With 176 games completed, the gap has been cut from seven to two.
After a four-game sweep of our disagreements in Week 11, MDS posted another 3-1 mark in Week 12, making it very interesting over the final five weeks.
This week, we have only one disagreement. So it’ll be down to one or back to three by Monday. (I are good at the math.)
Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll be right on the picks on which we agree. But we’re doing OK. MDS was 11-5 for Week 12, and I was 9-7. For the season, I’m at 112-63-1, a 63.6 percent accuracy rate. MDS is 110-65-1, which equates to 62.5 percent.
Saints at Falcons
MDS’s take: It sounds crazy to say this about a 5-6 team facing a 10-1 team, but right now the Saints are playing better football than the Falcons. Having said that, I have a hunch the Falcons will turn in their best effort of the season at home against the team that gave them their only loss.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Saints 21.
Florio’s take: An already contentious rivalry will become even more contentious now that eggs have flown into the Saints bus and former Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton has declared that his new team, the Saints, don’t regard the rivalry as a rivalry, given that the Saints have won 11 of 13. With the Falcons closing in on a playoff berth and sensitive about the perception that they can’t win big games at home, it’s time to drop the Saints’ mark against the Falcons to 11 of 14.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Saints 24.
Jaguars at Bills
MDS’s take: Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne has been impressive enough since replacing Blaine Gabbert that I’m tempted to pick the Jags to pull off a home upset. But these are still the Jaguars, and even if Henne has improved the offense, they still have a terrible defense, plus the Bills have a big special teams edge.
MDS’s pick: Bills 27, Jaguars 23.
Florio’s take: The Jags are riding a rare one-game winning streak. The Bill are trying to break a not-so-rare one-game losing streak. Home team gets the advantage, even though the Jaguars are better with Chad Henne at quarterback.
Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Jaguars 17.
Seahawks at Bears
MDS’s take: This might be the day’s most interesting game, especially if you enjoy watching teams that play tough, physical defense. I think Seattle’s defensive front has the potential to make life a nightmare for Jay Cutler playing behind the Bears’ woeful offensive line, and yet the Seahawks have struggled so much away from home that I’m taking the Bears in a close one.
MDS’s pick: Bears 14, Seahawks 13.
Florio’s take: It’s chicken salad time for the Chicago offensive line, with failed first-round tackle Gabe Carimi being pressed into service at guard. But Jay Cutler knows how to avoid the pressure and deliver the ball, and the Seahawks still haven’t learned how to win on the road.
Florio’s pick: Bears 23, Seahawks 13.
Colts at Lions
MDS’s take: The Lions are playing better football than their record suggests, while the Colts are playing worse football than their record suggests. I still think Indianapolis will be a wild card team, but in this game Calvin Johnson will have a huge day against a weak secondary.
MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Colts 20.
Florio’s take: Assuming that the Lions haven’t folded the tents after a season-crushing Thanksgiving loss, they’ve got the horses to hold off a Colts team that has yet to learn how to win away from Indy consistently.
Florio’s pick: Lions 27, Colts 20.
Vikings at Packers
MDS’s take: Green Bay had a letdown against the Giants last week, but that won’t happen again. This is the game when the Packers pull ahead of the pack in the NFC wild card race, as well as staying within striking distance of the Bears in the NFC North.
MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Vikings 13.
Florio’s take: Minnesota has embarked on its long-expected late-season collapse, and the Packers will be extra salty after getting peppered by the Giants. This one could get ugly.
Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Vikings 13.
Panthers at Chiefs
MDS’s take: It’s too late for the Panthers to get back in the playoff race, but I do see them going on a little bit of a late-season run. With Cam Newton playing well, they’ll easily win in Kansas City.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 27, Chiefs 9.
Florio’s take: The Chiefs can’t lose every game the rest of the season, can they? Carolina is on the road after a Monday night on the road, cramming two rounds of travel into a short week after a game in which they are feeling better about themselves than they should. The Chiefs, if they don’t win this one, may not win another. Ever.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 20, Panthers 16.
Patriots at Dolphins
MDS’s take: I like a lot about the way the Dolphins are playing, especially defensively. And the Patriots’ secondary has a bad tendency to leave receivers wide open, so Ryan Tannehill may have a decent statistical game. But New England’s offense is such a well-oiled machine that I like the Patriots to get into the end zone five or six times.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 38, Dolphins 28.
Florio’s take: The Dolphins will win if the sprinklers come on again. And if the are loaded with hydrochloric acid and aimed at the eyes of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Otherwise, advantage Pats.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 35, Dolphins 24.
Cardinals at Jets
MDS’s take: This is a stinker of a game between two teams with all kinds of problems at the quarterback position, but it says something about how far the Cardinals have sunk that Mark Sanchez is easily the top quarterback in this game.
