I had MDS right where I wanted him.
Down five games for the season, we differed on five games for Week 13. And Week 13 was as unlucky for me as it could have been.
MDS pulled the rare five-game sweep via several close games that could have gone either way (I thought adding that would make me feel better, but it doesn’t). And now he’s up by 10 with 64 regular-season games to go.
For the week, he was 13-3 and I was 8-8. For the year, he’s 126-66. I’m 116-76.
This week, we disagree on four games. Which means I’ll be down 14 by next week.
Texans at Jaguars
MDS’s take: A truly terrible Thursday night game that will be interesting only to Jadeveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater to help them figure out where they’ll be playing next season. (And Bridgewater can’t watch because he has a game of his own on Thursday night.) The Jaguars have actually been playing pretty decent football over the last few weeks, but I see Case Keenum putting up a good game against the Jaguars’ defense.
MDS’s pick: Texans 27, Jaguars 20.
Florio’s take: There’s a juggernaut in Jacksonville, with the home team winning three of four games since the bye week. After beating the Texans in their own building, the Jags should win more easily in a rematch occurring on a national stage, even if the theater is largely empty.
Florio’s pick: Jaguars 20, Texans 10.
Vikings at Ravens
MDS’s take: Don’t look now, but after playing lousy football for most of the year, the defending Super Bowl champs are very much alive in the AFC playoff race. Baltimore should take it to Minnesota and improve to 7-6.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 31, Vikings 17.
Florio’s take: The Ravens are making a push for the playoffs. The Vikings aren’t. Advantage Ravens.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 23, Vikings 14.
Colts at Bengals
MDS’s take: This game may determine which team gets the AFC No. 3 seed and which gets the No. 4 seed — which is big, because hosting the AFC No. 6 seed will be a much better first-round playoff draw than hosting the likely No. 5 seed, Kansas City. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, the Colts just have too many injuries and I can’t see them beating a good team on the road.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 28, Colts 14.
Florio’s take: Cincy hasn’t lost at home all year. The Colts haven’t looked good since they beat the Broncos and Peyton Manning at home in October. And yet they’re both 8-4. That’ll change on Sunday, possibly in a big way.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 31, Colts 17.
Browns at Patriots
MDS’s take: Remember 2010, when a Browns team that was going nowhere blew out a Patriots team that was on its way to a 14-2 season? Yeah, that’s not happening this time around.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 34, Browns 14.
Florio’s take: If the Browns can’t beat the Jaguars at home, the question is whether they can stay within 30 points of the Patriots in their own building. I have faith. Barely.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 42, Browns 14.
Raiders at Jets
MDS’s take: The Jets are in such a free fall that I’m not sure it’s wise to pick them against anyone. So I’ll pick the Raiders to win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Raiders 10, Jets 7.
Florio’s take: The Jets have broken their win-one-lose-one trend with three straight losses. If that number stretches to four via a home loss to the Raiders, coach Rex Ryan should just go ahead and pack up his stuff. While he eventually may be packing up his stuff anyway, it probably won’t happen immediately after Sunday’s game.
Florio’s pick: Jets 20, Raiders 12.
Lions at Eagles
MDS’s take: This is a huge game in the NFC playoff race, with the Lions leading the NFC North by one game and the Eagles neck-and-neck with the Cowboys in the NFC East. With Nick Foles playing lights out and the Lions sporting one of the weakest groups of cornerbacks in the NFL, I just can’t see Detroit keeping Philadelphia’s passing game in check.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Lions 17.
Florio’s take: Philly continues to make a push toward an unlikely playoff berth, with an unlikely franchise quarterback. Detroit didn’t get it done last month in Pittsburgh; the Eagles are even better than the Steelers.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 30, Lions 24.
Dolphins at Steelers
MDS’s take: Although you wouldn’t know it from the 6-6 and 5-7 records, this is a big game in the AFC wild card race. Both of these teams are thoroughly mediocre, but I’ll take the home team to win and take a significant step toward a potential 9-7 record, which might just be good enough to make the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Dolphins 13.
Florio’s take: The Steelers saw their playoff hopes largely evaporate when they failed to win on Thanksgiving night in Baltimore. Even worse, the offensive line once again has been banged up, which will make it hard for the Steelers to do much of anything against a Dolphins defense that remains underrated and overlooked.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Steelers 20.
