For the Week Six picks, I’m hoping MDS makes like MRS (Matthew Rutledge Schaub) and throws a pick six.
Making that wish somewhat unrealistic is the fact that we disagree on only three games.
Last week, he was 9-5 and I was 8-6. His lead now stands at three games: 52-25 to 49-28.
If I’m right on all three, I’ll catch him. And, yes, he and I may be the only two people in the world who actually care.
Giants at Bears
MDS’s take: Florio has done me a big favor with his stubborn insistence on continuing to pick the Giants, and I’m hoping he keeps going with the theory that the Giants are due for a win. (The Washington Generals are due to beat the Harlem Globetrotters any game now, too.) The Bears’ defense is good at forcing turnovers, and the Giants’ offense is good at turning the ball over. That’s a good combination for Chicago.
MDS’s pick: Bears 28, Giants 13.
Florio’s take: The Giants are due to win. The Bears are due to not lose. The Bears are the better team. The Bears are playing at home. Advantage Bears.
Florio’s pick: Bears 24, Giants 17.
Packers at Ravens
MDS’s take: Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco both signed enormous contracts this offseason, but only one of them is earning his money. The struggling Ravens’ offense will have a good opportunity to put some points on the board against a Packers defense that’s missing Clay Matthews, but Rodgers will do more damage than Flacco as the Packers win a high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Ravens 27.
Florio’s take: It’s rock-scissors-paper time in Baltimore, where the Ravens defense is becoming the rock and the Packers’ offensive line is running with scissors.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Packers 20.
Bengals at Bills
MDS’s take: The Bills’ defense is playing tough, physical football, and Kiko Alonso is my early pick for rookie of the year. If EJ Manuel were playing, I’d pick the Bills. Unfortunately, I just can’t pick a team to win a game when its starting quarterback was on the practice squad a week ago, and that’s what the Bills are doing with Thad Lewis starting. So I’ve got to go with the Bengals.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 16, Bills 13.
Florio’s take: The Bengals can beat the teams they shouldn’t, and not the teams they should. This is the weekend they need to turn it around, or they may not be getting beat in January.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Bills 13.
Lions at Browns
MDS’s take: This is another game where a quarterback injury makes the difference. The Browns won all three games that Brian Hoyer started, and if Hoyer were still starting I’d pick Cleveland to make it four in a row. But with Brandon Weeden back under center, I think the Lions’ defensive line is going to wreak havoc against a quarterback who’s too slow to get rid of the football.
MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Browns 10.
Florio’s take: The Browns have won three in a row, and they’re wrapping up a three-game home stand at the Factory of Gladness. Without Calvin Johnson, the Lions aren’t the same team. I’m guessing Johnson either won’t play or he’ll be too banged up to make a difference against a team that will come within a game of matching its 2012 win total after only six weeks.
Florio’s pick: Browns 24, Lions 20.
Rams at Texans
MDS’s take: Houston has been playing some terrible football recently, but St. Louis is even worse. The Texans’ defense can shut down the Rams’ offense well enough that even another lousy game from Matt Schaub won’t lose it for Houston.
MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Rams 10.
Florio’s take: Jeff Fisher returns to Houston with a team that has underachieved, to face a team that has underachieved. Led by a quarterback who has underachieved. (That applies to both teams.) Even with the Texans battling against a home-field disadvantage, their defense is good enough to overcome whatever the quarterback does or doesn’t do.
Florio’s pick: Texans 23, Rams 16.
Raiders at Chiefs
MDS’s take: Kansas City’s turnaround has been remarkable, and I’m particularly impressed with the aggressive defense the Chiefs are playing, led by the one-man wrecking crew that is Dontari Poe in the middle of the line. I like the way Terrelle Pryor is playing for the Raiders, but Poe is going to get in Pryor’s face all day and make him skittish with his passes.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 20, Raiders 9.
Florio’s take: It’s been a long time since both teams in this storied rivalry were relevant. The Chiefs are very relevant. And very hard to beat at home. It won’t be easy, but the Chiefs will finally have the same number of wins at 2012 Pro Bowlers.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 20, Raiders 17.
Panthers at Vikings
MDS’s take: Both of these teams seem like they should be better than their 1-3 records. If one of them is going to turn things around, I think it’ll be the one that has Cam Newton at quarterback, not the team that has Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel or Josh Freeman at quarterback.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 17, Vikings 14.
