For anyone who cares (i.e., only MDS and me), the picks contest is getting interesting.
My lead has fallen to three, by virtue of MDS having a 2-1 edge in the the games on which we disagreed last week. He went 11-3 overall; I was 10-4.
This week, we disagree on only two of 16 games, starting with the first game of the weekend. For all of the picks, do the thing you always do when you decide that you’re curious to see how poorly we’ll do when it comes to picking games.
Vikings at Lions
MDS’s take: The winner of this one is the favorite in the NFC North with five games to go. Last time they met the Lions came back to win in overtime, and this time I think the Lions will again win a close one.
MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Vikings 23.
Florio’s take: The NFC North title could be on the line — unless the Packers can finally find the gas pedal. Detroit’s habit of cutting it close isn’t sustainable, and the streaky Vikings are back on the right track, at least for now.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Lions 24.
Washington at Cowboys
MDS’s take: Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott may be the best combination of quarterback and running back in the league. They should put up some big yardage against Washington’s defense.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Washington 20.
Florio’s take: The Cowboys haven’t played a team currently above .500 since beating Washington in Week Two. They’ll do it again, completing the sweep and holding the Giants at arm’s length, for now.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 30, Washington 24.
Steelers at Colts
MDS’s take: Even if Andrew Luck were healthy, I’d pick the Steelers. With Luck in the concussion protocol, I’ll pick the Steelers in a blowout.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 31, Colts 14.
Florio’s take: Attention restaurant customers. Scott Tolzien. That is all.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 33, Colts 17.
Titans at Bears
MDS’s take: Even if Jay Cutler were healthy, I’d pick the Titans. With Cutler suffering a shoulder injury, I’ll pick the Titans in a blowout.
MDS’s pick: Titans 35, Bears 13.
Florio’s take: Attention restaurant customers. Matt Barkley. That is all.
Florio’s pick: Titans 27, Bears 13.
Jaguars at Bills
MDS’s take: Gus Bradley is doomed in Jacksonville, and his team is just playing out the string. I don’t think the Bills are going anywhere, either, but I think Rex Ryan will have them playing hard down the stretch with his job on the line.
MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 17.
Florio’s take: The best two-win team Rex Ryan has seen could be just good enough to get a third win. But with LeSean McCoy expected to play, Buffalo will remain on the fringe of a playoff berth.
Florio’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 20.
Bengals at Ravens
MDS’s take: Without A.J. Green and Gio Bernard, the Bengals don’t have much in the way of big-play threats on offense. Against a good defense like Baltimore’s, that’s a problem.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Bengals 9.
Florio’s take: The Bengals are falling apart; the Ravens are treading just enough water to still be alive and relevant.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Bengals 10.
Cardinals at Falcons
MDS’s take: I see this game as a statement for both teams, as the Falcons will show they’re the clear frontrunners in the NFC South, while the Cardinals will show they’re officially out of it.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 34, Cardinals 20.
Florio’s take: Atlanta had extra time and now has every incentive to keep their distance from the Bucs — and to deliver a potential death blow to Arizona’s playoff chances.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 34, Cardinals 26.
Giants at Browns
MDS’s take: As the Browns continue their march to 0-16, the Giants should pick up an easy win to help them march to the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Giants 28, Browns 7.
Florio’s take: With an ultra-late bye, the Browns will have two weeks to enjoy being 0-12.
Florio’s pick: Giants 30, Browns 17.
Rams at Saints
MDS’s take: The Rams’ collapse against the Dolphins feels like it could be the kind of game that sends a team into a nosedive. I have a feeling the Rams are heading into a long losing streak.
MDS’s pick: Saints 20, Rams 10.
Florio’s take: Bounty scandal architect Gregg Williams returns to New Orleans. When he leaves, he’ll be one step closer to leaving L.A.
Florio’s pick: Saints 24, Rams 14.
49ers at Dolphins
MDS’s take: I’m not totally sold that the Dolphins are a good team, but they have a fairly easy schedule that should keep them in playoff contention. It doesn’t get much easier than a home game against the 49ers.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 24, 49ers 12.
Florio’s take: The Dolphins have won five in a row. The 49ers have lost nine in a row. It won’t make up for Super Bowl XIX, but it will nudge the Dolphins closer to a possible playoff berth.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 35, 49ers 14.
Chargers at Texans
MDS’s take: The Texans are a first-place team, the Chargers are a last-place team. Put them in each other’s divisions, and the Chargers would be in first place while the Texans would be in last place. I think the Chargers will show in Houston that they’re a better team.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 21, Texans 20.
Florio’s take: The Texans keep winning when they should, losing when they should.
Florio’s pick: Texans 30, Chargers 23.
Seahawks at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The Buccaneers are playing better football than I thought they’d be playing at the end of November, but the Seahawks look to me like they’re not going to lose another game this season.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Buccaneers 21.
Florio’s take: The Bucs are 1-4 at home, 4-1 on the road. This one would be a tough test regardless of where they play it, given how well the Seahawks are performing.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 31, Buccaneers 20.
Panthers at Raiders
MDS’s take: A win by the Raiders here keeps them atop the AFC West and ends the Panthers’ playoff hopes. It’s over for the reigning NFC champions.
MDS’s pick: Raiders 23, Panthers 17.
Florio’s take: This is the kind of game the Raiders could blow, but the Panthers are simply too banged up to take advantage of the possibility that the Raiders will be primed to step in a pothole.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 24, Panthers 17.
Patriots at Jets
MDS’s take: New England shouldn’t have any trouble against a Jets team that has nothing to play for.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 30, Jets 10.
Florio’s take: The Jets stink. The Patriots don’t. #analysis.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 31, Jets 13.
Chiefs at Broncos
MDS’s take: The AFC West is the best division in football, and this game will go a long way toward determining who wins it. I think the Broncos will pull out a close, low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 14, Chiefs 13.
Florio’s take: The game of the day allows the loser to chase the Raiders, the winner to worry about being caught by the Dolphins. Advantage, team that has extra rest.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 23, Chiefs 20.
Packers at Eagles
MDS’s take: I’m not totally sure what is wrong with the Packers, but they look like a team in need of a major overhaul. The Eagles, on the other hand, are a better team than their record suggests. They’ll show that with a big win on Monday night.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Packers 17.
Florio’s take: It’s another prime-time elimination game. I continue to think the Packers will turn things around, but I’m no longer willing to ignore how poorly they’re playing when the time comes to make picks.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 35, Packers 23.