Through five weeks, we’re still separated by only one game. And with the most disagreements we’ve had in any week all year, Week Six could shake things up.
After splitting on a pair of Week Five disagreements, MDS and yours truly disagree on four games this week. Which gives me a chance to open up a five-game lead, or for MDS to break out in front by three. Or somewhere in between.
For the year, I’m at 51-26 (66.2 percent) and MDS has a record of 50-27 (64.9 percent). For the full slate of picks, let it scroll. Down the highway.
Falcons at Saints
MDS’s take: I don’t think the Falcons are as good as their undefeated record suggests, but I do think the Saints are every bit as bad as their 1-4 record suggests. New Orleans has the worst defense in the NFL, and Drew Brees and the offense are struggling, too. The Falcons should win this one easily.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 30, Saints 20.
Florio’s take: The Falcons continue to soar through the early portion of their schedule. The Saints continue to fly into closed windows.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Saints 17.
Bengals at Bills
MDS’s take: The Bengals will keep rolling along against an injury-plagued Bills team. Cincinnati is a title contender, and Buffalo is at far less than 100 percent.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 28, Bills 13.
Florio’s take: The Bengals are for real. The Bills may or may not be. Without quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy, they aren’t. As a result, the Bengals continue the push toward not losing in the wild-card round by not having to play in it.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 28, Bills 20.
Broncos at Browns
MDS’s take: This is a closer game than people would think because the Broncos’ offense is awful right now, and Josh McCown is playing better than anyone could have expected. I’m tempted to take the Browns in an upset, but I’m just not sure if Cleveland can put enough points on the board against an excellent Denver defense.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 10, Browns 9.
Florio’s take: I love a good story. And the Browns toppling the unbeaten Broncos would be a great story. So I’m tempted to pick the Browns to win. But the Broncos have an excellent defense along with just enough firepower on offense to score at least one point more than Cleveland. Which in a world obsessed with next-gen stats is still the only stat that matters.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 24, Browns 17.
Bears at Lions
MDS’s take: If the Lions don’t win this one, they may be winless for a long, long time. But the Bears’ defense is just weak enough that even the terrible Lions’ offense might be able to move the ball on them.
MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Bears 21.
Florio’s take: If the Lions don’t win this one, they may not win any. With the Bears turning it around after an 0-3 start, it won’t be easy. With Lions fans bailing on the home team, it will be even harder.
Florio’s pick: Bears 20, Lions 13.
Texans at Jaguars
MDS’s take: I’ve been saying all year that Bill O’Brien should go to Brian Hoyer and stick with him, so I’m tempted to take the Hoyer-led Texans to win in Jacksonville. The problem, however, is that Houston struggles in all phases of the game, and a quarterback can only do so much. The Jaguars will win in the worst game of the day.
MDS’s pick: Jaguars 14, Texans 10.
Florio’s take: The Texans finally give the ball back to Brian Hoyer. They never should have taken it from him. He’ll prove why on Sunday.
Florio’s pick: Texans 30, Jaguars 20.
Chiefs at Vikings
MDS’s take: The Chiefs are quickly falling apart, and the Vikings are establishing themselves as an NFC wild card contender. The Vikings should win this one handily.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 28, Chiefs 10.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs will need a lot more than 65 Toss Power Trap to pull of a win at Minnesota, especially with Jamaal Charles done for the year. Meanwhile, Brad Childress returns to Minnesota as a member of the Kansas City staff. (It’s safe to say no one will be picking him up at the airport.)
Florio’s pick: Vikings 30, Chiefs 20.
Washington at Jets
MDS’s take: The Jets have the best pass defense in the NFL, and Kirk Cousins throws way too many interceptions. I see Cousins throwing three picks in an ugly game.
MDS’s pick: Jets 27, Washington 10.
Florio’s take: Washington will win plenty of games this year. Against a rested Jets team with a stout defense, Washington is unlikely to pick up a third victory.
Florio’s pick: Jets 23, Washington 17.
Cardinals at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Cardinals have shown this season that they can exploit opposing teams’ weaknesses as well as anyone. I expect their defense to force Michael Vick into a few turnovers, and their offense to attack the Steelers’ secondary. Pittsburgh won’t have an answer.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 31, Steelers 13.
Florio’s take: More than three years ago, the Steelers “retired” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who has since won the coach of the year award twice. With Arians back, his former star pupil, Ben Roethlisberger, still injured, and the Steelers working on a short week after a return from San Diego, advantage Cardinals.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 24, Steelers 20.
Dolphins at Titans
MDS’s take: Dan Campbell’s tough-guy act is swell, but it’s going to take more than the Oklahoma drill to turn around a bad Dolphins team. The Titans are playing better football than they’re getting credit for, and they’ll take it to the Dolphins.
MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Dolphins 10.
Florio’s take: If the new-look Dan Campbell Dolphins can’t win this one, they may not win very many. And while I’m impressed with Tennessee’s ability to compete, I’m not impressed with their inability to finish.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 28, Titans 23.
Panthers at Seahawks
MDS’s take: The Seahawks are running out of time to get things turned around, and they’ve got the undefeated Panthers coming to town. This is the week when Seattle makes a statement.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 24, Panthers 6.
Florio’s take: The Panthers have played the Seahawks close and tough the last three years, with a trio of one-score regular-season losses in Charlotte and a closer-than-the-score-suggests 31-17 playoff loss in Seattle. Like last year, the Panthers are getting the Seahawks immediately after they’ve picked up their third loss. Which is bad news for a team trying to keep pace with the Falcons.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 23, Panthers 17.
Chargers at Packers
MDS’s take: Aaron Rodgers won’t have another three-turnover game at Lambeau Field. Certainly not this week. Maybe not ever. The Chargers lost a heartbreaker on Monday night, but they’ll lose a blowout this time.
MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Chargers 14.
Florio’s take: It’s a short week and a long trip for the Chargers, who are underachieving at 2-3. Even if they bring their very best, they still won’t have enough to beat the Packers in their own building.
Florio’s pick: Packers 37, Chargers 21.
Ravens at 49ers
MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is very good, but the 49ers are a lot worse. The Ravens will move the ball well and get some big plays from the special teams to win in San Francisco.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 23, 49ers 20.
Florio’s take: It’s a Super Bowl XLVII rematch, with similar implications for the loser, who will be 1-5 and done. The winner at 2-4 may also be done. With inside information from his brother, Jim, John Harbaugh should be able to come up with a way to shut down the 49ers offense.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, 49ers 20.
Patriots at Colts
MDS’s take: The Deflategate rematch will be a blowout like the original Deflategate game. Patriots roll in Indianapolis, with fully inflated footballs.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Colts 10.
Florio’s take: The Colts pulled the pin on the #DeflateGate grenade. The Patriots will say all the right things before the rematch. And then the Patriots will do everything they can to make the Colts regret running their mouths to the league.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 49, Colts 17.
Giants at Eagles
MDS’s take: I’m not sold on everything Chip Kelly is doing, but the offense does seem to be rolling, and the Giants’ defense is struggling. The Eagles should win a high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 34, Giants 31.
Florio’s take: The Giants are finding a way to win and forging a genuine sense of team. The Eagles haven’t been sufficiently consistent to trust in a game with significant implications in the NFC East.
Florio’s pick: Giants 28, Eagles 23.