The good news is that I nailed 13 of 15 picks last week. The bad news is that MDS did as well.
Which keeps me four games behind MDS as we approach the halfway point of the season.
This week, the slate consists of only 13 games. We disagree on
two three of them. (Thanks to Mary Lou in Palm Coast for spotting that it’s three, not two.)
Start scrolling now to see who we like in each of the games.
Dolphins at Ravens
MDS’s take: I’m not sure that the loss of Jay Cutler matters because I’m not sure that he’s any better than Matt Moore. Either way, the Ravens’ defense should shut down the Dolphins’ offense, and Baltimore should win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 17, Dolphins 7.
Florio’s take: The 2011 team MVP for the Dolphins has a chance to help continue to push the 2017 season in the right direction while Jay Cutler’s ribs heal. If Matt Moore continues to play well, it may take a little while for Cutler to get to “100 percent.”
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 27, Ravens 17.
Vikings at Browns
MDS’s take: In my opinion Cody Kessler is the best of the Browns’ three bad quarterbacks, but Hue Jackson disagrees with me and has gone back to DeShone Kizer. It probably doesn’t matter, as the Vikings’ defense is good enough to shut down the Browns no matter who plays quarterback.
MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Browns 3.
Florio’s take: The Browns have won one of 23 games since the latest reset of the franchise, and the current regime has passed on the likes of Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz. Whoever passed on Watson and Wentz is about to be gone, for good.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 30, Browns 16.
Falcons at Jets
MDS’s take: The Jets are better than expected and the Falcons are worse than expected this season, but order will be restored on Sunday and the Falcons will win easily.
MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Jets 14.
Florio’s take: The Falcons continue their tour of the AFC East, with coach Dan Quinn returning to the place where he easily won a Super Bowl ring four years ago. This one won’t be as easy, in part because the Falcons are struggling and in part because the Jets aren’t.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 24, Jets 17.
Panthers at Buccaneers
MDS’s take: The Buccaneers’ defense has been horrible this season, and as a result I’m tempted to pick the Panthers in a road upset. But Cam Newton has been too inconsistent this year for me to be confident in him on Sunday and so I’ll say the Bucs win a close one.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Panthers 23.
Florio’s take: It’s feeling like a division-title elimination game, even with plenty of games left to play. While there’s a chance neither team makes to the postseason, chances are the loser this week will have a fork in them.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 24, Buccaneers 20.
49ers at Eagles
MDS’s take: The winless 49ers are certainly not going to get their first win of the season in Philadelphia. This is the easiest pick on the board.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 30, 49ers 10.
Florio’s take: One of the best teams in the NFL faces one of the worst. Which probably means the 49ers will win. I’m not nearly drunk enough (yet) to go out on that limb.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 37, 49ers 17.
Bears at Saints
MDS’s take: The Bears are finding ways to win despite bad quarterback play, but against a Saints defense that has improved remarkably since the start of the season, that’s not going to work.
MDS’s pick: Saints 28, Bears 10.
Florio’s take: The Bears return to the scene of their only Super Bowl win, with a team that is far closer to contending for a berth in the Super Bowl tournament than many would admit. Unfortunately for Chicago, the Saints are much closer to matching their best season in franchise history, thanks to a defense that currently seems closer to the ’85 Bears than the ’09 Saints.
Florio’s pick: Saints 23, Bears 13.
Chargers at Patriots
MDS’s take: The Chargers are on a nice little run and I’m tempted to pick them in an upset, but Tom Brady is still playing at an MVP level and I like the Patriots in a high-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Chargers 30.
Florio’s take: This one could be the game of the day, if the Chargers continue to build on what they’ve done over the past three weeks. But the Patriots are at home and that 2-2 start managed to get their attention, on both sides of the ball.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 27, Chargers 20.
Raiders at Bills
MDS’s take: The Raiders’ defense just can’t stop anyone this season, and the Bills should be able to slow down Derek Carr and Amari Cooper better this week than the Chiefs did last week. Buffalo takes another big step toward the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Bills 28, Raiders 21.
Florio’s take: Once upon a time, Buffalo blasted Oakland with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line. For the Raiders, this one is nearly a playoff game, and a loss would wipe out a potential season-saving win against the Chiefs.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 23, Bills 17.
Colts at Bengals
MDS’s take: The Colts look as bad as anyone in the NFL right now. They’ve won two games, but I don’t see them winning two more.
MDS’s pick: Bengals 17, Colts 9.
Florio’s take: The Bengals get a bit of a break from the schedule-makers, with an overmatched Indy team coming to town just in time for Cincinnati to avoid, or at least to stall, an implosion.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 31, Colts 14.
Texans at Seahawks
MDS’s take: I think the Texans are a better team than the Seahawks overall, but in Seattle, rookie Deshaun Watson is going to be in the toughest environment he’s faced. The Seahawks’ defense should have a good game and they’ll win a close one.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 17, Texans 14.
Florio’s take: The last time the Texans and the Seahawks got together, the Pick-Six Machine known as Matt Schlub (autocorrect insisted on it) helped Houston blow a big lead and lose in overtime, thanks to an interception that Richard Sherman returned with a shoe missing for the game-tying score. This time around, the quarterback is better — but the venue has flipped to Seattle. Welcome to the NFL, Deshaun.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 20, Texans 9.
Cowboys at Washington
MDS’s take: This is the toughest game on the board to pick, and probably a must-win for one of these teams to have any hope of catching the Eagles in the NFC East. I see Kirk Cousins putting up a big game against the Cowboys’ defense and Washington bouncing back from a tough Monday night loss.
MDS’s pick: Washington 28, Cowboys 27.
Florio’s take: The Cowboys have beaten the Giants, the Cardinals, and the 49ers. Washington has lost to the Eagles twice and the Chiefs. Maybe Dallas isn’t as good as we thought, and maybe Washington is better.
Florio’s pick: Washington 24, Cowboys 21.
Steelers at Lions
MDS’s take: Matthew Stafford hasn’t played up to his enormous contract this season, and against an outstanding Steelers pass defense he’s going to continue to struggle.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 20, Lions 10.
Florio’s take: The Steelers return to the site of Super Bowl XL, in what surely will be Ben Roethlisberger’s last career game there (barring a team change). If he plays better than he did that day back in 2006, the Steelers should be able to find a way to win, especially with their defense getting back to what it was in the era that resulted in two Super Bowl wins only three years apart.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 27, Lions 24.
Broncos at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The Chiefs have fallen back to earth a bit since their hot start, but the Broncos have declined even more. This is a good opportunity for Kansas City to bounce back and get a win in the division.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 28, Broncos 20.
Florio’s take: It’s getting close to desperation time for both teams, with two straight losses each and promising seasons now threatened by Raiders and Chargers uprisings. Home team gets the edge, also because it’s better.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Broncos 17.