Tie, apparently, is the operative word this week in the NFL. As in Cam Newton didn’t have one. And as in the PFT picks competition does.
With MDS prevailing 4-3 in a whopping seven disagreements, it’s all knotted up with four weeks left.
For the week, MDS generated an 11-4 record, and I was 10-5.
This week, the tie will be broken based on the outcome of the game involving the guy who didn’t wear a tie. For all takes and predictions, scroll baby scroll.
Raiders at Chiefs
MDS’s take: This is one of the best Thursday night games we’ve ever had, as the winner will have the inside track in the AFC West and perhaps even home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. I think the Raiders will just freeze, baby, on a cold night in Kansas City, and the Chiefs will win a defensive struggle.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 17, Raiders 13.
Florio’s take: It’s tempting to look at Oakland’s record and assume that 10-2 will become 11-2, especially since the Raiders play so well away from home and have become an NFL darling with their best year by far since 2002. But the Chiefs have an opportunity to swipe the division, given their 26-10 win over the Raiders from October. It will be cold and it will be loud and the Chiefs have an opportunity to position themselves to make a Super Bowl run.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 24, Raiders 21.
Steelers at Bills
MDS’s take: The Bills’ running attack gives them the chance to play a ball-control offense and beat the Steelers on the ground. But I see the Steelers getting a couple big plays from Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown and winning a close one.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Bills 23.
Florio’s take: The Steelers are surging and the Bills are shell-shocked after last Sunday’s 24-9 lead quickly became a 38-24 loss. The only question now is who’ll stay and who’ll go after the Bills once again fail to make it to the playoffs.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 30, Bills 20.
Broncos at Titans
MDS’s take: The Titans’ surprisingly good offense against the Broncos’ unsurprisingly great defense will be a lot of fun to see. I think the Broncos’ offense will struggle and Marcus Mariota will do just enough with his arm and his legs to win a close game.
MDS’s pick: Titans 14, Broncos 13.
Florio’s take: If the Titans only could handle the teams in their division, they’d be a lock for the postseason. As it stands, they’ll need another signature win to even have a shot at the postseason. With an extra week to get ready and with the Broncos struggling (relative to 2015), give the home team the edge.
Florio’s pick: Titans 24, Broncos 17.
Washington at Eagles
MDS’s take: The Eagles are cratering down the stretch after showing a lot of promise early on. Washington needs a win here, and will get one.
MDS’s pick: Washington 27, Eagles 20.
Florio’s take: Seasons of promise for both teams have disintegrated, but Washington still has hope. And more talent. And a chance to still make it to the playoffs.
Florio’s pick: Washington 27, Eagles 23.
Cardinals at Dolphins
MDS’s take: A week ago I would have said the Dolphins were the much better team here, but the Cardinals turned in a good performance last week while the Dolphins turned in a miserable game. Still, I think the Dolphins have more to play for and should bounce back.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 24, Cardinals 20.
Florio’s take: It may not be easy for the Dolphins to forget what happened in Baltimore. But the Cardinals just don’t have the horses this year, and the Dolphins continue to have an unlikely window of opportunity to get to the postseason.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Cardinals 23.
Chargers at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Panthers looked terrible on Sunday night and I’m tempted to declare that they’ve written off the season. But I have a feeling Ron Rivera will have his team focused for a much better game this week, and they’ll pull out a win at home.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 28, Chargers 21.
Florio’s take: Philip Rivers returns to North Carolina, the state where he played college football. (Hopefully, he’ll pick his bolo tie.) That reality coupled with pride and a desire to save Mike McCoy’s job could be the difference in this one, especially with the Panthers simply playing out the string in the hopes of a reset to 0-0.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Panthers 20.
Bengals at Browns
MDS’s take: With each passing week it gets harder to justify picking the Browns to win. They appear to be holding a one-way ticket to 0-16.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 30, Browns 17.
