Another week of NFL games is here. Another 14 contests for part of the broader PFT picks contest between MDS and yours truly.
We split the four games on which we disagreed last week en route to pathetic, matching 8-6 records. This week, we disagree on only one game — arguably one of the biggest of the week.
Through six weeks, I’m at 59-32 (64.8 percent), and MDS has a record of 58-33 (63.7 percent).
Seahawks at 49ers.
MDS’s take: I don’t think the NFL thought this would be a matchup of two 2-4 teams when the league scheduled this for a Thursday night game. But while these two teams have the same record, it’s the Seahawks who still have a realistic hope of turning things around and getting to the playoffs. They’ll take a step toward that with a big win in San Francisco.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 24, 49ers 10.
Florio’s take: Not long ago, the winner of this one landed in first place in the NFC West. Now, the loser lands in last place. Before the season began, it was assumed that both of these games would be romps for the two-time defending NFC champs. It likely won’t be a blowout this time, but the Seahawks realize that if they can’t win this one, they can forget about a third straight Super Bowl appearance. (Actually, it’s a safe bet that they can already forget about that.)
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 20, 49ers 13.
Bills vs. Jaguars.
MDS’s take: London gets yet another bad game. No surprise there. And it will be no surprise when the Bills’ defense shuts down Blake Bortles and wins a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Bills 17, Jaguars 7.
Florio’s take: The up-and-down Bills need to stay on the right side of .500, especially when facing a team with wins that match its losses only when their record is 0-0. If the Bills lose this one, things could unravel quickly in Buffalo. Or, perhaps more accurately, more quickly than they already are.
Florio’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 10.
Vikings at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions finally got their offense moving and got their first win on Sunday, but they won’t make it two in a row with a better Vikings team coming to town. Minnesota hasn’t been great this year, but a win Sunday makes the Vikings the clear No. 2 in the NFC North and a legitimate wild card candidate.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Lions 14.
Florio’s take: The Vikings aren’t yet good enough to blow anyone out, but they’re good enough to find ways to outscore the majority of their opponents. If the Vikings are going to make good on their perceived potential for 2015, they’ll need to do better than last year’s 1-5 divisional record. Here’s their chance to get to 2-0, by competing a sweep of the overmatched Lions.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 28, Lions 20.
Saints at Colts
MDS’s take: Andrew Luck returned and looked pretty good against the Patriots on Sunday night. He should look even better against a Saints defense that has a knack for making opposing quarterbacks look great. This should be the Colts’ biggest win of the year.
MDS’s pick: Colts 34, Saints 20.
Florio’s take: The only way to turn the page on Sunday night’s fake punt fiasco is to win. With games coming up against the 5-0 Panthers and 6-0 Broncos, the Saints could present the best chance of a victory before the bye. If the Colts lose this one, the bye week could result in a farewell to Chuck Pagano.
Florio’s pick: Colts 24, Saints 20.
Steelers at Chiefs
MDS’s take: Landry Jones getting the first start of his career at Arrowhead Stadium ought to be a recipe for a defense to put a beating on a young quarterback. But Jones looked good last week, and the Chiefs haven’t looked good at all this year. I like the Steelers to take this one.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Chiefs 20.
Florio’s take: Landry Jones, arguably dangling on the roster by a fraying thread during the preseason, has shown that he can win games. When he faces on Sunday a Chiefs team that won’t have Jamaal Charles and may not have Jeremy Maclin, Jones could win his first career start. Especially since the team’s defense has improved considerably.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 20, Chiefs 13.
Texans at Dolphins
MDS’s take: Dolphins coach Dan Campbell certainly had his team ready to play in his debut last week against the Titans. I think he’ll keep it going against a Texans offense that looks better with Brian Hoyer, but still isn’t great.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 27, Texans 24.
Florio’s take: The new-look Dolphins look good, so far. In what amounts to a Mulligan of a home opener, the Dolphins get back to .500, laying the foundation for an unlikely playoff run.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Texans 17.
