Last week, MDS was getting cocky, again. After sweeping the three early games on which we disagreed, he’d clinched the weekly win. But two disagreements remained — and both of them (Vikings and Chiefs) went my way.
Net result? MDS added a game to his lead. He’s now up by two games through four weeks.
For the full week, MDS went 7-6. I went 6-7, a far cry from a 13-3 performance in Week Three.
For the year, MDS leads at 35-26. I’m at 33-28. For both of us, that’s sort of pathetic.
Vikings at Packers
MDS’s take: The Packers already trail the Lions in the NFC North and with a loss would also trail the Vikings, while having lost head-to-head games with both. If that happens some Green Bay fans might panic. But Green Bay fans can R-E-L-A-X, because it won’t happen.
MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Vikings 14.
Florio’s take: Teddy Bridgewater will play. Unless he doesn’t. Aaron Rodgers will, and that’s all that matters. Despite the struggles against Mike Zimmer in the past. After all, Tom Brady struggled against Zimmer last year, too. And the Vikings are perhaps the only team that have allowed Brady to look like Brady this year.
Florio’s pick: Packers 27, Vikings 17.
Bears at Panthers
MDS’s take: This may be the toughest game of the week to pick. Are the Panthers the team that gave the Lions their only loss and shut down a good Detroit offense? Or are the Panthers the team that got blown out by the Steelers and Ravens in the two games since that win over Detroit? I think it’s the latter, and Jay Cutler will have a big day against a defense that misses Greg Hardy’s presence as a pass rusher.
MDS’s pick: Bears 31, Panthers 17.
Florio’s take: The Bears would rather face Cam Newton than Derek Anderson. They’ll get their wish, as long as they don’t injure Newton.
Florio’s pick: Bears 30, Panthers 17.
Browns at Titans
MDS’s take: Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt admitted this week that he may have overestimated how good the team he inherited was. The Browns, on the other hand, have been underestimated this season. They’ve got talent on both sides of the ball, and they’ll earn a big win in Tennessee.
MDS’s pick: Browns 34, Titans 20.
Florio’s take: The Titans are “piss poor horrible,” according to safety Bernard Pollard. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam probably will say something a lot stronger than that if Cleveland loses in his home state of Tennessee.
Florio’s pick: Browns 20, Titans 13.
Rams at Eagles
MDS’s take: The Eagles have been missing a lot of opportunities offensively, with Nick Foles failing to connect on his deep balls. I think the Rams’ defense, which is struggling to rush the passer, is going to give Foles plenty of time to find receivers downfield, and this should be a big win for Philadelphia.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 35, Rams 21.
Florio’s take: Philly’s offensive line is struggling, but so is the supposedly dominant St. Louis defensive line. Look for Chip Kelly to draw up a game plan that gets the most out of a quintet of blockers that welcomes back Lane Johnson. And that shuts down an offense that Austin Davis has wrested from Shaun Hill.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 34, Rams 17.
Falcons at Giants
MDS’s take: After a slow start, the Giants are looking like a better team than most people expected. The Falcons are are a threat to score a lot of points against anyone as long as they have Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White, but the injuries on the offensive line are going to catch up to Atlanta. The Falcons’ pass defense is also going to struggle against Eli Manning and Co.
MDS’s pick: Giants 27, Falcons 20.
Florio’s take: The home team has won the last two games in this series by the combined score of 58-2. While a blowout may not be in the offing, the Giants have shown that they’re not the team that stumbled out of the games.
Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Falcons 17.
Buccaneers at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints are clearly not as good a team as most of us expected, and their defense is a mess. But the Bucs’ offense has its own problems, and the Bucs’ defense is going to allow Drew Brees to put up some big passing numbers.
MDS’s pick: Saints 24, Buccaneers 21.
Florio’s take: The 1-3 Saints have had only one game at home. Not coincidentally, it’s the one game they’ve won. They’ll likely win another one on Sunday.
Florio’s pick: Saints 40, Buccaneers 21.
Texans at Cowboys
MDS’s take: The battle for Texas is a battle of two teams that are playing better than most people expected. The Texans have an efficient offense and a strong defensive front led by MVP candidate J.J. Watt, but the Cowboys may have the best offensive line in the league, and they’ll control the game on the ground to win a close one.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 23, Texans 20.
Florio’s take: Did anyone expect either of these teams to be 3-1? They both are, and barring a tie one will be 4-1. Advantage home team. As long as DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo stay healthy.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 24, Texans 17.
