It’s getting a little tighter.
With one disagreement last week, MDS cut the deficit through nine weeks to two games. His 9-4 performance, combined with my 8-5 showing, resulted in a season-to-date record for me of 85-49 (63.4 percent). MDS is 83-51 (61.9 percent).
MDS had a very good week in the picks against the spread, where he used having dibs over me to squat on all the games I liked. He went 3-0, I was 1-2. For the season, I’m 13-13-1. MDS is 11-14-2.
This week’s best bets appear in the attached video. For all picks (not against the spread), scroll away.
Panthers at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Steelers’ offense is humming along, and demonstrating that Le'Veon Bell wasn’t particularly important. They’ll keep humming along against the Panthers on Thursday night.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 28, Panthers 20.
Florio’s take: A sneaky great game, and the Panthers won’t be sneaking up on anyone after scoring 99 points in nine quarters. Advantage, home team.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 28, Panthers 24.
Saints at Bengals
MDS’s take: The Saints could be due for a letdown after their big win over the Rams, but I think they’ll pull it together and pull off a late victory in a close game.
MDS’s pick: Saints 28, Bengals 27.
Florio’s take: The Saints need to win games like this one, because for the most part the challenges will only be getting more daunting.
Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Bengals 21.
Falcons at Browns
MDS’s take: The Falcons look to me like they’re ready to go on a late-season run. The Browns look . . . otherwise.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 30, Browns 17.
Florio’s take: The Falcons have found their way, and the Browns are lost.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 30, Browns 17.
Lions at Bears
MDS’s take: The Lions couldn’t protect Matthew Stafford last week, and the Bears’ pass rush will make life miserable for Stafford again.
MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Lions 14.
Florio’s take: The Bears enter a challenging three-game stretch (Lions, Vikings, at Lions) with perhaps the only win they’ll get.
Florio’s pick: Bears 23, Lions 16.
Cardinals at Chiefs
MDS’s take: If the Chiefs want to pour it on, this could be the biggest blowout of the NFL season. But I suspect Kansas City will take its foot off the gas early.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 30, Cardinals 21.
Florio’s take: The Cardinals are getting 17 points. And it still doesn’t feel like it’s enough.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 41, Cardinals 17.
Patriots at Titans
MDS’s take: It’s student against teacher with Mike Vrabel coaching against Bill Belichick, and I’ll take the Patriots’ defense to shut down the Titans’ offense.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 24, Titans 13.
Florio’s take: The Titans are capable of beating anyone. The Patriots currently don’t seem to be susceptible to losing to anyone.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Titans 17.
Washington at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: I can’t get much of a read on either of these teams, but I’ll pick Ryan Fitzpatrick to have a big game, and the injury-plagued Washington offense to struggle to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Washington 17.
Florio’s take: Two teams whose seasons are in the midst of falling apart, one slowly and one more suddenly. Someone needs to win. Give it to the home team.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Washington 13.
Bills at Jets
MDS’s take: The Jets may be without rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and going to Josh McCown, but at this point I wouldn’t pick the Bills to beat anyone.
MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Bills 10.
Florio’s take: Josh McCown may get a chance to earn his $10 million. Given that he’ll likely face Nathan Peterman or Derek Anderson, McCown will.
Florio’s pick: Jets 20, Bills 6.
Jaguars at Colts
MDS’s take: These two teams are going in different directions, and the Colts may give the Jaguars’ playoff hopes a death blow on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 20.
Florio’s take: The Jags return from the bye as underdogs against a Colts team that not long ago was regarded as woeful. The Colts are woeful no more.
Florio’s pick: Colts 27, Jaguars 20.
Chargers at Raiders
MDS’s take: The Chargers have quietly put together one of the NFL’s best rosters. The Raiders have . . . not.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 34, Raiders 14.
Florio’s take: The Raiders are winning by losing. So they win again on Sunday. And they lose.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Raiders 10.
Seahawks at Rams
MDS’s take: The Rams can basically wrap up the NFC West with a win, and I think they’ll do exactly that against a Seahawks team that is playing hard but can’t quite compete with the best teams in the NFL.
MDS’s pick: Rams 28, Seahawks 17.
Florio’s take: It’s the last chance for the Seahawks to position themselves for a run at the division title. Come Monday they’ll be thinking about their last chance to position themselves for a run at a wild card.
Florio’s pick: Rams 31, Seahawks 21.
Dolphins at Packers
MDS’s take: This is a game the Packers need to win if they’re going to have any hope of keeping pace in the NFC North. I think they will, but the Dolphins will give them a closer game than most are expecting.
MDS’s pick: Packers 21, Dolphins 20.
Florio’s take: Aaron Rodgers goes from GOAT vs. GOAT to GOAT vs. literal goat.
Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Dolphins 17.
Cowboys at Eagles
MDS’s take: The NFC East remains a three-team race, but the Cowboys probably have to win this one to have a realistic chance of staying in that race. I like the Eagles to put a dagger in the Cowboys.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 28, Cowboys 20.
Florio’s take: Troy Aikman is right.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 30, Cowboys 13.
Giants at 49ers
MDS’s take: Eli Manning vs. Nick Mullens. The team with the better quarterback will win this one.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Giants 17.
Florio’s take: 28 years after a classic Monday night game between the Giants and 49ers, it’s the exact opposite.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 27, Giants 20.