Well, he swept me last week. MDS and I differed on three games. He was right (and I was wrong) on each of them.
This week, we disagree on only one game. It involves a team on which we’ve disagreed four prior times this year. He’s been right each time, and I’ve been wrong.
Coincidentally (or not), he now leads the season-to-date contest by four games.
For the week, MDS was 12-3 and I was 9-6. For the year, he’s at 59-32 and I’m at 55-36.
Jets at Patriots
MDS’s take: I still don’t think the Jets are quite as bad as their record suggests, and one of these weeks I think the Jets are going to win a game when no one sees it coming. But this won’t be the week. Tom Brady has turned things around recently and is playing very well, and the Jets simply don’t have the manpower in the secondary to keep up.
MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Jets 17.
Florio’s take: It’s the second annual last trip by Rex Ryan to Foxborough. And likely the final one. Bill Belichick and company send Rex packing with a butt-kicking. Maybe Rex ends up working for Bill in 2015?
Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Jets 10.
Falcons at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Ravens are playing good football in all three phases of the game, while the Falcons are playing well on offense and special teams but struggling mightily on defense. That will be the difference, as Joe Flacco will put up big numbers against a weak Atlanta secondary.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 31, Falcons 21.
Florio’s take: Winless on the road and suddenly unable to win at home, the Falcons are still looking for their next victory after that 56-14 thrashing of the Buccaneers. And the Falcons will keep looking beyond their trip to Baltimore.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 31, Falcons 20.
Titans at Washington
MDS’s take: Kirk Cousins has been terrible the last few weeks, but this week he gets to play a bad Titans defense. Look for DeSean Jackson to make a couple of big plays in the passing game and those big plays to be the difference.
MDS’s pick: Washington 20, Titans 14.
Florio’s take: The one-win Washington team gets a rare chance to pick up a second. There may not be many/any more after it.
Florio’s pick: Washington 20, Titans 14.
Seahawks at Rams
MDS’s take: The Seahawks’ schedule got off to a brutal start, as four of their first five opponents were likely playoff teams. Now the Seahawks are entering the easier stretch of their schedule, and they should make quick work of the Rams.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Rams 14.
Florio’s take: The suddenly shaky Seahawks look to re-establish themselves against the regularly-shaky Rams. St. Louis could put up a fight early (like they did at home against the 49ers on Monday night) and then fade late (like they did at home against the 49ers on Monday night). Either way, no one will be thinking the Seahawks are in danger after Sunday. Even if they are.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 30, Rams 17.
Browns at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Browns are surprisingly good. The Jaguars are even worse than anyone could have imagined. I expect the Browns to go on a run and establish themselves as AFC playoff contenders.
MDS’s pick: Browns 31, Jaguars 13.
Florio’s take: It’s a trap game for a team that is used to being the trap team. But the Browns will be favored for the next three weeks. Can they win the games they’re supposed to win? Survey says, “Probably.”
Florio’s pick: Browns 27, Jaguars 16.
Bengals at Colts
MDS’s take: This was the toughest game on the board for me to pick. The Bengals are a better team overall, but they’re without their best player in A.J. Green, they’re coming off a hard-fought overtime loss, and they’re heading to Indianapolis to play a Colts team that’s on extra rest after a Thursday night game. Add it all up and it looks to me like a close win for Indianapolis.
MDS’s pick: Colts 21, Bengals 20.
Florio’s take: The Colts have had a little extra rest to get ready for a Bengals team that could use a little more after playing five full quarters at home. Indy is rolling; the Bengals find themselves in the middle of an unexpected four-team scrum.
Florio’s pick: Colts 30, Bengals 21.
Vikings at Bills
MDS’s take: Teddy Bridgewater is a talented young quarterback, but he struggled mightily when the Lions brought inside pressure on Sunday, and the Bills have the personnel to get the same kind of inside pressure against the Vikings. Bridgewater is going to have another tough game in another Vikings loss.
MDS’s pick: Bills 20, Vikings 10.
Florio’s take: It took a week longer than the new owners had hoped, but the Bills get the first win of the Pegula era against the Purple Paste Eaters.
Florio’s pick: Bills 24, Vikings 10.
Dolphins at Bears
MDS’s take: The Bears’ defense is much improved from last year, with free agent addition Willie Young making a huge difference and leading the league with 7.0 sacks. I like Young to get a lot of pressure on Ryan Tannehill as the Bears win.