Florio’s take: If the Browns don’t win this one, they may not win at all this season. The Bengals bounced back against the Eagles, and the Bengals realize the stakes involved: The last thing they want to do is to be the first team to lose to the Browns since the 49ers nearly one year ago to the day.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 26, Browns 17.
Bears at Lions
MDS’s take: This is one of those games where a Lions choke isn’t out of the question: It’s a game they should win, but the Lions aren’t a team with a great track record of winning the games they should win. And yet I have a feeling that they’ll manage to pull this game out, even if I also have a feeling it’s going to be closer than expected.
MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Bears 17.
Florio’s take: The biggest mystery about this game is how did the Bears beat the Lions when they met the first time?
Florio’s pick: Lions 30, Bears 20.
Texans at Colts
MDS’s take: After falling behind the Texans early in the season, the Colts now look like the team that should win the AFC South. They’ll take a big step in that direction on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Colts 31, Texans 21.
Florio’s take: The Texans historically don’t play well in Indianapolis. More recently, the Texans haven’t been playing well anywhere. In the quest to lose at home in the wild-card round or get blown out in the divisional round, the Colts have the edge. Hooray?
Florio’s pick: Colts 24, Texans 20.
Vikings at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Vikings have struggled mightily after getting off to a hot start, but playing the Jaguars should cure what ails them.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Jaguars 10.
Florio’s take: If the Vikings can’t beat the Jaguars, the Vikings have no business being in the playoffs. Then again, the Vikings arguably already have no business being in the playoffs.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Jaguars 17.
Jets at 49ers
MDS’s take: This might be the ugliest game of the year. Both teams looked terrible last week, but the 49ers at least still seem to be trying to win, while the Jets are openly talking about planning for next year. That gives the 49ers the advantage this week.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Jets 10.
Florio’s take: The only important question regarding this one is whether there will be more people on and around the field than there are in the stands.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 13, Jets 9.
Saints at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The Saints were still in the NFC South race until they laid an egg against the Lions last week. The Buccaneers are now fighting for a playoff spot, and they’ll get a big win on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Saints 17.
Florio’s take: At a time when the Raiders are the best they’ve been since making it to the Super Bowl in 2002, the Buccaneers are the best they’ve been since they won the Super Bowl in 2002.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 31, Saints 27.
Falcons at Rams
MDS’s take: The Falcons’ defense isn’t very good, and it could cost them the division. But the Jared Goff-led Rams offense won’t be able to take advantage.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Rams 14.
Florio’s take: “We don’t make excuses, [insert latest excuse].”
Florio’s pick: Falcons 28, Rams 17.
Seahawks at Packers
MDS’s take: This is the most intriguing game of the week to me. Is Aaron Rodgers all the way back and ready to attack a Seahawks secondary that’s missing Earl Thomas? Can the Packers’ defense slow down Thomas Rawls and a good Seahawks running game? I think this will be a higher-scoring game than most expect, with the Seahawks coming out on top.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 34, Packers 31.
Florio’s take: Green Bay’s last two wins were, in hindsight, not very impressive. The Eagles have slumped to 2-7, and the Packers didn’t exactly steamroll an overmatched Texans team. The Seahawks have the pass rush to overcome the absence of safety Earl Thomas, and the offense to take pressure away from the defense.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Packers 20.
Cowboys at Giants
MDS’s take: The injury to Jason Pierre-Paul will hit the Giants hard, and the Cowboys’ offense should have a big night as they march toward clinching home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Giants 20.
Florio’s take: Yes, the Giants beat the Cowboys in Week One. But the Cowboys have gotten a lot better since then, and they realize the importance of not giving the Giants an opening to swipe the division.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 20, Giants 17.
Ravens at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Patriots’ offense will slip without Rob Gronkowski, but I see New England’s defense doing a good job against Joe Flacco in a hard-fought and close game.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 20, Ravens 17.
Florio’s take: The Ravens give the Patriots fits in New England in the postseason. During the regular season, the Pats know how to take care of their rivals from Baltimore.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 24, Ravens 21.