Bills at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: These are the December doldrums games, two teams that are out of the playoff hunt just playing out the string. I think the Bucs have shown a little more fight recently, so I’ll go with Tampa Bay.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Bills 21.
Florio’s take: If you want to complain about a December NFL game with no playoff implications, think of how you’ll feel two months from now, when there are no NFL games at all. For this specific meaningless game, I’ll go with the team that has shown a bit more fight in recent weeks.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Bills 21.
Chiefs at Redskins
MDS’s take: Kansas City probably can’t catch Denver in the AFC West, but the Chiefs will almost certainly be the No. 5 seed in the AFC. Beating bad teams has been the Chiefs’ specialty, and they’ll take another step toward the playoffs with another win over a bad team.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 28, Redskins 17.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs have lost three straight games. A loss on Sunday means that Washington will have lost three straight at home. The Chiefs need to get back to winning, and they have the offense to outscore Washington. Andy Reid completes the sweep of the NFC East.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 31, Redskins 21.
Titans at Broncos
MDS’s take: The Broncos clinch a playoff berth with a win, and they’ll get it easily against a Titans team that has played well at times but tends to find ways to lose against better opponents.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 35, Titans 20.
Florio’s take: The Titans are praying for snow. They should be praying for so much snow that they can’t get to Denver.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 48, Titans 20.
Rams at Cardinals
MDS’s take: Arizona isn’t out of the playoff race yet, and the Cardinals’ defense should make quick work of a Kellen Clemens-led Rams offense.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, Rams 10.
Florio’s take: The Rams came from behind to beat the Cardinals way back in Week One. Both teams are better (even though the Rams don’t have Sam Bradford), but the Cards have improved even more. Home team gets the edge, as Arizona continues an unlikely playoff push.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 23, Rams 20.
Giants at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Eli Manning vs. Philip Rivers storyline has been largely overlooked this week because their teams are going nowhere and this week’s slate of NFL action has so many other good games. But it is an interesting quarterback matchup, even if it’s also a matchup of two bad teams, and I think Rivers will have a big day in a Chargers victory.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 30, Giants 17.
Florio’s take: Eli Manning can’t remember why he didn’t want to play in San Diego. He gets to go there, during a season he can’t wait to forget.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Giants 20.
Seahawks at 49ers
MDS’s take: Now this is a great football game. The Seahawks are the best team in football right now, but they’re going on the road against a tough opponent that’s going to be motivated to come with some knuckles against them. I think the Seahawks will eke out a close win in an exciting and physical game.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 27, 49ers 24.
Florio’s take: Seattle visits Candlestick Park one last time. San Fran needs it more, and the Seahawks need to hold back a little something in the event there’s a rubber match. For Seattle, the best move could be to ensure there won’t be one.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 16, 49ers 12.
Falcons at Packers
MDS’s take: As of the time I’m making this pick, I don’t know if Aaron Rodgers or Matt Flynn will start, but either way I’ll go with Green Bay, as the Packers still have playoff hopes while the Falcons are out of it.
MDS’s pick: Packers 27, Falcons 24.
Florio’s take: With or without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have the better team and the far bigger incentive. The Lions can be counted on to stumble down the stretch, which means the Packers still have a chance at getting to the playoffs.
Florio’s pick: Packers 30, Falcons 21.
Panthers at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints have a short week to bounce back from their loss in Seattle, and if they lose to the Panthers they’re in big trouble in the NFC South. But I expect the crowd in New Orleans to be just as boisterous as that Monday night crowd in Seattle, and home-field advantage will be the difference.
MDS’s pick: Saints 23, Panthers 20.
Florio’s take: The Seahawks don’t lose in Seattle. And the Saints don’t lose in New Orleans. Short week or not, Sean Payton and company rise to the occasion, taking a big step toward the division title and the No. 2 seed.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Panthers 28.
Cowboys at Bears
MDS’s take: The Bears are running out of time to catch the Lions in the NFC North. Chicago’s offense should have a big day against the Dallas D, and the Bears will snap their two-game losing streak.
MDS’s pick: Bears 34, Cowboys 31.
Florio’s take: Like each of the past two years, the Cowboys get to eight wins. The real question is whether they can get a ninth. At least the Bears won’t miss the playoffs this year with 10 wins.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Bears 17.