MDS’s pick: Bears 24, Dolphins 20.
Florio’s take: The Bears have not yet won at Soldier Field this year. That streak ends on Sunday against a Dolphins team that blew a prime opportunity to upend the Packers.
Florio’s pick: Bears 27, Dolphins 17.
Saints at Lions
MDS’s take: The Saints’ offense is good and their defense is bad. The Lions’ defense is good and their offense is bad. I’ll break the tie by going with home-field advantage, and that means the Lions.
MDS’s pick: Lions 23, Saints 20.
Florio’s take: The Lions have a great defense, but they haven’t faced an offense quite like the one the Saints have. Sure, Reggie Bush will want some revenge. But he can only do so much to match what the Saints will muster, with two weeks to rest and to prepare for a showdown with the team New Orleans manhandled less than three years ago in the playoffs.
Florio’s pick: Saints 34, Lions 27.
Panthers at Packers
MDS’s take: Cam Newton looks like he’s getting healthier and playing better, so the Panthers should be able to put plenty of points on the board in Green Bay. Unfortunately for the Panthers, their defense is struggling and Aaron Rodgers is at the top of his game, which means Green Bay wins a high-scoring contest.
MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Panthers 27.
Florio’s take: The Packers have found the gas pedal since losing in ugly fashion to the Lions. The Panthers, as up-and-down as any team this season, keep finding the pedal then losing it. But after giving up 37 points to the Bengals in Cincinnati, the Carolina defense could get shredded in the land o’ cheddar.
Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Panthers 23.
Chiefs at Chargers
MDS’s take: Philip Rivers is playing the best football of his career right now, and the Chiefs’ defense is not playing particularly well. I expect Rivers to have a big game.
MDS’s pick: Chargers 30, Chiefs 20.
Florio’s take: Before getting a chance to take their best shot at the Broncos in Denver, the Chargers have to withstand the best the Chiefs have to offer, with two weeks to get ready for it. If the Chargers weren’t in the midst of a special season, that would be a real concern.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 27, Chiefs 20.
Cardinals at Raiders
MDS’s take: Give Tony Sparano credit for this -- the Raiders looked like they were playing harder for him on Sunday against the Chargers than they had played previously this season for Dennis Allen. Having said that, the Raiders simply aren’t a very talented football team, and the Cardinals should beat them decisively.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 34, Raiders 17.
Florio’s take: Another trap game for a team that not long ago was a trap team. Throw in Carson Palmer’s desire for some warped sense of revenge against the second of two teams on which he quit, and the Cardinals likely won’t be caught napping.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 27, Raiders 23.
Giants at Cowboys
MDS’s take: The Cowboys’ defense is far from great, but it’s much improved from last year, and it should be able to shut down the Giants, whose offense is struggling. DeMarco Murray will have another big game as the Cowboys play ball control in the second half.
MDS’s pick: Cowboys 20, Giants 10.
Florio’s take: The Giants are 4-1 at Jerryworld. The Cowboys are 5-1. But these aren’t the same old Cowboys who have dropped four of five at home against their rivals from New York. And these Giants aren’t the team that recently won three in a row, especially with Victor Cruz done for the year and Rashad Jennings gone for now.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Giants 17.
49ers at Broncos
MDS’s take: Can Peyton Manning throw for three touchdown passes against a good 49ers defense and break Brett Favre’s NFL record? I think he can, and the Broncos will win an entertaining and close game.
MDS’s pick: Broncos 28, 49ers 24.
Florio’s take: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh reportedly “evaluated” Peyton Manning in 2012. Harbaugh gets a chance to evaluate Manning a lot more closely on Sunday night. And Harbaugh won’t like what he sees.
Florio’s pick: Broncos 31, 49ers 20.
Texans at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Steelers’ defense was shredded by the Browns on Sunday, but Houston’s offense isn’t as good as Cleveland’s. I think Pittsburgh will win a low-scoring game.
MDS’s pick: Steelers 13, Texans 10.
Florio’s take: On the rare occasions when the Steelers are backed against the wall, they come out swinging. Facing in prime-time audience at home on Monday night after getting blown out by the Browns, the Steelers will come out swinging.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 24, Texans 13.