Last week was a very good week. But for a late field goal by the Redskins, misplaced faith in the Chiefs, and a failure to realize that, as Joe Theismann says, Tony Romo “isn’t that good,” I would have generated the first perfect week of picks in the however-many-year history of doing this.
Instead, I finished 12-3. Which gave me the win in Week Four over MDS, who was 11-4.
For the year, I’ve won three weeks, he’s won one, and I lead the overall contest by two games. I’m at 39-24; MDS is 37-26.
We’re gradually becoming less pathetic. Read on to see whether we’ll end up more pathetic this week.
Cardinals at Rams
MDS’s take: The Cardinals keep winning close games, and eventually the breaks have to go against them late in a close one, right? Probably, but not this week. The Cardinals win yet another close one.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 21, Rams 20.
Florio’s take: It’s “correction week” in the NFL. And if I’m correct (which I rarely am), it begins on Thursday night in St. Louis, when the Cardinals’ ability to find a way to win will be temporarily suspended. Greg the Leg a/k/a Young G.Z. a/k/a Legatron a/k/a Greg Zuerlein saves the day, again.
Florio’s pick: Rams 16, Cardinals 13.
Dolphins at Bengals
MDS’s take: I love the way the Bengals’ offense is running under coordinator Jay Gruden, who keeps finding ways to get the ball in his playmakers’ hands. I see A.J. Green getting open in the Dolphins’ secondary all day. This should be a big win for Cincinnati.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 35, Dolphins 14.
Florio’s take: The Dolphins could be shorthanded at cornerback, which will make it even harder to stop receiver A.J. Green. The good news is that through five weeks the Dolphins will be only two games out of first place in the AFC East.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 31, Dolphins 16.
Packers at Colts
MDS’s take: Clay Matthews will make Andrew Luck’s life miserable, while Aaron Rodgers will have his best statistical game of the season. The Packers win in a mismatch.
MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Colts 10.
Florio’s take: Though the Colts have become the most sympathetic team in the NFL this week, the Packers desperately need to find their groove on offense. If they don’t, it could be a long year.
Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Colts 20.
Ravens at Chiefs
MDS’s take: Florio did me a favor and picked the Chiefs last week, and I’m hoping he does it again. The calls to bench Matt Cassel will only grow louder as the Ravens’ defense has its way with him.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Chiefs 14.
Florio’s take: When the Chiefs were a playoff team, they couldn’t handle the Ravens at home. Rested and ready after four games that kicked off 17 days apart, the Ravens are ready to put the Texans on notice that Baltimore won’t step aside for them.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 35, Chiefs 24.
Titans at Vikings
MDS’s take: Other than their miraculous win over the Lions — which they did their best to blow despite scoring an improbable five 60-plus-yard touchdowns — the Titans have looked lousy all season. The Vikings, on the other hand, have been one of the NFL’s pleasant surprises this season. Adrian Peterson will have 100 yards, Chris Johnson will have 10 yards, and the Vikings will win this one handily to improve to 4-1 and exceed their 2011 win total.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Titans 13.
Florio’s take: To do justice to their wins over the 49ers and Lions, the Vikings can’t stumble against the Titans. Though Matthew Hasselbeck’s savvy and skill could keep it close, Adrian Peterson seems poised to finally have a big day.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Titans 17.
Browns at Giants
MDS’s take: It’s been largely overlooked because the team around him is so bad, but Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has bounced back from his disastrous Week One performance and given Cleveland three straight solid starts. Unfortunately, the team around him is really bad. The Giants should take this one easily in a week that’s shaping up to have a lot of blowouts.
MDS’s pick: Giants 35, Browns 21.
Florio’s take: This one has “upset” written all over it. Last year, in three consecutive home games, the Giants were less than impressive against the Seahawks, Bills, and Dolphins. With a crippling slate of games on the horizon, the Giants can’t afford to fall to 2-3. Eli Manning finds a way.
Florio’s pick: Giants 35, Browns 27.