MDS’s pick: Jets 20, Cardinals 10.
Florio’s take: It’s easy to assume the Jets will continue their implosion. The schedule suggests they could win five in a row. They may not get to 9-7, but 5-7 is looking pretty promising.
Florio’s pick: Jets 30, Cardinals 17.
49ers at Rams
MDS’s take: I don’t think this game is going to be easy for the 49ers because St. Louis isn’t an easy place to play anymore, but in the end San Francisco just has too much power on both sides of the ball for the Rams to have much of a chance.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Rams 13.
Florio’s take: They pick up where they left off after five quarters that ended in a tie. The Rams try to extend their 3-0-1 record in the NFC West. The Niners are simply a better team with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 31, Rams 23.
Texans at Titans
MDS’s take: The Titans fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer this week, as if that will fix anything. The Titans’ problems go much deeper than the offensive playcalling, and the Texans -- getting a well deserved three extra days of rest following their back-to-back overtime games the last two weeks -- will look fresh and win this one handily.
MDS’s pick: Texans 41, Titans 20.
Florio’s take: Yes, before the season I thought the the Titans, who were unexpectedly 9-7 in 2011, were poised to topple the Texans. It hasn’t happened. And it won’t happen for the Titans on Sunday, not with the Texans closing in on their second straight playoff berth.
Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Titans 14.
Buccaneers at Broncos
MDS’s take: The Bucs are thin in the secondary after trading away Aqib Talib and losing Eric Wright to a suspension, and Peyton Manning is the last quarterback you want to face when you’re thin in the secondary. Manning will pick the Bucs’ defense apart. The best chance the Bucs have of keeping this game close is to control the ball by running Doug Martin, but in the end Manning will just have too much for Tampa Bay.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 35, Buccaneers 24.
Florio’s take: With Eric Wright suspended and Aqib Talib long gone, it’ll be a long day for the Bucs’ porous pass defense.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 31, Buccaneers 21.
Steelers at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Steelers need this one, but they’re not going to get it. Without Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers just aren’t a very good team, and I expect the Ravens to earn a big win that helps them pull away in the AFC North.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 23, Steelers 7.
Florio’s take: With or without Ben Roethlisberger, the Ravens are tough to beat at home. And even though it would be fitting for the Steelers to win in Baltimore after the Ravens won in Pittsburgh, the Ravens are the better team -- and the Steelers are on the verge of a late-season implosion. All that’s left is for coach Mike Tomlin to vow to “unleash hell.”
Florio’s pick: Ravens 19, Steelers 13.
Browns at Raiders
MDS’s take: Both teams are 3-8, but they’re a different 3-8. The Browns are a 3-8 team that is playing competitive football and has a lot of young guys who look hungry. The Raiders are a 3-8 team that just wrapped up an 0-4 November in which their four losses came by a total of 90 points. The Browns will go into the Black Hole and come out with their first road win of the season.
MDS’s pick: Browns 21, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: The Browns are better than their record suggests. The Raiders are worse. With Browns players trying to save the job of their head coach (and in turn their own jobs), Cleveland has more incentive to try to emerge with a win.
Florio’s pick: Browns 17, Raiders 13.
Bengals at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Bengals are rolling and the Chargers are reeling. Marvin Lewis will take another step toward the playoffs while Norv Turner takes another step toward the unemployment line.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Chargers 14.
Florio’s take: San Diego’s AFC North tour continues, and they wish it wouldn’t. After losing to the Browns and to the Ravens, a surging Cincinnati team is ready to keep pushing toward their first consecutive playoff appearances in non-strike years.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 27, Chargers 17.
Eagles at Cowboys
MDS’s take: The Eagles have given up on the season. At this point I don’t think I’d pick them to beat anyone, and I certainly won’t pick them to win on the road against a Cowboys team that still has slim playoff hopes.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Eagles 20.
Florio’s take: Philly is in a full-blown free fall. After seeing them lose to the lowly Panthers, I’m done picking them until next September at the earliest. The Cowboys aren’t much better, but they’re good enough (and sufficiently healthier) to get it done.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 34, Eagles 20.
Giants at Redskins
MDS’s take: The Redskins have done a great job of pulling themselves back into NFC East contention, and if you want to see an interesting playoff race in December you should be rooting for the Redskins to beat the Giants on Monday night. But Robert Griffin III playing so well as a rookie has masked the fact that the Redskins have big problems on both sides of the ball. The Giants will be too much for them.
MDS’s pick: Giants 34, Redskins 17.
Florio’s take: The Giants have awoken from their slumber. That may not be enough to contain a streaking RG3 in his Monday night debut. Forced to make a choice, however, let’s stick with the team that has shown that it still has the ability to periodically play up to its potential. Especially when it has to.
Florio’s pick: Giants 31, Redskins 27.