Football is back, and so are the PFT 2021 picks.
MDS vs. Florio, for the umpteenth straight year. I can’t recall who won last year, which probably means I didn’t. (Actually, I think maybe I did.)
Regardless, check out our selections below. We’ll keep track each week of how we do straight up and against the spread.
This week, we disagree on only two outcomes.
Cowboys (+8) at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The defending champions look poised to pick up right where they left off, with a big win on a big stage.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 30, Cowboys 20.
Florio’s take: America’s Team will be Captain America’s punching bag to start the season.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 35, Cowboys 17.
Jaguars (-3) at Texans
MDS’s pick: Jaguars 24, Texans 20.
Florio’s take: It’s deja vu all over again for the Jaguars, winning the first game — and potentially losing the rest.
Florio’s pick: Jaguars 17, Texans 7.
Chargers (-1) at Washington
MDS’s take: Although Washington’s defense is likely to take a step backward, their offense should be better this year with Ryan Fitzpatrick, and I like them to start the season strong.
MDS’s pick: Washington 27, Chargers 20.
Florio’s take: On paper, the Chargers are ready to contend at a high level. They get a chance to turn paper to performance with a tough opponent, right out of the gates.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 20, Washington 13.
Seahawks (-2.5) at Colts
MDS’s take: I won’t be sold on Frank Reich’s ability to get Carson Wentz back on track until I see it. I expect the Colts’ offense to struggle.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Colts 10.
Florio’s take: The Colts seem cursed. Colts fans will be cursing come Sunday.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 24, Colts 16.
Jets (+5.5) at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Sam Darnold revenge game will be ugly, but Darnold and the Panthers will get the win.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 19, Jets 16.
Florio’s take: Carolina may not win a ton of games this year. If they can’t hold serve at home against the Jets, they may not win many at all.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 23, Jets 13.
Vikings (-3) at Bengals
MDS’s take: This is a big year for the Bengals, who need to see progress from coach Zac Taylor and franchise quarterback Joe Burrow. I’m not convinced they’re going to see it.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 23, Bengals 14.
Florio’s take: If the Vikings are going to be as good as they need to be this year, they need to win this one easily.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 30, Bengals 13.
Cardinals (+3) at Titans
MDS’s take: The Titans’ defense is going to force them into a lot of high-scoring games this season, but I think Ryan Tannehill will have a big season, and they’ll win most of those high-scoring games, starting in Week One against Kyler Murray & Co.
MDS’s pick: Titans 35, Cardinals 31.
Florio’s take: It’s a make or break year for Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury. There are far better places where they could get the season started.
Florio’s pick: Titans 30, Cardinals 23.
49ers (-7.5) at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions won’t be quite as bad as everyone thinks, but the 49ers will be good enough to beat them in a closer game than people are expecting.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 16, Lions 13.
Florio’s take: Copy and paste the Vikings-Bengals take here. Replace 49ers for Vikings.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 31, Lions 17.
Steelers (+6.5) at Bills
MDS’s take: This is one of my favorite games of Week One, and I think it’s going to be an impressive showing for the Bills’ offense, while Ben Roethlisberger & Co. can’t quite keep up.
MDS’s pick: Bills 30, Steelers 20.
Florio’s take: The Steelers won’t have to worry about the accumulating pressure of an 11-0 start in 2021.
Florio’s pick: Bills 27, Steelers 20.
Eagles (+3) at Falcons
MDS’s take: I’m not expecting much from either of these teams this season, but the Falcons should be able to win a close one at home to get off to a 1-0 start.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 17, Eagles 16.
Florio’s take: Matt Ryan makes the difference in this one, with Atlanta building some confidence right out of the gates against an overmatched opponent that is a work in progress at best.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 24, Eagles 14.
Browns (+6.5) at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The Chiefs’ offense should be as good as ever this season, and I don’t see the Browns being able to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Browns 21.
Florio’s take: The Browns have a chance to fire a shot heard ‘round the NFL world. The fact that they gave the Chiefs all they could handle in the playoffs will make it much harder to catch K.C. napping.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 34, Browns 27.
Packers (-4) vs. Saints at Jacksonville
MDS’s take: The Saints have to play this “home” game on a neutral field in Jacksonville, and they have to face a Packers team that’s all-in to win in Aaron Rodgers‘ likely last season in Green Bay. It should be a big day for the Packers.
MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Saints 17.
Florio’s take: The Saints have a history of starting a little slowly, and the hurricance-related distractions of the past couple of weeks don’t help. But the Saints may have something special brewing with Jameis Winston at quarterback. He has the arm strength to force the defense to cover the whole field — and Sean Payton knows how to scheme to put the football where the defense isn’t.
Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Packers 20.
Broncos (-3) at Giants
MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Giants 21.
Florio’s take: It’s an up-or-out year for Daniel Jones. It begins with strike one.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 23, Giants 14.
Dolphins (+3) at Patriots
MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Dolphins 23.
Florio’s take: In a battle of former Alabama quarterbacks, the one who plays for Nick Saban’s old friend overcomes the one who plays for Nick Saban’s old team.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 20, Dolphins 16.
Bears (+7.5) at Rams
MDS’s pick: Rams 28, Bears 20.
Florio’s take: Some think that the Bears shouldn’t throw Justin Fields to the wolves, with Aaron Donald ready to pounce. At least Fields has a chance to run away from Donald. Andy Dalton doesn’t.
Florio’s pick: Rams 30, Bears 17.
Ravens (-4.5) at Raiders
MDS’s take: If Jon Gruden is doing his job right, this is a year when the Raiders should be peaking. I’m skeptical. I see the Ravens showing on Monday night that there’s a big gap between the Raiders and the best teams in the AFC.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 34, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: It’s easy to be optimistic when everyone is 0-0. The Raiders will learn in prime time that their optimism for 2021 is a little misplaced, given the quality of the best teams in the AFC.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Raiders 16.