Last week, the “mild” concussion to RG3 prevented me from taking a “major” lead over MDS in the picks contest.
Robert Griffin III exited, the Redskins lost, and what would have been a two-game win for the week turned into a push, with both of us going 10-4.
This week, Robert Griffin III is back, and his team’s game against the Vikings once again will decide whether someone gets a two-game swing, or whether we tie once again.
For the year, there’s still no tie. I’m leading the way at 49-28, and MDS is 47-30.
Steelers at Titans
MDS’s take: The Titans have been blown out in four of their five games this season, and I see this as the fifth. The Steelers have their problems, especially with age and injuries on defense, but Chris Johnson and Co. aren’t the team to exploit those problems.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 28, Titans 10.
Florio’s take: Four years ago, former Titans running back Lendale White desecrated a Terrible Towel at the tail end of a regular-season game that secured home-field advantage in the playoffs for Tennessee. Since then, the Titans haven’t been the same. And the difference will never be as obvious as when the Steelers return to Nashville.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 24, Titans 9.
Raiders at Falcons
MDS’s take: Sunday’s biggest mismatch will take place in Atlanta, where the Falcons will have far too much for the Raiders to handle. The undefeated Falcons have had a couple close calls in the last couple weeks, but not this time.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 35, Raiders 13.
Florio’s take: Could it be that the Falcons are 5-0 because they’ve already played three members of the AFC East? After they move to 6-0 by beating the fourth member of the AFC West, it’ll be team to consider whether the Falcons can keep it up against teams from slightly more successful divisions.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 38, Raiders 20.
Cowboys at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Ravens’ offense was surprisingly flaccid (that’s what she said) against the Chiefs, but at home against the Cowboys, the Ravens should move the ball effectively. Ray Rice will have a big day as the Ravens win.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Cowboys 17.
Florio’s take: The team that closed down Texas Stadium by spanking the Cowboys will welcome them to a slightly more hostile environment with a similar result, thanks to superior talent on both sides of the ball.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 28, Cowboys 17.
Bengals at Browns
MDS’s take: The Browns are a better team than their 0-5 record suggests: They’ve played competitively against good teams. They’ll play competitively in the battle for Ohio, too, but they’ll come up short again.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 21, Browns 20.
Florio’s take: This could be the Browns’ best chance to get a win before their Week 10 bye. It also could be the Bengals’ best chance to restore their confidence before a three-game home stand against the Steelers, Broncos, and Giants. The Browns have been competitive. When in doubt, however, go with the team that isn’t 0-5.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Browns 23.
Rams at Dolphins
MDS’s take: Hardly anyone has noticed it, but the Dolphins’ defense is actually quite good. Miami will put a lot of pressure on Sam Bradford and win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 14, Rams 10.
Florio’s take: Arguably the best game of the weekend, Rams coach Jeff Fisher gets a shot at the team he spurned. With tough defenses and underrated offenses, the Miami offense should be able to do more against the St. Louis defense than vice-versa, given the absence of Danny Amendola.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 14, Rams 12.
Colts at Jets
MDS’s take: I was impressed with how well the Jets’ defense played against a good Houston passing game on Monday night: This defense looks a lot better without Darrelle Revis than I expected. I think they’ll give Andrew Luck enough trouble to eke out a close win.
MDS’s pick: Jets 19, Colts 17.
Florio’s take: What once appeared to be a cream puff after a pair of sledgehammers won’t be nearly as easy for the Jets. While the Colts will be better than expected, expecting them to go on the road and beat the Jets seems to be a little much, especially since the Jets are becoming increasingly desperate.
Florio’s pick: Jets 20, Colts 14.
Lions at Eagles
MDS’s take: If the Lions’ defensive linemen were playing as well as their reputations (and their paychecks) say they should, I’d pick Detroit to force a bunch of Michael Vick turnovers and win this game. But the Lions just aren’t getting the kind of pressure you have to get to make Vick make mistakes, and so the Eagles will take this one.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Lions 17.