Eagles at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Steelers are getting healthier, with running back Rashard Mendenhall, linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu all ready to play Sunday. Look for Harrison and Polamalu to force Mike Vick into a couple of turnovers and the Steelers to win a close and low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 13, Eagles 10.
Florio’s take: I’ve lived within 100 miles of Pittsburgh long enough to know that the Steelers, with a 1-2 record and two weeks to prepare, don’t lose this game. Not at home.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 20, Eagles 10.
Falcons at Redskins
MDS’s take: The Falcons have been playing very well in all three phases of the game, and they’re just too complete a team for the Redskins to handle. Washington’s defense will emphasize shutting down Roddy White, and Julio Jones will step up with a big game.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Redskins 20.
Florio’s take: It wouldn’t be “correction week” if the undefeated teams don’t lose. A week after the Falcons struggled to contain Cam Newton, they’ll likewise have a hard time with RG3, who is overdue for his first home win.
Florio’s pick: Redskins 41, Falcons 38.
Seahawks at Panthers
MDS’s take: Marshawn Lynch will have a big game against the Panthers’ porous run defense, but I think this is the week when Cam Newton finally reminds us all why we were so excited about him last year. Newton will put points on the board with his arm and with his legs and lead the Panthers to an impressive win that quiets Newton’s critics, at least for one week.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 31, Seahawks 21.
Florio’s take: With the bye week looming, the Panthers need to pull together and get a win via methodical use of the running game and patient defense that forces rookie quarterback Russell Wilson to sustain drives. There’s a huge difference between 1-4 and 2-3, especially with two weeks to stew about the outcome of this one.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 20, Seahawks 14.
Bears at Jaguars
MDS’s take: Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert has been careful with the ball this season, throwing just one interception in four games. But the opportunistic Chicago defense that took advantage of Tony Romo on Monday night will force Gabbert into his first multiple-interception game of the year, and the Bears will cruise to 4-1.
MDS’s pick: Bears 21, Jaguars 6.
Florio’s take: The Jaguars have played twice at home this year. And they’ve looked horrible in both. Against the Bears, they won’t look much better.
Florio’s pick: Bears 28, Jaguars 6.
Broncos at Patriots
MDS’s take: I’m sold on Peyton Manning being all the way back to his pre-neck surgery form, but I’m less sold on the Broncos’ defense being able to stop Tom Brady.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 30, Broncos 28.
Florio’s take: Normalcy returns for Peyton Manning, sort of. He has played in New England nine times during his career. And it could be the moment that finally makes him feel like everything is back to normal. In this case, of course, “normal” includes losing to the Patriots, again.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 28, Broncos 24.
Bills at 49ers
MDS’s take: San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith will have his first 300-yard game of the season against a shaky Bills secondary. Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick probably won’t be quite as bad as Mark Sanchez was against the 49ers’ defense, but that’s not saying much.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Bills 3.
Florio’s take: The perennial Chris Berman Super Bowl prediction that never happened will finish the same way it would have if the team that never loses Super Bowls played the team that never wins them.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 34, Bills 14.
Chargers at Saints
MDS’s take: Drew Brees will break Johnny Unitas’s NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass — and he’ll do it in style, as the Saints finally win their first game of the season.
MDS’s pick: Saints 30, Chargers 20.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs beat the Saints and the Chargers beat the Chiefs so it makes sense for the Saints to beat the Chargers. Sunday night will be one of those rare nights when everything falls together for the Saints. If it doesn’t, it may not again. Ever.
Florio’s pick: Saints 34, Chargers 24.
Texans at Jets
MDS’s take: For the second straight week, it’s going to get ugly for the Jets. They look like a team whose season could spiral out of control in a hurry, while the Texans look like a team that will clinch its division by Thanksgiving.
MDS’s pick: Texans 45, Jets 10.
Florio’s take: Tim Tebow should be starting this week, but the Jets know not to throw a Christian to the Texans.
Florio’s pick: Texans 41, Jets 10.