Jake’s Take: Updated NFL Postseason Predictions

With 12 weeks in the books and just five more opportunities for NFL teams to prove that they belong in the playoffs, this is the perfect time to update my postseason predictions from early September. I feel that I gave enough of an introduction in my article from three months ago (see link above), so I’m going to get right into it.

NFC

North

As I so readily acknowledged in the beginning of September- See how heavily I’m pushing my pre-season playoff predictions?- I never intended to be 100 percent correct, and, as of a Dallas win in Week 12, I cannot be right in any of my way-too-early NFC predictions. I got the North pretty wrong, but you’ll see worse if you keep reading.

Regardless, the Detroit Lions, who started the season 1-3, hold a one-game advantage and the tiebreaker over the crumbling Minnesota Vikings. This looks to be the Lions’ year, though a difficult final stretch and a resurgent Packers team could give them trouble.
Sept. 2 Pick: Green Bay Packers (11-5), currently 5-6

Updated Pick: Detroit Lions (10-6), currently 7-4

South

Speaking of myself being wrong, the NFC South. I, like we assume most pundits and couch coaches did, picked the reigning NFC Champions to win what looks on paper to be a fairly weak division. Clearly, this is not the reality in which we live. Matty Ice and the Atlanta Falcons are overachieving, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing real football for the first time since Cadillac Williams donned their uniform and the Carolina Panthers have five more losses now than they had all of last season, including the Super Bowl. Oh, and the New Orleans Saints continue to be the truest definition of mediocre.

Sept. 2 Pick: Carolina Panthers (12-4), currently 4-7

Updated Pick: Atlanta Falcons (11-5), currently 7-4

West

It’s times like this that I like to bring the self-deprecation back a bit and realize that I’m not supposed to be perfect. Yes, all of my original NFC predictions are wrong after Week 12, but on the bright side, my chances of being right now are much higher, especially considering that only one team in the NFC West has a winning record. That makes this choice pretty easy.

Sept. 2 Pick: Arizona Cardinals (12-4), currently 4-6-1

Updated Pick: Seattle Seahawks (11-4-1), currently 7-3-1

East

Finally, we have the NFC East, a division in which three teams have legitimate shots at the playoffs, but only one team can take the division crown. I did not see the Cowboys’ offense of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott coming. That- and my underestimation of the Giants- was my one flaw.

Sept. 2 Pick: New York Giants (9-7), currently 8-3

Updated Pick: Dallas Cowboys (14-2), currently 10-1

AFC

North

On to the AFC, I may have overestimated the Steelers’ defense. We know their offense is still explosive, but it is the other side of the ball that needs some help. And they may not even win their division if the Ravens can get back on track, which I believe will happen. This division will come down to the Week 15 matchup between Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and the winner is…

Sept. 2 Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4), currently 6-5

Updated Pick: Baltimore Ravens (10-6), currently 6-5

South

At least I tried in this division. I was really high on the Jaguars, but they’ve let me down on both sides of the ball. That’s the last time I let Gus Bradley fool me like that.

On the other side of things, the Texans and Titans are battling to be less bad than the other. The division will likely come down to Jan. 1, when the two teams meet in Week 17. Houston won the first meeting, and I’m hoping for a division title in Tennessee for the first time since 2008.

Sept. 2 Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars (9-6-1), currently 2-9

Updated Pick: Tennessee Titans (9-7), currently 6-6

West

This is one division in which I may have underestimated the correct division winner. The Oakland Raiders have jumped to No. 3 on Bleacher Report’s power rankings, and at 9-2 in the most competitive division in football, I’m trusting my pick. Two road games against the Chiefs and Broncos are scary, but this team is built to last through tough battles.

Sept. 2 Pick: Oakland Raiders (11-5), currently 9-2

Updated Pick: Oakland Raiders (13-3), currently 9-2

East

Lastly, the easiest pick on the board in the AFC East. If the Raiders are built to last, the Patriots are off the charts. 16 consecutive winning seasons and 14 of last 15 division championships cannot lie, and I trust a pretty easy final five games. This is the one pick that I am keeping the same from three months ago.

Sept. 2 Pick: New England Patriots (13-3), currently 9-2

Updated Pick: New England Patriots (13-3), currently 9-2

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