After chipping away at the seven-game lead MDS has compiled, the lead is back to seven, thanks to his two-game sweep of our disagreements last weekend.
I foolishly picked the Jets to beat the Bills (pre-Dave & Buster’s), and I thought the Ravens would find a way to win on the unfrozen turd-ra of Solder Field. I was wrong on both counts.
As a result, MDS went 12-3, and I was 10-5 for the week. For the year, MDS is now 107-55, and I’m 100-62.
This week, we disagree on four. Which means I’ll be 11 back come Sunday night.
Saints at Falcons
MDS’s take: Atlanta bottomed out with Sunday’s blowout loss to Tampa Bay. When the NFL’s schedule makers put this one on NFL Network, they probably figured it was going to be one of the best games of the year. Instead, this will be one of the most lopsided.
MDS’s pick: Saints 38, Falcons 10.
Florio’s take: Last year, the Saints’ bus was egged by overly zealous Falcons fans. This year, those Falcons fans would be more inclined to egg the Falcons’ bus. The Saints need to stay within striking distance of the Seahawks, and the Falcons need to get through Week 17.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Falcons 20.
Jets at Ravens
MDS’s take: Two bad offenses against two good defenses. Expect a low-scoring game, and one that the home team will win. This won’t look like a playoff game, but both teams are right in the thick of the playoff race in the AFC, where there are six available playoff spots but only five good teams.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Jets 13.
Florio’s take: The good news is that the Jets’ win-one-lose-one trend ends. The bad news is that it ends with two straight losses. The best news is that Ed Reed knows where the Dave & Buster’s is in Baltimore.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Jets 13.
Steelers at Browns
MDS’s take: The Steelers looked good on Sunday against the Lions, while the Browns looked bad against the Bengals. This week, however, I see Jason Campbell having a solid game against the weak Pittsburgh secondary, and Ben Roethlisberger struggling against a Cleveland defense that’s a lot better than people realize. I’ll go with the Browns.
MDS’s pick: Browns 23, Steelers 20.
Florio’s take: The winner of this battle of 4-6 rivals remains alive for the playoffs. The loser has to run the table and presumably hope for help. The edge goes to the Steelers, who have won two in a row and seem to be finally finding their groove.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 13, Browns 10.
Buccaneers at Lions
MDS’s take: This is a closer game than most people think. The Bucs are playing much better football in the last few weeks, and the Lions have been inconsistent. An upset wouldn’t surprise me here at all, but with Bucs safety Dashon Goldson suspended, I’ll take the Lions’ passing game to take advantage of a depleted secondary and win a close, high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Lions 28, Buccaneers 27.
Florio’s take: The nothing-to-lose-except-more-games Bucs can give the up-and-down Lions a real scare as Detroit plays a pair of home games only four days apart. Picking the upset is tempting, but the Lions have the talent and the incentive to find a way to win.
Florio’s pick: Lions 27, Buccaneers 13.
Vikings at Packers
MDS’s take: The Vikings could pretty much end the Packers’ playoff hopes with a win in Green Bay, but I don’t think that will happen. With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback this would be a blowout, but with Scott Tolzien at quarterback I’m picking the Packers to win a close one.
MDS’s pick: Packers 20, Vikings 17.
Florio’s take: The last time the Vikings played at Lambeau Field, Minnesota fans were disappointed Christian Ponder didn’t start. This time, they’re disappointed he is. Even with Scott Tolzien playing for the Packers, Green Bay has the horses to hold serve at home.
Florio’s pick: Packers 27, Vikings 17.
Jaguars at Texans
MDS’s take: This is a big game, at least if you consider last place in the AFC South and potentially the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft to be a big deal. I view the Jaguars as a terrible team and the Texans as merely a bad team, and “bad” beats “terrible.”
MDS’s pick: Texans 24, Jaguars 17.
Florio’s take: Before the season, the Jaguars would have been thrilled to know they’d trailed the Texans in the standings by only one game. The Texans are bad, but not so bad that they can’t snap an eight-game losing streak against one of the worst teams in recent memory.
Florio’s pick: Texan 24, Jaguars 10.
Chargers at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The Chargers have an offense that can move the ball against a good Kansas City defense. The problem is the Chargers’ defense can get lit up by a good running back. I expect Jamaal Charles to have about 200 yards from scrimmage as the Chiefs win.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 27, Chargers 20.
