It’s a new year; everyone is 0-0. That includes MDS and yours truly. Which is good since he whipped my butt in 2013.
But this could be my year to do the whipping in the 256-game PFT Picks showdown. We disagree on four of the first 16 games, so there’s a chance I’ll establish an early lead.
There’s probably an even better chance I’ll land in a pothole.
For all the picks, keep doing what you’ve been doing for the last four paragraphs.
Packers at Seahawks
MDS’s take: The Seahawks have been so dominant at home that the NFL tries not to schedule prime time games in Seattle because the Seahawks jump out to such big leads that viewers turn off the games early and go to bed. I think the Packers’ offense is good enough to prevent that from happening and keep Green Bay in the game, but Seattle will win it.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 27, Packers 20.
Florio’s take: After the Super Bowl champion won every Thursday night opener since the format was adopted, the last two have lost. The trend ends at CenturyLink Field. Getcha Richter scale read; the Seahawks may be even better this year.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Packers 20.
Saints at Falcons
MDS’s take: The Saints are my pick to win the NFC South, and they’ll take a big step toward that title by starting the season with a divisional road win.
MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Falcons 20.
Florio’s take: Losing the first game of the season doesn’t create a major problem unless the loss comes at home to a division rival. The Falcons need to hold serve if they hope to rebound from a disastrous 2013. But the Saints may be even better than last year.
Florio’s pick: Saints 30, Falcons 24.
Vikings at Rams
MDS’s take: Shaun Hill is going to surprise a lot of people and turn in a solid season in place of Sam Bradford this year. I’m not picking another Kurt Warner/Trent Green situation, but I am picking the Rams to be better than anyone thinks, and to get it started with a win over a rebuilding Vikings team.
MDS’s pick: Rams 24, Vikings 20.
Florio’s take: The Vikings finally will have balance on offense. The Rams suddenly won’t. Sometimes, it’s that simple.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 16, Rams 10.
Browns at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Steelers are preparing to see both Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel on Sunday. I think Pittsburgh’s defense will do just fine against both of them.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Browns 10.
Florio’s take: Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Bernie Kosar, Brian Sipe, Otto Graham. It won’t matter on Week One in the year the Steelers are honoring the late Chuck Noll.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 20, Browns 7.
Jaguars at Eagles
MDS’s take: The Jaguars have taken a bigger step forward this offseason than most people realize, and they won’t be pushovers anymore. But Philadelphia will be a tough place to play this year, and the Eagles will take this one.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 28, Jaguars 23.
Florio’s take: The Eagles ended the 2013 season with a disappointing loss at home. They’ll start 2014 with one of their easier home dates, especially since the Jaguars have the wrong guy at quarterback.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Jaguars 20.
Raiders at Jets
MDS’s take: The Raiders made the right call by starting rookie Derek Carr at quarterback, and the Jets’ cornerback situation is bad enough that Carr should hit on some big plays in his first NFL game. However, Rex Ryan’s defensive schemes will pressure Carr into at least three turnovers, and that will be the difference.
MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: The Raiders haven’t won a game on the East Coast since December 2009. Coming to town a few days early likely won’t change that. Especially since the Raiders are breaking in a rookie quarterback and are featuring a bunch of veterans who were available this offseason for a reason.
Florio’s pick: Jets 17, Raiders 10.
Bengals at Ravens
MDS’s take: All the offseason talk has been about Andy Dalton, but I expect the Bengals to have one of the NFL’s best defenses this season, and that’s why they’ll be the best team in the division, starting Sunday in Baltimore.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 17, Ravens 14.
Florio’s take: Cincinnati is breaking in a pair of new offensive coordinators. Baltimore is breaking in a new offense. Steve Smith may break someone’s jaw. Advantage home team.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Bengals 17.
Bills at Bears
MDS’s take: In Marc Trestman’s second year as head coach, the Bears will have one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. The Bills just won’t be able to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Bears 31, Bills 13.