Bills at Lions
MDS’s take: Benching EJ Manuel for Kyle Orton may have been the right move in the short term, as Manuel just isn’t playing well enough right now. Orton will probably have a solid game passing against the Lions, and I’m tempted to pick the Bills in the upset, but I’ll count on Calvin Johnson to get healthier and have a big game in a Lions win.
MDS’s pick: Lions 27, Bills 24.
Florio’s take: Jim Schwartz is back, and the Lions have a chance to show him how good they are without him. Given that Schwartz’s defense will be offset by an offense led by Kyle Orton, that should be easy to do.
Florio’s pick: Lions 31, Bills 20.
Ravens at Colts
MDS’s take: Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco both put up big numbers last week, and I think they can both have big numbers this week as well. Look for Luck’s numbers to be a big bigger and the Colts to win a high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Colts 31, Ravens 28.
Florio’s take: Thirty years after the Colts bolted from Baltimore, Baltimore’s current team looks to settle the score. And Indy’s coach used to work for the Ravens. And Baltimore’s defense could have a hard time against some decisive, quick-strike passing from Andrew Luck. And the Indy crowd will be extra loud, thanks to John Harbaugh’s joke that they pipe in crowd noise.
Florio’s pick: Colts 24, Ravens 21.
Steelers at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Steelers lost to one of the worst teams in the league last week. Will they do it again this week? No.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 27, Jaguars 7.
Florio’s take: Once one of the best rivalries in the AFC Central, the Jaguars actually lead the regular-season series 11-10. If Pittsburgh doesn’t run its current winning streak over Jacksonville to three, it could be time for folks in Pittsburgh to start watching the Penguins.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 24, Jaguars 10.
Cardinals at Broncos
MDS’s take: The undefeated Cardinals probably aren’t getting as much credit as they deserve for the way they’ve played through three games, but they’ll get all the credit in the world if they can win in Denver. But I don’t see it happening. Arizona’s offense won’t put many points on the board against a good Denver D.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Cardinals 10.
Florio’s take: The last time both Peyton Manning and his opponent had two weeks to prepare for a game, it wasn’t pretty for Peyton. But the Broncos likely will be facing Drew Stanton, and Denver has every reason to hold serve at home against the upstarts from the place the Broncos hope to play in February.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 30, Cardinals 17.
Chiefs at 49ers
MDS’s take: Alex Smith would love to win in San Francisco and make the case that the 49ers were wrong to trade him away. But the 49ers weren’t wrong, and Colin Kaepernick will out-play his former teammate in a San Francisco win.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 21, Chiefs 14.
Florio’s take: Alex Smith returns to San Francisco, nearly two years after a concussion gave Colin Kaepernick an opening to take the job. Smith will be motivated to prove the 49ers screwed up. Kaepernick will be motivated to prove they didn’t. The 49ers still have the better supporting cast, and they’re playing at home. While the 49ers may have chosen the wrong guy, the 49ers know how to defend Smith far better than the Chiefs know how to defend Kaepernick.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 24, Chiefs 21.
Jets at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Jets’ offense is a mess, and the defense isn’t playing very well, either. The Chargers are better on both sides of the ball and will win an easy one.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 28, Jets 10.
Florio’s take: Geno Smith or Mike Vick, these Jets aren’t good enough to beat these Chargers. Philip Rivers continues to make a case for MVP, and San Diego continues to look like a team that could topple the Broncos when it counts.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 31, Jets 20.
Bengals at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Bengals’ pass defense is excellent, and the Patriots’ pass offense is lousy. (It sounds strange to say about a Tom Brady-led team, but it’s true.) The Patriots won’t be able to move the ball and the Bengals will win a defensive struggle.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 20, Patriots 10.
Florio’s take: For the Patriots, it’s the last, best chance to show that they remain viable contenders. For the Bengals, it’s the first, best chance to put the rest of the league on notice that they are ready not just to get back to the playoffs but to win a postseason game. While New England’s flaws remain significant and potentially fatal to a playoff berth, if they can’t get it together for a nationally-televised prime-time game against a team trying to become what the Pats have been, they never will.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Bengals 27.
Seahawks at Washington
MDS’s take: Kirk Cousins had a miserable night last week. He’s going to have an even more miserable night when the Seahawks’ defense comes to town. This looks like a Monday night game that will have fans going to bed early.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 40, Washington 14.
Florio’s take: Trent Williams thinks Washington can beat Seattle. We think Trent Williams needs to take a closer look at the film of his team’s most recent home game.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 34, Washington 13.