Down three games with three disagreements last week, I envisioned forging a tie with MDS in the PFT picks contest.
And of course he swept me.
Now down six — six! — through six weeks, I’ve got a chance to cut the margin to four (or see it grow to eight) based on two disagreements this week.
MDS went 11-4 for the week; I was a mere 8-7. He’s now 63-29 for the year, and I’m 57-35.
Read on for this week’s prognostications.
Seahawks at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The Seahawks on the road are always a precarious pick, and I’m tempted to choose Arizona in an upset. But Carson Palmer is just throwing too many bad passes for an opportunistic Seattle secondary not to give him trouble. The Seahawks’ defense will lead the way in this one.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 24, Cardinals 14.
Florio’s take: Somebody in the league office hates the Cardinals. In a four-day span, they will have played both the 49ers and the Seahawks. Arizona held its own against the Niners, and Arizona will do the same against the Seahawks. But two moral victories in less than a week won’t do much to propel a team toward the postseason.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 14.
Buccaneers at Falcons
MDS’s take: A year after earning home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, Atlanta is all but out of the playoff race already this season. But a bad Tampa Bay team coming to town should be just the thing to get the Falcons their second win of a disappointing season.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 20, Buccaneers 10.
Florio’s take: The game that many thought would help determine first place (for now) in the NFC South will determine last place in the division (for now, and possibly for longer). The Falcons had an extra week to get ready, the Buccaneers continue to be in disarray, and the home team still has enough talent to pull out the win.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17.
Rams at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Rams are coming off a dominant win over the Texans and are, at 3-3, a lot better than most people thought they’d be. But Carolina is playing excellent defense, and St. Louis is playing mediocre offense, and so I like the Panthers to win a low-scoring game at home.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 17, Rams 9.
Florio’s take: Here’s a game that likely will be underrated but could produce a potential wild-card contender in the NFC. Both teams have been inconsistent, and both teams won in Week Six over franchises currently in a funk. Edge goes to the home team, as long as the Panthers can get the upper hand early.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 24, Rams 21.
Bengals at Lions
MDS’s take: Overall the Bengals are a more talented team than the Lions, and a good Cincinnati secondary is going to make things tough for Detroit’s offense. But the Lions have played well at home and the Bengals have been shaky on the road, and so I’m going to take the Lions.
MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Bengals 17.
Florio’s take: Usually, the Bengals play up and down to the level of the competition. This week, the competition level is roughly equivalent. And the Lions won in Cleveland, where the Bengals lost handily. Oh, and Calvin Johnson appears to be getting healthy.
Florio’s pick: Lions 27, Bengals 20.
Chargers at Jaguars
MDS’s take: Despite major injury issues, San Diego is a better team than just about anyone expected. Playing in the same division as the only two undefeated teams in the NFL makes it unlikely that the Chargers will make the playoffs, but they will get over .500 with an easy win in Jacksonville.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 28, Jaguars 10.
Florio’s take: Yes, I’m tempted to pick the upset here. The Chargers have beaten three teams that are supposedly better than San Diego, and they’ve lost to three teams that are supposedly worse. Plus, they’re traveling across the country on a short week to play a team that gave the Broncos more of a game than anyone would have imagined. Then I’m reminded of the overall quality of the Jacksonville roster.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 28, Jaguars 10.
Texans at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The Texans totally melted down on Sunday, and now they’re traveling to play a Kansas City team that’s playing defense as well as anyone in the league. This could get ugly.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Texans 7.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs are what the Texans were supposed to be. Swarming defense, competent offense, and undefeated through six weeks. This could be Correction Sunday for the Chiefs, but not at the place that cranked up 137.5 decibels last weekend — and not against a team that could be dialing up Case Keenum at quarterback.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Texans 17.
Bills at Dolphins
MDS’s take: The Bills’ pass rush could provide real problems for Ryan Tannehill, and if EJ Manuel were healthy I’d like the Bills to go to Miami and pull an upset. But with Thad Lewis as the starting quarterback, I don’t think the Bills will put many points on the board in Miami.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Bills 13.
Florio’s take: The Dolphins have had two weeks to prepare for Thad Lewis and company. While Lewis looked good against the Bengals, he’s and several teammates are a little banged up. Maybe Miami coach Joe Philbin ultimately will get a shot at his former pupil in Green Bay — you know, the one-hit wonder in whom Philbin had zero interest. Which should have told Seattle and Oakland everything they needed to know.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Bills 20.
