Last week, as the Saints built a supposedly insurmountable lead over the Lions, I taunted MDS with a link of Homer Simpson singing When the Saints Go Over There. And I scoffed when he suggested I was celebrating prematurely. Which of course cemented the looming jinx.
Back came the Lions and down went the Saints and MDS prevailed in the one game of 15 on which we disagreed.
For the week, MDS was 11-4 and I was 10-5. For the season, he’s now at 70-36 (66 percent) and I’m at 65-41 (61.3 percent).
We disagree on two games this week. And there will be no premature celebrating from me this week. Or ever again.
Chargers at Broncos
MDS’s take: The battle for first place in the AFC West will feature two MVP candidates at quarterback, but the difference in my view is that the Broncos’ defense is playing almost as well as their offense. This will be a lower-scoring game than most people think, and that favors Denver.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 21, Chargers 10.
Florio’s take: Last year, the Chargers caught the Broncos napping on a Thursday night in December. This year, the Broncos are bracing for their rivals, and the midseason stakes are considerably higher.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 38, Chargers 20.
Lions at Falcons
MDS’s take: What does an offense with good skill-position players and a terrible line look like? Like the 2014 Falcons, whose injuries up front have been devastating. The Lions’ defensive front will take advantage of the injury-riddled Atlanta line and improve to 6-2 with a win in London.
MDS’s pick: Lions 24, Falcons 13.
Florio’s take: At least the Falcons won’t have to use a silent snap count for this home game, since it won’t be played in the Georgia Dome. It won’t matter; Detroit’s defense is too good and Atlanta’s offensive line is too banged up.
Florio’s pick: Lions 27, Falcons 17.
Seahawks at Panthers
MDS’s take: The Seahawks haven’t been playing their best football lately, but they’ve been playing better than the Panthers, whose defense has fallen apart. Seattle will get things turned around.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Panthers 20.
Florio’s take: Last year, the Panthers took the Seahawks to the limit in Week One, an outcome that became more impressive for Carolina as the season unfolded. This year, Carolina’s defense is coming apart at the seams, and the Seahawks’ performance have been spotty enough to trigger the kind of external criticism that could put a much-needed chip back on their shoulders.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 30, Panthers 20.
Ravens at Bengals
MDS’s take: Cincinnati dominated when these two teams met in Week One, but Baltimore has looked like the much better team recently. The Ravens are playing so well in all three phases of the game that I just can’t pick against them right now.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 21, Bengals 20.
Florio’s take: The Bengals won in Baltimore to start the season. But the Bengals are struggling without a deep threat to stretch the field (assuming A.J. Green remains out), and the Ravens have found their groove.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Bengals 17.
Dolphins at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Jaguars got their first win on Sunday. Can they make it two in a row? Not against the Dolphins, who are a much better team than most people realize. Miami will win this one easily.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 30, Jaguars 14.
Florio’s take: This is exactly the kind of game the Dolphins could lose, a week after a thrilling road win in Chicago. The upset is tempting, but the Dolphins presumably won’t take the Jags lightly a week after the Browns did.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Jaguars 13.
Rams at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The two Missouri teams pulled off two surprising upsets last week, but I see the Rams’ win as more of a fluke, while the Chiefs’ win was a sign that they’ve got a good chance to go on a run in the AFC. I like Kansas City to win this one easily.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Rams 10.
Florio’s take: More than bragging rights will be on the line in the latest edition of the Battle for Missouri. Both teams have a chance to make a run at the postseason after being blown out at home in Week One. The Chiefs have too much talent for the Rams, especially when the Kansas City offense faces the St. Louis defense.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 24, Rams 17.
Bears at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Bears are coming apart at the seams, just as the Patriots are coming together and playing their best football. This should be a big win for New England.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Bears 17.
Florio’s take: The Patriots have found the gas pedal, and the Bears are clumsily mashing their feet against the floorboard in search of it. Yes, the Patriots are banged up defensively, but the extra time to prepare and the apparent inability of coach Marc Trestman to adjust to defenses that have a full season of offensive film gives the edge to one of the great tactical masterminds in NFL history.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Bears 21.
