Last week’s picks contest wasn’t much fun, because MDS and I agreed on every game. This week, it will be a little more fun, because we disagree on two games.
And it will be even more fun if I retain my one-game lead. For the year, I’m at 41-22 (65.1 percent) and MDS has a record of 40-23 (63.5 percent).
For all picks on this weekend’s slate of 14 games, scroll and read, read and scroll.
Colts at Texans
MDS’s take: Andrew Luck and Ryan Mallett have the two lowest passer ratings of all starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Luck, however, has a much better chance of turning things around. This will be an ugly game, but the Colts will play well enough on the road to strengthen their hold on the AFC South.
MDS’s pick: Colts 17, Texans 14.
Florio’s take: Who’s the quarterback going to be? Who knows? And who cares? Texans have their backs against the wall, and they’re good enough to win this game at home.
Florio’s pick: Texans 24, Colts 16.
Washington at Falcons
MDS’s take: Washington’s defense is better than people realize, but the weakness of that defense is in the secondary, and that’s just the weakness for the Falcons to exploit with Matt Ryan throwing to Julio Jones. Atlanta will put a lot of points on the board and Kirk Cousins will throw a couple interceptions as the Falcons cruise.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 31, Washington 14.
Florio’s take: Week Five often becomes Correction Sunday, or what I’ve now decided to call Pothole Sunday, the day when a team that has been rolling through the early portion of the schedule drives unexpectedly into a large chunk of missing asphalt. With Washington better than most (including me) would admit, the 4-0 Falcons could find themselves 4-1 by the time 4:30 p.m. ET rolls around on Sunday. If this one were being played in Washington, I’d perhaps have the guts to call for the upset.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 30, Washington 24.
Browns at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Ravens have a lot of issues and look to me like a team destined to miss the playoffs for just the second time in John Harbaugh’s tenure as head coach. But they’ll get a reprieve on Sunday with a bad Browns team coming to town.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 23, Browns 16.
Florio’s take: The Ravens have extra rest and even more motivation to get their first home win of the season and scratch back toward .500. The Browns simply aren’t good enough to do in Baltimore what the other Ohio team did there.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Browns 14.
Seahawks at Bengals
MDS’s take: This is the most intriguing game of the week for me because I’m still not sure what to make of the Seahawks. They seem to be turning things around since the return of Kam Chancellor, but they’re also a bad call away from a likely 1-3 record. At Cincinnati, one of the best teams in the league, I think Seattle will lose its third game of the season.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Seahawks 21.
Florio’s take: Arguably the game of the day, it’s a chance for the Bengals to quiet those who think they can’t win in January. The Seahawks need to get on the right side of .500, but their early-season road schedule continues to work against them. The Bengals currently are the better team on both sides of the ball.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 22, Seahawks 17.
Rams at Packers
MDS’s take: The Rams have a knack for playing their best football against their toughest opponents. But a trip to Lambeau Field against Aaron Rodgers will be too tough a test even for the Rams’ impressive defense, and the Packers will take this one.
MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Rams 20.
Florio’s take: The up-and-down Rams are good enough to beat most teams. They’re not yet good enough to beat the Packers in Green Bay, even though the Rams can give them a run for their money.
Florio’s pick: Packers 27, Rams 24.
Bears at Chiefs
MDS’s take: Jay Cutler has played better this season than people are giving him credit for, and when he’s healthy the Bears aren’t as bad a team as people think. So I’m tempted to pick the Bears here. But I’m expecting Andy Reid to get his offense back on track on Sunday and the Chiefs to pull out a close one.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 24, Bears 21.
Florio’s take: The Bears don’t have to worry about going winless. Which will make it easier for them to stomach Sunday’s trip to Arrowhead Stadium. Meanwhile, it the Chiefs can’t win this one and land at 1-4, they’re done.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Bears 20.
Saints at Eagles
MDS’s take: The Eagles’ offense has been a mess this season, but the Saints’ defense has been a mess, too. I like the Eagles to move the ball a lot against New Orleans.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Saints 21.
Florio’s take: Two years ago, the Saints ended Philly’s season with the first road playoff win in franchise history. This time, the Saints could end Philly’s season as a practical matter. I can’t imagine that happening; if just a handful of plays had gone the other way in Washington, the Eagles would have won easily.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Saints 20.
Jaguars at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The NFL teams in Florida are all pretty terrible this year, but if there’s one showing some signs of life, it’s Jacksonville. Jameis Winston will be forced into multiple turnovers as the Jags win a close one.
MDS’s pick: Jaguars 13, Buccaneers 10.
Florio’s take: The Bucs haven’t won a home game in a long, long time. If they don’t win this one against Jacksonville, they may never win another home game again. Ever.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 20, Jaguars 17.
Bills at Titans
MDS’s take: Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has exceeded expectations in the first three games of his NFL career, but the Bills’ defense is going to make life rough for him. This will be a difficult day for the rookie.
MDS’s pick: Bills 20, Titans 7.
Florio’s take: If the Bills can’t get this one done, they’re done. And even though they looked done against the Giants, I don’t think they’re done. And now I think I’m done.
Florio’s pick: Bills 27, Titans 17.
Cardinals at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions may be a better team than their 0-4 record suggests, but they’re still not good enough to beat the Cardinals, whose deep passing game is going to be too much for Detroit’s secondary to handle.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 28, Lions 17.
Florio’s take: Can the Lions forget about the screwing they took in Seattle and focus on a Cardinals team that can’t afford to lose two in a row? It’s not likely, especially since the offense can’t do much of anything.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 24, Lions 13.
Patriots at Cowboys
MDS’s take: Brandon Weeden isn’t playing badly at all in relief of Tony Romo, but the Cowboys haven’t been able to win with him at quarterback. And they won’t win Sunday, with the best team in the NFL coming to town. This one could get ugly for Big D.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 38, Cowboys 14.
Florio’s take: It was supposed to be Tony Romo vs. Jimmy Garappolo. Instead, it’s Brandon Weeden vs. Tom Brady. They’re gonna need a bigger scoreboard.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 44, Cowboys 20.
Broncos at Raiders
MDS’s take: The Broncos’ defense is so relentless that Derek Carr is going to struggle all day long at getting the ball out before the rush arrives. Denver will improve to 5-0 and strengthen its grip on the AFC West.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 20, Raiders 10.
Florio’s take: Last week, the Raiders stepped into a trap in Chicago. This week, they step into a buzzsaw in their own backyard.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 34, Raiders 21.
49ers at Giants
MDS’s take: The 49ers’ offense has been an absolute mess, and it’s hard to see an end in sight. The Giants will jump out to an early lead and shut down the 49ers.
MDS’s pick: Giants 16, 49ers 7.
Florio’s take: 49ers coach Jim Tomsula wants a “confident man” at quarterback. He’ll have to settle for Colin Kaepernick.
Florio’s pick: Giants 26, 49ers 14.
Steelers at Chargers
MDS’s take: If Ben Roethlisberger were playing, I’d pick the Steelers. With Michael Vick at the helm, I’m expecting Pittsburgh’s offense to struggle to move the ball. The Chargers haven’t been great this year in any phase of the game, but they’ll get enough out of their offense to beat the Steelers in a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 14, Steelers 10.
Florio’s take: Flip a coin. Throw a dart. Light a match. The Steelers have extra rest and Martavis Bryant back. The Chargers are at home and have Antonio Gates back. The Chargers also have Philip Rivers and Steelers don’t have Ben Roethlisberger.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 28, Steelers 24.