Patriots at Jets
MDS’s take: The Patriots have been dealing with injuries all year, and Jerod Mayo is their most significant injury yet. New England is ripe for an upset. Unfortunately, the Jets looked absolutely terrible on Sunday against the Steelers, and they just don’t look like they have the weapons on offense to pull the upset.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 17, Jets 7.
Florio’s take: The Jets almost beat the Patriots in Foxborough in Week Two. Since then, New England has lost Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo for the season. Aqib Talib could miss the game, and even if Rob Gronkowski plays how much can be expected after a nine-month layoff. Some will call this an upset. Under these precise circumstances, it really isn’t.
Florio’s pick: Jets 20, Patriots 17.
Cowboys at Eagles
MDS’s take: In the battle for first place in the NFC East, I like Nick Foles to keep the Eagles’ offense running smoothly and create a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. The suspect Dallas defense is going to have a tough time keeping up with Philadelphia’s big-play offense.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 35, Cowboys 28.
Florio’s take: Whether Nick Foles or Mike Vick or Matt Barkley, Chip Kelly’s offense is poised to run rings around a more-porous-than-expected Dallas defense. And Philly’s defense quietly has improved to the point where it can keep the Cowboys in check, especially with DeMarco Murray missing this one.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 21.
Bears at Redskins
MDS’s take: Chicago has been beating bad teams all season, with wins over the Vikings, Steelers and Giants. That trend will continue for another week in Washington.
MDS’s pick: Bears 21, Redskins 20.
Florio’s take: Robert Griffin III is getting better, but he’s still not close to the guy he was last year. Ditto for the team. In 2012, Washington dug out of a 3-6 hole. This year’s start could be even worse.
Florio’s pick: Bears 26, Redskins 17.
49ers at Titans
MDS’s take: With Jake Locker out and Ryan Fitzpatrick in, the Titans are just not going to beat a good team like the 49ers. San Francisco is over its early-season hiccup and is now beginning its long march toward challenging Seattle for NFC West supremacy.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 34, Titans 17.
Florio’s take: The Titans perform well at home against teams from the NFC, and they played well on the road last Sunday in one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. But the 49ers have hit their stride in recent weeks, with a balanced offense and a defense that still has punch, even without Aldon Smith.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 24, Titans 17.
Browns at Packers
MDS’s take: I don’t think Brandon Weeden is as terrible as some people make him out to be, and I don’t think Brian Hoyer was ever going to be Cleveland’s long-term answer at quarterback. Still, the Browns have looked like a team that finds ways to win with Hoyer at quarterback, and a team that finds ways to lose with Weeden at quarterback. That will continue on Sunday, when an injury-riddled Packers team will capitalize on some Cleveland mistakes.
MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Browns 24.
Florio’s take: That three-game winning streak will quickly be forgotten when the losing streak reaches two. Despite the injuries, the Packers continue to deliver on both sides of the ball. The turnaround from a 1-2 start continues.
Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Browns 24.
Ravens at Steelers
MDS’s take: I’ve gone back and forth on this one a few times, but in the end I think Baltimore’s defensive front is too much for the injury-depleted Steelers offensive line. The Ravens win a close, hard-fought, defensive struggle.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Steelers 16.
Florio’s take: The defending champs visit Pittsburgh for the first time since hoisting the latest Lombardi. If the Steelers can run like the Packers did against Baltimore and throw the ball smartly and quickly, the home team in this tarnished (for now) rivalry can hold serve.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 13, Ravens 10.
Broncos at Colts
MDS’s take: In one of the marquee games of the season, Peyton Manning will remind the Colts that they cut one of the best players in NFL history a year and a half ago. Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense will score plenty of points against a mediocre Denver defense, but Manning and Co. will score even more.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 48, Colts 38.
Florio’s take: Peyton Manning’s homecoming acquired some extra levels of intrigue this week, thanks to Colts owner Jim Irsay. While some think Irsay took a shot at Peyton to get inside his head and other thinks Irsay was simply being Irsay, the man some call the best regular-season quarterback in NFL history will further cement his legacy.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 49, Colts 24.
Vikings at Giants
MDS’s take: One of the worst Monday night games in recent years will be memorable for Josh Freeman’s first start with the Vikings, and for the Giants’ first win of the season.
MDS’s pick: Giants 21, Vikings 13.
Florio’s take: Eleven days to get ready. Home game. National audience. Bad defense. Quarterback rushed to the field for his first start with the team. If the Giants can’t win this one, they may not win any.
Florio’s pick: Giants 35, Vikings 27.