PFT’s Week Four picks

AP

After an abysmal 5-11 showing in Week Two, I turned it around even more dramatically than the Steelers, getting 13 of 16 games right in Week Three.

More important, I closed the gap with the recently-cocky MDS from three games to one, since I was 3-1 in the three games on which we differed.

This week, we disagree on five of 13 games.  So I’ll either be back six or up four or somewhere in between.

For all of the picks, keep doing what you’ve been doing for the last four paragraphs.

Giants at Washington

MDS’s take: Kirk Cousins is off to a great start, and I think he’s going to keep it going against the Giants, who look to me like the worst team in the NFC East. This may be the game that establishes Cousins as the right man to start in Washington — even after Robert Griffin III is healthy.

MDS’s pick: Washington 28, Giants 17.

Florio’s take:  The battle for the basement of the NFC East features a franchise quarterback who may be on his last legs against a guy who may supplant a franchise quarterback because of a busted leg.  Advantage guy who may still become a franchise quarterback.

Florio’s pick:  Washington 27, Giants 20.

Packers at Bears

MDS’s take: The Packers need an NFC North win after their unimpressive start. But they won’t get it.  The Bears’ passing game is going to be too much for Green Bay’s defense.

MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Packers 21.

Florio’s take:  Aaron Rodgers tells fans to R.E.L.A.X.  Packers fans say W.I.N.  Scoreboard says L.O.S.E.  A.G.A.I.N.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 20, Packers 13.

Bills at Texans

MDS’s take: Both of these teams have quarterbacks I don’t completely trust but plenty of talent elsewhere. But Ryan Fitzpatrick is more likely to play a mistake-free game than EJ Manuel, and that will make the difference.

MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Bills 13.

Florio’s take:  Ryan Fitzpatrick welcomes to town his old team.  The one that paid him a lot of money.  The one that will take a little of that money back this weekend, or at a minimum inflict a commensurate amount of pain.

Florio’s pick:  Bills 23, Texans 14.

Titans at Colts

MDS’s take: Both teams are 1-2, but the Colts are a more competitive 1-2 than the Titans. Indianapolis will get itself back into the AFC South race, while Tennessee will take a big step backward.

MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Titans 17.

Florio’s take:  After losing a pair of games they could have won, the Colts left no doubt in Jacksonville.  They’ll leave even less at home against the Titans.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 42, Titans 13.

Panthers at Ravens

MDS’s take: Steve Smith is promising blood and guts, and he’ll have a big day against his old team as the Ravens become the second straight AFC North team to put a hurting on the Panthers.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 34, Panthers 17.

Florio’s take:  There may not be guts, but there will be blood as Steve Smith gets a chance to make the Panthers pay something above and above the guaranteed money they paid him not to play in Carolina this year.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 30, Panthers 17.

Lions at Jets

MDS’s take: The Lions’ defense has played far better than anyone could have expected, a big credit to first-year coordinator Teryl Austin. Former Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg hasn’t done much to get credit this season as the Jets’ offensive coordinator, and I like Austin’s unit to get the better of Mornhinweg’s unit in a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Lions 17, Jets 7.

Florio’s take:  The Lions have a little Jekyll-and-Hyde thing going on, playing much better at home than on the road.  The Jets desperately need a win to avoid slipping to 1-3.  While they may not get enough to eventually save Rex Ryan’s job, they’ll put together enough on both sides of the ball to emerge with a win on Sunday.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 23, Lions 19.

Buccaneers at Steelers

MDS’s take: I don’t think the Bucs are as bad as they looked last Thursday. (Actually, I’m not sure if any team in NFL history is as bad as the Bucs looked last Thursday.) But I don’t think they’ll score enough to keep up with a Pittsburgh offense that has a great 1-2 punch via their Cheech and Chong backfield, and so I’ll pick the Steelers in a closer game than most people would expect.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Buccaneers 20.

