After a couple of bad weeks this year, Week Five was one of the best ever for MDS and yours truly. Making it even better? In the one game on which we disagreed, I was right — and MDS was wrong.
I had complete faith in the Patriots. Bet-the-farm faith in the Patriots. (Of course, if I were one to bet farms, I’d be down about 13 of them over the last few years.)
For the week, I was 13-2 and MDS generated a 12-3 mark. For the year, he leads at 47-29 (61.8 percent). I’m at 46-30 (60.5 percent).
This week, we disagree on three games. With a lead of only one game, he may not quite so cocky when we discuss the picks on which we differ during Thursday’s PFT Live.
Who’m I kidding? He’ll be as cocky as ever.
Colts at Texans
MDS’s take: I think we may finally see a decent game on a Thursday night. The Texans’ defense and home crowd will make things difficult on the Colts early on, keeping the score close, but in the end I just don’t think Houston can put enough points on the board to win this battle for first place in the AFC South.
MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Texans 17.
Florio’s take: In each of the past three Thursdays, first-year coaching staffs were blown out in a short-week game. With the Texans trying to process a deflating loss at Dallas while also trying to prepare for an underrated Colts team, it may not be a blowout — but it’ll count the same in the standings.
Florio’s pick: Colts 27, Texans 20.
Patriots at Bills
MDS’s take: I can’t figure out either of these teams, as evidenced by my picks. I thought going to Kyle Orton was a desperate move for a Bills team that was going nowhere next week, but they won. I thought the Patriots were looking old and washed up, but they won. So who wins when the teams meet on Sunday? The Patriots, who looked a lot more impressive than the Bills. With Sunday’s win, New England will be right back where it belongs atop the AFC East.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Bills 20.
Florio’s take: The Pegula era likely won’t start the way the Wilson era ended. But it’ll start the same way the Wilson era began 54 years ago — with a loss. The Patriots are awake, and the Bills scored a win in Detroit they really didn’t deserve.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Bills 20.
Panthers at Bengals
MDS’s take: A healthy Panthers offense would be tailor made to attack the Bengals’ defense, which is great against the pass but lousy against the run. Unfortunately, injuries have forced Cam Newton to be a pocket passer and forced the Panthers to rely far more on throwing than they’d like. That plays into the Bengals’ strengths, and they’re going to make this game tough on Newton.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 20, Panthers 10.
Florio’s take: On Sunday night, the Bengals looked like they usually do in the postseason. This week, they’ll look like they usually do in the regular season. Even without A.J. Green.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 24, Panthers 13.
Steelers at Browns
MDS’s take: We’ve become so accustomed to assuming the Browns are doormats that I don’t know if we’ve really paid attention to just how good their offense is. I think they’re going to put up a lot of points against the Steelers and declare that they’re real contenders for an AFC playoff spot.
MDS’s pick: Browns 31, Steelers 27.
Florio’s take: Arguably the biggest game for the Browns since late 2007 and for Brian Hoyer since his NFL career began, Cleveland has the talent to outscore an uneven Steelers team that barely beat the Jaguars on Sunday. It may not indicate a changing of the guard, but it will give folks in Cleveland something to feel really good about, at least until the Cavs start playing. Maybe longer.
Florio’s pick: Browns 27, Steelers 24.
Packers at Dolphins
MDS’s take: Both of these teams have been inconsistent this season, which makes this a tough game to call. I just don’t think Ryan Tannehill is playing well enough to exploit the weaknesses in the Packers’ defense, and that’s why I see this as a narrow Green Bay win.
MDS’s pick: Packers 21, Dolphins 20.
Florio’s take: Joe Philbin has had two weeks to get ready to face his old team. It won’t be enough. The Packers are finding their groove and racking up wins and trying to get some separation in the NFC North. Plus, it’s Aaron Rodgers vs. Ryan Tannehill. Plus, that big win for the Dolphins after a pair of losses came against the Raiders.
Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Dolphins 17.
Lions at Vikings
MDS’s take: The Vikings will be a lot better this week with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm than they were last week with Christian Ponder at the helm. Unfortunately, they’re taking on a Detroit defense that can make life rough for even a good young quarterback with as much promise as Bridgewater.
MDS’s pick: Lions 27, Vikings 14.
Florio’s take: Teddy Bridgewater is in. Calvin Johnson may be out. And the Vikings become unlikely factors in the NFC North, at least for now.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Lions 20.
Broncos at Jets
MDS’s take: The Jets aren’t as bad as they looked on Sunday against the Chargers. But they’re not good enough to beat the Broncos, either.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 28, Jets 24.
