Not long ago, MDS held a five-game lead in this year’s PFT picks battle. Now, it’s three games. In the other direction.
That eight-game swing could end up being a 12-game swing, based on the four disagreements we have for Week 12.
And I led with that because it wasn’t a great week for either of us. I generated a so-so 9-5; MDS was a sluggish 6-8.
For the year, I’m at 105-56 (65.2 percent). MDS stands at 102-59 (63.3 percent).
For this week’s 15-game slate of prediction, keep reading.
Chiefs at Raiders
MDS’s take: I still don’t think the Raiders are going to go 0-16, but as the season wears on I’m finding it harder and harder to find a game they’ll win. I certainly don’t think they’ll beat the Chiefs, who can step into first place in the AFC West.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 27, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: Oakland has completed the Raider Slam, losing 16 games in a row over two seasons. They’ll now move a step closer to the Lion Slam. Potentially finishing the year only four away from the Tampa Slam.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Raiders 10.
Browns at Falcons
MDS’s take: The 4-6 Falcons are currently the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoff race, while the 6-4 Browns are currently the No. 10 seed in the AFC playoff race. The Browns probably need this game more than the Falcons do, but I’ll pick the Falcons to pick up their fifth win and remain on top of the NFC South.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 21, Browns 20.
Florio’s take: The Browns play up and down to the level of the competition. So the Browns need to think of the Falcons not as a 4-6 team, but as a division leader. Throw in the return of receiver Josh Gordon and renewed doubts about quarterback Brian Hoyer, and that could be the recipe to send the Falcons to 4-7, but still only 1/2-game out of first place, pending Monday night’s game.
Florio’s pick: Browns 24, Falcons 21.
Jets at Bills
MDS’s take: The Bills are probably out of the AFC playoff race after their loss to the Dolphins, but there’s definitely a wide gulf between the third-place Bills and the last-place Jets. Snow might affect the Bills’ preparation this week, but I still expect them to win.
MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jets 16.
Florio’s take: The Bills would be the obvious pick if they were able to, you know, practice in advance of the game. A delay until Monday or Tuesday would make it a more fair arrangement. Assuming the league will find a way to preserve competitive balance on this issue, the Bills become the obvious choice.
Florio’s pick: Bills 20, Jets 13.
Buccaneers at Bears
MDS’s take: Lovie Smith will have his new team playing hard against his old team, but the Bucs are still at least a year away from having the talent to compete week-in and week-out. The Bears will take this one.
MDS’s pick: Bears 30, Buccaneers 20.
Florio’s take: Lovie Smith gets his shot at revenge against the team that fired him after a 10-6 season. Another loss by the Bears confirms that Chicago won’t finish with a record that good in Marc Trestman’s second season. A Tampa win may not be the smart pick (when has that ever stopped me?), but it would be a great story.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Bears 20.
Bengals at Texans
MDS’s take: This was the toughest game of the week for me to pick. The Bengals looked awfully good last week against the Saints, but I think the Texans’ pass rush may be too much for Andy Dalton to handle, and Houston will win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Texans 14, Bengals 13.
Florio’s take: It would be a lot easier to pick Bengals games if they played a little more consistently. A week after shellacking the Saints in their own building, it’s time to take on a much less accomplished quarterback on a team with less overall talent. But the Texans clobbered in Cleveland a Browns team that outscored the Bengals by 21 in the prior game. Actually, it probably makes sense for the Bengals to complete the round-robin by beating the team that beat the team that blew out the Bengals, especially since Marvin Lewis has something the Browns didn’t — actual game tape on Mallett.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Texans 20.
Jaguars at Colts
MDS’s take: This was the easiest game of the week for me to pick. The Colts will shake off last week’s loss to the Patriots with a beatdown of the Jaguars.
MDS’s pick: Colts 33, Jaguars 10.
Florio’s take: Indy isn’t as good as we all thought they were. But they’re good enough to use a game against the Jaguars to stay at least one game ahead of the Texans.
Florio’s pick: Colts 30, Jaguars 17.
Packers at Vikings
MDS’s take: The way the Packers have steamrolled everyone in their path recently, they look like the best team in the league right now. They certainly won’t struggle with the Vikings.
MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Vikings 14.
