Football is back, and so are our efforts at prognostication.
For the eighth straight season, MDS and I will be picking games straight up. We disagree on four of the games.
Scroll for our takes and our picks as to all of the Week One games of the 100th season of the NFL.
Packers at Bears
MDS’s take: I’m expecting the Bears’ defense to take a step backward this year, both because Vic Fangio has left for Denver and because of simple regression to the mean after Chicago’s defense was otherworldly last year. But I’m also not sure Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are the right fit, and so I don’t think the Packers are the right team to exploit the Bears’ defensive liabilities.
MDS’s pick: Bears 16, Packers 13.
Florio’s take: The Bears are largely known. The Packers are largely unknown. Advantage, known.
Florio’s pick: Bears 23, Packers 16.
Rams at Panthers
MDS’s take: This is a very intriguing game that can make an early impact on the NFC playoff race, and I believe the Rams are going to get a big road victory under their belt.
MDS’s pick: Rams 28, Panthers 17.
Florio’s take: The Panthers are not easy to beat at home, especially with a healthy Cam Newton. Look for underrated head coach Ron Rivera to take full advantage of the blueprint provided by the Patriots for slowing down the L.A. offense.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 23, Rams 17.
Washington at Eagles
MDS’s take: There’s an enormous gulf between these two rosters. Philadelphia has great depth, Washington has a lot of holes. I don’t see this one being close.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 35, Washington 14.
Florio’s take: Dysfunction meets potential dynasty.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 34, Washington 17.
Bills at Jets
MDS’s take: I have a feeling Adam Gase and Sam Darnold are going to have a few surprises in their offense that will take opposing defenses off guard early this season, and the Bills may find themselves playing catch-up on Sunday. That’s not what they’re designed to do.
MDS’s pick: Jets 27, Bills 17.
Florio’s take: One of these teams will contend for a playoff berth. That team is more likely to be the Jets.
Florio’s pick: Jets 30, Bills 21.
Falcons at Vikings
MDS’s take: Both of these teams are coming off disappointing seasons and need to turn things around. I trust Matt Ryan to help the Falcons do that more than I trust Kirk Cousins.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Vikings 21.
Florio’s take: The new-look Vikings offense starts at home against a team that could go either way. Since it’s not a night game, Minnesota and quarterback Kirk Cousins should be fine.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 24, Falcons 21.
Ravens at Dolphins
MDS’s take: The Dolphins are going nowhere fast. This should be a fun opportunity to see the Ravens’ new-look offense, playing with a lead for most of the game, churn a lot of yards on the ground.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 20, Dolphins 10.
Florio’s take: Tank for Tua. Failin’ for Jalen. Bustin’ for Justin’. Whatever the label, the Dolphins are content to take their lumps this year, in the hopes of being the team to deliver lumps later.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Dolphins 13.
Chiefs at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Jaguars’ defense should bounce back this year, and the Chiefs might not put on quite the show that a lot of people are expecting in Week One. I’m still taking the Chiefs to win, but it’s going to be a closer, more competitive game than you think.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 21, Jaguars 20.
Florio’s take: Although the Jaguars will be a much better team in 2019, there will be no regression in Kansas City.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 31, Jaguars 20.
Titans at Browns
MDS’s take: Can the Browns live up to the offseason hype? I think they will, at least in this game, when Myles Garrett will live in the Titans’ backfield and the Browns’ defense will lead the way.
MDS’s pick: Browns 24, Titans 7.
Florio’s take: The Titans play up to the level of the competition, the Titans play down to the level of the competition. And the Titans are sick of spending the last seven months hearing about the level of competition the Browns will provide.
Florio’s pick: Titans 23, Browns 21.
Colts at Chargers
MDS’s take: Jacoby Brissett, in his first game as The Man for the Colts, will struggle against a stout Chargers defense. Philip Rivers should have a good day and the Chargers will win.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 28, Colts 20.
Florio’s take: The Colts started 1-5 last year with Andrew Luck. Without him, 0-1 is a likely outcome, especially with the Chargers being the opponent.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 24, Colts 20.
Bengals at Seahawks
MDS’s take: The Seahawks showed by trading for Jadeveon Clowney that they’re serious about winning this year. They should get the season off to a big start, at home against a bad Bengals team.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 31, Bengals 14.
Florio’s take: Look away while you still can.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Bengals 6.
49ers at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The Bucs’ new-look offense under Bruce Arians will outplay the 49ers’ offense, which still doesn’t seem like it has the right pieces in place in Year 3 of Kyle Shanahan.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 30, 49ers 27.
Florio’s take: This may be the hardest one of the week to call. Bruce Arians always did well against the 49ers while coaching the Cardinals, and the Bucs are at home. Plus, it’s still not clear whether Jimmy Garoppolo can get it done.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 23, 49ers 20.
Giants at Cowboys
MDS’s take: I’m expecting a rough year for the Giants, who need to figure out the right succession plan to go from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones. The Cowboys should win this one comfortably.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Giants 20.
Florio’s take: The Cowboys had a good chance to win this one, even without Ezekiel Elliott in the fold. Now that he’s there, it’s 1-0 for the defending NFC East champs.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 30, Giants 20.
Lions at Cardinals
MDS’s take: Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury may take Matt Patricia’s defense off guard early on, but the Cardinals’ roster just isn’t rebuilt yet, and in what I’m expecting to be a tough game over four quarters, the Lions’ defensive depth should help them late.
MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Cardinals 21.
Florio’s take: I want the Cardinals’ new offense to work. I’ll take a wait-and-see approach to whether it actually will.
Florio’s pick: Lions 31, Cardinals 20.
Steelers at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Steelers won’t miss Antonio Brown off the field, but they’ll miss him on the field. The Patriots, on the other hand, are well-equipped to adjust to the absence of Rob Gronkowski. I like the Patriots to win this one with their passing game.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Steelers 21.
Florio’s take: Two years ago, the Patriots lost to the Chiefs on the night they hung a banner. Bill Belichick won’t let that happen a second time.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Steelers 24.
Texans at Saints
MDS’s take: This is the most intriguing game on the schedule to me, a Texans team that took a couple of big gambles on cut-down day against a Saints team that wants one more run to the Super Bowl with Drew Brees. I’m not sold on what the Texans are doing.
MDS’s pick: Saints 20, Texans 16.
Florio’s take: The Saints have started slowly each of the last two years, and they’re keenly aware of that.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Texans 21.
Broncos at Raiders
MDS’s take: Vic Fangio’s defense should be good in Denver, but that offense just doesn’t have the personnel. I like the Raiders to win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Raiders 13, Broncos 10.
Florio’s take: Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . tick. . . . . BOOMIN’.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 23, Raiders 13.