun, the history of the NFL tells us that for every team where everything goes right, there are a couple teams that’ll see everything go wrong.
In the NFC West the range of disasters is wide with some playoff-hopeful teams potentially missing the dance, and others potentially sitting atop the draft at the end of April.
Our NFL Wire editors for the NFC West have already discussed the best-case for each team. Here’s what it looks like if it all goes awry:
In what is expected to be a disaster season anyway, what would be the worse outcome is where Murray looks bad in his return, whenever it is, which ruins any potential trade value. They are awful, have the worst team in the league, are not competitive and it leaves little hope for Gannon’s future.
Yes, they could then could the top QB in the draft class but if Murray’s play makes him impossible to trade, then they have an albatross of a contract, limiting their flexibility in free agency, making 2024 another rebuilding year with a rookie quarterback. – Jess Root, Cards Wire
Things could get really bad for the Rams in 2023 if Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford and/or Cooper Kupp get hurt. Those three are really the Rams’ only real difference-makers and if any of them goes down, the season could go down in a hurry, too. Los Angeles is relying on so many unproven and inexperienced players that it’d honestly be hard for a casual NFL fan to name more than three or four guys on the roster. With such a big bet on younger players, if they fail to step up and become even average starters, the Rams will be a 5-win team again in 2023. – Cameron DaSilva, Rams Wire
The worst-case scenario for the 49ers is one where they never get their questions answered under center. Purdy might struggle with availability or simply regress from his stellar rookie campaign. That would put the ball in the hands of either Trey Lance or Sam Darnold, neither of whom are proven to be winning NFL starters. It’s not inconceivable that either player would struggle with extended playing time. If San Francisco doesn’t have its QB situation under control, it limits what should be a very high offensive ceiling and puts even more onus on the defense. That unit could have a hard time replicating last year’s success if they can’t find an adequate DE opposite Nick Bosa, or if CB Deommodore Lenoir, FS Tashaun Gipson or SS Talanoa Hufanga regress after very good 2022 efforts. If the 49ers are struggling to find stability under center and only producing a top-15 or 20 defense, they’re in danger of not winning the division and fighting for a wild card spot with eight or nine wins. – Kyle Madson, Niners Wire
Football tends to be played on grass or astroturf though, not paper. If the team’s efforts to refurbish its defensive front seven don’t work out, their ceiling will be the same as last year. Specifically, the free agent arrivals of Bobby Wagner, Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed have to improve their run defense dramatically. Also, one or two of their young outside linebackers has to step up as a legitimate pass rush threat opposite Uchenna Nwosu. In a perfect world, Jamal Adams would also stay healthy and get back to his 2020 form when he was the top pressure DB in the league. If those things don’t happen, the Seahawks will be lucky to win six games. – Tim Weaver, Seahawks Wire