In Week One, we disagreed on one game. That was boring.
In Week Two, we differed on two games. A little less boring.
This week, all hell is breaking loose; MDS and yours truly disagree on six of the 16 games.
Last week was a rough one for me, with a pathetic 7-9 finish. MDS was 9-7, which gives him the season-to-date lead by one game: 19-13 to 18-14.
Or, in other words, pathetic.
Here’s hoping for something other than pathetic this weekend.
Giants at Panthers
MDS’s take: Last week my Panthers pick helped me take the season lead over Florio, and I’m tempted to pick the Panthers to beat the Giants in something of a changing of the guard in the NFC. But after the way Eli Manning played in the fourth quarter against the Buccaneers on Sunday, I see the Giants winning a shootout.
MDS’s pick: Giants 34, Panthers 31.
Florio’s take: The defending champs hit the road for the first time this season, on a short week with a laundry list of injuries. It all adds up to the Panthers making the most of their rare chance to dance on a national stage, especially if they can stick to the run and withstand Eli Manning’s inevitable late-game push.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 24, Giants 21.
Rams at Bears
MDS’s take: The Rams have a defense that can bring pressure on Jay Cutler, but Cutler will respond better to the pressure than he did last week against the Packers. (He could hardly respond to the pressure any worse than he did last week against the Packers.) Sam Bradford is off to a strong start, but the Rams are going to fall short here.
MDS’s pick: Bears 23, Rams 20.
Florio’s take: Jeff Fisher returns to the place where he once played for the best defense in NFL history. And while his current defense is still a far cry from the ’85 Bears, it’s already a lot better than what the Rams have had in recent years. Look for the Rams to rattle Cutler and company early, forcing them into more mistakes and temper tantrums.
Florio’s pick: Rams 27, Bears 24.
Bills at Browns
MDS’s take: So far this season I’ve picked the Bills to win twice and Florio has picked the Bills to lose twice. I’d love to see that pattern continue this week. I may jump off the Bills bandwagon eventually, but not yet.
MDS’s pick: Bills 24, Browns 14.
Florio’s take: CJ2K2.0 is averaging more than 10 yards per carry. While the Browns’ defense is good enough to keep that number in single digits, the Bills woke up in a big way last Sunday — and they’ll be ready to carry that momentum from one shore of Lake Erie to another.
Florio’s pick: Bills 31, Browns 21.
Buccaneers at Cowboys
MDS’s take: The Cowboys looked absolutely terrible on Sunday in Seattle, but I see them bouncing back and Tony Romo having a big game against the same Bucs secondary that just gave up 510 yards to Eli Manning.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 34, Buccaneers 20.
Florio’s take: So which Cowboys team is the real Cowboys team? I’ll go with Week One. And I’ll hope that the Cowboys are up by a touchdown or less late in the game, so that the team whose owner doesn’t believe in using kneel downs will have a chance to try one against the team whose coach doesn’t believe in honoring kneel downs.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Buccaneers 20.
Jaguars at Colts
MDS’s take: The winner of this game is the second-best team in the AFC South — not that that’s saying much. I believe that team will be the Colts, as Andrew Luck will have his second consecutive strong game.
MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Jaguars 17.
Florio’s take: The round robin for the first pick in the draft continues. The Vikings beat the Jags, the Colts beat the Vikings, and it would be fitting for the Jags to now beat the Colts. But the Colts are better than most realize. Peyton Manning won only three of his first 16 games; Andrew Luck goes for two out of his first three.
Florio’s pick: Colts 27, Jaguars 24.
Jets at Dolphins
MDS’s take: The Dolphins’ offense looked much better in Week Two than it had in Week One, and the Jets’ offense looked much worse in Week Two than it had in Week One. But the Jets are going to bring a lot of heat on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and I don’t like Tannehill’s chances of taking that heat.
MDS’s pick: Jets 16, Dolphins 3.
Florio’s take: Former Miami coach Tony Sparano will find a way to use Tim Tebow more effectively (which should make Jeff Ireland mutter “asshole” under his breath . . . again), and Dolphins fans will realize that last week’s romp over the Raiders, who traveled cross-country on a short week, isn’t an accurate picture of the current state of the franchise.
Florio’s pick: Jets 24, Dolphins 17.
49ers at Vikings
MDS’s take: The 49ers look to me like the best team in the league by a wide margin. They should win this one handily, improving to 3-0 with all three wins coming over teams from the NFC North.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 31, Vikings 14.
Florio’s take: Randy Moss returns for the Metrodome for the first time as a member of the opposing team. Though it would be even uglier if Brad Childress were still the head coach, it’ll be ugly enough to be a thing of beauty for 49ers fans.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 34, Vikings 13.
