When the Jets knocked off the Dolphins on Sunday night, I took a one-game lead over Rosenthal in Week Three of our head-to-head pick-fest.
I only needed the Packers to beat the Bears on Monday night to secure the victory. And the Packers did indeed beat the Bears; unfortunately, the Bears outscored them.
So it was a push, with both of us having an 11-5 record. And this means that I get to cut and paste and edit the Week Four installment.
Jets at Bills
Florio’s take: It was unusual that the Bills cut quarterback
Trent Edwards; it was bizarre that the Jets would feel compelled to try to pick
him up on waivers in the hopes of picking his brain. The Jets need no such
edge against a bad Bills team. Besides, how much of a difference is a
guy who was good enough to get benched and then cut going to make?
Either way, the Jets know they can’t follow two strong division wins by
stubbing their toes against one of the worst teams in the league.
Florio’s pick: Jets 34, Bills 10.
Rosenthal’s take: The Jets defense may not be as good as they think they
are, but they will be a lot better when Calvin Pace and Darrelle Revis
return. And they are good enough to slow down the Bills. Ryan
Fitzpatrick provided a spark last week in New England, but moving the
ball against the Jets’ B-team is another matter. Look for the Jets’
running attack to wear out Buffalo’s imitation 3-4 defense. It’s time for a
Shonn Greene sighting.
Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 21, Bills 10.
Bengals at Browns
Florio’s take: With games coming up against the Falcons, Steelers, and
Saints, this could be the Browns’ last, best chance to avoid entering
the bye week at 0-7. And the Bengals, despite being 2-1, are ripe for
an upset — especially since their offense has been sluggish and
one-dimensional. Since I won’t be picking the Browns to win again for a
long, long time, I may as well give them the benefit of the doubt in
the latest installment of the battle for the Commonwealth of Ohio. (Cue
all the commenters who’ll remind me that it’s not a Commonwealth.)
Florio’s pick: Browns 14, Bengals 13.
Rosenthal’s take: Give Marvin Lewis credit for raising expectations.
The Bengals have won two straight, yet fans and players are complaining
about style points. No one seemed to mind when they won ugly last
year. The Browns, who have lost three games by a combined 12 points,
will happily take any win they can get. This pick will self-destruct in
one quarter if Jake Delhomme starts.
Rosenthal’s pick: Browns 20, Bengals 17.
Ravens at Steelers
Florio’s take: No one thought the Steelers would win their first three
games without Ben Roethlisberger. Even fewer envisioned a perfect 4-0
record sans Big Ben. But they’re on the brink of accomplishing that
unlikely feat, and they welcome to town a Ravens team that hasn’t been
nearly as potent as most believed they would be. If the Steelers can
pull this one off, and if they can stay healthy, they can run the table.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 16, Ravens 6.
Rosenthal’s take: During a week in which in the great George Blanda
passed away, Charlie Batch will try to inspire a new generation of
quarterbacks of a certain age. Batch was rock solid last week, but he’s
no Blanda. And the Ravens defense won’t crack like Tampa’s. It’s too
early in this AFC North race for the Steelers to run away and hide.
Rosenthal’s pick: Ravens 17, Steelers 12.
Broncos at Titans
Florio’s take: Since starting last year at 6-0, the Broncos have won
only three of 13. Since startling last year at 0-6, the Titans have
lost only three of 13. Though the Titans haven’t beaten the Broncos
since moving from Houston, it’s Tennessee’s time to chalk up a win and
stay in the hunt for the AFC South crown.
Florio’s pick: Titans 20, Broncos 10.
Rosenthal’s take: A great battle of styles between two of my favorite
teams to watch. The Titans refuse to throw a forward pass, but their
no-name defense has played inspired football. The Broncos lead the league in
passing yards, but they can’t score. This is a coin flip game, but Denver’s
offensive line and defense will struggle with Tennessee’s toughness.
Getting rid of Mike Nolan hasn’t made the Broncos “D” any less generic.
Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 26, Broncos 23.
Lions at Packers
Florio’s take: These two teams have something in common; they lost at
Soldier Field games they should have won. But that’s all they have in
common. The Packers won’t let another one get away, extending their
streak against the Lions to 10 — and dropping coach Jim Schwartz to 2-18, worst record ever for any Lions head coach through his first 20 games.
Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Lions 17.
Rosenthal’s take: The Lions play teams tough, but they continue to lose.
That happened plenty during their darkest days, so the scoreboard
doesn’t show true progress. Instead, we point to the team’s recent high
picks (Stafford, Delmas, Pettigrew, Best, Suh) as signs for optimism.
Unfortunately, Stafford is out and Best is gimpy. And the Packers are
pissed off after their Monday night meltdown. Detroit won’t even get a
moral victory here.
Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 33, Lions 16.
49ers at Falcons
Florio’s take: The 49ers currently are in disarray. A day after coach
Mike Singletary committed to offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye for the
rest of the year, Singletary reversed course and fired him. (Then again, it worked for Andy Reid.) Six days
later, the Niners will need everything they can muster to keep it close
with the Falcons, who have shown that they’re a legitimate contender in
Florio’s pick: Falcons 30, 49ers 20.
Rosenthal’s take: Alex Smith is the master of the six-yard pass on
third-and-nine. During the rare times he surveys the field, his
protection doesn’t hold up. Mike Singletary wants a tough team, but his
offensive line has been manhandled on the road. The Falcons,
meanwhile, may have the most underrated defensive line in football with
Babineaux, Corey Peters, Kroy Biermann, and John Abraham playing
well. The 49ers talk tough; the Falcons play tough.
Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 29, 49ers 20.
Panthers at Saints
Florio’s take: The Panthers had low expectations entering the 2010
season, but they’ve failed to come close to meeting them. The Saints
have had their run toward a second straight Super Bowl title
unexpectedly derailed. Last year, the Saints broke a seven-year streak
of home losses to the Panthers; this year, the Saints should be able to
extend their home winning streak against the Panthers to two.
Florio’s pick: Saints 28, Panthers 15.
Rosenthal’s take: Saints fans continue to wait for that blowout win and
believe they have just the right opponent. Carolina wants to get their
running game going and think they have just the right opponent. (The
Saints are 30th in rush defense.) Even though these teams always play
close games, Jimmy Clausen is the difference. Saints defensive
coordinator Gregg Williams has been surprisingly passive with his
blitzes this year. He’ll finally unleash the hounds.
Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 28, Panthers 10.
Seahawks at Rams
Florio’s take: With the Rams spanking the Redskins and the Seahawks
playing well only at home, the Rams should not be overlooked in this
one. Even if running back Steven Jackson can’t play, that 30-16 win
over the Redskins has given St. Louis a burst of confidence. Look for
Sam Bradford and company to find a way to win round one of the
home-and-home series that could go a long way toward determining the
division crown. (Seriously, it could. Quit laughing, the boss might hear you.)
Florio’s pick: Rams 21, Seahawks 17.
Rosenthal’s take: This feels like the biggest Rams game in years. They
have a chance to move to 2-2, possibly tie for the division lead, and give
homers like Evan Silva a reason to smile for the first time since Mike
Martz left town. I still don’t trust them. Seattle has the better
defense and special teams. The Seahawks may only need one or two road
wins to win the division and this should be one of them.
Rosenthal’s pick: Seahawks 21, Rams 17.
Colts at Jaguars
Florio’s take: Last December, the Jaguars and the Colts staged a
classic Thursday night contest as the Colts tried to remain undefeated.
(Until the next weekend, when the Colts decided not to try to remain
undefeated.) But much has changed since then. Well, for the Colts not
much has changed. For the Jaguars, they’ve gotten a lot worse. David
Garrard has fallen apart, and newcomer Trent Edwards isn’t close to
being ready to make a difference.
Florio’s pick: Colts 35, Jaguars 10.
Rosenthal’s take: This is one of the most underrated rivalries in
football. They always play classic games, but Jacksonville would do
well to stay close this year. Jacksonville’s secondary may be the worst
in the league. David Garrard is playing with no confidence and spends
his week listening to withering criticisms from his coach and fanbase.
It’s a bad sign when Maurice Jones-Drew starts shopping himself in
fantasy football trades.
Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 31, Jaguars 17.
Texans at Raiders
Florio’s take: If the Texans want to be taken seriously, they need to
consistently beat the teams that aren’t. Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys
notwithstanding, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, with or
without receiver Andre Johnson.
