MDS is closing in on locking up one of the two available season-long titles. I’ve basically wrapped up the other.
Through 15 weeks, MDS now has a three-game lead when it comes to straight-up picks. My lead continues to be in double digits against the spread.
For Week 15, MDS hit 12 games straight up, while I had 11. For the year, h’es now at 146-80, while I’m at 141-85.
Against the spread, I was 6-8-2, and he was 5-9-2. I now lead, 105-111-8 to 92-124-8.
This week, we disagree on two game picks and multiple spreads. All picks appear below.
Vikings (+7) at Saints
MDS’s take: The NFL’s Christmas Day offering features a Vikings team that doesn’t have much left to play for against a Saints team that’s still fighting for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. I don’t see this one being close.
MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Vikings 17.
Florio’s take: The Saints won’t have to worry about losing to the Vikings in this year’s playoffs. The Saints will have to worry about losing to the Vikings on Christmas Day.
Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Vikings 23.
Buccaneers (-9.5) at Lions
MDS’s take: The Buccaneers have a knack for playing closer against bad teams than they should, and I see that happening again on Saturday, as they’ll need a 60-minute effort to put the Lions away.
MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 21, Lions 17.
Florio’s take: Tom Brady returns to Michigan, most likely for the last time in his football career. He won’t leave with a loss.
Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 31, Lions 20.
49ers (+5) at Cardinals
MDS’s take: The 49ers are on the road at their home away from home, and although I admire how hard they’re playing in this most difficult of seasons, I think they’re out of fuel at this point and won’t have much of a chance against a Cardinals team fighting for a playoff berth.
MDS’s pick: Cardinals 30, 49ers 13.
Florio’s take: The 49ers are playing out the string as they wait to return home from Arizona. The Cardinals are on the verge of the postseason. Sometimes, it’s that simple.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 30, 49ers 23.
Dolphins (-3) at Raiders
MDS’s take: This is a big one in the AFC wild card race, and the Dolphins will put the Raiders away.
MDS’s pick: Dolphins 27, Raiders 20.
Florio’s take: The Raiders could win this one, but it’s hard to have much faith in a team that hasn’t put anything impressive together since nearly completing a sweep of the Chiefs.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Raiders 17.
Falcons (+10.5) at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The Falcons have played competitive football in a hopeless cause for interim head coach Raheem Morris, which might earn Morris the coaching job on a permanent basis. But they’re not playing at a level that would have me picking them to win in Kansas City.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 34, Falcons 21.
Florio’s take: The best time to beat the Chiefs is when they least expect it. They won’t expect it this week, and so maybe it will at least be close.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 37, Falcons 30.
Browns (-9.5) at Jets
MDS’s take: Can the Jets make it two in a row? I don’t see it. The Browns win and get a step closer to their first playoff berth since 2002.
MDS’s pick: Browns 24, Jets 10.
Florio’s take: The Browns have mastered the art of handling the teams they should. And they definitely should handle the Jets.
Florio’s take: Browns 24, Jets 9.
Colts (-1.5) at Steelers
MDS’s take: The Steelers may be on the verge of an unprecedented collapse, with an 11-0 start leading to an 11-5 finish. They’ll drop their fourth in a row on Sunday.
MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Steelers 20.
Florio’s take: The Steelers have reached rock bottom. It’s time to start digging out of the hole.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 23, Colts 21.
Bears (-7.5) at Jaguars
MDS’s take: The Jaguars just need to lose two in a row to draft Trevor Lawrence, while the Bears are still in playoff contention. I can’t see this one being close.
MDS’s pick: Bears 33, Jaguars 16.
Florio’s take: The Jets screwed up the Trevor Lawrence pick last week. The Jaguars won’t screw it up this week.
Florio’s pick: Bears 31, Jaguars 17.
Giants (+11) at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Ravens are still a dangerous team in the postseason. The Giants might make the postseason, but they won’t be dangerous.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 27, Giants 20.
Florio’s take: This Super Bowl XXXV rematch will end up the same way, primarily because the Ravens have found their groove again.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 30, Giants 17.
Bengals (+8) at Texans
MDS’s take: Both of these teams are mathematically eliminated but have still shown some life. I’ll pick the Texans in a close one here.
MDS’s pick: Texans 28, Bengals 27.
Florio’s take: The Bengals may still be drunk on Sunday from their celebration after beating the Steelers.
Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Bengals 17.
Broncos (+3) at Chargers
MDS’s pick: Chargers 30, Broncos 20.
Florio’s take: The Chargers are trying to finish strong. The Broncos are just trying to finish.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 31, Broncos 24.
Panthers (+2.5) at Washington
MDS’s take: Washington still leads the NFC East, and I think they’re going to clinch the division on Sunday, rest their top players in Week 17, and host a playoff game.
MDS’s pick: Washington 27, Panthers 20.
Florio’s take: How can Ron Rivera lose to the team that fired him last year?
Florio’s pick: Washington 23, Panthers 20.
Eagles (-2.5) at Cowboys
MDS’s take: The Eagles have played well since going to Jalen Hurts, but unfortunately Doug Pederson waited a little too long and Philadelphia is going to miss the playoffs.
MDS’s pick: Eagles 28, Cowboys 17.
Florio’s take: Carson Wentz will soon be Carson Goes.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Cowboys 21.
Rams (+1.5) at Seahawks
MDS’s take: A big one in the NFC West race will have the Seahawks’ improving defense outplay the Rams’ inconsistent offense.
MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Rams 17.
Florio’s take: The Rams will get back on track. If they don’t soon, they may not last in the playoffs.
Florio’s pick: Rams 27, Seahawks 24.
Titans (+3.5) at Packers
MDS’s take: This is a fascinating matchup of two of the NFL’s best offenses. Logic says to take the Packers, but I just have a hunch that Ryan Tannehill is going to have a very big game as the Titans pull out a tough win.
MDS’s pick: Titans 24, Packers 23.
Florio’s take: The Titans are just a little more desperate, and the Packers are just about due for another one of those “we lacked energy and we’re not sure why” moments.
Florio’s pick: Titans 30, Packers 26.
Bills (-7) at Patriots
MDS’s take: There’s been a changing of the guard in the AFC East, with the Bills winning the division and the Patriots mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The Bills take this one comfortably.
MDS’s pick: Bills 30, Patriots 20.
Florio’s take: If given the chance to destroy the Patriots, the Bills gladly and happily will.
Florio’s pick: Bills 30, Patriots 20.