Florio’s take: EJ Manuel won’t be wearing a “C” on his jersey. But he will be wearing a Jared Allen.
Florio’s pick: Bears 28, Bills 13.
Washington at Texans
MDS’s take: J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will be chasing Robert Griffin III all over the field, and the Texans will get off to a 1-0 start after losing their last 14 games in 2013.
MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Washington 10.
Florio’s take: A couple of new coaches of teams that combined for five wins last year square off. Somehow, one of these two squads will emerge with a “W”. While Washngton could have the better season, Houston will have the better day.
Florio’s pick: Texans 17, Washington 10.
Titans at Chiefs
MDS’s take: I think the Chiefs will take a step backward this season after their surprising playoff berth last year, but starting at home against the Titans should be one of the easiest games on their schedule.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 21, Titans 13.
Florio’s take: While the Chiefs likely will take a step back in 2014, it won’t begin against a team that has all the sizzle of a bowl of unflavored gelatin.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Titans 17.
Patriots at Dolphins
MDS’s take: We’ve heard a lot about how the Dolphins have changed their offense to run at a faster pace, but I just don’t think Miami has the personnel to match up with New England, which remains the best team in the AFC East.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Dolphins 10.
Florio’s take: With a much better defense and a still-potent offense, the Patriots launch the 10-year anniversary of their last Super Bowl-winning season with a performance that could put them back there, again.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Dolphins 24.
Panthers at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: Carolina got worse this offseason and Tampa Bay got better. The Lovie Smith era will start with a win that provides Tampa with some optimism, which was sorely lacking during the Greg Schiano era.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Panthers 20.
Florio’s take: Of all the divisions in the NFL, the NFC South has featured the most bottom-to-top turmoil. It starts early this year, with last year’s basement dweller topping last year’s champion in a showdown between Panthers coach Ron Rivera and the guy who fired him in Chicago.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 21, Panthers 17
49ers at Cowboys
MDS’s take: I think the Cowboys are going to be better than most people expect this year, with DeMarco Murray running behind a good offensive line and giving them a balanced attack on offense. And I think the 49ers are going to be worse than most people expect this year, with the absence of NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith at the start of the season hurting their defense. So I’m picking Dallas.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, 49ers 24.
Florio’s take: It’s been a long time since these were the best two teams in the NFC. The Cowboys could take a major step back from their perpetual 8-8 record, and the 49ers may be unable to get close to another NFC title game. In fact, there’s a chance that the Cowboys could win this one. I thought about making that pick. And then I remembered how bad the defense is.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 24, Cowboys 20.
Colts at Broncos
MDS’s take: The Broncos’ offense won’t be quite as good this year as it was last year, but it will still be plenty good. And I see big holes on the Colts’ defense. Indianapolis won’t be able to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 30, Colts 20.
Florio’s take: Last year, former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning returned to Indy and lost. This year, the Colts travel to Denver and Manning gets a measure of revenge. Along with a lot of yards and touchdowns.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 34, Colts 21.
Giants at Lions
MDS’s take: There are major concerns about the Lions’ secondary, and Eli Manning may be able to take advantage of Detroit’s cornerback situation. But Matthew Stafford has so many weapons that he’ll put up even bigger numbers than Manning, and the Lions will win a high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Lions 35, Giants 31.
Florio’s take: New York’s new offense is a work in progress. But it’s not making much progress, and it isn’t really working. The Lions have the talent to score a lot more points than whatever the Giants can muster against a Detroit defense that still has plenty of question marks.
Florio’s pick: Lions 30, Giants 20.
Chargers at Cardinals
MDS’s take: Carson Palmer is going to have a better season than most people expect, and it starts in the late Monday night game against a Chargers defense that is going to have a rough year.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 33, Chargers 27.
Florio’s take: Arizona has become a trendy pick for those willing to forget that Karlos Dansby, Darryl Washington, and Darnell Dockett are gone for the year. The Chargers flew under radar for most of 2013. They won’t in 2014.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Cardinals 23.