A full nine weeks in, MDS is clinging to a five-game lead. We disagree on four games this weekend, which gives me a chance (albeit slim) to cut the margin to one.
As always, scroll along to find out what we think about the various games.
As always, don’t wager anything of value on what we think.
Seahawks at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The Cardinals played better than I was expecting without Carson Palmer on Sunday, in large part because Adrian Peterson has been rejuvenated in Arizona. But I think the Seahawks’ defense should shut the Cardinals’ offense down.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 7.
Florio’s take: Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has called short-week football a “poop fest.” If Seattle loses again, its season quickly could become a sh-t show.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 17.
Packers at Bears
MDS’s take: It sounds crazy to pick the Bears against the Packers, but that’s only because we’re still not really accustomed to how bad the Packers are without Aaron Rodgers. Maybe we’ll be accustomed to it once the Bears win on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Packers 17.
Florio’s take: Packers coach Mike McCarthy says there’s more than one way to win a game. Without one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, the Packers consistently have been finding the best way to lose — by allowing more points than they score.
Florio’s pick: Bears 17, Packers 14.
Browns at Lions
MDS’s take: I could see the Lions letting down a little bit on a short work week, but not quite enough to hand the Browns their first win.
MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Browns 16.
Florio’s take: Eleven days before Thanksgiving, the Lions feast on the NFL’s biggest turkey.
Florio’s pick: Lions 34, Browns 13.
Steelers at Colts
MDS’s take: The Colts have found ways to pull out wins, but they are not a good football team. They’d probably be better off losing and getting a higher draft pick, so maybe Colts fans will enjoy watching them lose big on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 30, Colts 13.
Florio’s take: The Steelers have a tendency to step in a pothole when everything is going well, losing to a team they should beat. Emerging from a bye week, however, it would be a surprise if a Colts team that somehow has won three games would prevail for a fourth.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 24, Colts 10.
Chargers at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Jaguars’ defense is cruising and should give Philip Rivers fits on Sunday. Pencil in league leader Calais Campbell for a couple more sacks.
MDS’s pick: Jaguars 21, Chargers 10.
Florio’s take: The Jags have a chance to move to 6-3, but it won’t be easy against a better than expected Chargers team, which will be bringing former Jags coach Gus Bradley back to town. Bradley knows the personnel well, and the Chargers surely have spent the last two weeks planning for a win that would provide a much-needed spark to start the second half of the season.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 24, Jaguars 21.
Saints at Bills
MDS’s take: The improvement of the Saints’ pass defense this season has been nothing short of remarkable. I think they’ll keep it going and New Orleans will win a defensive struggle.
MDS’s pick: Saints 17, Bills 14.
Florio’s take: The schedule gets tougher for the 6-2 Saints, and the 5-3 Bills can’t afford too many more losses. The extra time makes the difference for the Bills, whose head coach knows a thing or two about the Saints from his time in Carolina.
Florio’s pick: Bills 23, Saints 20.
Jets at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: It’s crazy to say it, but the Jets team that some saw going 0-16 is poised to be 5-5 through 10 games. I think they’ll win in Tampa on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Buccaneers 17.
Florio’s take: The Jets have a 10-1 record all-time against the Buccaneers, who will be missing Jameis Winston (shoulder) and Mike Evans (suspension). The Bucs will have to wait four more years to eat another W in this series.
Florio’s pick: Jets 24, Buccaneers 17.
Vikings at Washington
MDS’s take: If both teams were at full strength I’d take Washington in this one, but I see the Vikings’ defensive front making life rough for Kirk Cousins behind a banged-up offensive line.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 21, Washington 16.
Florio’s take: Washington is better than 4-4, and the Vikings are worse than 6-2. It’s a correction Sunday in Maryland, and a loss by the visiting team moves Teddy Bridgewater another step toward returning.
Florio’s pick: Washington 23, Vikings 16.
Bengals at Titans
MDS’s take: I don’t think the Titans are as good as their 5-3 record looks, but they have a favorable schedule and a good chance of getting to the playoffs. Another win should be coming on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Bengals 20.
Florio’s take: The Titans keep quietly surging toward a playoff berth, with defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau getting a crack at the team he once coached, four days before playing the team whose defense he expertly coordinated.
Florio’s pick: Titans 23, Bengals 13.
Texans at Rams
MDS’s take: If Deshaun Watson were playing, this would be a matchup of the NFL’s two most exciting offenses. With Tom Savage playing, it’s a Rams blowout.
MDS’s pick: Rams 31, Texans 10.
Florio’s take: Deshaun Watson vs. Jared Goff would have been a great game.
Florio’s pick: Rams 30, Texans 17.
Cowboys at Falcons
MDS’s take: The Falcons have been a major disappointment, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Cowboys will be a tough matchup for them.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Falcons 20.
Florio’s take: If the Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott, they’ll build a lead and hold it. If the Cowboys don’t have Ezekiel Elliott, the Falcons will build a lead and blow it.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 24, Falcons 20.
Giants at 49ers
MDS’s take: This looks like one of the worst games of the year in the NFL. It’s interesting only for its implications on the top of next year’s draft. I see the 49ers winning, which is really losing in the draft order sweepstakes.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 15, Giants 12.
Florio’s take: The mighty have fallen, and they can’t get up. I’m tempted to pick a tie.
Florio’s pick: Giants 13, 49ers 10.
Patriots at Broncos
MDS’s take: I think the Broncos will play a lot better than they did in last week’s loss to the Eagles. Just not well enough to beat the Patriots.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Broncos 24.
Florio’s take: Yes, the Patriots usually struggle in Denver. But that’s typically because the Broncos are pretty good. While their defense still is (but for the 51 points allowed at Philly), the offense is not.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Broncos 17.
Dolphins at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Dolphins’ offense is struggling and the Panthers’ defense is playing well. Tough to see Miami winning on the road here.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Dolphins 17.
Florio’s take: The Dolphins have entered the teeth of their schedule, and they’re going to get chewed up.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 30, Dolphins 20.