Last week was a good week. But not as good as it could have been.
With a 14-1 mark through Sunday’s games and a 3-0 record in the disagreements with MDS, a Cowboys win would mean a 15-1 week, a four-game sweep of MDS, and a six-game deficit with three weeks to go.
But the team that once went 15-1 for a full season thumped the Cowboys, and the gap was only narrowed by two games.
Through 14 weeks, MDS now has an eight-game lead.
For the week, I was 14-2 and he was 12-4. For the year, he’s 138-70. I’m 130-78.
This week, we differ once again on four games. All of our prognostications appear below.
Chargers at Broncos
MDS’s take: The Chargers can put a lot of points on the board, but Peyton Manning will carve up a weak San Diego defense, and the Chargers won’t be able to keep up. Denver takes another step toward home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 38, Chargers 28.
Florio’s take: The sun won’t be shining on a night when critics will have another chance to stick the narrative that Peyton Manning struggles in the cold where the sun doesn’t shine. A week after thrashing Eli Manning’s team, Philip Rivers and company will be reminded that Peyton’s squad currently is a lot better.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 42, Chargers 24.
Redskins at Falcons
MDS’s take: This terrible game is interesting to draft watchers and to friends and family of Kirk Cousins, but not to anyone else. Atlanta is bad, but they haven’t totally quit on their season like Washington has, so I’ll go with the Falcons.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 27, Redskins 17.
Florio’s take: A pair of 2012 playoff teams currently are jockeying for the first pick in the draft. The Rams, who hold Washington’s first-round selection, are rooting for their old NFC West rivals to wake up and take down Kirk Cousins and company. If anyone actually shows up at the Georgia Dome, they may be pleased with the results.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 28, Redskins 13.
Bears at Browns
MDS’s take: Jason Campbell and Josh Gordon can put up some points against this Bears defense, but I expect Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall to put up more points against Cleveland’s defense.
MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Browns 21.
Florio’s take: Two of the best young wideouts in the NFL meet in Cleveland. Josh Gordon will once again have a big game in a loss. Alshon Jeffery will once again have a big game in a win.
Florio’s pick: Bears 24, Browns 20.
Texans at Colts
MDS’s take: Injuries are killing the Colts, and I think they’re going to be one-and-done in the playoffs. But they’re still better than the Texans, who are marching toward the first overall pick in the draft.
MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Texans 20.
Florio’s take: If it wasn’t for teams that currently are in Houston or that used to be in Houston, the Colts would be winless since beating the quarterback who used to be in Indy.
Florio’s pick: Colts 28, Texans 17.
Bills at Jaguars
MDS’s take: Credit the Jaguars for the way they’re continuing to play hard after a lot of teams would have quit, but I think it comes to an end on Sunday, when EJ Manuel will thrive on the scaled-back offense that the Bills’ coaches are giving him.
MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 24.
Florio’s take: For the second straight week, the Bills visit a team that started the season 0-8. For the second straight week, the Bills will fall victim to that team’s stunning turnaround.
Florio’s pick: Jaguars 24, Bills 10.
Patriots at Dolphins
MDS’s take: In one of this week’s few games matching up two teams with realistic playoff hopes, the Patriots will remind the Dolphins who owns the AFC East.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Dolphins 20.
Florio’s take: A couple of teams in the AFC East get together in a game that profoundly impacts a couple of teams in the AFC North. The Dolphins will continue an unlikely run to January, which is bad news for the Ravens — but good news for the Bengals, who are trying to catch New England for the No. 2 seed in the conference.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 28, Patriots 27.
Eagles at Vikings
MDS’s take: The Eagles are rolling right now, and although the Vikings have been playing competitive football, they don’t have the personnel on defense to stop Philadelphia’s offense. This should be an easy win for the Eagles.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 27, Vikings 14.
Florio’s take: The three-win Vikings have three opportunities to play spoiler. Spoiling the next-to-last game at the Metrodome will be an Eagles team that has won five in a row and is 5-1 on the road.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Vikings 20.
