It’s the final week of the PFT regular-season picks showdown, and the mystery is over. With a four-game lead over MDS, we disagree on only one game, which means I’ll win by five games or by three games.
Last week, neither of us felt much like winners. I went 8-8, and MDS got nine of 16 right.
For the season, I’m at 158-82 (65.8%). MDS is 154-86 (64.1%).
Panthers at Falcons
MDS’s take: It all comes down to this for the championship of the worst division in NFL history. I like Matt Ryan to have a big game throwing to Roddy White and Julio Jones and the Falcons to win it, earning the right to host a playoff game next week.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 31, Panthers 24.
Florio’s take: The last playoff spot is up for grabs in the NFC, and with the Cardinals suddenly unable to score points, maybe the sub-.500 division winner will hold serve in the wild-card round. Before getting obliterated in Seattle. Give the edge to the home team coached by the guy who could get fired if he loses.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 30, Panthers 23.
Browns at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Ravens gagged away a golden opportunity against Texans fourth-string quarterback Case Keenum on Sunday. Now the Ravens may get to face Browns third-string quarterback Connor Shaw this week. Will the Ravens choke again? I don’t think so. Baltimore will come out looking much better this week.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 20, Browns 10.
Florio’s take: With Johnny Manziel out and Brian Hoyer likely to miss the game and the Ravens still alive, this should be a romp for the Ravens.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Browns 13.
Cowboys at Washington
MDS’s take: The Cowboys seem to be peaking at the right time. Tony Romo should put up huge numbers against a suspect Washington defense, and Dallas will roll into the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Washington 13.
Florio’s take: Washington would love to finish the season on a high note with a sweep of the Cowboys. The Cowboys don’t really have much to play for, with improved playoff positioning unlikely. Which could give the underdog the edge in this kinda-sorta bowl game for Jay Gruden and company. But then I remembered that the Cowboys obliterated the Colts last weekend.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 30, Washington 20.
Colts at Titans
MDS’s take: The Colts are reeling, but playing the Titans is just what the doctor ordered. Indianapolis will finish the regular season with an easy win.
MDS’s pick: Colts 27, Titans 9.
Florio’s take: The Colts need to restore some confidence after getting blown out in Dallas last Sunday. The Titans currently have none. It’s a good match.
Florio’s pick: Colts 34, Titans 20.
Jaguars at Texans
MDS’s take: The Texans may not get all the help they need to reach the playoffs, but you have to admire how hard they’re playing down the stretch. They’ll make short work of Jacksonville.
MDS’s pick: Texans 20, Jaguars 3.
Florio’s take: The Texans have a chance, albeit slim, to get to the postseason. To have a chance at having a chance, they need to take care of business against the Jaguars. Since it’s the Jaguars, that’s the easy part.
Florio’s pick: Texans 30, Jaguars 14.
Chargers at Chiefs
MDS’s take: Both teams are still fighting for a wild-card berth, which makes this one of Sunday’s better games. I like how the Chargers gutted out a tough win in San Francisco last week, and I think they’ll do it again in Kansas City.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 28, Chiefs 20.
Florio’s take: It will be difficult for the Chiefs to make it to the playoffs. It will be much easier to knock out the Chargers. At Kansas City, that’s precisely what will happen, especially if a guy like Justin Houston can bang around an already-battered Philip Rivers.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Chargers 23.
Jets at Dolphins
MDS’s take: Joe Philbin got his vote of confidence last week. Rex Ryan will get his pink slip after this game. Ryan will go out with a loss and bring his tenure as the Jets’ head coach to a close.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 21, Jets 14.
Florio’s take: Last year, a Week 17 win at Miami may have saved Rex Ryan’s job. This year, it won’t matter. And it won’t happen.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 31, Jets 13.
Bears at Vikings
MDS’s take: Neither team has anything to play for, but the Vikings look to me like they’re playing a lot harder than the Bears are right now. Mike Zimmer’s players will give him a win to end his season, while Marc Trestman may be coaching his players for the last time, in defeat.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 21, Bears 17.