Chiefs at Saints
MDS’s take: The team that loses this one will be 0-3 and perhaps the NFL’s single biggest disappointment in the 2012 season. I like Drew Brees to have a big game at home and the Saints to finally get in the win column.
MDS’s pick: Saints 30, Chiefs 20.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs are desperate and the Saints are desperate. The edge goes to the home team.
Florio’s pick: Saints 28, Chiefs 17.
Lions at Titans
MDS’s take: The Titans have been absolutely dreadful this season, and it goes well beyond Chris Johnson: Their offensive line has been terrible and their secondary is riddled with holes. I see Matthew Stafford putting up about 400 yards through the air in this one.
MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Titans 17.
Florio’s take: The Titans are desperate and the Lions should be. Again, the edge goes to the home team.
Florio’s pick: Titans 28, Lions 23.
Bengals at Redskins
MDS’s take: We’ll learn a lot about what kind of team Mike Shanahan has built by the way they recover from last week’s major disappointment in St. Louis. I think the Redskins will bounce back.
MDS’s pick: Redskins 24, Bengals 21.
Florio’s take: RG3 makes his home debut, as the Bengals continue their trend of losing the games they should lose.
Florio’s pick: Redskins 30, Bengals 21.
Eagles at Cardinals
MDS’s take: Raise your hand if you picked this one as a Week Two matchup of 2-0 teams. The Cardinals’ defense is a lot better than people are giving them credit for, and they’ll force Michael Vick to keep turning the ball over. But the Eagles’ defense will have a big game against old teammate Kevin Kolb, too, and I like Philadelphia to win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 13, Cardinals 10.
Florio’s take: Kevin Kolb gets a chance to do to John Skelton what Mike Vick did to Kevin Kolb two years ago, in a game against Mike Vick. The defense, however, will be the difference. If Ray Horton’s unit confused Tom Brady, it will turn Mike Vick into a turnover machine. Wait, he already is one.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 17, Eagles 13.
Falcons at Chargers
MDS’s take: In this week’s other battle of 2-0 teams, the Falcons take a long road trip after a short work week. The Falcons’ secondary showed that it’s opportunistic on Monday night, but I don’t see Philip Rivers throwing as many bad balls as Peyton Manning did, and the Chargers will improve to 3-0.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 24, Falcons 17.
Florio’s take: Sure, no one will take the Falcons seriously until they win a playoff game. But Sunday gives them a chance to make folks take seriously their chances of winning a playoff game this year.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 34, Chargers 27.
Texans at Broncos
MDS’s take: The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Broncos, heading back home to host the team that most of us think is the best in the AFC. Denver’s run defense may be good enough to contain Arian Foster, but the pass defense is going to struggle against Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Owen Daniels.
MDS’s pick: Texans 21, Broncos 20.
Florio’s take: The Falcons have given the Texans the blueprint for beating the Broncos: Force Peyton Manning to throw it deep. The fact that J.J. Watt is ready to swat any and all short throws makes it even more important for Peyton to try to get the ball down the field. Key word: try.
Florio’s pick: Texans 26, Broncos 17.
Steelers at Raiders
MDS’s take: The Steelers looked great on both sides of the ball in Week Two, and the Raiders looked lousy on both sides of the ball in Week Two. This looks like a mismatch.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 28, Raiders 13.
Florio’s take: Once upon a time, this would have been a great game. But the Raiders have taken a step back (in the hopes of eventually taking multiple steps forward), and quarterback Carson Palmer will be cringing (again) when he steps up and throws with those Steelers jerseys swarming around his knee.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 27, Raiders 14.
Patriots at Ravens
MDS’s take: Both of these teams had disappointing losses to NFC opponents last week, but to me the Patriots’ loss raised far more questions. Specifically, it raises the question of what kind of offense New England is going to have while Aaron Hernandez is out. The Patriots are going to have a tough time moving the ball against a good Baltimore defense, and New England is going to have a losing record for the first time since they were 0-1 at the start of the 2003 season.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Patriots 16.
Florio’s take: Last year’s AFC title game notwithstanding, the Ravens have had the Pats’ number lately. With a suspect offensive line in New England and an improving offense in Baltimore, that continues on Sunday night.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Patriots 17.
Packers at Seahawks
MDS’s take: The Seahawks looked awfully good against the Cowboys, but I think the same Packers pressure that frustrated Jay Cutler last week is going to frustrate Russell Wilson this week.
MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Seahawks 10.
Florio’s take: The Green Bay offense isn’t what it used to be, and the Seahawks’ defense is better than anyone gives it credit for. Especially at home.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 28, Packers 27.