It’s not a rematch.
Hey, if it works for the Panthers in advance of the Thursday night non-rematch rematch against the Broncos, it works for me in the latest installment of the picks competition with MDS, both in the regular season and postseason.
This year is a new year, and I intend to win both — unlike last year. And both MDS and I are the only two who care.
If you care about what we think about this week’s games, keep scrolling.
Panthers at Broncos
MDS’s take: In the Super Bowl, the Broncos’ great defense reined in Cam Newton and allowed Peyton Manning to retire with another ring. But this time around I think Newton will make some big plays, and Trevor Siemian will make some big mistakes in his first career start.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 17, Broncos 10.
Florio’s take: Denver’s defense may still be able to slow down Carolina’s offense, but Carolina’s defense should be able to shut down a Denver offense led by a second-year seventh-round pick who will be wet behind the ears at kickoff and quite possibly wet elsewhere during the game.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 20, Broncos 13.
Packers at Jaguars
MDS’s take: Some see this as a turnaround year for the Jaguars, but I’m not sold. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson will have a big game against Jacksonville’s defense.
MDS’s pick: Packers 31, Jaguars 20.
Florio’s take: Picking the upset here is tempting, but the up-and-coming Jaguars have a long way to go until they’ll be ready to come up with this kind of a signature win over a Super Bowl contender.
Florio’s pick: Packers 38, Jaguars 27.
Bills at Ravens
MDS’s take: Rex Ryan needs to get the Bills’ defense turned around or else he’s going to be looking for work in four months. I’m not convinced he has the personnel to make it happen.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 28, Bills 20.
Florio’s take: The Ravens will win a lot of games this year. The Bills will lose a lot of games this year. Ipso facto, I like the Ravens to set the right tone for what could be a big year.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Bills 13.
Bears at Texans
MDS’s take: The Bears were not impressive in the preseason and look like a team that needs another year to turn things around. They’re going to have an ugly season.
MDS’s pick: Texans 16, Bears 10.
Florio’s take: The quarterback drafted four years ago by John Fox gets a chance to give Fox the first loss of his second season in Chicago. The decisions to give a bunch of money to Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller soon will be looking pretty good, and the decision not to give DeAndre Hopkins a raise soon won’t be.
Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Bears 19.
Browns at Eagles
MDS’s take: Robert Griffin III vs. Carson Wentz is an oddly fascinating quarterback matchup. I see Griffin making a few big plays and Wentz making a few big mistakes.
MDS’s pick: Browns 23, Eagles 13.
Florio’s take: The Browns didn’t see Carson Wentz as being a good fit for their offense. He’ll definitely be a good fit for their defense this weekend.
Florio’s pick: Browns 16, Eagles 7.
Buccaneers at Falcons
MDS’s take: The Bucs fired Lovie Smith, but will they be any better under Dirk Koetter? I’m not so sure. Look for the Falcons to hand the Bucs a Week One loss.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 17, Buccaneers 14.
Florio’s take: If Jameis Winston is the real deal, this is the kind of game the Buccaneers need to start winning. And, yes, Winston is the real deal.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 20, Falcons 17.
Vikings at Titans
MDS’s take: Does the loss of Teddy Bridgewater make this game a loss for Minnesota? I don’t think so. I still believe the Vikings’ defense will make life tough for the Titans’ offense, and the Vikings’ offense will manage a couple of long scoring drives.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 14, Titans 10.
Florio’s take: The Titans are 2-0 in Week One over the past two years, 3-27 after it. The “after” tends to make the “before” less of a trend and more of a fluke. The Vikings are the better team across the board. It won’t be pretty, but Minnesota will score enough points to emerge with a win.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 13, Titans 9.
Bengals at Jets
MDS’s take: I’m not convinced that Ryan Fitzpatrick will have the same kind of season in 2016 that he had in 2015, while I think a healthy Andy Dalton is due for a big year in Cincinnati. The Bengals will set the tone for a strong season with an impressive win in New York.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 27, Jets 14.
