The good news is that I went 10-4 last week, thanks to every overtime game falling the way I’d pick them. The bad news is that MDS went 13-1, chopping my seven-game lead down to four.
The worst news, potentially, is that we disagree on four games this week. Which means that MDS can catch me.
Along the way, MDS pulled off the first-ever hole-in-one in the PFT picks battle, correctly guessing the score of the Saints-Raiders game, 38-17.
So, yeah, MDS had a pretty good week, relegating me to muttering, “Son of a bitch.”
But, hey, I still have the better season record, at 103-56-1. MDS is 99-60-1.
Texans at Lions
MDS’s take: The Texans looked very vulnerable on Sunday, needing to rally in the fourth quarter just to force overtime before beating the Jaguars. So a Lions win wouldn’t shock me here. But Detroit’s loss to Green Bay on Sunday likely ended the Lions’ playoff hopes, and I see them coming out flat on Thanksgiving.
MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Lions 10.
Florio’s take: The Lions have lost 11 of 12 Thanksgiving games. Make it 12 of 13 when the one-loss Texans come to town, four days after getting a wakeup call against the one-win Jags.
Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Lions 17.
Redskins at Cowboys
MDS’s take: The Cowboys are surprisingly back in the NFC East hunt, less because they’re playing better than because an easy stretch in their schedule has coincided with the Giants’ annual November swoon. They should keep it going against an inconsistent Redskins team.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Redskins 20.
Florio’s take: The Cowboys are 6-0 all time against the Redskins on Thanksgiving. Though Washington never has rolled in to Dallas with a quarterback as good as Robert Griffin III on the roster, the Cowboys are too close to the top of the division to stumble now.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 24, Redskins 20.
Patriots at Jets
MDS’s take: I give Rex Ryan a lot of credit for having his team playing hard in the face of adversity last week, and I think Rex will put together a good game plan to stop a Gronkowski-less Patriots offense. But the problems with the Jets’ own offense are real, and not getting any better. The Patriots will win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 17, Jets 10.
Florio’s take: A possible classic is in the offing, the first-ever nationally-broadcast Thanksgiving night NFL game on a major network. The fact that the Jets won on Sunday makes it more interesting. The fact that the Pats have been pounding teams lately makes it potentially less interesting — except to see which players get hurt on the PAT team in the fourth quarter.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 38, Jets 24.
Vikings at Bears
MDS’s take: If Jay Cutler is back, this is a game the Bears should win handily. If Cutler is out, all bets are off. But it’s looking like Cutler will be cleared to return, and the Bears should turn things around with a convincing win.
MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Vikings 13.
Florio’s take: The Vikings emerge from their bye week with a six-game stretch that doesn’t look quite as challenging given the Bears’ two-game losing streak. But the Bears know they need to reverse the slide now, and the Vikings’ second-year quarterback simply isn’t as good as the second-year quarterback who picked the Bears apart on Monday night.
Florio’s pick: Bears 30, Vikings 17.
Raiders at Bengals
MDS’s take: The Raiders look like they’re ready to give up on the season, and the Bengals look like they’re ready to go on a run. This one won’t be close.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 34, Raiders 10.
Florio’s take: Carson Palmer returns to Cincinnati, with a team far worse than the one for which he notoriously refused to keep playing. He’ll tell himself he doesn’t feel regret. And if he tells himself enough, maybe he’ll believe it.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 28, Raiders 13.
Steelers at Browns
MDS’s take: Given the uncertainty surrounding the Steelers’ quarterback situation, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Browns take this one. But I think Charlie Batch will surprise some people by running the offense competently and putting points on the board, and the Steelers’ defense will give Brandon Weeden trouble.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Browns 7.
Florio’s take: Whether it’s Charlie Batch or Brian Hoyer or Ben Roethlisberger or Kordell Stewart or Terry Hanratty under center, the Steelers will find a way to get things back on track against a Browns team that isn’t nearly as bad as their record would suggest.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 17, Browns 13.
Bills at Colts
MDS’s take: After getting demolished by the Patriots, the Colts need this one. I like Andrew Luck to have a big game against a suspect Buffalo defense, and the Colts to get a win that allows them to keep pace with the Steelers and a game ahead of the Bengals in the AFC wild card race.
MDS’s pick: Colts 28, Bills 20.