Florio’s take: The Lions think they can recapture last year’s attitude simply by wanting to. It’s not that easy, especially when the team remains flawed on both sides of the ball. The Eagles have more talent — enough to overcome Mike Vick’s inevitable mistakes.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 24, Lions 17.
Chiefs at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: I’m not sure if Matt Cassel’s concussion makes the Chiefs more or less likely to win on Sunday, but either way I don’t see it happening: Tampa Bay’s run defense is good enough to contain Jamaal Charles and win this game.
MDS’s pick: Bucs 17, Chiefs 10.
Florio’s take: This pair of potential playoff teams has been disappointing so far. Those Chiefs fans who have been waiting for Brady Quinn to get a chance to play may be feeling regret, along with other negative emotions, before this one is over.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 13, Chiefs 9.
Bills at Cardinals
MDS’s take: I’m permanently off the Bills bandwagon. The Cardinals’ offense isn’t very good, but it doesn’t need to be to move the ball on this Bills unit. For all the money the Bills’ defensive front is making, you’d think they’d have one of the best pass rushes in the league, but you’d be wrong.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, Bills 10.
Florio’s take: Yeah, the Cardinals aren’t as good as the Pats or the 49ers. But they’re good enough to find a way to overcome a Buffalo team that has plenty of flaws on both sides of the ball — including an offensive line that’s currently even worse than Arizona’s. Which is saying a lot. Or not much at all.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 20, Bills 16.
Patriots at Seahawks
MDS’s take: I’m having a hard time getting a read on either of these teams. Are the Patriots the team that turned in a disappointing effort at home against the Cardinals, or the team whose offense has been all but unstoppable against the Bills and Broncos? Are the Seahawks the team that dominated Dallas or the team whose offense could hardly move the ball at all in their other four games? I don’t know, but I think the Patriots’ offense is good enough to put a lot of points on the board against a good Seattle defense.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Seahawks 14.
Florio’s take: After the Seahawks beat the Cowboys by 20, I said I’d never pick against the Seahawks at home again. But I hadn’t looked at the schedule. The Pats won there in 2008, without Tom Brady. With him, the Pats will run their all-time record at CenturyLink Field to 2-0.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Seahawks 17.
Giants at 49ers
MDS’s take: Tom Coughlin says no one is giving his team a chance in this game. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say the Giants don’t have a chance, but I would say the way the 49ers have played the last couple weeks, on both sides of the ball, I have a hard time seeing the Giants’ path to a win.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 31, Giants 17.
Florio’s take: This is precisely the kind of game the Giants ordinarily win. And if they hadn’t won in San Francisco in January en route to a Super Bowl victory, the Giants would win. No amount of Rodney Dangerfield cliches from coach Tom Coughlin will overcome the fact that the 49ers are hungrier and, for now, better. There’s a chance it will get ugly.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 31, Giants 24.
Vikings at Redskins
MDS’s take: Florio foolishly picked the Redskins last week, allowing me to escape with a tie in our Week Five picks. I hope he does it again this time.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Redskins 13.
Florio’s take: Adrian Peterson returns to the scene of his serious knee injury, and Robert Griffin returns to the scene of his “mild” concussion. The Redskins have lost eight in a row at FedEx Field, and the Vikings have won three straight there. With the talent gap between these two teams fairly narrow, it just feels like it’s time for both trends to end.
Florio’s pick: Redskins 27, Vikings 21.
Packers at Texans
MDS’s take: I never would have believed 10 months ago, when the Packers were on a 20-game winning streak, that they’d lose six of their next 10 games. But Green Bay will be 4-6 in its last 10 after losing to the Texans on Sunday night.
MDS’s pick: Texans 24, Packers 14.
Florio’s take: Anyone who says this is a “must” win for the Packers hasn’t looked at their upcoming schedule. They’ll bottom out at 2-4, and then the rebound will begin.
Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Packers 20.
Broncos at Chargers
MDS’s take: In the battle for first place in the AFC West, I like Peyton Manning to step up with a big game and the Broncos to outscore the Chargers.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 35, Chargers 31.
Florio’s take: The Chargers consistently have bedeviled Peyton Manning, and that was when Manning had a much better supporting cast.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Broncos 23.