Jake’s Take: Way-Too-Early NFL Postseason Predictions

The beginning of the end.

The final countdown.

The end of an era.

 

These are all phrases that I am using to describe my final year writing for FHNgameday.com, my online home since the spring of 2014. I’ve known for a while that my time in high school was bound to come to an end, but it is still a difficult idea to swallow. Just as a friendly heads-up, this is going to be a year of deep reflection for Jake of Jake’s Take.

 

But I’m not gone yet. I still have the entirety of the school year to rant every Friday about the biggest hot-button topics in professional sports, and you can bet that I will do just that. My opinions may not always be what you agree with, but that’s what comment boxes are for.

I digress, this is the beginning of the NFL season, marking just the right time of year for a few way-too-early postseason predictions. Sure, some teams may be without their quarterbacks for four weeks (eyes turn to New England), and others will be without a viable quarterback for the entire season (focus shifts to Cleveland), but that’s the point of predicting Super Bowl contenders this early. It’s clickbait, and it’s supposed to be wrong.

NFC

North

With the recent injury to Teddy Bridgewater, the subsequent addition of Sam Bradford and the continuing excellence of Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers are the obvious choice. Eddie Lacy will continue to be just good enough to keep his job, while the defense looks to improve on a fairly solid 2015, and the passing attack will be one of the most lethal in the league. This is without mentioning that they face one of the easiest schedules on paper.

The pick: Green Bay Packers (11-5)

South

This isn’t a difficult choice. Only one team in this division finished above .500 last season, and they are the defending NFC champions. The NFC South should be much better than it was last year, but it will be up to the stymieing Falcons or the upswing Buccaneers to challenge the Panthers for the division crown.

The pick: Carolina Panthers (12-4)

West

Things are a little bit more complicated out west because of the two very good teams and the two very bad teams. Arizona and Seattle will assuredly fight each other to the death of their depth charts for the title, but only one team can emerge victorious. That team is the one that gets to play the Brady-less Patriots at home, rather than the Brady-ful Patriots on the road in the middle of the season.

The pick: Arizona Cardinals (12-4)

East

Speaking of difficult decisions, the NFC East. Every team has serious flaws that more or less even out. The story here comes down to the quarterbacks. Who will we take? The rookie? The other rookie? The two-time Super Bowl champion? Or the guy named Kirk? The choice is clear, America.

The pick: New York Giants (9-7)

AFC

North

The AFC North will, once again, be the most bruising division, but they’ll still manage to sneak two or three teams into the playoffs out of sheer willpower. The pick here relies on the reappearance of Le’veon Bell and the inconsistency of the Bengals as a whole. That being said, Cincinnati will grab a wild card spot.

The pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

South

This is going to be a fun division to watch. No one team stands out from the bunch. The Texans are going to need time to meld their entirely new offense. The Titans will seemingly forever be mired in mediocrity. The Jaguars are improving, but their defense holds them back. The Colts have successfully perfected the “Swiss cheese” strategy on their offensive line. This being said, the Jaguars have a great shot at a wide-open division with their explosive, score-from-anywhere offense. And why not let them earn a tie? The AFC South is going to crazy enough already.

The pick: Jacksonville Jaguars (9-6-1)

West

This is another division that appears wide open. The defending-champion Broncos can’t find a suitable replacement for one of the greatest quarterbacks of a generation, while the Chiefs have their own injuries to worry about. This leaves only the Raiders in the division to steal the division title for the first time since 2002. The not-yet-tapped potential of Derek Carr at quarterback and of Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray around him give Oakland an incredible array of available offensive schemes, not to mention one of the deepest defenses in the NFL, led by Khalil Mack in the middle of it all. We’ll be hearing a lot of “Touchdooowwwn Raaaaiiiiders!” from Oakland broadcast announcer Greg Papa this season.

The pick: Oakland Raiders (11-5)

*This reporter was just notified that the San Diego Chargers are still competing in the AFC West in the 2016-17 season. He had assumed that they had taken their obligatory three wins plus one for playing the Browns and had moved on from this season.

East

And we end on the easiest pick on the board. Anyone who has heard yours truly talk about football or who has read one of my many articles concerning New England knows that I am a diehard Patriots fan. Now, before anyone gets the funny idea of making some very original Tom Brady and/or deflation jokes, I said that I am a Patriots fan, not necessarily a Tom Brady fan. Back to the topic at hand, though, no team in this division can touch the Patriots, but the Jets may come close.

The pick: New England Patriots (13-3)

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