OK, it was a little rough last week. But MDS and yours truly remain tied after 16 games, with nine right and seven wrong.
This week, we disagree on five of the 16 games.
To see who we like and who we don’t like and where we disagree, keep on reading.
Steelers at Ravens
MDS’s take: It’s been a miserable week in Baltimore, and it won’t get any better for the Ravens when the Steelers come to town. There are major questions about the Ravens on both sides of the ball, and they’re about to start the season with two straight division losses at home.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Ravens 10.
Florio’s take: It’s hard enough to play on a short week. It’s an impossible task to do it for the Ravens, who are reeling from the Ray Rice debacle. The team is incompetent, the league is incompetent, and the coaches and players will have a hard time getting their minds right.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 17, Ravens 13.
(Friday update: Ravens won, 26-6)
Dolphins at Bills
MDS’s take: No team surprised me more in Week One than the Bills, who look like they’ve developed an offense that takes advantage of EJ Manuel’s strengths and a defense that has talent all over the field. Buffalo might just be a playoff team. Who saw that coming?
MDS’s pick: Bills 24, Dolphins 20.
Florio’s take: Both teams were surprise winners in Week One. The Bills are riding a rare wave of euphoria, with the team likely not moving for a long time, if ever. If they can do what they did to the Bears in Chicago, they can find a way to hold serve at home against a division rival.
Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Dolphins 20.
Jaguars at Washington
MDS’s take: Should we credit the Jaguars for coming out strong against the Eagles? Or should we say, “Same old Jaguars” because of the way they collapsed in the second half? I think it’s more the latter, and yet I was uninspired enough by Jay Gruden’s debut that I think Washington will lose its home opener.
MDS’s pick: Jaguars 23, Washington 20.
Florio’s take: Washington’s offense is a work in progress. It doesn’t work, and it’s not making much progress. I think I used that last week for another team in the NFC East. I may be able to use that every week.
Florio’s pick: Jaguars 20, Washington 13.
Cowboys at Titans
MDS’s take: Week One made me re-evaluate my feelings about both of these teams. I figured the Titans’ offense was going to sputter with Jake Locker at the helm, while the Cowboys’ offense would be good enough to keep them in games despite a lousy defense. Instead, it was Tennessee’s offense that looked strong in Week One and Dallas’s offense that looked like a mess. We’ll see more of the same in Week Two.
MDS’s pick: Titans 28, Cowboys 17.
Florio’s take: I underestimated the Titans. I properly estimated the Cowboys. For Dallas, an 8-6 finish will be needed to get the Cowboys back to 8-8 again.
Florio’s pick: Titans 27, Cowboys 13.
Cardinals at Giants
MDS’s take: Both teams are coming off short work weeks after opening the season on Monday night, but the Cardinals are flying cross country and will be worn down by last week’s nail-biter, and so I’m going with the Giants in a close one.
MDS’s pick: Giants 21, Cardinals 20.
Florio’s take: Once upon a time, the Cardinals couldn’t win on the East Coast. That was before the Cardinals became good. And before the Giants became really, really bad.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 24, Giants 13.
Patriots at Vikings
MDS’s take: No team looked better than the Vikings in Week One, especially Cordarrelle Patterson, who’s a star in the making. And yet I just can’t see the Patriots opening with two straight losses. Bill Belichick will have the right game plan to stop his old quarterback Matt Cassel, and Tom Brady can’t possibly play as badly this week as he did in Miami last week.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Vikings 17.
Florio’s take: The Vikings haven’t beaten Tom Brady in three tries. Last year, coach Mike Zimmer ended Brady’s passing-touchdown streak at 52. The Vikings could christen their temporary home in memorable fashion, applying pressure early and often to Brady and finding ways to navigate a defense that’s no better than the St. Louis defense the Rams solved last week.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 24, Patriots 20.
Saints at Browns
MDS’s take: The Saints’ defense struggled mightily against the Falcons’ passing game. Fortunately for New Orleans, playing against Brian Hoyer, Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin and Miles Austin is a lot easier than playing against Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Devin Hester.
MDS’s pick: Saints 24, Browns 10.
Florio’s take: Once it appeared likely he’d be benched, Brian Hoyer quit worrying about getting benched. And he played well. Come Sunday, he’ll be worried again about being benched.
Florio’s pick: Saints 34, Browns 17.