Florio’s pick: Texans 35, Raiders 17.
Rosenthal’s take: These teams feel different this year, but are they
really? The Texans may be mentally tougher and more balanced on
offense, but their defense looks worse than ever. (Brian Cushing’s
return will certainly help.) The Raiders should be 2-1, but they still
play sloppy and inconsistent. This is a great test for a Raiders defense
that may be improved. I want them to prove it before jumping on the
Rosenthal’s pick: Texans 24, Raiders 20.
Redskins at Eagles
Florio’s take: Last year, Brett Favre returned to Lambeau Field at
stuck it to the Packers. But Favre had a solid team around him in
Minnesota; Donovan McNabb doesn’t. So even if McNabb plays extremely
well (and he likely will), he’ll spend much of his time on the sidelines
watching the weapons that the Eagles finally assembled rolling over a
punchless defense that gave up 30 points to the Rams.
Florio’s pick: Eagles 27, Redskins 14.
Rosenthal’s take: Mike Shanahan is right. This game is why guys like
Donovan McNabb play football, why Shanahan coaches football, why we are
all so hopelessly addicted to football. It earns the overhype. I’d
love to see McNabb stick it to Philadelphia just for drama and comedy’s
sake. Unfortunately, he’s not playing with a stacked deck. McNabb
could outplay Michael Vick. But the Redskins’ confused defense, bankrupt
wideouts, and uneven roster will blow it. Same old Redskins.
Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 28, Redskins 24.
Cardinals at Chargers
Florio’s take: The Chargers can’t continue to stumble through September
and expect to turn it on the rest of the way. Sooner or later, they’ll sink into a hole out of which they won’t be able to emerge. This year,
however, the Scheduling Zeuses have smiled on the Lightning Bolts,
giving them three winnable games over the next three weeks — Cardinals,
Raiders, Rams. Though it remains to be seen what San Diego can do
against the likes of the Pats, Titans, and Texans, the Chargers should
enter that stretch at 4-2.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 30, Cardinals 14.
Rosenthal’s take: You can look at the Chargers a few ways. They could
be 3-0 with mediocre special teams. Then again, they’d probably be 3-13
without Philip Rivers. The Charger have a great passing attack and a
highly forgiving schedule. The Cardinals don’t know what they do well
Rosenthal’s pick: Chargers 31, Cardinals 23.
Bears at Giants
Florio’s take: Even before Tiki Barber provided some extra motivation
by chiming in on the status of his former team and its head coach, this
one had the feel of a correction game for both teams. The Bears (and
their fans love it when I say this) should be 1-2, and the Giants can’t
afford to have their second embarrassment on national television in 14
days. Regardless of how the rest of the season unfolds, they’ll pull it
together like the Cowboys did in Week Three. And the Bears will emerge
from the game still lucky to be 3-1.
Florio’s pick: Giants 23, Bears 13.
Rosenthal’s take: Two weeks ago, I took the Jets because it felt like
they had to win. Dallas was the must-win game pick last week. The
Giants are in a similar spot now. They can’t afford to go 1-3 with two
home losses, and yet I have no faith this team can rally when
necessary. The better pass rush will prevail. It’s almost safe for Jay
Cutler apologists like me to enjoy primetime Bears games again.
Rosenthal’s pick: Bears 22, Giants 17.
Patriots at Dolphins
Florio’s take: The Dolphins desperately need to avoid going 0-2 at home
against the Jets and the Patriots. The Patriots desperately need to
avoid going 0-2 against the Jets and the Dolphins. This one will be
decided by the ability of the uneven Dolphins offense to move the ball against
the young Patriots defense. Though the Miami defense was shredded last
week by the Jets, the New England unit has been too porous, and that
should be enough for the porpoises.
Florio’s pick: Dolphins 30, Patriots 23.
Rosenthal’s take: This is a huge swing game. The loser here will
already have two division defeats heading into a brutal out-of-division
schedule. The Patriots defense continues to search for answers, but Tom
Brady is back to MVP form. New England’s passing attack threatens to
be the second best of the Brady era. Look for a long night for
cornerbacks on both sides, with Brady finding a way to expose Jason
Rosenthal’s pick: Patriots 34, Dolphins 31.