Florio’s take: A potential playoff knockout game, with the winner in pretty good shape to make it to January and the loser, well, not. The Colts aren’t as bad as their loss to the Pats would indicate, and the Bills aren’t as good as their win over the Fins would suggest.
Florio’s pick: Colts 24, Bills 17.
Titans at Jaguars
MDS’s take: I give the Jaguars a lot of credit for coming out and playing hard against the Texans on Sunday, but the reality is they’re just a bad football team in all phases of the game. The Titans aren’t great either, but they should beat Jacksonville comfortably.
MDS’s pick: Titans 34, Jaguars 17.
Florio’s take: Giving the Texans their best shot and losing in heartbreaking fashion will either help a bad team find its groove or grease the skids for an epic collapse. I’m guessing the latter, especially with the Titans still in position to bogart a wild-card berth.
Florio’s pick: Titans 27, Jaguars 10.
Broncos at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The Broncos have all but clinched the AFC West. No way they lose to the worst team in the division, and maybe the worst team in the league.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 38, Chiefs 10.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs wanted Peyton Manning, but he didn’t want them. He’ll get a chance to prove why he made the right choice on Sunday.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 34, Chiefs 10.
Seahawks at Dolphins
MDS’s take: In Seattle, this game would be a blowout. In Miami, I’m tempted to pick the Dolphins, because the Seahawks have struggled so much on the road. But the Dolphins have been finding ways to lose recently, and I suspect they’ll do that again on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Dolphins 17.
Florio’s take: The next step for the Seahawks is to find a way to consistently win away from home. And they can’t get much farther away from home than Miami. So why not start there?
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Dolphins 9.
Falcons at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: This is a huge opportunity for Greg Schiano’s Buccaneers to show they’re legitimate NFC playoff contenders, but I don’t think they’re ready to take that step. The Falcons will stay ahead of the NFC pack with a win in Tampa.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Buccaneers 20.
Florio’s take: The Falcons have looked shaky in the past few weeks, and the Bucs have had a solid four games. The Bucs have the run defense and the running game to give Atlanta a glimpse of the flaws they need to fix before the postseason.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Falcons 24.
Ravens at Chargers
MDS’s take: I don’t believe the Ravens are as good as their 8-2 record suggests, and they’re bound to come back to the pack in the AFC eventually. But after the Chargers’ loss to the Broncos on Sunday, San Diego isn’t going anywhere. The Chargers will come out flat and the Ravens will win.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 20, Chargers 16.
Florio’s take: The Ravens are getting closer to a fifth straight postseason, and Norv Turner is getting closer to a third coaching postmortem.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Chargers 20.
Rams at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The Cardinals’ offense will be a mess until they can get their quarterback situation straightened out, but Arizona’s defense is good enough that the Rams will lose a low-scoring game in the desert.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 10, Rams 7.
Florio’s take: The Cardinals have no one to play quarterback and, more importantly, no one to cover Danny Amendola.
Florio’s pick: Rams 20, Cardinals 10.
49ers at Saints
MDS’s take: This is a fascinating game, with the Saints making a furious run toward the playoffs after a disastrous start to the season, and the 49ers coming off a Monday night when they looked unstoppable. If there’s any defense that can slow Drew Brees and Co. down, it’s the 49ers’ defense. I like San Francisco to get a big road win.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Saints 27.
Florio’s take: By the end of Thanksgiving weekend, we’ll be giving thanks for one of the great games of the 2012 season. The Saints may not be able to keep it going, but they’re not ready to stop now.
Florio’s pick: Saints 34, 49ers 31.
Packers at Giants
MDS’s take: With the Cowboys closing in on them in the NFC East, the Giants can’t afford to lay an egg like they did two weeks ago against the Bengals. I believe the bye week will help Tom Coughlin’s crew right the ship, and the Packers will be handed a tough conference loss.
MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Packers 17.
Florio’s take: The Giants annual theme song is Wake Me Up When November Ends. November is ending. The Giants are waking up.
Florio’s pick: Giants 38, Packers 35.
Panthers at Eagles
MDS’s take: A lousy Monday night game ends the week on a down note. Neither of these teams is any good, but at least the Panthers don’t look like they’ve completely quit on the season.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 21, Eagles 20.
Florio’s take: Yep, this one sure looked a lot more interesting when the schedule came out in April. The only question is whether the cries of “Fire Andy” will be drowned out by the chants of “We Want Gruden.” In the background, the Eagles will prove to be the slightly better of two bad teams.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 24, Panthers 14.