After a pathetic, season-worst 6-10 showing by yours truly and a four-game sweep by MDS, I was tempted to try to guess which team he’d pick for each of the 16 games to end the regular season, and then hope for the best.
But the spirit of this game is to try to get as many games right as possible, even if my outcome from last week would suggest that the better approach for me would be to select a winner -- and then to do the opposite.
This week, we disagree on three games, which means MDS will win the regular-season competition by at least nine games.
For the year, MDS has generated a record of 157-83. I’m 145-95.
The only good news is that it all resets to 0-0 for the postseason picks competition.
Panthers at Falcons
MDS’s take: Give the Falcons credit for playing competitive football against good teams, as they did on Monday night against the 49ers. This Atlanta team hasn’t quit. But the Panthers’ defense should shut down the Falcons’ offense as the Panthers clinch the NFC South.
MDS’s pick: Panthers 20, Falcons 10.
Florio’s take: The Panthers need a win to nail down the No. 2 seed. An immature, undisciplined team would stumble in this spot. If nothing else, the 2013 Panthers have proven that they are both mature and disciplined.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 27, Falcons 20.
Packers at Bears
MDS’s take: As of the time I’m making this pick I don’t know if Aaron Rodgers is playing, so this is a tough one. But I’ll go with the Bears to clinch the NFC North in a high-scoring affair.
MDS’s pick: Bears 31, Packers 27.
Florio’s take: If Aaron Rodgers can play, the Packers have a chance to peak in January. If they can get to January. If Rodgers plays on Sunday, the Packers will get to January.
Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Bears 30.
Ravens at Bengals
MDS’s take: The Ravens suffered a huge letdown last week against the Patriots, and I see the defending champions’ season ending on Sunday in Cincinnati.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 24, Ravens 14.
Florio’s take: The Bengals need a win and some help in order to secure the No. 2 seed. The Ravens need a win and some help to extend their streak of playoff appearances to six. While the Bengals are unbeaten at home, the Ravens have the greater incentive and enough talent to capitalize.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Bengals 17.
Jaguars at Colts
MDS’s take: The Jaguars aren’t going down without a fight, but the Colts showed last week against the Chiefs that they’re real contenders. Indianapolis will win this one and head into the playoffs with a full head of steam for a likely rematch with Kansas City.
MDS’s pick: Colts 34, Jaguars 20.
Florio’s take: Indy is building some momentum in the hopes of advancing beyond the wild-card round. The Jaguars have shown enough progress to create plausible hope for 2014 -- if they can find a decent quarterback.
Florio’s pick: Colts 30, Jaguars 20.
Jets at Dolphins
MDS’s take: Last week the Dolphins laid an egg, while the Jets kept fighting despite having no shot at the playoffs. This week, however, I think the Dolphins’ pass rush will get to Geno Smith and Miami will win a low-scoring game and the right to play in the first round of the playoffs, probably at Cincinnati.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 20, Jets 10.
Florio’s take: After his first season as Jets coach, Rex Ryan gave the finger to a Miami MMA crowd. On Sunday, in perhaps his final act as Jets coach, he can give a figurative finger to Fins fans by knocking the home team out of the playoffs. Rex will pull out all the stops, and the Dolphins will follow two wins in games they should have lost with two losses in games they should have won.
Florio’s pick: Jets 23, Dolphins 20.
Lions at Vikings
MDS’s take: After appearing to be in control of the NFC North for much of the season, the Lions have gone into free fall. The fall will continue in Minnesota.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 24, Lions 17.
Florio’s take: The final game at the Metrodome coincides with what likely will be the final game of Jim Schwartz’s tenure and Lions coach. Adrian Peterson won’t let his team exit its 31-year home with anything other than a victory to cap a lost season.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 31, Lions 23.
Bills at Patriots
MDS’s take: Buffalo isn’t going anywhere, but the Bills’ defense is a lot better than most people realize, as the Dolphins found out the hard way last week. It wouldn’t shock me to see the Bills pull off the upset, but I expect the Patriots’ defense to shut down the Bills’ offense to win a close, low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 14, Bills 10.
