Tonight tonight it’s coming tonight hot damn tonight.
Football season is back, baby. And the PFT Picks contest is back, too. And with three disagreements between Master Pickers MDS and yours truly, one of us will be in the lead after Week One.
And it will be be.
For picks on all 15 Week One games, let it scroll.
Chiefs at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Patriots are the best team in football. They were last year, and they’re the favorites to be the best this year as well. I have a hunch the Chiefs might just be better than the Patriots by the end of the season, but not in Week One.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Chiefs 17.
Florio’s take: Chiefs coach Andy Reid thrives with the extra time that a bye provides. He’s had the most possible time to get ready for this one. And the Patriots don’t know how Reid will deploy Tyreek Hill. And it’s easier to get past the New England offensive line in September. And the receiver who shares a brain with Tom Brady is done for the year. And ultimately none of it matters because the Patriots are still the Patriots and Tom Brady is still Tom Brady and they’re hanging Banner No. 5.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Chiefs 17.
Jets at Bills
MDS’s take: I’m not sure exactly what the difference between “building for the future” and “tanking” is, but I think it might be something like the difference between the Bills and the Jets: Buffalo has traded players away from future picks but still looks like it can be a competent team, while the Jets just look terrible.
MDS’s pick: Bills 17, Jets 7.
Florio’s take: The Bills aren’t great. The Jets aren’t good. #Analysis.
Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Jets 9.
Falcons at Bears
MDS’s take: The Falcons are favored by a touchdown, and I’m tempted to pick the Bears in a big upset, but I just . . . can’t quite pull the trigger. This is a closer game than people think, but the Falcons will pull it out late.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Bears 23.
Florio’s take: If the Falcons can build a 28-3 lead over Chicago, they won’t be blowing it to the Bears. And, yes, I reserve the right to make a 28-3 reference every week in the picks. Even when the Falcons are on a bye.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 28, Bears 3.
Ravens at Bengals
MDS’s take: This is one of those “I’m not sure who’s better” Week One games where I just pick the home team in a close one.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 23, Ravens 20.
Florio’s take: The Bengals and Ravens both missed the playoffs in 2016, and chances are at least one of them will miss the playoffs again in 2017. Which could put each head coach in grave danger — Baltimore coach John Harbaugh’s recent one-year contract extension notwithstanding. The home team gets the edge, in part because Joe Flacco missed all of training camp and the preseason with a back problem, and because plenty of other injuries have ravaged the Ravens.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 23, Ravens 17.
Steelers at Browns
MDS’s take: I like the way the Browns are building, but they’re still a year away from contending in the AFC North. On Sunday they’ll begin their march to a seventh consecutive last-place finish.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 31, Browns 17.
Florio’s take: The prospect of the Browns upsetting the Steelers with a rookie quarterback and an overmatched roster is fascinating. But Le’Veon Bell is back, Martavis Bryant is back, Myles Garrett is injured, and the Steelers remain the best team in the division. They didn’t get there by losing games they should win.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 27, Browns 14.
Cardinals at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions’ defense is going to be a mess again this year, and Matthew Stafford‘s new contract means they’re not going to have a lot of cap space to fix it.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 35, Lions 27.
Florio’s take: Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says his team lost its swagger in Week One last year by losing a close game at home to the Patriots. Which underscores the importance of getting the swagger back by knocking off a playoff team in its own building to start the season. To do that, the Cardinals will have to corral Ameer Abdullah, the running back Arizona coveted before Detroit got him. The Cards settled for David Johnson. It worked out.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 30, Lions 20.
Jaguars at Texans
MDS’s take: Houston’s defense should make life hell for Blake Bortles. Life is probably already hell for Blake Bortles, but you know what I mean.
MDS’s pick: Texans 13, Jaguars 6.
