The 10-game gap has been cut to seven, thanks to a 15-1 performance last week from yours truly, which included a 4-1 record in games on which MDS and I disagreed.
This week, I’m going all in. We disagree on eight games. Which means that a clean sweep would give me the lead with three weeks left.
So let’s go Falcons, Bucs, Browns, Broncos, Eagles, Seahawks, Ravens, and Dolphins.
Now, let’s go scrolling to see all of the picks.
Saints at Falcons
MDS’s take: This game is so good, it’s surprising it’s on Thursday night. (Order will be restored next week when the Thursday night game is Broncos-Colts.) I think the Falcons’ defense will have a tough time containing the 1-2 punch of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.
MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Falcons 28.
Florio’s take: The Falcons know they can’t afford to lose many more games if they hope to get back to the playoffs, and they should be able on a short week to show up against a rival they’ll be playing again in little more than two weeks.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Saints 23.
Colts at Bills
MDS’s take: It hasn’t exactly been a successful season in Buffalo, and yet here they are likely to win this week, improve to 7-6 and find themselves right in the thick of the wild card race down the stretch. The Bills are still playoff contenders and have a good chance of finishing 9-7.
MDS’s pick: Bills 28, Colts 20.
Florio’s take: The playoffs remain elusive, but the Bills are good enough to beat a team that has been in a full-season free fall.
Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Colts 14.
Cowboys at Giants
MDS’s take: Eli Manning is back at quarterback, which probably gives the Giants a better chance to win but doesn’t allow them to evaluate rookie Davis Webb, which is something they probably ought to do before the season is over. I’m tempted to pick the Giants to rally after the firing of Ben McAdoo, but the Cowboys are fighting for a wild card berth and so I see them putting together a strong game.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 23, Giants 20.
Florio’s take: The end of the Eli Manning era has ended. It won’t be enough to overcome two weeks of dysfunction against a Dallas team that remains alive for a playoff berth.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Giants 17.
Lions at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: Two of this season’s more disappointing teams will battle in Tampa, and I like the Lions, who still have slim playoff hopes, to beat the Buccaneers, who have no playoff hopes.
MDS’s pick: Lions 20, Buccaneers 17.
Florio’s take: The Lions are falling apart, and Jim Caldwell could end up facing the same fate as Dirk Koetter. The good news is that Jameis finally gets to eat a long-awaited W.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Lions 17.
Raiders at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The AFC West has suddenly become the league’s most interesting division. The Chiefs are imploding, but I think they’ll bounce back with a good offensive performance against a bad Raiders pass defense.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Raiders 24.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs are in full-blown desperation mode. Fortunately for them, the Raiders aren’t nearly as good as they were expected to be.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Raiders 20.
49ers at Texans
MDS’s pick: Texans 24, 49ers 20.
Florio’s take: This could be a preview of Super Bowl LV. For now, it’s a game that only family members and friends would want to witness.
Florio’s pick: Texans 20, 49ers 13.
Packers at Browns
MDS’s take: This is actually a winnable game for the Browns, which we don’t say very often, because Brett Hundley is playing so poorly. And yet . . . they’re the Browns. I can’t pick them to win.
MDS’s pick: Packers 14, Browns 13.
Florio’s take: It’s time, Cleveland. It has to be.
Florio’s pick: Browns 18, Packers 12.
Bears at Bengals
MDS’s take: The Bengals’ playoff hopes came to an end with Monday night’s meltdown. Now they’re just playing out the string — but they should still beat a lousy Bears team at home.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 17, Bears 10.
Florio’s take: Another game involving a pair of potential short-time head coaches. Marvin Lewis has the better chance to save himself.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Bears 13.
Vikings at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Vikings are fighting for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, while the Panthers are fighting for a playoff berth. Case Keenum will have a big game and strengthen his MVP candidacy.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Panthers 21.
Florio’s take: Mike Zimmer has handled Cam Newton with a lesser defense than the one Zimmer currently has.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Panthers 24.
Washington at Chargers
MDS’s take: Los Angeles has found itself surprisingly back in the AFC West race, while Washington has found itself surprisingly out of the NFC East race. The Chargers will take another step toward the playoffs on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 28, Washington 23.
Florio’s take: From 0-4 to AFC West title to a real chance to disrupt a Steelers-Patriots AFC title game.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 31, Washington 20.
Jets at Broncos
MDS’s take: The Jets are still playing hard late in a season that many thought they were tanking. The Broncos are terrible late in a season that many thought would see them in the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Jets 30, Broncos 20.
Florio’s take: The Jets are the better team, but if the Broncos are going to win another game this year, this is the one to win.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 20, Jets 17.
Titans at Cardinals
MDS’s take: Marcus Mariota is not playing well, but the Titans are finding ways to win. They should do so again in Arizona.
MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Cardinals 17.
Florio’s take: The Titans win the games they’re supposed to win. They’re supposed to win this one. It’s that simple.
Florio’s pick: Titans 24, Cardinals 20.
Eagles at Rams
MDS’s take: This is a great game in the NFC playoff race, and I see it as the second consecutive West Coast loss for an Eagles team that previously looked like it was ready to run away with home-field advantage.
MDS’s pick: Rams 21, Eagles 20.
Florio’s take: One is an accident, twice is a trend. Or something. Either way, the Eagles won’t be letting their losing streak run to two.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Rams 21.
Seahawks at Jaguars
MDS’s take: It sounds odd to say a December game in Jacksonville is a big one, and even odder to say the Jaguars are going to win. But they will, thanks to their first-rate pass defense holding MVP candidate Russell Wilson in check.
MDS’s pick: Jaguars 17, Seahawks 13.
Florio’s take: It’s potentially a sneaky great game, but December is a bad month to see the Seahawks on the schedule.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Jaguars 17.
Ravens at Steelers
MDS’s take: I have a feeling this is going to be a matchup we see three times this year, with the wild card Ravens also visiting Pittsburgh in the playoffs. And I have a feeling the Steelers are going to go 3-0 against the Ravens.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 24, Ravens 14.
Florio’s take: The Steelers have been living too close to the edge in recent weeks. The Ravens knock them off the cliff, with possibly the first of two straight home losses.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 19, Steelers 16.
Patriots at Dolphins
MDS’s take: The absence of Rob Gronkowski might be enough to make the difference if it were coming against the Steelers next week, but against the Dolphins this week, the Patriots should win anyway.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Dolphins 21.
Florio’s take: For the Dolphins, this is the closest thing to a Super Bowl. For the Patriots, it’s a prime opportunity to be caught napping — as they sometimes are in late-season divisional games.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Patriots 23.