Week Five arrives, and my lead is growing.
With four disagreements last week and a 3-1 record in those games, I’ve got a three-game margin with 15 weeks to go. Which means there’s more than enough time to blow it, completely.
For the week, I put together another 10-6 slate. MDS was 8-8.
For the season, I’m at 39-25. MDS stands at 36-28.
This week, we again disagree on four games. For all of the selections, you know what to do.
Rams (-2.5) at Seahawks
MDS’s take: This is one of the biggest Thursday Night Football games we’ll see, with major implications in the very competitive NFC West. I like the Rams to bounce back from last week’s loss.
MDS’s pick: Rams 33, Seahawks 30.
Florio’s take: The Rams suddenly look mortal, and the Seahawks wear desperation well. Russell Wilson is better than Matthew Stafford. There’s the ultimate difference.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 31, Rams 28.
Jets (+3) at Falcons
MDS’s take: Zach Wilson looked very good last week, but I think he’s going to come back to earth against the Falcons.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 24, Jets 17.
Florio’s take: Both teams have had their moments. The Jets have begun to find their footing.
Florio’s pick: Jets 34, Falcons 31,
Dolphins (+9) at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The Buccaneers will win, but they have so many injury issues on defense that they’ll struggle to keep the score down, even against a bad Dolphins offense.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 31, Dolphins 27.
Florio’s take: Tom Brady has a 23-12 career record against the Dolphins. If this one were in Miami, 23-13 would be more likely. As it stands, Brady and the Bucs keep pace with the best teams in the NFC.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 34, Dolphins 21.
Eagles (+3.5) at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Panthers are a better team than anyone expected, and they’ll cruise against the Eagles.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 30, Eagles 20.
Florio’s take: It’s a get-right weekend for the Panthers, with or without Christian McCaffrey.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 31, Eagles 24.
Saints (-1) at Washington
MDS’s take: The Saints have lost the two games they were favored to win, and won the two games they were underdogs in. This game is basically a tossup, but I think New Orleans bounces back from last week’s ugly loss.
MDS’s pick: Saints 24, Washington 20.
Florio’s take: The Jekyll-and-Hyde Saints are due to play like whichever character allows them to win.
Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Washington 21.
Titans (-4) at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Jaguars showed some fight last week, but then Urban Meyer showed something he shouldn’t have. I don’t think they’ll be ready to play this week.
MDS’s pick: Titans 28, Jaguars 13.
Florio’s take: On Sunday, Urban Meyer may see a few signs urging him to “get out of Dodge” for good.
Florio’s pick: Titans 30, Jaguars 10.
Lions (+7.5) at Vikings
MDS’s take: Both of these teams are disappointments, but the Lions are the bigger disappointments.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 30, Lions 20.
Florio’s take: Like last year, the Vikings started 1-3. Unlike last year, they have some hope to turn things around.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 31, Lions 17.
Broncos (+1) at Steelers
MDS’s take: If it’s Teddy Bridgewater vs. Ben Roethlisberger, the Broncos have the quarterback advantage. If it’s Drew Lock vs. Ben Roethlisberger, the Broncos still might have the quarterback advantage. Big Ben just doesn’t have anything left.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 17, Steelers 14.
Florio’s take: The Steelers are at their most dangerous when they’re written off. Currently, they’ve been written off.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 23, Broncos 17.
Packers (-3) at Bengals
MDS’s take: The Bengals are better than I expected them to be, but I’m not sold on their pass defense stopping Aaron Rodgers.
MDS’s pick: Packers 28, Bengals 21.
Florio’s take: The Packers keep rolling, although the Bengals aren’t pushovers.
Florio’s pick: Packers 30, Bengals 23.
Patriots (-9) at Texans
MDS’s take: The Patriots are struggling, but a trip to Houston is just the thing to fix that, for any team.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Texans 20.
Florio’s take: The Texans provide the perfect dose of low-hanging-fruit for the Patriots.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Texans 7.
Bears (+5.5) at Raiders
MDS’s take: It’s hard to know what to think of either of these teams lately, but I’ll take the Raiders in a close one.
MDS’s pick: Raiders 24, Bears 20.
Florio’s take: The Raiders can’t fall into another 14-to-21-point hole. If they can avoid that, they can get to 4-1.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 27, Bears 17.
Browns (+1.5) at Chargers
MDS’s take: I like the way Justin Herbert is playing right now better than the way Baker Mayfield is playing right now, and that’s going to be the difference.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 27, Browns 21.
Florio’s take: The Cleveland passing game is becoming a liability. Against a great team, that’s not good enough to win.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 30, Browns 23.
Giants (+7) at Cowboys
MDS’s take: Daniel Jones is making strides as a quarterback, but the Giants haven’t built much of a team around him. The Giants can keep this one close but they’ll fall short as the Cowboys continue to control the NFC East.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 27, Giants 24.
Florio’s take: Dak Prescott suffered a badly-broken ankle in Week Five last year, at home against the Giants. This game will be his way of proving that he’s fully and completely back. He’ll have a big day, and the Cowboys will have a big win.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 31, Giants 21.
49ers (+5.5) at Cardinals
MDS’s take: Kyler Murray is an MVP candidate, Kliff Kingsbury is a coach of the year candidate, and they look like the perfect quarterback-coach combination. Something the 49ers still haven’t found.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 28, 49ers 21.
Florio’s take: It’s Correction Sunday for the Cardinals, and Desperation Day for the 49ers, regardless of who the quarterback is.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 28, Cardinals 23.
Bills (+2.5) at Chiefs
MDS’s take: Sunday Night Football gets the best game of the week, with the Bills, who have been absolutely dominant against subpar quarterbacks the last three weeks, finding that it’s not so easy to dominate against Patrick Mahomes.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 27, Bills 20.
Florio’s take: The Bills are currently the best team in the NFL, but they’re getting the Chiefs at a very bad time in a very bad place. They’ll cover, but the find-a-way Chiefs find a way to win.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 31, Bills 30.
Colts (+7) at Ravens
MDS’s take: Lamar Jackson is throwing downfield more than ever before, and as a result his completion percentage is down but his yards per attempt is up. I think that’s going to put a lot of pressure on the Colts’ secondary, and the Ravens’ should score a bunch.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 35, Colts 24.
Florio’s take: Importantly, the Ravens will show they’re the better team. More importantly (or not), they’ll get to 44 straight 100-yard rushing games.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Colts 16.