Seahawks at Giants
MDS’s take: The Giants’ defense couldn’t stop the Chargers last week and they won’t be able to stop the Seahawks this week. Throw in a couple of Eli Manning interceptions against a great Seahawks defense, and this game won’t be close.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, Giants 14.
Florio’s take: The Seahawks make their first of two visits to MetLife Stadium. Next time, they’ll be playing an AFC team there. And it won’t be the Jets.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 40, Giants 21.
Saints at Rams
MDS’s take: The Saints bounced back nicely from their blowout loss to the Seahawks by blowing out the Panthers. New Orleans will win another blowout on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Saints 34, Rams 16.
Florio’s take: Taking the Saints out of the Superdome increases the chances of beating them. Putting them in a different dome against a so-so team decreases the chances of beating them.
Florio’s pick: Saints 30, Rams 20.
49ers at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: Give Greg Schiano a lot of credit for the way he got his team to turn things around late in the season, but Mike Glennon is going to struggle against a tough 49ers defense, and San Francisco will win.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Buccaneers 10.
Florio’s take: What once appeared to be a cakewalk for the Niners becomes a tougher task. Tough enough for the Niners to stumble. If Jim Harbaugh thought last week’s win over the Seahawks was a three-and-a-half-hour root canal, he’ll think this week’s game is a three-and-a-half-hour encounter at the bottom of the pile with Steelers center Cody Wallace.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 17, 49ers 16.
Cardinals at Titans
MDS’s take: Arizona’s defense will miss injured cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, but the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Titans offense still won’t be able to do much of anything. The Cardinals will win and keep their playoff hopes alive, although they look like they’re going to be the best team to miss the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, Titans 10.
Florio’s take: The Cardinals make only their second trip ever to Tennessee, where they lost in 2009. This time, they get the job done.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 24, Titans 21.
Jets at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Jets’ offense had a surprisingly effective game last week against the Raiders, but the Panthers are not the Raiders. This will be a blowout.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 34, Jets 10.
Florio’s take: The advice given by Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to his twin brother Rex regarding beating the Panthers consisted of this: Get a time machine, go back to 2006, and sign Drew Brees.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 27, Jets 17.
Chiefs at Raiders
MDS’s take: Give Kansas City credit for consistency. The Chiefs have been destroying bad teams all season long. They’ll do it again on on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 36, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs are locked in to the No. 5 seed. The Raiders are locked in to irrelevance. Advantage playoff team.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Raiders 20.
Packers at Cowboys
MDS’s take: The Packers are pessimistic about Aaron Rodgers’ chances, and that makes me pessimistic about the Packers’ chances. Although the Cowboys’ defense is bad enough that a Matt Flynn-led Packers offense can score some points on them, the Packers’ defense is every bit as bad, and a Tony Romo-led Cowboys offense will score more.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Packers 28.
Florio’s take: Jerry Jones said there’s no one he’d rather have running his defense than Monte Kiffin. Maybe Jones meant to say he’d rather have no one running his defense than Kiffin. Anyone could coordinate the Cowboys defense to hold down the Packers, if they again don’t have Aaron Rodgers.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Packers 14.
Bengals at Steelers
MDS’s take: If Antonio Brown had kept his foot inbounds on the Steelers’ wild last play on Sunday, Pittsburgh would be right in the thick of the playoff race and this would be a very big game. Instead, the Steelers are all but eliminated, and the Bengals should cruise toward the AFC North title.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Steelers 17.
Florio’s take: The Bengals roll back into Pittsburgh with the better team and better prospects for the balance of the season and beyond. The bigger question is whether Cincy can finally win in the postseason.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 17, Steelers 14.
Ravens at Lions
MDS’s take: The NFC North is wide open for the Lions, and yet the Lions aren’t playing like a team that wants to take it, with losses in three of their last four games even though they had fourth-quarter leads in all three. And yet I believe the Lions are going to show up on Monday night and make a statement against a Ravens team that is also fighting for a playoff spot.
MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Ravens 21.
Florio’s take: The Ravens know how to get the playoffs. The Lions know how to not get to the playoffs.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 30, Lions 27.