Last week, I had my chance to pull even with MDS. Thanks to a Panthers defense that was playing not to lose and a blown coverage at the goal line that guaranteed it, I had prevailed in the only disagreement of the day.
But then came the night game. And I was one of the “ignorant idiots” who thought the 49ers could beat the Seahawks in Seattle.
The result was a push for the week, with both of us getting 12 right and four wrong. For the year, I’m 23-9, and MDS is 24-8.
This week, all hell will break loose, Breaking Bad style. We disagree on SIX of the games. For all the picks from Week Three, scroll baby, scroll.
Chiefs at Eagles
MDS’s take: Can Andy Reid return to Philadelphia and get his team to 3-0? It would be a great story, but I don’t see it happening: Chip Kelly’s offense will put too many points on the board for Reid’s more conservative offense to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Chiefs 27.
Florio’s take: Week Two helped everyone make better sense of Week One. And it appears through both games that the Chiefs doing what coach Andy Reid wants them to do, and that the Eagles are still a work in progress under Chip Kelly. This may be Big Red’s only chance to win another game in Philly. It’s unlikely he’ll squander it.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20.
Texans at Ravens
MDS’s take: The defending Super Bowl champions just haven’t looked particularly good on either side of the ball this season, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. J.J. Watt is going to make life miserable for Joe Flacco as Houston wins a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Texans 17, Ravens 9.
Florio’s take: Both teams are banged up a bit, and each has struggled. Give the home team the edge — even though Ed Reed could end up making the difference for Houston.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Texans 21.
Packers at Bengals
MDS’s take: I like the way the Bengals’ defense is playing, but I like the way Aaron Rodgers is playing more. Expect Rodgers to have a big game as the Packers improve to 2-1.
MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Bengals 20.
Florio’s take: Green Bay’s defense is better, and its offense at times is unstoppable. The Packers offensive line has been holding up well enough to let 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers play like a serious contender for 2013 NFL MVP.
Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Bengals 27.
Giants at Panthers
MDS’s take: I viewed both of these teams as playoff contenders heading into the season, but the loser will be 0-3, and it’s awfully tough for any team to dig itself out of a hole that deep. Both teams have offensive problems that need to be corrected, and I have more confidence in Tom Coughlin and his staff to figure out a way to cut down on the turnovers than I have in Ron Rivera and his staff to find a way to get Cam Newton making big plays again. So I’m leaning toward the Giants in a close one.
MDS’s pick: Giants 21, Panthers 20.
Florio’s take: Last year in Week Three, the Giants blew out the Panthers in their own building. And the Giants still didn’t make the playoffs. This year, it won’t be as ugly against a Panthers team that has been playing not to lose — and that has no one to cover Victor Cruz.
Florio’s pick: Giants 27, Panthers 17.
Rams at Cowboys
MDS’s take: I’m not really sold on either of these teams as NFC playoff contenders, although the NFC East looks so weak that the Cowboys just need to hang around .500 all season to stay in the race. I see the Cowboys getting above .500 with a close home win over the Rams.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 21, Rams 17.
Florio’s take: The all-time series is tied at 11-11 in the regular season, and 4-4 in the postseason. The easy pick is the Cowboys, who held serve (finally) against the Giants in Week One to start the season. But the right pick could be the Rams, who held off a Cardinals team that beat the Lions — and who rebounded from a deep deficit against the Falcons to make a game of it on Sunday.
Florio’s pick: Rams 24, Cowboys 23.
Browns at Vikings
MDS’s take: I was tempted to pick the upset before the Browns traded Trent Richardson because I thought Richardson could move the ball effectively against the suspect Vikings run defense. But I just can’t pick a team to win on the road with Brian Hoyer as its starting quarterback and no running backs who have carried the ball a single time all season.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Browns 13.
Florio’s take: Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Bernie Kosar. It doesn’t matter. The Trent Richardson trade puts extra pressure on the passing game against a Vikings team playing the first game of its final season in the Metrodome. Adrian Peterson will show the Browns what they hoped they were getting when they traded up with Minnesota to take Richardson.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Browns 14.
Buccaneers at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Bucs have played better than their 0-2 record suggests. The Patriots have played worse than their 2-0 record suggests. This is a close game, but in the end the Patriots will pull it out at home.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Buccaneers 17.
Florio’s take: The Pats are 2-0 and could be 0-2. The Bucs are 0-2 and could be 2-0. But New England is the team with the franchise quarterback and the coach with enough pelts on the wall to justify antisocial behavior.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 20, Buccaneers 10.
Cardinals at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints have started 2-0 without their offense really breaking out yet. Week Three will be when we see Sean Payton’s offense shine.
MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Cardinals 10.
Florio’s take: The Cardinals are better than anyone thought they’d be. And that will serve them very well. But not in New Orleans against the Saints, who also are better than anyone thought they’d be.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Cardinals 24.