Florio’s take:  Baltimore isn’t the only AFC North location where a former NFC South star will get a chance to go “blood and guts” against the team that once gave up on him.  LeGarrette Blount will have a little something extra for the Bucs, who generally don’t have very much at all.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 27, Buccaneers 10.

Dolphins at Raiders

MDS’s take: If the NFL wants the British to embrace American football, it ought to send better games overseas than this one. Then again, with London getting two teams with struggling offenses, maybe the soccer fans will enjoy the low-scoring game. Ryan Tannehill is on the verge of getting benched, but he’ll out-play Derek Carr.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 10, Raiders 7.

Florio’s take:  Forty years ago, the Raiders ended Miami’s quest for a third straight NFL title with a thrilling, last-season touchdown in Oakland.  At the time, the notion that the ruby anniversary would be commemorated by a rematch in London would have been met with shouts of disbelief and/or accusations of sorcery.  It will take something less than sorcery for a Raiders team that feels pretty good about itself after giving the Pats a scare to beat a Dolphins team that quickly has plunged back into dysfunction.

Florio’s pick:  Raiders 16, Dolphins 13.

Jaguars at Chargers

MDS’s take: Blake Bortles will probably play better than Chad Henne, which is a plus for the Jaguars. But even with Bortles at the helm, there are huge problems on Jacksonville’s offense — and their defense and special teams aren’t very good, either. San Diego will win easily.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 31, Jaguars 17.

Florio’s take:  Blake Bortles gets his first career start a long way from home, against a team that deserves far more respect than it gets.  While the future may be bright for the Jags, the present continues to be grim.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 35, Jaguars 17.

Falcons at Vikings

MDS’s take: Teddy Bridgewater’s first start comes against a bad Atlanta pass defense, which means he should be able to put up some pretty good numbers. Just not as good as Matt Ryan, who has been playing outstanding football this year and will keep it going in a win over the Vikings.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Vikings 20.

Florio’s take:  Teddy Bridgewater gets his first career start under much better circumstances than Blake Bortles.  The Falcons looked far better than they really are against the Bucs.  Sunday’s game will provide a correction that will come to many as a surprise — especially as the Vikings further come to grips with life without Adrian Peterson.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Falcons 21.

Eagles at 49ers

MDS’s take: At some point the Eagles’ slow starts will catch up with them, and I think that point will be on Sunday in San Francisco, where the 49ers are desperate for a win.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 27, Eagles 21.

Florio’s take:  A team that plays really well in the second half visits a team that doesn’t.  Unless the 49ers race to a huge lead early, the Eagles could be in position to eventually wear the Niners down — and send them to 0-2 in their swanky new home.  Interesting as it would be to see the ensuing meltdown if the Niners fall to 1-3, it’s hard to imagine Jim Harbaugh not finding a way to get a win over his former Pac-10/12/Whatever rival, Chip Kelly.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 28, Eagles 27.

Saints at Cowboys

MDS’s take: The Cowboys are right on pace to finish 8-8 for the fourth straight season. They’ll be 2-2 after their defense gets lit up by the Saints’ offense.

MDS’s pick: Saints 34, Cowboys 20.

Florio’s take:  The Saints may not be as good as they were last year.  The Cowboys may not be as bad.  In the end, it may not lead to a different outcome than last year.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 35, Cowboys 31.

Patriots at Chiefs

MDS’s take: Tom Brady is off to a bad start and on pace for career lows in passer rating, completion percentage and touchdowns. Fortunately for Brady, the injury-plagued Chiefs defense isn’t very good. Brady should put up better numbers in Kansas City.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take:  The Patriots are averaging fewer yards per play than any team in the NFL.  The Chiefs, perhaps too complacent in Week One against the Titans, will be buoyed by a raucous home crowd in prime time.  Step one:  Put heat on Tom Brady.  Step two:  Play ball-control offense.  Step three:  Win.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Patriots 17.