Falcons at Bengals
MDS’s take: Matt Ryan was sensational in Week One, but the Bengals’ defense is going to make life difficult for him. Cincinnati wins a close, low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 16, Falcons 13.
Florio’s take: The Falcons are back. The Bengals never left. With banged up tackles and a defense that could have a hard time stopping the Cincinnati offense, the team that has been to the playoffs three straight times gets off to a 2-0 start.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 33, Falcons 24.
Lions at Panthers
MDS’s take: Both of these defenses looked great in Week One, but I have a feeling that had more to do with the Giants and Bucs having bad offenses. When they meet this week, look for a high-scoring game in which a returning Cam Newton does enough with his arm to lead his team to a 2-0 start.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 31, Lions 30.
Florio’s take: Cam Newton will play. But is he ready to play well? He has missed too much time and may, unlike Derek Anderson, try to do too much. The Lions, meanwhile, have too many weapons on offense.
Florio’s pick: Lions 28, Panthers 23.
Rams at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: St. Louis looked so awful in Week One that I’m not sure I’d take the Rams on the road against anyone. The Bucs’ defense is going to make life rough for Shaun Hill.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 20, Rams 10.
Florio’s take: Two teams with high hopes fell flat in Week One. The Rams remain adrift without an effective quarterback. If the Bucs can’t win this one, they won’t win many this year.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 14, Rams 13.
Seahawks at Chargers
MDS’s take: It’s almost unfair that the Chargers have to come off a short week and face the Seahawks, who are playing so well that I’d pick them to beat anyone, home or away. This game won’t be close.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, Chargers 14.
Florio’s take: The Seahawks won’t lose many or any games at home. If they didn’t have 10 days to get ready to face a team that has to play again only six days, the Seahawks would quite possibly lose their first road game of the year.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Chargers 21.
Texans at Raiders
MDS’s take: Derek Carr may turn out to be a fine quarterback some day, but right now the Raiders are calling plays for him like they’re trying not to lose, rather than trying to win. When you play not to lose, you lose.
MDS’s pick: Texans 24, Raiders 7.
Florio’s take: Matt Schaub ended last year with the Texans on the bench. When he sees them again, he’s already on the bench. Which is good news for a Raiders team that has few clear opportunities to win games on the 2014 schedule. This is one of them.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 20, Texans 17.
Jets at Packers
MDS’s take: Rex Ryan had the right defense to stop Derek Carr in Week One, but Aaron Rodgers is not Derek Carr. Rodgers is going to feast on the Jets’ cornerbacks.
MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Jets 13.
Florio’s take: Yeah, the Packers lost by 20 in Seattle. Who wouldn’t have? Green Bay remains one of the best teams in the league, and the Jets aren’t quite there yet. Maybe New York should consider using Mike Vick more extensively, given that he was the guy more than a decade ago who reversed the aura of postseason invincibility at Lambeau Field.
Florio’s pick: Packers 27, Jets 17.
Chiefs at Broncos
MDS’s take: Peyton Manning against a depleted defense is a mismatch. This looks like it’s going to be a long year for Kansas City.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Chiefs 13.
Florio’s take: When the Chiefs got off to a great start in 2013, two late-season games between Denver and Kansas City were much anticipated — and ultimately disappointing. If the Chiefs couldn’t compete with the Broncos last year, it will be even harder this year, with the Broncos even better and the Chiefs now worse.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 38, Chiefs 13.
Bears at 49ers
MDS’s take: The 49ers looked better than I expected in their opener, and the Bears looked worse. It’s going to be an 0-2 start for Chicago.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 23, Bears 16.
Florio’s take: While turf issues in Santa Clara could make this feel like a home game for the Bears, the 49ers have proven once again that any dysfunction or drama becomes forgotten as soon as the real games start. Or maybe they just roughed up a horrible Cowboys team. Either way, the christening of the Field of Jeans will turn out slightly better than the christening of the Flying Wasp.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 30, Bears 20.
Eagles at Colts
MDS’s take: The Eagles’ offensive line is suffering right now, but I don’t think the Colts, minus Robert Mathis, have the kind of defensive front that can capitalize. Nick Foles will have a big day and the Colts will drop to 0-2.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 30, Colts 20.
Florio’s take: No matter the adversity, the Colts will be competitive as long as Andrew Luck is the quarterback. Philly can afford to lose five or six games and still win the division easily. The first loss comes on Monday night.
Florio’s pick: Colts 27, Eagles 23.