The home stretch is here for the NFL’s playoff contenders. But there’s nothing really in contention here; MDS now has an 11-game lead with 48 games left to pick.
This week’s picks appear below.
Last week, I went 9-7; MDS went 10-6. For the year, MDS is now 137-71. I’m at 126-82.
For this week’s picks, keep on scrolling.
Jets at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Ravens are two wins away from clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and they’ll get the first of those two wins on Thursday night.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 30, Jets 17.
Florio’s take: The Ravens are too close to everything they want to crap out now.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Jets 14.
Eagles at Washington
MDS’s take: Both these teams stink, in a division that stinks, but the Eagles still have an opportunity to win that division, and they’ll play well enough to beat a bad team.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 20, Washington 17.
Florio’s take: Something clicked for the Eagles in the second half of Monday night’s game; if it continues, the Eagles will keep winning.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 23, Washington 16.
Texans at Titans
MDS’s take: The AFC South played out perfectly for big games down the stretch, as the Texans and Titans are tied for first place and play each other in both Week 15 and Week 17. Ryan Tannehill is on a roll, and I think the Titans will keep rolling.
MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Texans 17.
Florio’s take: The most dangerous team in the AFC is the Ravens. Not far behind are the Titans.
Florio’s pick: Titans 27, Texans 23.
Dolphins at Giants
MDS’s take: These are two of the worst teams in the NFL, but they’re both playing to win. The Giants will take it in a game that won’t be as bad as the records suggest.
MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Dolphins 23.
Florio’s take: The Eli Manning Farewell Tour continues. As does the Pat Shurmur Farewell Tour.
Florio’s pick: Giants 21, Dolphins 17.
Broncos at Chiefs
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 30, Broncos 20.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs had better beat the Broncos while they can. By next year, it will be a much tougher outcome to achieve.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Broncos 23.
Bears at Packers
MDS’s take: The Bears are trying to come on strong late in the season after a sluggish start, but the Packers will knock them out of the playoff race in Green Bay.
MDS’s pick: Packers 17, Bears 13.
Florio’s take: It’s a dangerous spot for the Packers, who have been winning in uninspired fashion lately. They’ll need to play a little better to beat a much improved Bears team.
Florio’s pick: Packers 23, Bears 20.
Buccaneers at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions are reeling and the Buccaneers are still playing hard. Tampa Bay should put plenty of points on the board against a bad Lions defense.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 35, Lions 21.
Florio’s take: Jameis Winston’s status is up in the air, but even if he can’t play the Bucs are the better team right now.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 34, Lions 24.
Patriots at Bengals
MDS’s take: The Patriots won’t need to steal signals to blow out the Bengals.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Bengals 10.
Florio’s take: Already destined to be a blowout, Cincinnati’s instigation of Spygate 2 will make it even worse for the home team.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Bengals 13.
Seahawks at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Panthers showed some promise early in the season but no look to be in full-on rebuilding mode. I can’t see them beating a Seahawks team fighting for the first seed in the NFC.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Panthers 14.
Florio’s take: The Seahawks need this one to stay in the best possible position for the postseason, and the Panthers just need the season to be over.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Panthers 20.
Vikings at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Chargers are a better team than their 5-8 record indicates, but the Vikings have too much on the line to go to Los Angeles and take an L.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Chargers 21.
Florio’s take: This is a dangerous game for the Vikings, one with just enough playoff implications that Kirk Cousins could blow it.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 30, Chargers 24.
Jaguars at Raiders
MDS’s take: Both of these teams are out of playoff contention, but I sense that Jon Gruden has his Raiders playing a little harder, so Oakland will win this one.
MDS’s pick: Raiders 20, Jaguars 17.
Florio’s take: The last game at the Black Hole will leave a red mark on the road team for a few days.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 37, Jaguars 20.
Browns at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The Cardinals are doing some exciting and innovative things on offense, but those things are not getting winning results. The Browns should take this one and cling to their slim playoff hopes.
MDS’s pick: Browns 27, Cardinals 20.
Florio’s take: The last two Heisman winners get together. The one with the better team around him wins.
Florio’s pick: Browns 24, Cardinals 21.
Falcons at 49ers
MDS’s take: The 49ers showed they can win a shootout last week against the Saints, but this week I’m trusting their defense to hold the Falcons in check.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 23, Falcons 10.
Florio’s take: Kyle Shanahan gets another chance to kick the crap out of one of his former teams.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 28, Falcons 3.
Rams at Cowboys
MDS’s take: I still think the Cowboys are better than their 6-7 record suggests, and I like them to make a statement that they won’t be a pushover in the playoffs in the NFC East, while also putting an end to the Rams’ playoff run.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 23, Rams 20.
Florio’s take: Revenge is a dish best served cold. For Wade Phillips, the plate has cooled for more than nine years.
Florio’s pick: Rams 31, Cowboys 20.
Bills at Steelers
MDS’s take: I admire the way the Steelers have remained in playoff contention while starting a third-string undrafted rookie quarterback in Devlin Hodges. But I think Hodges is going to have a rough night against a good Bills defense.
MDS’s pick: Bills 14, Steelers 7.
Florio’s take: Once again, the Steelers aren’t the better team. Once again, the Steelers will play like they are.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 16, Bills 13.
Colts at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints should cruise against a Colts team that’s running out of steam.
MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Colts 10.
Florio’s take: The Saints get back on track against a team that came off the tracks weeks ago.
Florio’s pick: Saints 34, Colts 24.