Jake’s Takes: NFL Regular Season Review and Playoffs Preview

December 22, 2023

Jake’s Takes: NFL Regular Season Review and Playoffs Preview

While I’m aware that there are still three more regular season games to be played before we reach the NFL postseason, we’re nearing the point in the season where you can begin to see who will and won’t be in the playoffs. Even better, there are several games left on the regular season slate that have serious playoff implications. 

During the season, Huddle had the pleasure to announce the launch of an entirely new line of products that promise to elevate the sports betting experience for enthusiasts across the nation. With a commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction, Huddle Tech introduced both player props and micro-betting markets, adding yet another exhilarating dimension to its existing offerings. 

One of the standout features of Huddle’s latest offering is the introduction of player props, allowing users to bet on specific actions and achievements of individual players. This immersive element adds a layer of excitement to each game, as users can now engage in real-time predictions about their favorite athletes’ performances. From touchdowns to yards gained, the possibilities are as diverse as the players themselves.

In addition to player props, Huddle Tech presented the micro betting markets product, providing users with even more granular options for in-game wagering. Huddle Tech’s single-game parlay feature, combined with player props and micro betting, offers a comprehensive suite of options for users looking to customize their betting strategies. This powerful combination allows users to craft unique and personalized bets, making each game a personalized and engaging experience.

Beyond the diverse range of betting options, Huddle Tech remains at the forefront of the industry with its leading market uptime and market-making capabilities on core markets. This ensures a seamless and reliable betting experience for users, even during the most critical moments of the NFL playoff season.

As sports enthusiasts gear up for the intense action of the NFL playoffs, Huddle Tech’s commitment to innovation ensures that users will have access to a unique and thrilling betting experience. Whether you’re a seasoned sports bettor or a casual fan, Huddle Tech’s latest additions promise to make every game even more exciting and memorable.

Click HERE to find out why are Huddle Micro Markets leading the way

So for this week’s iteration of Jake’s Takes, I’m going to talk about my top-3 games with playoff implications (no particular order), my thoughts on the season so far, my three biggest player surprises and biggest player disappointments, and much more! Get ready for the longest iteration of Jake’s Takes yet – right before the holidays!

Biggest Games Left on the Regular Season Calendar

With just three weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, every game matters tremendously. For some teams (like the Philadelphia Eagles, the Baltimore Ravens and the Dallas Cowboys), the path is very clear – they all clinched playoff spots in Week 15. San Francisco had previously clinched a playoff berth, and could be joined by the Detroit Lions if the Seahawks lose or tie on Monday Night Football.

For me, there are three games that stand out as games with huge playoff implications left on the regular season slate. I’ll talk about them briefly below.

Week 16: Baltimore Ravens @ San Francisco 49ers

Both teams are 11-3. Both are currently viewed as the team to beat in their respective conference. The Ravens are riding a 4-game win streak; the 49ers have won 6 consecutive games. Both offenses are headed by an NFL MVP candidate (the Ravens by Lamar Jackson, the 49ers by Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey). 

This is a marquee matchup, on Monday Night Football no less. This could very well be a preview of the Super Bowl, if both of these teams remain hot. Even better? The 49ers are 5-1 at home this season, and the Ravens are 6-1 on the road. This should be a very close affair between two teams with everything going their way right now.

Week 17: Miami Dolphins @ Baltimore Ravens

I know what you’re thinking. How could you pick the Ravens for two of the most impactful games? Well, for starters, the Ravens play the toughest schedule in football during their last quarter of the season. They just fended off the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road, then have to play the 49ers (on the road) and the Dolphins (at home) before playing their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers to close the season.

If the Ravens don’t beat the 49ers in Week 16, their week 17 matchup against the Dolphins will likely decide the #1 seed in the AFC. Likewise for the Dolphins, if they don’t beat the Ravens, they run the risk of not winning their division, as they’d play a must-win Week 18 game against the Buffalo Bills in order to win the AFC East. 

Lest we forget, the Dolphins also have a gauntlet to end the season, playing the Cowboys, Ravens and Bills. 