Florio’s take: Despite a persistent sense that the Jaguars are on the verge of breaking out, Blake Bortles has regressed and rookie running back Leonard Fournette may lack the durability to justify his top-five draft status. The Texans, on the other hand, have thrived with subpar quarterback play in the past, and they’re ready to take the next step. The first step will entail dispensing with a division rival in a regular-season debut played before a stadium that will be packed with a throng of grateful Houston fans and far louder than it was in February when the Patriots were capping a comeback for the ages.
Florio’s pick: Texans 34, Jaguars 20.
Raiders at Titans
MDS’s take: I’m expecting the Raiders to take a step backward this year, and Marcus Mariota to take a step forward. Tennessee takes this one.
MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Raiders 16.
Florio’s take: Arguably one of the best games of the weekend, the Titans are expected to parlay a strong 2016 into their first playoff berth since 2008 and the Raiders are expected to follow their first playoff berth since 2002 into something much bigger. Oakland has had plenty of turmoil during camp and the preseason, and the Titans quietly have been laying the bricks for what could be a very good season.
Florio’s pick: Titans 23, Raiders 20.
Eagles at Washington
MDS’s take: Kirk Cousins begins his run toward a huge contract with a good game against a divisional rival. Washington wins this one at home.
MDS’s pick: Washington 28, Eagles 21.
Florio’s take: Philly is a 1.5-point road favorite for a reason. The reason is the Eagles are on the rise, and Washington may be on the decline. The Philly receivers are better, the Washington receivers are worse, and that may be enough of a difference to swing this one.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 24, Washington 20.
Colts at Rams
MDS’s pick: Rams 20, Colts 17.
Florio’s take: If L.A. getting football back means L.A. witnessing Scott Tolzien and Jared Goff, maybe L.A. is better off without football.
Florio’s pick: Rams 24, Colts 10.
Seahawks at Packers
MDS’s take: This could be an NFC Championship Game preview, and we may look back in 17 weeks and say it was the game that swung home-field advantage. I like the Seahawks to take this game in a slight upset.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 17, Packers 16.
Florio’s take: The Seahawks haven’t fared well in Green Bay, and the Packers are primed for another Super Bowl run. Although most Week One games aren’t oozing with meaning, this one could determine the site of the rematch.
Florio’s pick: Packers 28, Seahawks 24.
Panthers at 49ers
MDS’s take: The Panthers are coming off a disappointing season, but a Week One date with the 49ers is just the thing to get them back on track.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 27, 49ers 20.
Florio’s take: If the 49ers only played in Week One, they’d never lose a game. This Week One, they will, thanks to a Panthers team that is suddenly underrated two years after going 15-1.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 23, 49ers 17.
Giants at Cowboys
MDS’s take: With or without Ezekiel Elliott, I expect the Cowboys to have a strong offense this season, as Dak Prescott takes a step forward and establishes himself as one of the league’s top quarterbacks. It starts with a big Week one win in prime time.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Giants 20.
Florio’s take: The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday night. But they had him last year for both games against the Giants, and the Giants beat the Cowboys both times. With seven months to prepare for facing quarterback Dak Prescott and 40-percent turnover on the offensive line and major changes to the Dallas defense and a major distraction coming from Elliott’s suspension, the Giants continue to mimic Jerry Jones in their ownership of the Cowboys.
Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Cowboys 20.
Saints at Vikings
MDS’s take: The Vikings’ defense will shut down Adrian Peterson in his return to Minnesota, and the Vikings’ offense will control the ball just well enough to keep Drew Brees from a lights out game. The Vikings will open 1-0.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Saints 14.
Florio’s take: Adrian Peterson returns to Minnesota but he may not get many opportunities to stick it to the home team. The real question is whether the Vikings offense can stick it to a traditionally overmatched New Orleans defense. At home, they can.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 30, Saints 24.
Chargers at Broncos
MDS’s take: It’s going to be a long year for the Chargers in their new home. It’s going to start with a long night away from home.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 20, Chargers 10.
Florio’s take: The newest arrival in L.A. has become a trendy pick to make it to the playoffs. Hey, experts, they only changed cities, not divisions.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Chargers 17.