The good news last week? MDS gained only one game on me. The bad news? MDS got only seven of the 14 games right.
Yep, that 12-1 performance from yours truly in Week Seven is now the chunk of filet between a moldy pair of 6-8 slices of counterfeit Wonder bread.
At one point, it was looking disastrous. Thanks to the Giants, Broncos, and 49ers, a nauseating 3-8 start was salvaged. Sort of.
This week, we again disagree on only one game. And it all comes down to Monday night.
For the year, I’m now 73-45, and MDS is 69-49.
Chiefs at Chargers
MDS’s take: Matt Cassel is back as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, and the result will be more or less the same as the first time Cassel started against the Chargers this year: He’ll throw multiple interceptions and the Chiefs will lose.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 27, Chiefs 13.
Florio’s take: The Chargers already have beaten the Chiefs in Kansas City. Then again, who hasn’t? Norv Turner’s week-to-week employment lasts at least another week.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Chiefs 16.
Broncos at Bengals
MDS’s take: The Bengals’ defense has been a mess this season, and Peyton Manning is getting better every week. Manning will throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and the Broncos will cruise.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Bengals 17.
Florio’s take: The schedule softens for a Denver team that looks to be much better than the one that made it to the final eight a year ago. The Bengals, on the other hand, are starting a rough patch that will make a rough season even rougher. Roughly speaking.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 31, Bengals 17.
Ravens at Browns
MDS’s take: I’m tempted to pick the upset here, as the Ravens have struggled to put teams away while the Browns have played competitive football even in defeat. But while the Browns will keep this one close, the Ravens will manage to hold them off.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 23, Browns 21.
Florio’s take: Cleveland’s old team returns to town, nearly 17 years to the day after Cleveland’s old team declared its intention to leave. The Browns will make it interesting, but the Ravens know they need to step it up now in order to hold off the Steelers, who are making their move and who face the Ravens twice in three weeks, starting later this month.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Browns 14.
Cardinals at Packers
MDS’s take: This looks to me like the easiest pick on the board. Aaron Rodgers will have another big game, Clay Matthews will have a couple sacks, and the reeling Cardinals will lose their fifth straight.
MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Cardinals 12.
Florio’s take: After nearly losing to the Jags, the Packers will be on guard for a Cardinals team that hits the road on a short week after a Monday night mess.
Florio’s pick: Packers 35, Cardinals 20.
Bills at Texans
MDS’s take: Speaking of easy games to pick, there’s no way the Bills’ defense slows down Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Co. I do think C.J. Spiller could have a big game against the Texans’ run defense, but the Bills’ offense won’t be able to keep up the scoring pace.
MDS’s pick: Texans 35, Bills 21.
Florio’s take: $100 million can buy a lot of Super Bowl rings. That may be the only way Mario Williams ever gets one.
Florio’s pick: Texans 30, Bills 17.
Dolphins at Colts
MDS’s take: If the playoffs started today, these two teams would earn the two AFC wild card berths. Who saw that coming before the season? I look for the Dolphins to take a big step toward the playoffs with a big win in Indianapolis, and I expect a lot of people to be talking about Joe Philbin as a coach of the year candidate after his team gets its biggest win of the season.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 27, Colts 14.
Florio’s take: A pair of top-ten quarterbacks have winning records through eight weeks, and neither has a III at the end of his name. Despite III wins in a row, the Dolphins remain underrated. Will they still be if they’re VIII-III when hosting the Pats?
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 23, Colts 20.
Lions at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Lions’ m.o. is the same every week: Start slowly and get better as the game goes on. Some games, like last week against the Seahawks, that results in a last-minute come-from-behind win. Other games, like two weeks ago against the Bears, that results in a last-minute touchdown followed by a failed onside kick and a loss. So which will it be this week? I’m betting neither. The Lions have finally found an opponent they can beat from pillar to post and will win easily in Jacksonville.
MDS’s pick: Lions 27, Jaguars 10.
Florio’s take: With the Jaguars outscored 95-20 at home at home this season and the Lions beginning to show some signs of life, this is precisely the kind of game that Jacksonville should win. I’ll take my chances.
Florio’s pick: Lions 28, Jaguars 17.
Bears at Titans
MDS’s take: The Bears’ defense will make life miserable for Matt Hasselbeck and hold Chris Johnson to less than 20 yards. Chicago wins this big.
MDS’s pick: Bears 27, Titans 13.
Florio’s take: It’s tempting to take the Titans, who have played well lately. Especially since the Bears were sluggish at best against the Panthers. But a good team finds a way to win games it seems to be trying to lose. On Sunday, the Bears will be less complacent.
Florio’s pick: Bears 27, Titans 17.
Panthers at Redskins
MDS’s take: In a game with all eyes on Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, I like Redskins running back Alfred Morris to steal the show with a big game against a suspect Panthers run defense.
MDS’s pick: Redskins 24, Panthers 14.
Florio’s take: The quarterbacks should put their respective Heisman Trophies on the line for this one. If they do, Robert Griffin III will have bookends.
Florio’s pick: Redskins 33, Panthers 23.
Buccaneers at Raiders
MDS’s take: The Raiders are actually playing some surprisingly good football lately, to the point where I wouldn’t rule out a run at an AFC playoff spot. Carson Palmer will put a lot of points on the board as the Raiders win their third straight game.
MDS’s pick: Raiders 34, Buccaneers 20.
Florio’s take: This rematch of Super Bowl XXXVII will turn out a little bit better for the Silver and Black, which surprisingly remain in striking distance for a playoff berth.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 27, Buccaneers 20.
Vikings at Seahawks
MDS’s take: Both the Vikings and the Seahawks are coming off disappointing Week Eight performances, but I have a lot more faith in Seattle’s ability to turn things around at home.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 23, Vikings 16.
Florio’s take: The Vikings were exposed last week against the Bucs, and offensive coordinator Bill Mugrave could be exposed to unemployment if he doesn’t get the team back on track. Good luck with that in Seattle, against that defense.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 20, Vikings 9.
Steelers at Giants
MDS’s take: The Steelers have played well at home and badly on the road this season, and that will continue against the Giants, who will win their fifth in a row.
MDS’s pick: Giants 28, Steelers 17.
Florio’s take: It’s a simple formula in New York. Play great against great teams. Play not-so-great against not-so-great teams. The Steelers currently fall closer to the former category.
Florio’s pick: Giants 35, Steelers 27.
Cowboys at Falcons
MDS’s take: Despite the Falcons’ 7-0 record and the Cowboys’ 3-4 record, I see this as a close game. The Cowboys are playing competitive football and the Falcons have had a tendency to let weaker teams hang around. But the end result will be something we’ve already seen a couple times this season. Dallas failing to pull it out in the end.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Cowboys 21.
Florio’s take: If the Cowboys spot the Falcons 23 points, the Falcons won’t let them back into it. And with their only non-flex visit to Sunday Night Football, the Falcons aren’t about to stumble against an inferior team.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 31, Cowboys 20.
Eagles at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints have probably already run out of chances to turn their season around, and the Eagles are rapidly running out of chances, too. But the Saints’ defense is so weak that Michael Vick can’t help but have a better game on Monday night, and the Eagles will win in New Orleans.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Saints 21.
Florio’s take: For a team that may not be making it to the playoffs, delivering a knockout punch to the Eagles on national TV in the Superdome could be the next best thing. Maybe a certain T-shirt will be making another appearance; at least ESPN isn’t regulated by the FCC.
Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Eagles 24.