Week 18: Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts

This is a matchup between my two favorites for NFL Coach of the Year. The Houston Texans won 11 games… over the past three years. DeMeco Ryans has guided them to 8 wins this year alone, and has them in playoff position. That alone would normally lead me to voting for Ryans for COTY, but he has serious competition from a fellow AFC South coach. The Indianapolis Colts are an identical 8-6, with head coach Shane Steichen milking the most out of a backup QB (Gardner Minshew) to have the Colts in the playoff hunt as well.

The Texans play the Colts in the last game of the regular season, a game that should have playoff implications for both teams unless the Jacksonville Jaguars continue to melt down. 

Biggest Surprises:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield

A castoff from the Cleveland Browns for Deshaun Watson, former number one overall pick Baker Mayfield has found a new home in Tampa Bay as the successor to Tom Brady. Thought by many to be a potential bridge QB to a yet-to-be-drafted Bucs starter, Baker has played well enough to completely resuscitate his career and present himself as a totally viable starting QB option once more.

Besides becoming just the first visiting QB in NFL history to post a perfect passer rating at Lambeau Field, Baker has thrown 24 touchdowns against only 8 interceptions. With three games left to play, it’s not inconceivable that he sets career highs in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage. 

Indianapolis Colts RB Zach Moss

With Jonathan Taylor locking up a lucrative contract extension midseason and the Colts making a serious playoff push, their RB1 is… Zach Moss? The fifth-year pro, whose previous single-season high for rushing yards was 481 yards in 2020, has smashed expectations. He rushed for 764 yards and 5 touchdowns as a member of the Colts, tacking on 27 catches for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns for good measure. 

I was tempted to mention James Cook in this slot, but Cook is part of a far better offensive system on a team with much higher expectations. Moss has completely outperformed expectations.

San Francisco 49ers QB Brock Purdy

While Purdy was excellent last year for the 49ers, I was not expecting him to be the betting favorite for NFL MVP coming into Week 16. Purdy has been spectacular this year, going from an unheralded Mr. Irrelevant last season to a true MVP candidate this season. He’s second in the NFL in passing yards (3,795), first in passing touchdowns (29), and second in completion percentage (69.8%). Not bad for someone many called a game manager after last season.

Biggest Disappointments:

New York Giants QB Daniel Jones

When you give a guy a $160M extension over four years, the assumption is you’re going to get at least above average play. And Daniel Jones failed miserably in that regard. He threw two touchdowns against six interceptions across six games played before suffering a season-ending injury. The Giants honestly looked better with undrafted free agent Tommy DeVito at the helm. Yikes.

Pittsburgh Steelers… offense

Yeah, I’m calling everyone out on this offense. Through Week 15, the Steelers offense has the same amount of offensive touchdowns as Miami Dolphins RB Raheem Mostert. Kenny Pickett was expected to take a sophomore leap, but he’s been meh when he’s played – throwing for only 2,070 yards, 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions (62% completion) in 12 games played. Najee Harris, drafted in the first round to be a bellcow running back, has largely been outplayed by backup Jaylen Warren. George Pickens started the season hot, but has just one game with over 60 receiving yards since October 29th. Young ascendent tight end Pat Freiermuth has barely been involved in the offense. It’s a tough situation in Pittsburgh, which might be trending towards their first-ever losing season with Mike Tomlin at the helm.

Las Vegas Raiders EDGE Tyree Wilson

I know what you’re thinking – how are you going to include a rookie on this list? 

When you’re the seventh overall draft pick, you’re expected to produce. With just 26 tackles and 2.5 sacks to his name, Wilson has been… underwhelming. It doesn’t help that Jalen Carter was selected two picks later, and he’s been one of the best defensive rookies in the entire class. But Wilson has been a below-average player for much of this campaign, and the Raiders just cannot afford to have many more bad draft picks. Wilson may turn out to be a good player (rookies can take time), but the Raiders cannot afford to wait long for his ascendance. They need another pass rusher to pair with star Maxx Crosby. 

Playoff Prediction:

This one is simple. Below, you’ll find who I think will be the teams to represent the AFC and NFC in the postseason.

AFC Playoff Teams:

  1. Baltimore Ravens
  2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Cleveland Browns
  6. Denver Broncos
  7. Cincinnati Bengals

NFC Playoff Teams:

  1. San Francisco 49ers
  2. Philadelphia Eagles
  3. Detroit Lions
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  5. Dallas Cowboys
  6. Los Angeles Rams
  7. Seattle Seahawks