Florio’s take: Even after losing their first game of the season, the signs point to the Chiefs getting another win before trying to avoid being swept by the Broncos. The Chargers are still clinging to a shot at the postseason, but it’s time for several of the teams clustered around the race for the six seed to start falling off.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 24, Chargers 17.
Panthers at Dolphins
MDS’s take: This could be a difficult game for Carolina, coming off the huge Monday night battle with the Patriots and having to travel on a short work week. However, I just don’t think Miami’s offense is good enough to move the ball effectively against that great Panthers defense.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 13, Dolphins 10.
Florio’s take: The Jonathan Martin distraction hits overdrive, and the Panthers believe their signature win has been undermined by claims of a bad call. They won’t need a bad call to extend their streak to seven games.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 30, Dolphins 20.
Bears at Rams
MDS’s take: The Bears just keep playing good football, despite injuries to key players like Jay Cutler, Henry Melton, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman. It’s impressive the way this team has stayed right in the thick of the playoff race, and I expect Chicago to keep it going at St. Louis.
MDS’s pick: Bears 27, Rams 17.
Florio’s take: Want to know why the NFL protects quarterbacks? Get ready for Josh McCown vs. Kellen Clemens. Somehow, the Rams pounded the Colts two weeks ago, and St. Louis has had two weeks to get ready from an injury-pounded Bears team. The Rams get the benefit of the doubt after scoring one of the most shocking outcomes of the season — and as Tavon Austin begins to become a Devin Hester who also can run routes and catch passes.
Florio’s pick: Rams 24, Bears 21.
Colts at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The Colts are the flip side of what I just said about the Bears: A good team whose injuries have just become too much. Indianapolis will still win the AFC South, but I think the injury toll is just too much for the Colts to go on the road and beat a Cardinals team that is playing a lot better than most of us expected.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 17, Colts 14.
Florio’s take: Coach of the year as the Colts interim head coach in 2012, Bruce Arians likely knows how to shut down a team that everyone seems to be shutting down in the first half of games. If you’re having a hard time processing the fact that the Cardinals are 6-4, start getting used to thinking of them at 7-4.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 20, Colts 16.
Titans at Raiders
MDS’s take: Two bad teams will be on the field in Oakland on Sunday. I’ll go with the Titans’ defense making life tough for Matt McGloin and winning a low-scoring battle.
MDS’s pick: Titans 17, Raiders 14.
Florio’s take: Terrelle Pryor once said he’d never heard of Matt McGloin. Pryor has heard of McGloin now, and the slumping Titans will be hearing plenty from him on Sunday.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 27, Titans 20.
Cowboys at Giants
MDS’s take: Can a team that starts the season 0-6 win its division? Maybe, if that division is the terrible NFC East. The Giants can improve to 5-6 and join the Cowboys at just one game behind the Eagles with a win, and I think that’s exactly what will happen.
MDS’s pick: Giants 20, Cowboys 17.
Florio’s take: Jason Pierre-Paul says that a certain red liquid will be spilled during this one. If the Giants catch the Cowboys at 5-6, Jason Garrett moves a big step closer to receiving a certain pink slip.
Florio’s pick: Giants 28, Cowboys 27.
Broncos at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Broncos again play in the best game of the week on Sunday night, and they’re going to have their hands full against a Patriots team that can exploit the weaknesses in Denver’s secondary. Tom Brady will have a big game but Peyton Manning will have a bigger game and the Broncos will win a shootout.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 35, Patriots 31.
Florio’s take: Tom Brady generally gets the better of Peyton Manning, especially in New England. With the Pats feeling a little salty after getting shafted (even if they didn’t) on Monday night, interim coach Jack Del Rio could end up feeling like he’s back in Jacksonville.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Broncos 23.
49ers at Redskins
MDS’s take: San Francisco’s offense is slumping, but a trip to Washington is just the thing to fix an offensive slump. Colin Kaepernick might finally put up some big passing numbers against a weak pass defense.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 30, Redskins 20.
Florio’s take: Which flash-in-the-pan quarterback can prove that he’s the real deal? Maybe the answer is neither. Either way, the 49ers have more talent and motivation to get back on the right track, or risk sliding into third place in their division.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 23, Redskins 13.