Well, Rosenthal has clinched the full-season picks contest.
But I can still force a tie in the postseason portion of the contest.
If we pick different teams for each game and if I get them all right. Here’s who we like this weekend.
(And, no, I didn’t make my picks after seeing his. And he didn’t make his after seeing mine.)
Packers at Bears
Florio’s take: I’ve been overlooking and underestimating the Bears all year. So why stop now? Sure, the Bears beat the Packers in Week Three. Yes, the Packers barely beat the Bears in Week 17, when the Packers needed a win to qualify for the playoffs. But the Packers are firing on all cylinders, and they look like they can’t be beaten. Though they may be beaten, it’s impossible to pick against them after beating the Falcons by 27.
Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Bears 23.
Rosenthal’s take: This week has felt like a coronation for Aaron Rodgers as the league’s best quarterback and the Packers as the “It” team. It’s all too perfect, which should worry Packers fans. The Bears have proven they can slow down Aaron Rodgers. (Green Bay averaged 13.5 points in two matchups against Chicago.) Like the Jets and Patriots last week, I think divisional familiarity will help to slow down a hot offense. The Bears won’t give up big plays, and tailback James Starks should struggle to run against a strong run defense. This pick isn’t about logic. It’s about the Bears finding a way to make this game ugly. They can beat a more talented Packers squad because of special teams, defense, and the Jay Cutler throw across his body that looks like a terrible idea. For some strange reason, I’m convinced Cutler will complete that throw Sunday and spoil Rodgers’ run to NFL royalty.
Rosenthal’s pick: Bears 20, Packers 17.
Jets at Steelers
Florio’s take: Though the Jets beat the Steelers last month in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have had a great playoff run since losing the AFC title game six years ago, winning eight of nine postseason games. Eight of nine. But there’s something about these Jets, who somehow managed to go from being the preseason hype magnet to a team with a postseason chip on its shoulder. Those wins over the Colts and Patriots become meaningless absent a win over the Steelers, and though it won’t be easy, the Jets have a defense that can avoid being picked apart and an offense that can do just enough to get it done. Look for receiver Santonio Holmes, shipped out of Pittsburgh because he got himself suspended on the heels of Big Ben’s Milledgeville Misadventures, to be the difference maker when it counts, again.
Florio’s pick: Jets 24, Steelers 22.
Rosenthal’s take: The Jets beat the Patriots largely because they dominated the one-on-one matchups on the outside on both sides of the ball. That shouldn’t be the case in Pittsburgh. The young Steelers wide receivers can get deep against New York, especially if Darrelle Revis covers Hines Ward again. (Does Rex Ryan not think Revis can keep up with Mike Wallace? It doesn’t make sense.) I’m picking the Steelers for the same reason I did last week. In a matchup of great defenses, Pittsburgh’s D is better – especially at rushing the passer. Bart Scott talks; the Steelers linebackers make plays. Pittsburgh has the better quarterback and home field advantage. That should be enough.
Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 24, Jets 17.