First, the bad news. I was a horrendous 6-8 last week in my effort to pick games. (I won’t use the torn plantar fascia in my plant foot as an excuse, or the rib injury that I didn’t disclose until game day but that required an MRI this morning.) The good news? MDS was even worse, hitting on only five of 14 and giving me a one-game lead through 10 weeks.
This week, we disagree on three of the games.
For the year, I’m 93-53 (63.6 percent), and MDS is 92-54 (63.0 percent).
Titans at Jaguars
MDS’s take: Don’t look now, but the Jaguars are threatening to turn the AFC South into a three-team race. Jacksonville faces an easy schedule down the stretch, starting with what should be an easy win over the Titans.
MDS’s pick: Jaguars 24, Titans 14.
Florio’s take: It’s Star Trek uniform night, thanks to the Nikefication of the NFL. And here’s the spot where I’d make a few Star Trek references if I knew anything about the show. No one knows anything about the AFC South, a division that the winner of this game could still win. Given the state of the AFC South, the loser still will have a chance to win it, too. Edge to the home team. And because I always preferred Captain Kirk to Mr. Spock.
Florio’s pick: Jaguars 24, Titans 20.
Colts at Falcons
MDS’s take: The Colts went 2-0 with Matt Hasselbeck the last time Andrew Luck was out, but against a team with a good offense like Atlanta’s, I don’t think a Hasselbeck-led Indianapolis offense will be able to put enough points on the board.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 20, Colts 13.
Florio’s take: Both teams had two weeks to prepare for this one, which should give them a chance to iron out some of the problems from the first nine weeks of the season. Despite recent struggles, quarterback Matt Ryan remains at a level above Matthew Hasselbeck.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Colts 20.
Rams at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Rams’ offense has problems that a quarterback change could fix, but only if the Rams had a backup quarterback who’s better than Nick Foles. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced Case Keenum is any better than Foles, and the Ravens will win.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 21, Rams 14.
Florio’s take: A quarterback who never will be elite takes on the one who used to be. The Rams are playing for a shot at the postseason; the Ravens are playing for respect. While the Rams remain more talented, it feels like they’re in the midst of their annual underachievement period.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Rams 16.
Washington at Panthers
MDS’s take: Kirk Cousins had a big game against the terrible Saints defense. He’ll have a rough game against the excellent Panthers defense. Carolina is going to 10-0.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 28, Washington 14.
Florio’s take: With each win, Carolina is going to face stronger and stronger efforts to supply their first loss. As the Panthers guard against a letdown, they need look no farther than Cincinnati’s struggles against the Texans on Monday night. While Kirk Cousins looked great last weekend, it happened both at home and against the worst defense in the league.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 27, Washington 17.
Broncos at Bears
MDS’s take: A few weeks ago it would have sounded crazy to say the Bears would beat the Broncos. But things change quickly in the NFL. Brock Osweiler’s first start will be a loss.
MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Broncos 17.
Florio’s take: Chicago coach John Fox has plenty of incentive to beat the team that fired him, and he knows the personnel in Denver well enough to make it happen. Besides, the Bears are on the fringes of playoff contention in the NFC, with a realistic shot at catching the Packers or the Falcons for a wild-card berth.
Florio’s pick: Bears 23, Broncos 17.
Raiders at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions turned in by far their best performance of the season with last week’s win in Green Bay, and the Raiders are on a two-game losing streak. That makes it tempting to pick Detroit. But I just don’t think the Lions’ offense will put many points on the board in this game, and the Raiders will win a close one.
MDS’s pick: Raiders 20, Lions 14.
Florio’s take: The Raiders are running out of chances to remain in contention for the postseason, and the Lions are hoping to build on last week’s unlikely win at Green Bay. In this one, the edge goes to the team that still has a realistic chance of playing beyond Week 17.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 27, Lions 20.
Jets at Texans
MDS’s take: This is a surprisingly relevant game to the AFC playoff race, as the Texans are tied for the South lead and the Jets are tied for the second wild card spot. I like the Jets’ defense to get things back on track and shut down the Texans.
MDS’s pick: Jets 14, Texans 10.
Florio’s take: If the Texans win, will J.J. Watt make a Yukon Cornelius reference when discussing Ryan Fitzpatrick? Unfortunately, we’ll never find out. How you all doin’?
Florio’s pick: Jets 23, Texans 13.
Cowboys at Dolphins
MDS’s take: The Cowboys are 2-0 with Tony Romo and 0-7 without him. Now that Romo is back, I think they’ll get back to their winning ways — though probably too late to make a run in the NFC East.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 21, Dolphins 20.
Florio’s take: Good news: Tony Romo is back. Bad news: The rest of the roster is still there. It may sound harsh, but they lost seven straight games. They’ll expect to win this one easily, and the Dolphins won’t cooperate.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 30, Cowboys 23.
Packers at Vikings
MDS’s take: The Vikings have a huge opportunity to establish themselves as the favorites in the NFC North. With a win on Sunday, they’ll have a two-game lead and the tiebreaker advantage over the Packers. I think Green Bay is going to get things turned around, however, and get back on top in the division.
MDS’s pick: Packers 24, Vikings 20.
Florio’s take: As the Vikings prepared to face the Rams, folks said, “Win this one, and we’ll believe in you.” Then, after beating the Rams and preparing to face the Raiders, folks said, “Win this one, and we’ll believe in you.” Now, as the Vikings prepare to face the Packers after bearing the Raiders, folks are saying, “Win this one, and we’ll believe in you.” Come Monday, folks will say, “Well, the Packers stink now, anyway.”
Florio’s pick: Vikings 34, Packers 19.
Buccaneers at Eagles
MDS’s take: The Bucs have an enormous opportunity to establish themselves as contenders for an NFC wild card spot down the stretch. But I’m just not convinced that Tampa Bay’s offense will be able to get many points on the board in Philly.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 17, Buccaneers 10.
Florio’s take: To Eagles fans who complained about Sam Bradford — after Sunday, maybe you won’t.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Eagles 23.
49ers at Seahawks
MDS’s take: The 3-6 49ers are only a game behind the 4-5 Seahawks in the standings, but there’s a huge gulf between these teams in the quality of their play. Seattle should cruise to an easy win.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 35, 49ers 14.
Florio’s take: The Seahawks are desperate. Blaine Gabbert is still the 49ers quarterback. Any questions?
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 20, 49ers 6.
Chiefs at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Chiefs have quietly strung together a series of impressive wins after a very slow start. They’ll keep it going against a Chargers team that has fallen apart as a result of injuries.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 28, Chargers 20.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs are moving in the right direction. The Chargers are moving to L.A. And they otherwise aren’t very good right now.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Chargers 20.
Bills at Patriots
Bengals at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The Cardinals’ offense is firing on all cylinders, and Arizona will earn its second consecutive Sunday night victory.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 31, Bengals 20.
Florio’s take: If the Bengals had ditched the cutesy stuff against Houston and just relied on their offensive talent, they may have won. Neither approach may matter against a Cardinals team that has both the talent and an attitude.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 29, Bengals 21.
MDS’s take: The Bills will play better defense against the Patriots than they did the first time these teams played, but New England will score just enough to pull out a close win that goes down to the wire.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 23, Bills 20.
Florio’s take: If the injuries keep piling up for the Patriots, they may eventually lose a game. For now, not.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Bills 21.