Usually Florio writes the introductions to our weekly PFT picks segments. But with the thorough beating I’ve been giving him in our weekly picks, it’s time for me to take the reins.
Neither one of us had a great week picking games last week, but I went 3-for-3 on the games about which we disagreed. For Week Nine, I went a mediocre 8-5. Florio went a worse-than-mediocre 5-8. That makes me 89-44 on the season, and Florio 82-51.
The good news for Florio is that this week we disagree on a whopping six games, meaning he could close the gap all the way down to one game. Then again, the good news for me is that we disagree on a whopping six games, meaning I could widen the gap all the way up to 13 games, which would be a nearly insurmountable margin through ten weeks.
Read on to see where we agree, where we disagree, and whether Florio is ready to concede that I’m the superior NFL prognosticator.
Redskins at Vikings
MDS’s take: Thursday night’s game matches up two bad teams, but Washington is playing a little bit better recently and is motivated by the slight chance of getting back into the NFC East race. Minnesota is going nowhere but last place in the NFC North.
MDS’s pick: Redskins 24, Vikings 20.
Florio’s take: The Vikings are teetering on giving up as Washington is inching toward making a run at a second straight division title. At this rate, some Vikings fans may want to implode the Metrodome with the team inside it.
Florio’s pick: Redskins 24, Vikings 20.
Seahawks at Falcons
MDS’s take: The Seahawks haven’t been playing particularly well recently, but they’re playing well enough to beat bad teams. That will continue in Atlanta, where the Falcons have totally collapsed.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 17, Falcons 10.
Florio’s take: Seattle returns to the scene of its January playoff loss, and these two teams couldn’t be in more different situations. But the Seahawks recently have been flirting with upsets, and beating the Seahawks in November likely will be the closest the Falcons get to another playoff win in 2013.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 20, Seahawks 17.
Bengals at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Bengals are going to struggle down the stretch because they’re missing their two best defensive players, tackle Geno Atkins and cornerback Leon Hall. Unfortunately, the Ravens can’t get out of their own way on offense, and with this loss we can pretty much write off the defending champs.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 20, Ravens 17.
Florio’s take: The Bengals are a different team away from home, and the Ravens now have their backs firmly against the wall. I’m still not ready to give up on a team that has made it to the playoffs five straight times.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Bengals 20.
Lions at Bears
MDS’s take: With the NFC North currently in a three-way tie, this game is huge. I think the Lions, who beat the Bears handily in Detroit, will make it a season sweep and take a big step toward winning their first division title since Barry Sanders was a Lion.
MDS’s pick: Lions 27, Bears 24.
Florio’s take: With Aaron Rodgers injured, the NFC North could be up for grabs. While the Lions may be better than the Bears, the Bears have the home-field edge and the boost that comes from knocking off the Packers. With or without Jay Cutler, the Bears get it done at home, where they’ve beaten the Lions seven of eight times.
Florio’s pick: Bears 17, Lions 13.
Eagles at Packers
MDS’s take: If both of these teams had their starting quarterbacks, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick Aaron Rodgers’s Packers over Michael Vick’s Eagles. But the Seneca Wallace vs. Nick Foles quarterback matchup makes it a lot tougher to call. This one could go either way, but I think the Eagles’ defense has enough holes in it for Packers running back Eddie Lacy to have a big day, and the Packers to overcome the loss of Rodgers.
MDS’s pick: Packers 21, Eagles 17.
Florio’s take: Philly is 4-1 on the road, 0-4 at home. More importantly, they head to Lambeau to face a team that has lost its franchise quarterback for a month. The injuries finally have caught up with the Packers, who’ll suffer the rare indignity of losing twice at home in six days.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 30, Packers 23.
Rams at Colts
MDS’s take: The Colts don’t always look great, but they usually find a way to win. The Rams don’t always look terrible, but they usually find a way to lose. Form will hold in Indianapolis.
MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Rams 17.
Florio’s take: The family that once owned the Rams now hosts them, and the Rams limp into town with a backup quarterback and a season of failed expectations. The Colts are rolling, and it’ll take a better team than the Rams to knock them off.
Florio’s pick: Colts 28, Rams 17.
