Alabama is expected to make another run at a national championship this season.

There are those who expect teams such as Auburn and LSU to make a push toward knocking the Tide off the top of the SEC West, but until that happens, Alabama is still king of the hill.

Here are some of the best and worst-case scenarios for Alabama in 2017.

Dream scenarios

1. Hurts takes the next step: When you think of the reigning SEC Player of the Year, you don’t think of a guy who needs to “take a step” in his development. That’s exactly what Alabama needs Hurts to do, however.

As a true freshman, he managed to put up 3,734 total yards, but he struggled in the postseason — averaging only 108.7 passing yards per game and completing only 47.7 percent of his passes.

If Hurts can take the next step in his development, he has the chance to become an unstoppable force capable of carrying Alabama to its sixth national championship appearance since 2009.

2. Williams makes the transition to LT: Jonah Williams had one of the best seasons ever for an Alabama offensive lineman, and he did so as a true freshman. The only question that’s left for him to answer is whether he can make the transition to Hurts’ blindside.

Alabama’s last two left tackles — Cyrus Kouandjio and Cam Robinson — were both second-round picks in their respective drafts. That’s not easy to replace, but Williams has already proven that he can handle the SEC’s top pass-rushers.

In a perfect world, Williams manages to make the switch with no drop off in his level of play — which would only solidify him as one of the nation’s top players in the trenches.

3. Hand keeps the Tide rolling on defense: With Alabama losing so many sources of production for their pass rush, rising senior Da’Shawn Hand will be key in keeping the train rolling.

Hand has recorded only 7 sacks in his three-year career, but he did so in a limited, rotational role. Now that he is being asked to be a three-down defender, those numbers should see significant improvement.

The hope is that the former 5-star defensive lineman from Woodridge, Va., can make Tide fans forget about last year’s Chuck Bednarik award winner Jonathan Allen. In this dream scenario, Hand also learns a positive lesson from his recent DUI arrest without it affecting Alabama’s defense on the field.

4. Diggs digs in: Marlon Humphrey was selected by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 16 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft — the first Alabama player selected. Losing a player of his caliber is a major blow, but the Tide are hoping that converted WR Trevon Diggs can step into a starting role. So far, the results have been mixed.

For most of the spring, the reviews on Diggs’ development was positive.

“He’s much more natural playing at corner than when we tried to play him at safety,” coach Nick Saban said in the spring. “That’s where he played in high school. (He’s) long. He has good toughness. He’s a good tackler. Plays the ball well in the deep part of the field, and he’s done a good job of playing man-to-man.”

The defense will already field a strong secondary with Minkah Fitzpatrick, Anthony Averett, Ronnie Harrison and Tony Brown all locked into starting roles. In a dream scenario, Diggs emerges to give Alabama a complete, elite group on the back end of their defense.

5. Bulovas blows us away: When Alabama lost the commitment of Brandon Ruiz, fans were left wondering if the battle for the kicking job would come down to a walk-on vs. a punter. That’s when Joseph Bulovas — the nation’s No. 6 kicker according to 247Sports — swept in to save the day.

After being selected as an Army All-American, Bulovas caught the attention of several Power-5 schools. He was originally committed to Georgia Tech but switched when Alabama offered a scholarship. He has shown a strong leg — connecting on field goals from 70 yards out.

Alabama’s kicking game has been the butt-end of a lot of jokes in recent years, but in a perfect world, those jokes end with Bulovas.

Disaster scenarios

1. Hurts takes a step back: It could be a disaster in itself if Hurts doesn’t take that next step as a passer, but what if he actually took a step back? His play in the postseason was worrisome, and until he’s going live against SEC defenses, no one really knows if he improved this offseason.

His play in the A-Day game seemed to show positive growth — he connected on 64 percent of his passes while completing several impressive deep throws — but that was in a controlled environment. And if you go back and watch the game, he continued to struggle with taking too many sacks.

Any struggles from Hurts would likely result in 5-star QB Tua Tagovailoa taking the reins as the starter, but that would mean that the Tide would have a true freshman QB starting for the second consecutive year. Can they catch lightning in a bottle twice?

2. No one steps up at cornerback or safety: Fitzpatrick’s versatility gives the Tide flexibility in their secondary. He can be productive at safety, cornerback or the Star position. As a result, Diggs stepping up at cornerback isn’t the only option available.

What if no one steps up, though? The secondary is only as good as their weakest link, and not having someone step up to provide at least average play can be crippling to the overall success of the defense.

In a worst-case scenario, Alabama lacking that last member could be what prevents them from making it back to the national championship game.

3. The kicking game shows no improvement: Bulovas will be a true freshman, and there is no doubt that the kicker position at Alabama comes with a lot of pressure.

Under Saban, the Crimson Tide has made things work without having an elite kicker, but it does make life more difficult. Adam Griffith never finished better than eighth in the SEC in conversion percentage on his field goals — with a career rate of 70.9 percent. The hope is that Bulovas can change that.

If he can’t, it could be detrimental if key moments of the season come down to a field goal attempt.