Florio’s take: The Vikings are moving in the right direction, but they can’t hang with the Packers this year. Or probably next year. Or pretty much every year until Aaron Rodgers retires.
Florio’s pick: Packers 42, Vikings 21.
Lions at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Patriots took over the top spot in the AFC last week, while the Lions lost an opportunity to take over the top spot in the NFC. Now New England will take another step toward home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Lions will take another step backwards.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 21, Lions 10.
Florio’s take: The Patriots keep on rolling, regardless of the opponent or the location. Until they have to go to Lambeau Field.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Lions 20.
Titans at Eagles
MDS’s take: A matchup with the lousy Tennessee defense is just what Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez needs. Philadelphia’s offense will look a whole lot better on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Titans 20.
Florio’s take: Nothing helps erase the memories of an ugly game at Lambeau Field than a visit from one of the worst teams in the league.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 37, Titans 14.
Rams at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Rams showed last week that they can beat good teams, and although they’re in last place in the NFC West, they’d probably win the NFC South. I’m tempted to pick them to win a second straight upset over a good AFC West team, but I just can’t see them winning in San Diego, even though they’ll make it close.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 21, Rams 17.
Florio’s take: The Rams keep finding ways to play well against teams that qualified for the playoffs in 2013. But they haven’t established true consistency. The Chargers have been consistently mediocre since starting 5-1. On this one, trust the team that’s playing at home with the better quarterback.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 24, Rams 17.
Cardinals at Seahawks
MDS’s take: I’m a believer in the Cardinals — I expect them to earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and be a very tough team to beat in January. But the Seahawks, who have a tough road to the playoffs ahead of them, still have a big game in them, and I think that game is coming Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 17.
Florio’s take: Sure, the Seahawks don’t often lose at home. Yeah, they’ll have even more motivation to beat Arizona, since Arizona won in Seattle last year. Right, the Seahawks can’t afford to fall four games behind the Cardinals with only five games to play. Regardless, something is wrong with the Seahawks and plenty is right with the Cardinals. Coach Bruce Arians will have them ready to play — and to secure a win that will be just as unlikely as their season so far.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 13, Seahawks 9.
Dolphins at Broncos
MDS’s take: If you’re a Broncos fan, you have to be nervous right now. They’ve basically played 20 minutes of good football (last five minutes before halftime and the third quarter against the Raiders) in the last three games. If Denver doesn’t turn things around in a hurry, Kansas City is going to steal the AFC West. But I expect Peyton Manning to bounce back with a huge game.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 31, Dolphins 21.
Florio’s take: The Dolphins wanted to sign Peyton Manning in 2012. They’ll about to get a very good look at how things might have been.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 34, Dolphins 17.
Washington at 49ers
MDS’s take: Robert Griffin III is “focused on San Francisco.” But no matter how much he focuses, Washington isn’t beating the red-hot 49ers.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Washington 10.
Florio’s take: With Trent Williams injured, Aldon Smith may end up injuring Robert Griffin III. Given the way Griffin has played, the 49ers may not want to knock Griffin out of the game.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 30, Washington 10.
Cowboys at Giants
MDS’s take: Tony Romo should be healthier after the bye week, and Eli Manning is playing some lousy football right now. That adds up to a Cowboys win in what could be another Sunday night blowout.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Giants 17.
Florio’s take: Even if the Giants make good on safety Antrel Rolle’s vow to run the table, it may not be good enough to get an invitation to the playoff party. It would be fitting for a team that has looked so bad to find a way to turn it around, but the Cowboys are good enough to overpower the team with the worst rush defense in the league — and a quarterback who threw five interceptions last Sunday.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 24, Giants 13.
Ravens at Saints
MDS’s take: I’m about to give up on figuring out the Saints. The way the played the Packers, I’d think no one would go to New Orleans and beat them. The way they played the Bengals, I’d think they’re one of the worst teams in the league. It’s a close call with the Ravens coming to town, but I’ll pick the Saints to have a big game with their backs against the wall.
MDS’s pick: Saints 24, Ravens 17.
Florio’s take: The Saints haven’t lost three straight games at the Superdome since 2001, and it won’t be easy to avoid falling for a third time in 15 days, given that the Ravens have had 15 days to prepare for this one. The Saints remain too good to let it happen. I think.
Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Ravens 17.