Plenty of people connected to the NFL would prefer that the last week didn’t happen. I’m part of that group, for entirely different reasons.
When it came to predicting the outcomes of games in Week Two, I had the worst showing I’ve ever had, in the time I’ve been picking games at PFT. As it all disintegrated, I used language even more offensive than whatever Colin Kaepernick supposedly said on Sunday night.
Ultimately, I got five right and 11 wrong. Eleven wrong.
MDS didn’t do much better, but his 8-8 showing puts him in the lead by three games, with a 17-15 mark. I’m at 14-18 through two weeks. Which is quite lame.
This week, we disagree on four games. Which means I’ll likely be seven games behind MDS by next week.
Buccaneers at Falcons
MDS’s take: If the Bucs couldn’t beat teams quarterbacked by Derek Anderson and Austin Davis at home, they’re not going to beat a team quarterbacked by Matt Ryan on the road.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 31, Buccaneers 17.
Florio’s take: The Falcons are better than I thought they’d be. The Bucs aren’t. While it’s unclear what Atlanta will do on the road in the division, holding serve at home against the Saints means they’ll hold serve against the Buccaneers.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17.
Chargers at Bills
MDS’s take: Are the Bills for real? That may be the toughest question to answer after the first two weeks of the season. They sure look like a much better team than any of us expected heading into 2014. I think they’re going to keep it going against a Chargers team that will have a tough time overcoming a tough game and a long road trip.
MDS’s pick: Bills 21, Chargers 20.
Florio’s take: The Bills are off to a great start. And we’ve seen how this movie ends. While I’m not ready to assume a Western New York renaissance isn’t happening, the Chargers are even better than they were when they made the playoffs a year ago.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 30, Bills 21.
Washington at Eagles
MDS’s take: We’ll all have our eyes on Kirk Cousins getting the start and potentially playing well enough over the next few weeks to keep the job even after Robert Griffin III is ready to go. But I’m more interested in watching Nick Foles, who has made a lot of mental mistakes this year, the kind of mistakes he wasn’t making last year. Fortunately for the Eagles, they’ve managed to go 2-0 without Foles even playing very well. I think they should improve to 3-0 and Foles should have a better game than he’s played so far.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Washington 12.
Florio’s take: DeSean Jackson returns home to see that the Eagles really are even better without him.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 30, Washington 17.
Texans at Giants
MDS’s take: The Giants are just not a good football team right now, and although Tom Coughlin has turned his team around after bad starts before, I don’t see it happening any time soon. Bill O’Brien has the Texans playing efficient and mistake-free offensive football and they’ll put plenty of points on the board against the Giants.
MDS’s pick: Texans 31, Giants 14.
Florio’s take: And here’s where we find out the Giants aren’t quite as bad as perceived, and that the Texans aren’t quite as good.
Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Texans 17.
Vikings at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints are 0-2, but they’ll roll on Sunday over a Vikings team that could be ready to go into a deep dive.
MDS’s pick: Saints 34, Vikings 23.
Florio’s take: Even without Adrian Peterson playing, the Saints will have a hard time slowing down the Vikings’ offense. Not because the Vikings’ offense is great, but because the Saints’ defense isn’t. Still, advantage home team.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Vikings 21.
Cowboys at Rams
MDS’s take: The 1-1 Cowboys are one-eighth of the way to their fourth straight 8-8 finish, and I think what we’re going to see from them this year is more or less what we’ve seen through two games: They’ll beat bad teams like the Titans and lose to good teams like the 49ers. This week it’s the Rams, a bad team, so they’ll win.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Rams 13.
Florio’s take: The next time anyone talks about expanding the NFL, point out that this game could feature a quarterback showdown of Brandon Weeden and Austin Davis. Advantage: No one.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 14, Rams 13.
Titans at Bengals
MDS’s take: I’m really liking what I’m seeing of the Bengals, on both sides of the ball: Their defense is one of the most talented in football and the offensive line is giving Andy Dalton plenty of time to pass, which means he’s not being pressured into the mistakes that have plagued him in the past. Cincinnati might be the best team in the AFC.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 30, Titans 10.
Florio’s take: Even without a full stadium to cheer them on, the Bengals should be able to roll over the Titans. Maybe eventually the stadium will be full.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 31, Titans 20.
