And then there was one.
As in one game separating MDS and yours truly in the full-season picks contest. He swept the two disagreements from Week 12, and now with seven disagreements in 15 games this weekend, things are about to get interesting. For him and me and pretty much no one else.
Last week, MDS went 13-3 and I was 11-5. So at least we both no longer stink as much as we used to.
Cowboys at Vikings
MDS’s take: The Vikings were the NFL’s last undefeated team this season. After Thursday night, they’ll be a .500 team.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Vikings 16.
Florio’s take: If the Vikings don’t win this one, their chances of qualifying for the postseason, where they’d eventually be blown out, drop considerably. With voice of the Vikings (as well as PA and Florio podcast cohort) Paul Allen convinced the home team will win, I’ll humor him on this one. Especially since, if he’s wrong, I’ll have a tangible reason for reminding him of it on a regular basis, indefinitely. Besides, the Cowboys may now assume that they’re facing the likes of the Browns, 49ers, and Bears again, given the absence of coach Mike Zimmer.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 24, Cowboys 20.
Chiefs at Falcons
MDS’s take: A good interconference game between two teams that would be in the playoffs today. I’ll take the home team in a close one.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 20, Chiefs 17.
Florio’s take: For the second time this year, the Falcons face a team that played nearly five full quarters in the prior game. This time, however, the Atlanta foe got a full week to recover. And the Chiefs as of right now are better than the Bucs were a months ago.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Falcons 23.
Lions at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints’ offense is firing on all cylinders and the Lions’ defense is struggling. I see the Saints winning a high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Saints 35, Lions 31.
Florio’s take: That string of eleven games decided by seven points or less could be ending for the Lions, and not in a good way.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Lions 21.
Rams at Patriots
MDS’s take: This is the easiest game on the board to pick. The Rams will get their eighth loss of the season, ensuring their 13th consecutive non-winning season.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Rams 10.
Florio’s take: Bill Belichick has outscored Jeff Fisher 104-7 in their last two meetings. It likely won’t be much better this time around.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Rams 13.
Broncos at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Broncos are in danger of missing the playoffs, but when a team needs a win, a game at Jacksonville is just what the doctor ordered.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 27, Jaguars 10.
Florio’s take: Twenty years ago, the Jaguars scored a major playoff upset over a championship-caliber Broncos team. This time, it would be an even bigger surprise if Jacksonville wins.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 27, Jaguars 17.
Texans at Packers
MDS’s take: Aaron Rodgers should carve up the Texans’ defense, and Brock Osweiler won’t be able to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Texans 17.
Florio’s take: The Pack is/are back. Brock Osweiler is/was a misplaced investment. Green Bay can/should/will move to 6-6, and possibly to within striking distance of first place in the division.
Florio’s pick: Packers 30, Texans 20.
Eagles at Bengals
MDS’s take: Both teams are well outside playoff contention, but this isn’t a bad matchup. I see a hard-fought game decided on a Mike Nugent missed extra point.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 21, Bengals 20.
Florio’s take: The Eagles, after starting the year 3-0, have lost six of eight. The Bengals are bad this year but not so bad that they’d lose at home to a rookie quarterback with a rookie head coach that has struggled for most of the last two months.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 23, Eagles 16.
Dolphins at Ravens
MDS’s take: The strength of the Ravens is their run defense, and I think they’ll shut down Jay Ajayi, put pressure on Ryan Tannehill and win a close game.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Dolphins 13.
Florio’s take: Once upon a time, a Dolphins team on a long losing streak beat the Ravens. Nine years later, the Dolphins are riding an unlikely six-game winning streak. And the Ravens once again can be involved in the termination of a Miami-related streak.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Dolphins 16.
49ers at Bears
MDS’s take: This game only matters for draft positioning. The Bears will win, which keeps the 49ers alive for the first overall pick.
MDS’s pick: Bears 20, 49ers 17.
Florio’s take: San Francisco’s offense is finding its stride, even if it hasn’t found many wins. Against an overmatched Chicago team, that changes. If only for a day.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 31, Bears 23.
Bills at Raiders
MDS’s take: The Bills may need to run the table to get to the playoffs. After the Raiders beat them on Sunday, Rex Ryan’s job security will be hanging by a thread.
MDS’s pick: Raiders 24, Bills 21.
Florio’s take: The Raiders play up and down to the level of the competition, which gives Buffalo an opening to steal this one — especially if the Raiders are peeking ahead at their Thursday night showdown in Kansas City.
Florio’s pick: Bills 27, Raiders 24.
Giants at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Giants still have a chance to catch the Cowboys in the NFC East, but they’ll probably have to win out to do it. And that hope will be dashed in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Giants 23.
Florio’s take: An old-school rivalry dating back to 1933, the Giants are 44-29-3 against the Steelers. The Rooneys needs this one a little more than that Maras, who are closing in on a wild-card berth and have a very rough road to the NFC East title.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 30, Giants 24.
Washington at Cardinals
MDS’s take: Although the Cardinals are one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams this season, I think their defense can hold Kirk Cousins in check and win a close game.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 17, Washington 14.
Florio’s take: Washington had extra time and Washington has extra incentive and the Cardinals are sliding out of contention, with their coach calling players out for being selfish.
Florio’s pick: Washington 34, Arizona 21.
Buccaneers at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Bucs have surged recently and gotten themselves back into the playoff race, but I see Joey Bosa making Jameis Winston’s life miserable and San Diego winning a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 16, Buccaneers 13.
Florio’s take: It gets no easier for a Tampa Bay team riding a pair of signature wins. The Chargers would be a postseason shoo-in if they played in three or four other divisions, and the Bucs will need to find another way to get themselves in the right frame of mind to take down the Chargers. Knowing that the Falcons have lost earlier in the day (if the Chiefs prevail in Atlanta) could be the kick Tampa Bay needs.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Chargers 20.
Panthers at Seahawks
MDS’s take: The Seahawks are the better team in all three phases of the game and should beat the Panthers comfortably.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 24, Panthers 14.
Florio’s take: One of the best rivalries in recent years has instantly been reduced to rubble. The Seahawks need to get back on the right track, and the Panthers have been on the wrong track all year.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 31, Panthers 20.
Colts at Jets
MDS’s take: With Andrew Luck back against a bad Jets secondary, the Colts should win this one and — if the Texans lose — move into a three-way tie in the AFC South.
MDS’s pick: Colts 30, Jets 20.
Florio’s take: It’s a rematch of Super Bowl III, and I can guarantee you won’t stay awake through all of it.
Florio’s pick: Colts 23, Jets 20.