Florio’s take: The Vikings undoubtedly wish Jimmy Clausen were playing. Even with Jay Cutler back, however, the Vikings should be able to close out a better-than-expected season with a home win.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 23, Bears 17.
Bills at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Bills’ excellent defense will keep this one close, but the Patriots will prevail and head to the playoffs on a high note.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 17, Bills 13.
Florio’s take: It’s a meaningless game. But a win could have a meaningful impact on coach Doug Marrone’s potentially tenuous future in Buffalo. Unfortunately for Marrone and the Bills, the Patriots aren’t treating it like a meaningless game.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Bills 10.
Eagles at Giants
MDS’s take: The Giants are on a bit of a roll late in the season, and the Eagles are going in the wrong direction. I like Odell Beckham to torch Philly’s secondary and end his sensational rookie season in style.
MDS’s pick: Giants 27, Eagles 20.
Florio’s take: The Giants have improved in recent weeks, and it’s their last chance to save Tom Coughlin’s job. The Eagles with a loss will have a shorter distance to go to get in position to draft Marcus Mariota. But since no one ever tanks games to improve draft position, that’s irrelevant and entirely coincidental.
Florio’s pick: Giants 24, Eagles 14.
Saints at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The Saints have nothing to play for. The Buccaneers have the first overall pick in the draft to play for. They’ll get it.
MDS’s pick: Saints 24, Buccaneers 20.
Florio’s take: The Saints haven’t looked much like a team that could beat anyone lately, but they’ve won three in a row on the road and they’re hoping to finish on a positive note. The Bucs are one loss away from the first pick in the draft. But since no one ever tanks games to improve draft position, that’s irrelevant and entirely coincidental.
Florio’s pick: Saints 23, Buccaneers 17.
Lions at Packers
MDS’s take: The Lions beat the Packers handily when they met at Ford Field this season, but things will be different at Lambeau, and Green Bay will win the NFC North.
MDS’s pick: Packers 24, Lions 14.
Florio’s take: The calf injury to quarterback Aaron Rodgers creates some concern, but the Lions haven’t won at Lambeau Field since 1991 for a reason. Sure, someday the Lions will end the streak. But not this year.
Florio’s pick: Packers 28, Lions 20.
Raiders at Broncos
MDS’s take: The Raiders have played some competitive football late this season, and they’ll give Denver a tough time on Sunday. But the Broncos will come out on top at the end of four hard-fought quarters.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: A bye week remains only one win away, even after Monday night’s debacle in Cincinnati. The Broncos desperately need a bye week. They’ll get one.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 31, Raiders 16.
Cardinals at 49ers
MDS’s take: If the Cardinals had Carson Palmer I’d definitely pick them to win. If they had Drew Stanton I’d probably pick them to win. But when you’re down to Logan Thomas and Ryan Lindley, you don’t have a quarterback anymore. The 49ers will win, and the Cardinals will limp into the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 20, Cardinals 6.
Florio’s take: An era inevitably is ending in San Francisco. Coach Jim Harbaugh won’t allow it to happen on a negative note. It helps that Logan Thomas is playing quarterback for the opposition. And that the opposition has been demoralized — and pulverized — by the Seahawks.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 27, Cardinals 24.
Rams at Seahawks
MDS’s take: I wouldn’t pick anyone to win at Seattle right now. Which means I’ll be picking Seattle to get to the Super Bowl, because this win over the Rams will give the Seahawks home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 30, Rams 13.
Florio’s take: A home win to end the season guarantees the Seahawks home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. While the Rams have already beaten the Seahawks once this year, the Seahawks are simply too much for anyone to handle right now.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 23, Rams 10.
Bengals at Steelers
MDS’s take: With the AFC North on the line, Le’Veon Bell will have a good game against a bad Bengals run defense and the Steelers will win the division.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 27, Bengals 16.
Florio’s take: A pair of consistently inconsistent playoff teams get together, with plenty on the line. The Bengals have more to gain, but the Steelers are the better team. If the better version of the Steelers shows up.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 27, Bengals 20.