Florio’s take: The chase to be the Vikings’ quarterback of the future begins on Sunday, as they host a team that thought it had one, but possibly doesn’t. Losing coach lands on an even hotter seat. Winner gets a heat reprieve, for at least a week.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 28, Panthers 21.
Steelers at Jets
MDS’s take: Say what you will about Rex Ryan, but the guy knows how to put together a good defense. He’s done it again this year, and coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is making strides with the offense, too. I still have a hard time seeing the Jets as a playoff contender, but they’ll be 4-2 after beating the woeful Steelers.
MDS’s pick: Jets 27, Steelers 7.
Florio’s take: The Steelers are 0-5 and the Jets are 3-2 and many expected it to be the opposite. The Jets have a strong front seven and the Steelers don’t have a strong offensive line and even though Pittsburgh beat the Giants last year in MetLife Stadium the Steelers are a shadow of what they were last year.
Florio’s pick: Jets 17, Steelers 13.
Eagles at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: Even with Nick Foles in place of Michael Vick, this is a game Philadelphia should win without too much trouble. The Eagles’ schedule is getting a lot easier. They beat the winless Giants last week, they’ll beat the winless Buccaneers this week, and they get the Giants again in two weeks. An 8-8 record may be enough to win the NFC East, and when you look at their schedule it’s easy to see the Eagles getting to eight wins. They’ll get win No. 3 on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Buccaneers 13.
Florio’s take: Chip Kelly and company continue to take advantage of a soft spot in the schedule by running circles around a team that won’t be able to keep up with the Eagles offense, regardless of whether Nick Foles or Mike Vick is running it. If Vick doesn’t play, it’ll be the first time in league history that both starting quarterbacks in the same game are Napoleon Dynamite dopplegangers.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 30, Buccaneers 20.
Jaguars at Broncos
MDS’s take: There’s no doubt who will win, but if I were betting this game against the spread (and I’m not), I’d pick the Jaguars to keep it closer than the 28-point margin. The Broncos are coming off an exhausting battle with the Cowboys and probably won’t be at their best. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the Broncos don’t have to be at their best to win this one.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 35, Jaguars 21.
Florio’s take: Does watching this game count as rooting for the underdog or rubbernecking at a train wreck? Survey says . . . . both.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 49, Jaguars 13.
Titans at Seahawks
MDS’s take: I’ve been impressed with the Titans all year, and they’re a better team than most people realize. But there’s no way Ryan Fitzpatrick is winning at Seattle.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Titans 17.
Florio’s take: It’s a shame Jake Locker is injured. He’s missing the chance to come back to Seattle and have his team suffocated and his ear drums ruptured.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Titans 10.
Saints at Patriots
MDS’s take: The best game of the week is in New England, where the Patriots need Rob Gronkowski to return against a surprisingly tough Saints defense. Even if Gronk is at full speed, however, I think Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham are a better pair right now than Tom Brady and Gronkowski, and I like the Saints to put up a lot of points.
MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Patriots 21.
Florio’s take: The Saints proved that they can win away from home against a competent team like the Bears. With an elite offense and a much-improved defense, why not a clean road sweep of the Super Bowl XX teams that played in New Orleans?
Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Patriots 21.
Cardinals at 49ers
MDS’s take: The 49ers have put their stumbles behind them and are playing great football. The Cardinals are better than most of us expected, but there’s a clear NFC West pecking order, and the Cards are behind the Niners.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 31, Cardinals 10.
Cardinals at 49ers
Florio’s take: Bruce Arians doesn’t “see the dominance” of the 49ers and Seahawks. While the 49ers aren’t yet dominant this year, Arians probably won’t like what he sees.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 27, Cardinals 17.
Redskins at Cowboys
MDS’s take: Dallas’s defense is struggling, and Robert Griffin III may put up some big numbers. But Washington’s defense is struggling even more, and Tony Romo may put up some bigger numbers.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 35, Redskins 31.
Florio’s take: Jerry Jones won’t be talking about moral victories come Monday. He’ll have an actual victory. You know, the kind where his team scores more points than the other.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 21, Redskins 13.
Colts at Chargers
MDS’s take: I’m amazed at the way the Colts keep shaking off injuries and finding ways to win. The Chargers are playing well on offense, but their secondary is a mess, and Andrew Luck should pick it apart.
MDS’s pick: Colts 34, Chargers 20.
Florio’s take: The Chargers once were a thorn in Indy’s side. The Chargers are now littered with thorns of their own, and the Colts have found a way in the post-Peyton era to blossom, no matter the amount of duress.
Florio’s pick: Colts 24, Chargers 21.