Bills at Jets
MDS’s take: I’ve felt all year that the Jets are a better team than they’re showing on the field, and I think we’re finally going to see them turn in a complete game on Sunday. The Bills’ offense will struggle with the Jets’ defense and the Jets will win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Jets 17, Bills 13.
Florio’s take: The Jets surely won’t finish 1-15. What better way to get a win than against a Bills team that is rattled at the tailback position and generally not a good as its 4-3 record suggests? While Percy Harvin isn’t good enough to turn around a lost season in New York, he’s good enough to make a difference in this one.
Florio’s pick: Jets 24, Bills 20.
Vikings at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: In a battle of two of the worst teams in the NFL, I’ll take the home team. That’s about all I’ve got to say about this one.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 9, Vikings 6.
Florio’s take: Somehow, the Bucs are still alive in the NFC South. While a run at the division is unlikely, they’ve extra week to prepare gives them the edge in the latest reunion of a longtime NFC Central rivalry.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Vikings 24.
Texans at Titans
MDS’s take: The Texans have lost three straight, but all against good teams. Against a bad team with a rookie making his first start at quarterback, I like Houston to take care of business.
MDS’s pick: Texans 17, Titans 14.
Florio’s take: The fading Texans get just what they needed — a crack at a Titans team that somehow has two wins. It’ll stay at two wins on Sunday, with Ryan Fitzpatrick (who’s averaging a career-high 8.0 yards per attempt) getting a chance to beat his most recent former team.
Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Titans 13.
Eagles at Cardinals
MDS’s take: Coming off a bye week that followed their most impressive win of the season, I think the Eagles should be playing their best football right now. Arizona is playing excellent football, but the Eagles will upset the Cardinals in the desert.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 21, Cardinals 17.
Florio’s take: So much for the Cardinals wanting to rejoin the NFC East. They face the 5-1 Eagles and 6-1 Cowboys in consecutive weeks, and it could be time for the Super Bowl jinx to begin to kick in. Especially with Chip Kelly having two weeks to get ready for this one.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Cardinals 20.
Raiders at Browns
MDS’s take: Could the Browns make it two straight losses to previously winless opponents? I don’t see it. Cleveland’s offense should have no trouble moving the ball against Oakland.
MDS’s pick: Browns 28, Raiders 14.
Florio’s take: Trap Game No. 2 for the Browns. And its against a team that delivered one of the most bitter defeats in franchise postseason history. If the Browns lose to a winless team for the second straight week, they won’t have to worry about a bitter playoff defeat this year.
Florio’s pick: Browns 27, Raiders 17.
Colts at Steelers
MDS’s take: Andrew Luck should have a big game against a suspect Steelers secondary, and the Colts should put up plenty of points in Pittsburgh.
MDS’s pick: Colts 35, Steelers 27.
Florio’s take: Yea, the Colts shut out the Bengals last week. But that happened at home, not in Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, the Steelers average 28 points per game. And just when folks write off the Steelers, they find a way to win games they’re supposed to lose.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 28, Colts 23.
Packers at Saints
MDS’s take: The Saints’ defense is a complete mess, and Aaron Rodgers is playing at a very high level. Even if the Saints get a great game from their offense, they simply won’t be able to keep up in a high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Packers 30, Saints 20.
Florio’s take: The Saints are still undefeated at home, and they play even better in the Superdome when America is watching. By the way, the NFC South remains ripe for the plucking.
Florio’s pick: Saints 34, Packers 31.
Washington at Cowboys
MDS’s take: Is Colt McCoy the answer? Of course not. Stop asking stupid questions. The Cowboys will roll.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 31, Washington 13.
Florio’s take: Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, it doesn’t matter. The Cowboys may cool off by the time it really counts, but they’re the hottest team in football for now.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 31, Washington 16.