Say farewell to the bye weeks and hello of 16 games per weekend, for each of the final six weeks of the season.
Which is good news for me, since I’ve got a 10-game deficit to close. Unfortunately, disagree on only two games this week.
Which of course means that, come next week, I’ll likely be figuring out how to close a 12-game gap.
Vikings at Lions
MDS’s take: The Vikings can pretty much wrap up the NFC North with a win in Detroit, and I think they’ll do exactly that.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 21, Lions 20.
Florio’s take: It’s the de facto NFC North championship game, and the how-are-they-so-good? Vikings continue to defy expectations with a quarterback who is having a career year and a defense potentially for the ages.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 23, Lions 16.
Chargers at Cowboys
MDS’s take: The Cowboys have struggled mightily the last two weeks, more because of the injury to left tackle Tyron Smith than because of Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension. Smith is supposed to be back on Thanksgiving, and as a result I’m taking the Cowboys.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 24, Chargers 20.
Florio’s take: Not long ago, this one had the makings of a Cornell-Hofstra slaughter. Now, the expected slaughteree may become the slaughterer.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 24, Cowboys 20.
Giants at Washington
MDS’s take: This isn’t the game the NFL hoped it would be when it scheduled these teams for Thanksgiving prime time. Washington should cruise to an easy win.
MDS’s pick: Washington 27, Giants 13.
Florio’s take: Last year, the Giants foiled a Washington playoff berth in Week 17. This year, it could come five weeks earlier. But it won’t. (If it does, it could make Jay Gruden available to join his brother, Jon, if he returns to coaching in 2018.)
Florio’s pick: Washington 34, Giants 20.
Bills at Chiefs
MDS’s take: Sean McDermott made the coaching blunder of the year when he benched Tyrod Taylor for Nathan Peterman. That signaled to the roster that this staff is more interested in building for the future than winning this year, and that’s going to be hard to recover from.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 28, Bills 13.
Florio’s take: Once viewed as sure-fire playoff teams, the Bills and Chiefs are on a combined 1-7 slide. The loser of this one will have a hard time making it to the postseason. The winner still might, too.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Bills 17.
Titans at Colts
MDS’s take: The Titans aren’t quite as good as their 6-4 record suggests, but the Colts are worse than their 3-7 record suggests.
MDS’s pick: Titans 21, Colts 10.
Florio’s take: The Titans have learned how to win the games they’re supposed to win. And they’re definitely supposed to win this one. If they don’t, they may not get a chance to play a game they’re supposed to lose in the payoffs.
Florio’s pick: Titans 23, Colts 13.
Browns at Bengals
MDS’s take: The Browns are running out of chances to win a game. I don’t see it happening in Cincinnati.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Browns 17.
Florio’s take: The Browns can’t lose every game, can they? Even so, it’s impossible to predict that a team so lifeless will find life in any given week.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 30, Browns 13.
Buccaneers at Falcons
MDS’s take: The Falcons look like they’re ready to go on a run in the second half of the season, while the Buccaneers look like they’re going nowhere.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 31, Buccaneers 14.
Florio’s take: Both teams are turning it around, but the Falcons have more reason to believe that the streak will continue. For the Bucs, the basement of the NFC South seems like a given, which will serve only to increase calls for a return of Jon Gruden.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17.
Dolphins at Patriots
MDS’s take: Remember when Jarvis Landry predicted the Dolphins would sweep the Patriots? I think he was wrong about that.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 30, Dolphins 10.
Florio’s take: The Dolphins thought they could compete with the Patriots this year. But that was before the Dolphins became largely uncompetitive.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Dolphins 20.
Bears at Eagles
MDS’s take: An easy schedule is helping Philadelphia march toward the first seed in the NFC. A win over the Bears is all but assured.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Bears 13.
Florio’s take: Twenty-nine years after these two teams met in the Fog Bowl, one of them will be feeling like they can’t see five feet in front of them.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 40, Bears 17.
Panthers at Jets
MDS’s take: The Panthers’ defense should pretty well shut down the Jets’ offense in what promises to be a boring game.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 13, Jets 3.
Florio’s take: The Jets have performed respectably well this year, but the losses could keep mounting as they encounter some superior opponents.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 30, Jets 17.
Seahawks at 49ers
MDS’s take: Remember when this was the best rivalry in football? That feels so long ago. Now the Seahawks are struggling, but the 49ers are much worse than just “struggling.”
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, 49ers 9.
Florio’s take: The friends-and-family confines of Levi’s Stadium host what not long ago was one of the best rivalries in football. Now? Not.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 20, 49ers 10.
Saints at Rams
MDS’s take: The Saints are playing as well as any team in football right now, but in Los Angeles I think they’re going to struggle against a very good defense and lose a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Rams 14, Saints 13.
Florio’s take: It’s the game of the day, regardless of whether Angelinos will show up accordingly. The Saints are too balanced, and the Rams were exposed a bit in Minnesota.
Florio’s pick: Saints 30, Rams 27.
Jaguars at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The Jaguars have the best pass defense in the NFL. Blaine Gabbert is not the quarterback to beat Jacksonville.
MDS’s pick: Jaguars 20, Cardinals 6.
Florio’s take: The Jaguars are becoming what the Cardinals had been. And the Jaguars are learning how to win consistently.
Florio’s pick: Jaguars 23, Cardinals 17.
Broncos at Raiders
MDS’s take: In the battle of teams that fired coordinators this week, I think the Raiders’ defense has a better chance of turning things around than the Paxton Lynch-led Broncos’ offense.
MDS’s pick: Raiders 24, Broncos 14.
Florio’s take: Not long ago, this looked like it could be a really good game. Now, it’s a fight to stay out of the AFC West basement between a pair of teams that have little shot at climbing to the top floor.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 23, Broncos 14.
Packers at Steelers
MDS’s take: If Aaron Rodgers were playing this would be the game of the day, but with Brett Hundley facing the Steelers’ defense, I don’t think it will be close.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 30, Packers 12.
Florio’s take: It’s when the Steelers are flying the highest that they seem to smack in to a window. But the Packers with Brett Hundley? Not even the Steelers at their most complacent could fail this test.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 31, Packers 13.
Texans at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Ravens’ defense has played well this year in part because Baltimore has had a fortunate schedule of playing against a lot of teams with injured quarterbacks. That continues against the Texans, and Baltimore will shut down Tom Savage.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Texans 7.
Florio’s take: Every year, a team hovering near .500 finds the gas pedal. Why not the team that has throttled its way to three shutouts in 10 games?
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Texans 6.