Ravens at Browns
MDS’s take: I went back and forth on this one. I like the direction the Browns are heading in, but I also think the Ravens, who looked so good last Thursday and have a long work week with extra time to prepare, are a better team from top to bottom. Go with the Ravens in a close, low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Browns 13.
Florio’s take: Yes, the Browns pulled off a thrilling win over the Saints. But the New Orleans defense currently is flawed, deeply. The Baltimore defense isn’t.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 17, Browns 13.
Packers at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions are so thin at cornerback that Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson should have a field day. On the other hand, the Lions’ passing game has so many weapons that I’m not sure how long the Packers’ defense can slow them down. Go with the Lions in a close, high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Packers 30.
Florio’s take: A shootout could be looming in the Lions’ den, with both teams having high-powered offense and neither having a defense that can impose its will. Maybe they should play on a 50-yard field.
Florio’s pick: Packers 45, Lions 41.
Colts at Jaguars
MDS’s take: With both teams at 0-2, the loser of this game will be in such a deep hole (or, as Roddy White would say, a deep whole) that any hope of winning the AFC South would be just about over. Before the season some saw the Jaguars as potential playoff teams, but I think the Jaguars have a longer rebuilding job than that.
MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 17.
Florio’s take: It’s a must-win game for the Colts, who are playing a team that, based on its current talent level, must lose.
Florio’s pick: Colts 30, Jaguars 23.
Raiders at Patriots
MDS’s take: Charles Woodson said it best: The Raiders suck. This is the easiest game of the week to pick.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 34, Raiders 20.
Florio’s take: Remember that time when the Raiders were really good and the Patriots stunk? Neither do I.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 48, Raiders 17.
49ers at Cardinals
MDS’s take: I went back and forth on this one. The Cardinals have looked better than most people thought, and the 49ers are coming off a major meltdown against the Bears. Does that mean there’s a new pecking order in the NFC West? I don’t think so. Uncertainty at the quarterback position in Arizona is a major problem, and Colin Kaepernick won’t throw three interceptions again.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Cardinals 13.
Florio’s take: The jury remains out on whether Colin Kaepernick is a franchise quarterback. The verdict is in on whether the Cardinals can find a way to win, no matter who is injured or suspended or otherwise not available.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.
Broncos at Seahawks
MDS’s take: Super Bowl XLVIII I/II (that’s Super Bowl forty-eight and one-half for those of you who don’t speak Latin) will be a closer game than the ugly blowout we saw in February, but the ultimate result will be the same: The great defense will beat the great offense.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Broncos 17.
Florio’s take: At a neutral site in early February, the Seahawks won by 35. At CenturyLink Field with a sudden sense of urgency following last week’s loss in San Diego, this one could be uglier. But if I pick a margin larger than 35, I could get the Phil Simms treatment in Denver.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 34, Broncos 24.
Chiefs at Dolphins
MDS’s take: This is shaping up to be a long, tough season for the Chiefs. After the breakout year of 2013, the Chiefs are off to a bad start, they’re plagued by injuries, and they’re about to lose their third in a row.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 27, Chiefs 20.
Florio’s take: They once played the longest game in NFL history. This one can’t end soon enough for the road team.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Chiefs 14.
Steelers at Panthers
MDS’s take: Kudos to the Panthers’ defense for the way it played on Sunday: Despite losing its best pass rusher, Greg Hardy, for off-field reasons on gameday morning, Carolina did a good job of slowing down a good Detroit passing attack. This Carolina team is better than most people realized.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 24, Steelers 13.
Florio’s take: The Panthers have longer aspired to be like the Steelers. Maybe the Panthers have gotten there. The Steelers are trying to find their way back to that. Maybe on Sunday night they should take a long look at the team on the other side of the field.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 20, Steelers 12.
Bears at Jets
MDS’s take: The Jets’ offense is a lot better than I expected it to be, and the Bears’ defense has some holes. But the Bears have perhaps the best pair of receivers in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and I just don’t think the Jets have the cornerbacks to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Bears 28, Jets 27.
Florio’s take: The Jets barely beat a bad Raiders team and blew what would have been a big upset at Lambeau Field. Assuming that the Week Two Bears and not the Week One Bears make the trek to MetLife Stadium, the Jets won’t have to worry about losing the game by an ill-timed timeout.
Florio’s pick: Bears 23, Jets 14.