Florio’s take: The Pats still have a shot at securing the No. 1 seed -- and also at having to play in the wild-card round. Either way, a home loss wouldn’t be the best way to embark on a playoff run in a wide-open AFC.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 38, Bills 20.
Buccaneers at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints are a bad road team but a good home team. That’s a bad thing to be if you’re going to the playoffs as a wild card, but in New Orleans on Sunday, the Saints will clinch a playoff berth.
MDS’s pick: Saints 27, Buccaneers 17.
Florio’s take: The Saints could end the day as the No. 2 seed. The Saints also could end the day out of the playoffs. If Carolina wins earlier, forcing the Saints to leave the Superdome in the wild-card round, they may be tempted to not delay the inevitable. Coach Sean Payton won’t let that happen.
Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Buccaneers 13.
Redskins at Giants
MDS’s take: Both of these teams stink, but Washington is a much lower level of stink. This game will be ugly, and the Giants will win.
MDS’s pick: Giants 23, Redskins 16.
Florio’s take: The Giants hoped to finish their season with a win at MetLife Stadium in February. They’ll have to settle for finishing their season with a win at MetLife Stadium in late December.
Florio’s pick: Giants 28, Redskins 17.
Browns at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Steelers dug a deep hole for themselves with their lousy start to the season, but they’re playing good football now. They probably won’t get all the help they need to make the playoffs, but the Steelers will take care of business against the Browns.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 34, Browns 13.
Florio’s take: If the Steelers get to the playoffs, they’ll be tough to beat. But not as tough as they’ll be to beat in the game that can help get them to the playoffs.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 34, Browns 17.
Texans at Titans
MDS’s take: The Texans will clinch the first overall pick in the draft by losing to the Titans. And draft order is the only reason to pay any attention to this game.
MDS’s pick: Titans 20, Texans 13.
Florio’s take: New Houston meets old Houston at a time when both Houstons have a problem too big for one meaningless game to fix. If Mike Munchak is leaving after more than 30 years with the Oilers/Titans franchise, he’s going out with a win.
Florio’s pick: Titans 24, Texans 17.
49ers at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The Cardinals have had an impressive season, and there’s a good team being assembled in Arizona. I think the Cardinals will make a big statement by defeating the playoff-bound 49ers, although Arizona won’t get the help it needs to make the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.
Florio’s take: Arizona finishes laying the foundation for a run at the top of the division in 2014. The 49ers will be happy to get out of Arizona healthy enough to function the following weekend.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.
Broncos at Raiders
MDS’s take: With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs on the line, Denver will cruise to an easy win in Oakland.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 38, Raiders 14.
Florio’s take: With 265 yards passing on Sunday, Peyton Manning emerges from the 2013 season with the record for passing touchdowns and passing yards. With more points than the Raiders on Sunday, the Broncos emerge from the 2013 season with the No. 1 seed, again. What they do with it remains to be seen.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 41, Raiders 20.
Chiefs at Chargers
MDS’s take: The Chiefs are locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC and are therefore the only playoff team with nothing to play for. As a result, I think they’ll take it easy on Sunday and the Chargers will cruise to a win.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 30, Chiefs 20.
Florio’s take: By the time this one starts, the Chargers will know whether a win gets them in the playoffs. Chances are they’ll be done. But with the Chiefs likely resting starters, the Chargers will finish on the right side of .500.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 31, Chiefs 21.
Rams at Seahawks
MDS’s take: The Rams are playing competitively and this won’t be easy for the Seahawks, but Seattle will be highly motivated to win this one and clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 31, Rams 20.
Florio’s take: Last Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals gave the Seahawks a much-needed wake-up call. They’ll answer the bell by roughing up the Rams and locking up the No. 1 seed.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 27, Rams 10.
Eagles at Cowboys
MDS’s take: Even with Tony Romo I’d lean toward the Eagles to take this one, but with Romo’s back injury this looks to me like a game the Eagles take to clinch the NFC East.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 17.
Florio’s take: With or without Tony Romo, the Cowboys don’t have the defense to once again hold Philly to three points -- especially without Sean Lee available. Another year, another 8-8 finish, another loss in the de facto NFC East championship game.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Cowboys 23.