Raiders at Giants
MDS’s take: Both of these teams stink, but the Giants have been playing competitively recently, while the Raiders are coming off an ugly blowout loss. Throw in the Giants’ home-field advantage, and this looks like a pretty clear third consecutive win for New York.
MDS’s pick: Giants 30, Raiders 20.
Florio’s take: The Giants are climbing in to the NFC East hunt just as the Raiders are fading out of the chase for the No. 6 seed in the AFC. While the Raiders have shown periodic flashes of a promise, the Giants have won two in a row, and they’re gradually getting healthier.
Florio’s pick: Giants 28, Raiders 17.
Bills at Steelers
MDS’s take: With EJ Manuel back against a bad Steelers defense, I like the Bills to go on the road and pull the upset.
MDS’s pick: Bills 24, Steelers 17.
Florio’s take: The struggling Steelers are playing for pride. There’s a chance that may not be enough. If they lose this one, it really could be time to clean house.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 17, Bills 13.
Jaguars at Titans
MDS’s take: The Titans are coming off a big win and are, at 4-4, in the AFC playoff hunt. That’s especially true because they still get to play the Jaguars twice. Tennessee will have no trouble with the worst team in the league coming to town.
MDS’s pick: Titans 34, Jaguars 7.
Florio’s take: The Titans continue to make a play for a postseason appearance. The Jaguars continue to compete for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
Florio’s pick: Titans 34, Jaguars 9.
Panthers at 49ers
MDS’s take: Both of these teams have been playing good football, and if the playoffs started today (which they don’t) the 49ers and Panthers would be the two NFC wild card teams. This should be a tough, physical football game and should show off two of the NFL’s most talented young quarterbacks. I like the 49ers to win in an exciting game.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 30, Panthers 27.
Florio’s take: The Panthers have beaten five teams with a combined 8-33 record. Their next two foes are a combined 13-4. And they’ll each have an extra week to prepare. And the 49ers are one of the best teams in the league right now.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 24, Panthers 13.
Texans at Cardinals
MDS’s take: I like the spark that Case Keenum has provided the Texans, but the Cardinals’ defense is a lot better than most people realize, and Keenum is in for a rough day in Arizona.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 17, Texans 13.
Florio’s take: The Cardinals deserve more credit than they’ve gotten. They can get plenty by delivering what would amount to a knockout punch to the Texans.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 23, Texans 20.
Broncos at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Chargers are one of the many AFC teams in the hunt for the final wild card spot, and if they could pull off the upset of the Broncos they’d firmly establish themselves as playoff contenders. But it won’t happen. The Chargers’ defense just isn’t good enough to keep the Broncos in check.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 42, Chargers 27.
Florio’s take: Last year, the Broncos used a Monday night comeback for the ages in San Diego to launch an 11-game winning streak. This year, the up-and-down Chargers have the talent to pull the upset — and they just might. If they can hold the Broncos under 40 points. But they can’t.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 41, Chargers 34.
Cowboys at Saints
MDS’s take: This could be an NFC playoff preview, as the Cowboys lead the East and the Saints lead the South. Unfortunately for Dallas, it’s also going to be a preview of the beatdown the Cowboys can expect to get in the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Saints 28, Cowboys 14.
Florio’s take: Rob Ryan gets his revenge against the team that made him a scapegoat in January. Especially since the Cowboys can’t/won run the ball and can’t/won try to take away what the opponent does best on offense.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Cowboys 21.
Dolphins at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: It’s the battle of the team whose players get bullied in the locker room against the team whose players get infected in the locker room. Even aside from the off-field issues, this is an ugly Monday night game in a season that seems to have had an inordinate number of ugly prime time games. I see the Dolphins’ defense keeping the score down enough to win a close one.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 17, Buccaneers 14.
Florio’s take: The Dolphins already have won a game since the Jonathan Martin situation began to unfold. Like the 2007 Patriots post-Spygate, the situation could pull the team together in an us-against-the-world approach. But there are still four days to go until the Dolphins and Bucs play, and the off-field distraction could intensify. It’s fitting that a team like Tampa gets a crack at Miami when it’s dealing with as big a mess as any that Greg Schiano and company have faced this year.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 20, Dolphins 14.