Florio’s take: Peyton Manning returns to MetLife Stadium under slightly different circumstances, against a slightly worse team. The Jets should set their clocks back to Pacific time for this one.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 41, Jets 17.
Ravens at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The Bucs have actually played much better football than most people realize, other than their Thursday night meltdown against the Falcons. That game in Atlanta aside, the Bucs are 1-3 and all three losses have gone down to the final minute. Tampa should give Baltimore a good game, but in the end I like the Ravens to pull out a close one.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 28, Buccaneers 27.
Florio’s take: The Bucs return home after a trio of road games that started horribly (56-14 at Atlanta), had an unexpectedly great second act (upset win at Pittsburgh), and nearly a fantastic finish (close but no cigar victory over the Saints in New Orleans). With the bye week looming, the Bucs will go all in to move to 2-4. But that likely won’t be enough against a Ravens team that has shown it’s ready to return to a position among the NFL’s best.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Buccaneers 17.
Jaguars at Titans
MDS’s take: I don’t think the Titans are very good, but at this point I wouldn’t pick the Jaguars to win on the road against anyone. This will be Sunday’s worst game.
MDS’s pick: Titans 12, Jaguars 9.
Florio’s take: They’ll probably tie. But since I’ve got to pick a winner, let’s go with the team that has the better quarterback and (for now), the extra motivation that comes from a goose egg in the win column, and something other than the lingering stench of the biggest home-field collapse in league history.
Florio’s pick: Jaguars 20, Titans 16.
Chargers at Raiders
MDS’s take: The head coach was far from the only problem in Oakland. Tony Sparano is about to find out the hard way that this roster isn’t good enough — especially against the Chargers, one of the best teams in the league.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 34, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: Interim coach Tony Sparano recently buried a football. Unless the hole also included Philip Rivers and other key members of the Chargers, 0-4 is about to become 0-5.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 30, Raiders 13.
Washington at Cardinals
MDS’s take: I don’t know if any team in the league has been more hurt by injuries than the Cardinals, who can now add Calais Campbell — in my opinion their best player — to the list of those sidelined. And yet Bruce Arians is keeping his team competitive, and I believe Arizona is good enough to keep winning despite all the injuries.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 24, Washington 20.
Florio’s take: Whether it’s Carson Palmer or Drew Stanton or Logan Thomas or Jim Hart at quarterback, the Cardinals enjoy an underrated home advantage — and Washington is traveling a long way on a short week. Also Washington isn’t very good.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 30, Washington 17.
Bears at Falcons
MDS’s take: Devin Hester will be motivated to play well against the team that let him walk, and I think he will. The Bears have not been great on punts and kickoffs this year, and I’m betting on Hester to break a big one. That could be the difference in a close game.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Bears 21.
Florio’s take: The up-and-down Falcons have been up at home. The up-and-down Bears have been down for the last two weeks. Devin Hester is downplaying a shot at revenge against the team that never could figure out how to properly use him on offense. Hester will likely be playing up on Sunday.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 34, Bears 20.
Cowboys at Seahawks
MDS’s take: The Cowboys are a lot better than anyone expected, but they’re not good enough to win in Seattle. The Seahawks’ defense isn’t playing quite as well as last year, but the offense is even better.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 31, Cowboys 20.
Florio’s take: The process of the Cowboys returning to earth begins . . . . now. All the things that have been working against other teams in other venues suddenly won’t be working so well against the Seahawks in Seattle.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 13.
Giants at Eagles
MDS’s take: This is the kind of game the Giants need to win if they’re going to win the NFC East. It’s also the kind of game the Eagles need Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy to play well in, after a shaky start to the season. I like Philly’s offense to have a much better game this week.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 35, Giants 24.
Florio’s take: The Giants have gotten better as the season has unfolded, and the Eagles have gotten worse. Yet somehow the Eagles keep winning far more often than not. With the new New York offense firing on all cylinders, it’s time for that to change — and for the NFC East to be thrust into an unexpected three-team race.
Florio’s pick: Giants 27, Eagles 23.
49ers at Rams
MDS’s take: The Rams are getting far better play from quarterback Austin Davis than anyone could have expected. Unfortunately, they’re also getting far worse play from their defense than anyone could have expected. The 49ers’ offense should put up big numbers.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 34, Rams 20.
Florio’s take: Yes, the Rams have played the 49ers tough in the past. Yes, the Rams showed fight in a stirring comeback attempt at Philly. No, that doesn’t persuade me that the Rams will be able to hold off a 49ers team that has been using the various reports about the future of Jim Harbaugh as a source of motivation and focus.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 24, Rams 15.