Florio’s take: It’s a good, early-season test for a Jets team that would love to be able to say that it has lost playoff games in each of the last five years. The Bengals hope to continue what they’ve done the past five years, and to get a win when January rolls around. Home field makes it tighter, but overall talent wins out.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 24, Jets 17.
Raiders at Saints
MDS’s take: The Raiders are getting better and have good young talent, but I think their secondary may struggle against Drew Brees. I like the Saints in a shootout.
MDS’s pick: Saints 35, Raiders 34.
Florio’s take: Expectations are high for the Raiders, a team that has depth and talent and an opportunity to make a playoff push for the first time in a long time. They’ll have to do it from an 0-1 hole, thanks to an off-the-radar Saints team that is good enough to hold serve at home with a potent offense and a defense that has to be better, because it couldn’t be any worse than it was a year ago.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Raiders 27.
Chargers at Chiefs
MDS’s take: Jamaal Charles isn’t back to health yet, but I still like the Chiefs’ running game with a three-headed attack of Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware and Knile Davis. The Chiefs should control this game from start to finish.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 24, Chargers 16.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs have started slowly the past two seasons, before finishing strong. It’s premature to comment on how they’ll finish; for now, it’s pedal-to-the-metal against an overmatched division rival playing in a tough place to win.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Chargers 17.
Dolphins at Seahawks
MDS’s take: Despite the high-profile departure of Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks still have one of the best rosters in the NFL from top to bottom. The Dolphins have something far short of that.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 30, Dolphins 10.
Florio’s take: As potential upsets go, this would be the biggest of the weekend. I have a weird feeling about this one, but it’s way too early in the year to do anything but pick the home team in an intimidatingly loud stadium that every AFC visits only once every eight years.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Dolphins 17.
Lions at Colts
MDS’s take: Both of these teams are coming off disappointing seasons, and I’m not convinced that either team has done enough to turn things around in 2016. But in this game I’ll take the Colts, with a big game from Andrew Luck likely.
MDS’s pick: Colts 28, Lions 21.
Florio’s take: On the Manning scale, Andrew Luck started his career closer to Peyton. Now, Andrew is moving closer to Archie, thanks to a front office that has been unable to surround the quarterback with enough competent talent. Upset alert, sort of. Revenge of Jim Caldwell, absolutely.
Florio’s pick: Lions 24, Colts 17.
Giants at Cowboys
MDS’s take: In their last 36 games, the Cowboys are 17-5 with Tony Romo and 1-13 without him. I think it’s about to be 1-14 without Romo.
MDS’s pick: Giants 23, Cowboys 20.
Florio’s take: Dak Prescott may not become the next Roger Staubach, but for the first game of the season they’ll have him ready to be Clint Longley. The fact that the Giants haven’t improved nearly as much as they hope will be a factor, too.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Giants 20.
Patriots at Cardinals
MDS’s take: With Tom Brady suspended and Jimmy Garoppolo starting, the Patriots have a tall order. But I think the Cardinals are going to have another strong season, and I actually wouldn’t pick the Patriots to win at Arizona even with Brady.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 30, Patriots 17.
Florio’s take: Plenty of good teams have been made to look plenty bad in Arizona lately. It’s not clear how good the Patriots will be without Tom Brady, but they won’t be good enough to overcome the challenges of competing with the Cardinals on their home turf.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 28, Patriots 20.
Steelers at Washington
MDS’s take: I see Antonio Brown running wild through Washington’s secondary, and Washington’s offense unable to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 31, Washington 21.
Florio’s take: Most aren’t buying Washington, a year after an unlikely playoff berth. I am. Besides, the Steelers tend to overachieve when expectations are low, and to underachieve when expectations are high.
Florio’s pick: Washington 24, Steelers 21.
Rams at 49ers
MDS’s take: The Rams have plenty of holes on the roster, but the 49ers look like they might just be the worst team in the league. Los Angeles will take this one.
MDS’s pick: Rams 24, 49ers 14.
Florio’s take: Even if the Rams are once again going to be mired in “7-9 bullsh-t,” they need seven wins. Here’s one. Which is one game closer to the return of Colin Kaepernick.
Florio’s pick: Rams 17, 49ers 10.