The deadlock continues, 12 weeks in.
MDS and yours truly, splitting 3-3 the six games on which we disagreed over the Thanksgiving weekend. We both went 9-7, which really isn’t good but not bad in comparison to some recent performances.
This week, we disagree on three games, which means someone will be leading the contest with four weeks left.
For the year, 110-66, a success rate of 62.5 percent. For this week’s picks, scroll away.
Packers at Lions
MDS’s take: A few weeks ago, this would have looked like a blowout. But the Lions have won three in a row, including on the road in Green Bay. And the Packers have lost four of their last five. Still, I think the Packers are a better team than the Lions from top to bottom, and I expect Green Bay to take this one.
MDS’s pick: Packers 20, Lions 17.
Florio’s take: The Lions inexplicably have turned around the season. Even more inexplicably, the Packers have done the same thing, in the wrong direction. And the internal dysfunction is becoming public, with Aaron Rodgers calling out younger teammates in production meetings and interviews. It may not end well, for the second straight Thursday night.
Florio’s pick: Lions 27, Packers 23.
Texans at Bills
MDS’s take: The Texans have shown themselves to be a pretty good team when Ryan Mallett isn’t playing (1-3 when Mallett starts; 5-2 when he doesn’t), but Buffalo’s defense may be just good enough to force Brian Hoyer into a couple of turnovers and win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Bills 16, Texans 13.
Florio’s take: The Bills are running out of chances to match last year’s record, generated without Rex Ryan, Tyrod Taylor, and LeSean McCoy. The Texans have been playing very well, but the Bills have even more incentive to get back on the winning track after losing two games in a row.
Florio’s pick: Bills 17, Texans 13.
49ers at Bears
MDS’s take: The Bears’ turnaround has been one of the biggest surprises of this season. Early in the year they looked like candidates for the first overall pick; now they look like a legitimately good team. They shouldn’t have any trouble dispatching the 49ers.
MDS’s pick: Bears 28, 49ers 14.
Florio’s take: Adam Gase gets a chance to show the team that didn’t hire him as head coach that it made a mistake. As if the team that didn’t hire him doesn’t realize that it has made plenty of mistakes.
Florio’s pick: Bears 27, 49ers 13.
Bengals at Browns
MDS’s take: Whether it’s Austin Davis or Johnny Manziel at quarterback, it really doesn’t matter. The Bengals will win easily.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 35, Browns 10.
Florio’s take: Last year, the Bengals beat the Browns and Johnny Manziel in Cleveland, 30-0. This year, with Austin Davis getting the snaps, it could be nearly as bad.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Browns 9.
Ravens at Dolphins
MDS’s take: The Ravens found a way to win without Joe Flacco on Monday night, but I don’t think there are too many more wins in store for Baltimore in this ugly season. There probably aren’t too many more wins in store for Miami, either, but there’s one coming on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 23, Ravens 20.
Florio’s take: With most teams still having a plausible shot at the playoffs, the games between two teams that are done tend to stand out. The Dolphins should win this war of irrelevance, primarily because their starting quarterback doesn’t have a habit of throwing pick sixes.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Ravens 21.
Seahawks at Vikings
MDS’s take: This is a fascinating game in the NFC playoff race. The Vikings have been a pleasant surprise and the Seahawks have been a disappointment, but Seattle is getting things turned around and will make a statement in Minnesota.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Vikings 20.
Florio’s take: Is facing the two-time defending conference champions the kind of moment that would qualify as a huge game for the Vikings? To have a chance at winning, the Vikings must convince themselves it isn’t.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Vikings 17.
Panthers at Saints
MDS’s take: I still think the Panthers will get tripped up somewhere on the way to 16-0, but I just don’t think the Saints’ defense can slow down Cam Newton. The Panthers win this one.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 30, Saints 20.
Florio’s take: When they played in Charlotte without Drew Brees, the Saints gave the Panthers everything they could handle. When the Saints hosted the then 5-0 Falcons earlier this year, the Saints emerged with a win. One week after the Patriots fell to 10-1, it’s time for the Panthers to pick up their first loss of the season, as the non-playoff-bound Saints treat this game as the equivalent of their Super Bowl.
Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Panthers 24.
Jets at Giants
MDS’s take: Picking this game basically amounted to a coin flip for me, but in the end I think we’re going to see a big game from Odell Beckham being the difference.
MDS’s pick: Giants 28, Jets 27.
Florio’s take: Once every four years, the Snoopy Bowl isn’t meaningless. This year, it’s particularly meaningful, as both teams try to ensure that their seasons will have meaning. Neither team has been impressive lately, but after a horrendous performance in Washington, Eli Manning will find a way to get the Giants back on track. At least for a week.
Florio’s pick: Giants 23, Jets 17.
Cardinals at Rams
MDS’s take: The Cardinals have come back to earth a bit in recent weeks and aren’t looking like the juggernaut they were earlier in the season. But they should have enough to beat a Rams team that has looked downright awful.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 28, Rams 24.
Florio’s take: Yes, the Rams actually beat the Cardinals in Arizona. Somehow. This time around, the Rams are falling apart and the Cardinals are closing in on a bye. it could get ugly.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 30, Rams 13.
Falcons at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: If the Falcons lose this one, they’re in full-on collapse. I think they’ll lose this one.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 21, Falcons 20.
Florio’s take: The Bucs remain surprisingly competitive, and the Falcons continue a shocking slide after starting 5-0. Tampa now has a chance to pull even in the standings with Atlanta, and to finish the head-to-head sweep.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Falcons 20.
Jaguars at Titans
MDS’s take: I haven’t gone wrong picking against the Titans at home all year, but I think I’m about to change: Tennessee looks like it’s playing hard for interim head coach Mike Mularkey, and I think they’ll pull one out against the Jaguars.
MDS’s pick: Titans 17, Jaguars 16.
Florio’s take: Tennessee knows how to build a lead. They just don’t know how to hold a lead. This weekend, the Titans get another chance at a Jacksonville team that Tennessee nearly beat on the road. This time around, the Titans should be able to pull off the win at home.
Florio’s pick: Titans 20, Jaguars 17.
Chiefs at Raiders
MDS’s take: The Chiefs are on fire lately, and Andy Reid is a coach of the year candidate after a miserable start. They’ll keep it going against the Raiders.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 34, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs have won five in a row. Of their final five games, this is the one that the Chiefs could lose. If they don’t, Kansas City could finish with 10 straight victories. The Chiefs are simply a little too banged up for this one, and the Raiders know their window is getting narrower.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 23, Chiefs 20.
Broncos at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Broncos’ offense is cruising with Brock Osweiler running the show, and it should continue against a Chargers team that is still trying hard but has been devastated by injuries.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 27, Chargers 17.
Florio’s take: Brock Osweiler already has taken down Jay Cutler and Tom Brady. The next notch in the bolo tie will be Philip Rivers.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 31, Chargers 20.
Eagles at Patriots
MDS’s take: I don’t think the Eagles are as bad as they’ve looked the last two weeks, but they’re certainly not good enough to win at New England.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 35, Eagles 21.
Florio’s take: No team has given up 45 points in three straight games since 1970. It’s fitting that it will happen again exactly 45 years later.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 45, Eagles 21.
Colts at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Colts are 4-0 with Matt Hasselbeck as their starter, but they haven’t played a team as good as the Steelers. Pittsburgh will put an end to Hasselbeck’s winning streak.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Colts 21.
Florio’s take: Last year, Ben Roethlisberger and company rang up 51 points on the Colts. This year, the outcome should be the same, but likely with fewer points.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 42, Colts 27.
Cowboys at Washington
MDS’s take: I don’t think I can pick the Matt Cassel-led Cowboys to beat anyone. Washington will strengthen its hold on the NFC East lead.
MDS’s pick: Washington 24, Cowboys 10.
Florio’s take: Washington is hard to beat at home. Dallas without Tony Romo is easy to beat anywhere. Advantage Washington.
Florio’s pick: Washington 23, Cowboys 17.