We’ve decided to extend the Rosenthal-Florio picks battle into the postseason.
In a nutshell, I’ve got to close a four-game gap in only 11 games.
Before I can close the gap, however, we’ve got to disagree on some of the picks.
Through 17 weeks, Rosenthal pulled off an impressive record of 167-89, capping off the regular season with a mark of 11-5. I won Week 17 with a record of 12-4, but I’m lagging at 163-93 for the year to date.
Saints at Seahawks
Florio’s take: Before dismissing Seattle’s chances, keep in mind the fact that an 8-8 Chargers team beat the Colts two years ago in the wild-card round, and that the 9-7 Cardinals nearly won the Super Bowl that same season. Then again, the Chargers and the Cardinals had: (1) very good quarterbacks; and (2) a collection of other very good players. The Seahawks have neither, and even though the Saints are traveling 2,100 miles on a short week with plenty of injuries in an outdoor game at the loudest open-air stadium in the league, it’s impossible to pick the upset here, even if it would be great to see. Except for Saints fans.
Florio’s pick: Saints 35, Seahawks 14.
Rosenthal’s take: You are going to hear a lot of arguments saying this game will be closer than expected. Matt Hasselbeck played well against New Orleans last time around, the Saints are banged up, it’s a short week, the 12th man, yada yada yada. Bull. The Seahawks faced three winning teams at Qwest Field in the second half of the season. The Chiefs, Giants, and Falcons won by an average of 23 points. This will be a rout.
Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 33, Seahawks 14.
Jets at Colts
Florio’s take: Colts quarterback Peyton Manning consistently beats Rex Ryan defenses. This year, Ryan’s defense is better and Manning’s weapons are worse. But Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning and Mark Sanchez is still trying to be something remotely close to Peyton Manning. In a quarterback’s league, the future Hall of Famer who has won four in a row with his back to the wall isn’t ready to call it a season just yet.
Florio’s pick: Colts 27, Jets 17.
Rosenthal’s take: One year later, both of these teams aren’t quite the same. The Colts offense lacks big plays, and Peyton Manning has to overcome mistakes from usually precise pass-catchers. They were very lucky to beat the Titans last week. In New York, the big bad Jets defense can be soft in the middle. (To runs and throws up the seam.) Rex Ryan talks tough, but my gut says the Colts are a mentally tougher team. I’d take the Jets at home, but not in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 26, Jets 21.
Ravens at Chiefs
Florio’s take: Baltimore is playing its sixth playoff road game since 2008. The Chiefs lost some of their luster with an uninspired Week 17 performance against the Raiders. The decision of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to take the same job at the college level speaks to a certain amount of dysfunction in the organization — just enough to keep them from finishing their unlikely playoff run with a victory over a better team.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Chiefs 14.
Rosenthal’s take: The Ravens don’t have an offense that can put teams away, which is dangerous for a team whose defense has struggled in the fourth quarter all year. The Chiefs don’t have an offense that can threaten you through the air, especially if Dwayne Bowe is out. Jamaal Charles is the best player in this game and can keep it close. But Kansas City’s lack of weapons will ultimately cost them.
Rosenthal’s pick: Ravens 16, Chiefs 14.
Packers at Eagles
Florio‘s take: In Week One, the Packers went to Philly and knocked out Kevin Kolb and opened the door for Mike Vick’s historic resurgence. A full 17 weeks later, the rest of the NFL seems to be catching up with Vick. Though he’s impossible to stop, the Packers need only to outscore the Eagles, and the gap between Green Bay’s offense and Philly’s defense is bigger than the gap between the Eagles‘ offense and the Packers‘ defense.
Florio’s pick: Packers 28, Eagles 24.
Rosenthal’s take: Everyone is picking the Packers, which means the Eagles will win. Yet I still want to pick the Packers. The quarterbacks almost cancel each other out. I’d take the Eagles talent at the skill positions, but Green Bay’s continuity and experience is superior. The major edge here goes to Green Bay’s defense, which is capable of winning a game by itself. Philly needs Vick to be extraordinary to win. That could happen, but I’ll bet on the more complete team.
Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 34, Eagles 30.