Chargers at Titans
MDS’s take: The Titans’ defense is a lot better than it was last year, and I think Gregg Williams deserves a lot of the credit. Before he was known for Bountygate, Williams was known for devising aggressive schemes that gave opposing quarterbacks fits, and that’s what he’s doing in Tennessee this season. His defense will give Philip Rivers fits on Sunday as the Titans improve to 2-1.
MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Chargers 10.
Florio’s take: The franchises that squared off in the first two AFL title games get together, with both so far looking like potential playoff teams. Flip a coin, throw a dart, light a match. What the Chargers did in Philly was more impressive than what the Titans did in Pittsburgh.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 28, Titans 25.
Lions at Redskins
MDS’s take: I’ve gone back and forth on this one: When Washington has the ball, I could see Robert Griffin III having his best game of the season against a suspect Lions secondary, but I could also see a talented Lions line making life miserable for Griffin. When Detroit has the ball, I could see Matthew Stafford putting up huge numbers against a defense that has looked terrible this year, but I could also see the Lions struggling if Reggie Bush is at less than 100 percent. Ultimately, I think the story of the game will be that Washington still doesn’t have its defensive problems fixed.
MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Redskins 30.
Florio’s take: The Lions have never ever ever never ever never won in D.C. The Redskins have never ever ever never ever never won in 2013, dating back to January. Though we don’t know whether No. 21 will be available, it’s time for Detroit to end an 0-21 road streak that dates back well before the commencement of the Curse of Bobby Layne.
Florio’s pick: Lions 27, Redskins 20.
Falcons at Dolphins
MDS’s take: The Dolphins’ defense is good against the pass and bad against the run. Unfortunately for the Falcons, with Steven Jackson out they can’t take advantage of Miami’s biggest weakness. The Dolphins will improve to 3-0 with a low-scoring win.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 17, Falcons 13.
Florio’s take: Could the 13-3 Falcons plunge to 1-2? Yes they could, thanks to an improving Dolphins team that has started the season with a pair of road wins. Injuries aren’t helping matters for the defending NFC South champions, who’ll need to help their offensive lineman in order to ensure Matt Ryan doesn’t join the list of the limping.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Falcons 20.
Bills at Jets
MDS’s take: It’s billed as the battle of AFC East rookie quarterbacks, but neither Buffalo’s EJ Manuel nor New York’s Geno Smith will be able to do much in a game that will be dominated by defense. I’m picking the Jets to win by a field goal.
MDS’s pick: Jets 9, Bills 6.
Florio’s take: This battle of rookie quarterbacks will overshadow a far more intriguing subtext relating to the return of former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to face his former boss, Rex Ryan. The road team simply has the better overall talent. Which means that, at least for now, the servant becomes the master — and the Bills become the third-best team in the division.
Florio’s pick: Bills 20, Jets 17.
Colts at 49ers
MDS’s take: Last year the Colts got a lot of good breaks on the way to a surprising playoff run. This year the Colts are getting all kinds of bad breaks, and they’re crashing back to earth. The 49ers will rebound from Sunday’s loss in Seattle and beat the Colts easily.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Colts 10.
Florio’s take: It’s a Stanford reunion, with Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh and Coby Fleener and Pep Hamiltion reminiscing about their mutual dislike of Pete Carroll and Cal. After, of course, the 49ers take care of business against a team that saw five of its six total losses in 2012 come when playing away from home.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 35, Colts 20.
Jaguars at Seahawks
MDS’s take: In one of the most lopsided games in recent NFL history, the question isn’t so much who will win as by how much. I think it’s the Seahawks by a lot.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 38, Jaguars 10.
Florio’s take: The CBS affiliate in Orlando will be apologizing again. If the Seahawks can beat one of the best teams in the league by 26 in Seattle, this one could be historic.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 45, Jaguars 6.
Bears at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Steelers’ offense has been dismal this season, and the Bears’ defense isn’t going to make things any easier. The Bears improve to 3-0 and the Steelers drop to 0-3.
MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Steelers 10.
Florio’s take: The Steelers rarely are on the mat. When it happens, they find a way to get up. Eight years ago, they were left for dead after a loss to the Bengals, and the Steelers sparked a run that resulted in a Super Bowl win by beating the Bears at Heinz Field. Though it’s way too early to even think about playoffs in Pittsburgh (except for the baseball team), it’s not too early to envision a proud franchise mustering enough punch to bring the 2-0 Bears back down to earth a bit.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 20, Bears 16.
Raiders at Broncos
MDS’s take: This is going to be a more competitive game than most people think. The Raiders aren’t quite the doormats that people were expecting them to be. Still, with Tyvon Branch injured, I don’t see any way the Raiders keep Peyton Manning in check, and it’s going to be tough for Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders’ offense to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Raiders 23.
Florio’s take: Ryan Clady or not, the better-than-expected Raiders still aren’t good enough to hang with the Broncos in their own building. Look for another big night from Peyton Manning, who knows his supply of prime-time opportunities is dwindling.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 45, Raiders 20.