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2016 best/worst case scenario for Stanford: can Cardinal make the Playoffs?

What's the best and worst that could happen for Stanford in 2016?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Best case: 11-1 (8-1)

The Cardinal are the deserved pre-season Pac-12 favorites, but have as many questions facing them going into the season for a Pac-12 favorite in a long time. Still, the sky is almost the limit if all goes right for them and they can be right in the thick of the Playoff chase on top of being Pac-12 champions.

So if the Cardinal transition well with a new quarterback, the new pieces on the offensive line gel and the defense keeps it together after a second-straight year of massive graduations, this team will win the Pac-12 and have a shot at the Playoffs.

They don't have the easiest schedule in-conference or non-conference, but I think they could get through it with just one loss, likely in-conference. That loss would probably come in their first three Pac-12 games which are at home against USC, at UCLA and at Washington in consecutive weeks. If not then, likely in November where they play at Oregon, who always seems to beat them when Stanford is supposed to be better or at Cal where the Cardinal are very due to suffer an upset.

I was tempted to say the Cardinal can run the table and go into the post-season undefeated, but I think they just have too many questions to answer to predict that.

Worst case: 7-5 (5-4)

This is a huge range for the Cardinal and pre-season Pac-12 favorite, but there are a lot of factors at play for the Cardinal, they face a very tough schedule and they won just seven regular season games two years ago with a similar team. Things could easily not go perfectly for the Cardinal and they could end up losing a handful of games.

The Cardinal could easily lose at Notre Dame and also drop four in-conference. What could those four be? I think they will fall in the group of that opening gauntlet of USC, at UCLA, at Washington, Washington State and then more in the late run of at Arizona, at Oregon and at Cal all in November.