Jets at Patriots
MDS’s take: If the Jets are going to dethrone the Patriots in the AFC East, they’re going to need to win this game. I don’t see it happening. The Patriots are still the best team in the division, and they’ll remain undefeated.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Jets 17.
Florio’s take: The Jets have the defense to slow down the New England offense, but they don’t yet have the offense to outscore the New England defense. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is 1-8 during his career against the Patriots. Make it 1-9.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Jets 23.
Browns at Rams
MDS’s take: Browns quarterback Josh McCown has been pretty good for most of this year, but the Broncos showed that a good pass rush can pressure McCown into turnovers. The Rams have a good pass rush that will do the same, and St. Louis will win a close, low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Rams 17, Browns 14.
Florio’s take: The Rams ordinarily play up and down to the level of the competition. With a week off to get ready for a visit from the Browns, it may not matter; the Rams have a shot at winning the division, and the race starts with a win over one of the teams against which past Rams teams may have found a way to lose.
Florio’s pick: Rams 23, Browns 17.
Falcons at Titans
MDS’s take: Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt has won just four of his last 33 games as a head coach, stretching back to the end of his tenure in Arizona. He’s going to be on the hot seat if he doesn’t turn things around soon, but it’s not going to happen against a good Falcons team.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 30, Titans 17.
Florio’s take: The one-loss Falcons have had extra time to get ready for the one-win Titans. The Falcons shouldn’t need it — and they have every reason to keep close to the no-loss Panthers.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 30, Titans 17.
Buccaneers at Washington
MDS’s take: I’m expecting a sloppy game, as Kirk Cousins and Jameis Winston may throw three interceptions apiece. But ultimately Washington will make a couple of plays on offense and win a close one.
MDS’s pick: Washington 20, Buccaneers 16.
Florio’s take: The Bucs have had two weeks to get ready for this one, after surprisingly winning two of their first five games. Washington remains in the race for the None-oF-the-above-C East, and they should be able to hold serve at home. As long as it’s not too windy for the quarterback.
Florio’s pick: Washington 24, Buccaneers 20.
Raiders at Chargers
MDS’s take: With Philip Rivers on pace to set new NFL records for completions and passing yards, the Chargers’ offense is sure to move the ball well against the Raiders. I don’t think the Raiders’ offense can keep up.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 31, Raiders 21.
Florio’s take: The Raiders have had two weeks to get ready for a Chargers team that is moving in the wrong direction. Philip Rivers still has enough in his arm to lead the Chargers to what could be their last San Diego victory over the Raiders.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 31, Raiders 27.
Cowboys at Giants
MDS’s take: Brandon Weeden is out and Matt Cassel is in for the Cowboys, but it won’t make much of a difference, and the Giants will bounce back from an ugly Monday night game to earn an NFC East win.
MDS’s pick: Giants 27, Cowboys 20.
Florio’s take: The Cowboys need this one badly, badly enough to perhaps risk bringing back Dez Bryant before he’s ready. The Giants don’t have the offensive line to buy Eli Manning the time to avoid looking like Peyton.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Giants 20.
Eagles at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Eagles’ defense is playing good football while the Eagles’ offense falters. But the Panthers are playing well on both sides of the ball, and they should be able to beat an Eagles team that still makes too many mistakes.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Eagles 17.
Florio’s take: Sure, the Eagles have put together a couple of wins. But the Panthers are for real, and they get their chance with back-to-back prime-time games to prove it.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 33, Eagles 24.
Ravens at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The Ravens have completely collapsed and are one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Cardinals have pounded bad teams this year. This has all the makings of a Monday night game you can turn off at halftime.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 35, Ravens 16.
Florio’s take: Joe Flacco isn’t elite. The rest of the team definitely isn’t. With the sixth loss looming, it’s time to start planning for 2016.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 34, Ravens 21.