As Rosenthal continues to pull away in this 17-week race (he added two more games to his lead), I’m possibly getting close to waving the white flag.
But I don’t plan to be a good loser.
So I’ll keep the hanky in my pocket for now, especially since we disagree on two games this week, giving me a chance to make back the ground I lost last Sunday.
Last week, Rosenthal was 11-5, and I was 9-7.
For the season, he’s 99-47. I’m 88-58. And, yes, he has an 11-game lead.
And I now officially hate him.
Jets at Broncos
Florio’s take: The Jets have the ideal defense to shut down the T-bone offense. Whether the Jets are able to get ready on a short week after a deflating loss to the Pats will go a long way toward determining whether the Jets will be able to execute what should be an effective game plan. Doubting the Broncos seems to fuel them, but if a run-heavy offense were truly the key to success in the modern NFL someone would have done it successfully long before 2011.
Florio’s pick: Jets 24, Broncos 10.
Rosenthal’s take: Tim Tebow gets the attention, but this Broncos season turned around when Elvis Dumervil started applying pass pressure along with Von Miller. (Miller should make the Pro Bowl and win defensive rookie of the year.) They probably won’t get a chance to pass rush much Thursday. The Jets will happily run all game because Rex Ryan knows Denver’s offense is limited.
Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Broncos 13.
Bengals at Ravens
Florio’s take: If the Bengals were 3-6, they’d have a good chance to beat the Ravens, since the Ravens overlook the bad teams. Since the Bengals are 6-3, the Ravens will be ready to roll into a tie with the Steelers atop the AFC North.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 21, Bengals 16.
Rosenthal’s take: Andy Dalton impressed me more in the loss to Pittsburgh than most of his wins. He made a number of “NFL” throws and mostly made good decisions against the blitz. Dalton will have to be even better against the Ravens, because Cincinnati’s secondary is ready to spring a leak without Leon Hall.
Rosenthal’s pick: Ravens 27, Bengals 21.
Jaguars at Browns
Florio’s take: For the second straight week, the Browns host a game and there’s a good chance no one beyond Cleveland and the hometown of the visiting team will notice. This one has tie written all over it. But since tie isn’t an option, I’ll give it to the Browns by a field goal in overtime. Assuming the snapper can snap, the holder can hold, and the kicker can kick on the shop floor in that factory of sadness.
Florio’s pick: Browns 13, Jaguars 10.
Rosenthal’s take: Tough choice. The immovable offense (Cleveland) goes up against the irresistible urge to always pick against Blaine Gabbert on the road. These are similarly dreary teams, lucky to be 3-6. Jacksonville has the better running game and defense to overcome their struggling young quarterback.
Rosenthal’s pick: Jaguars 17, Browns 10.
Panthers at Lions
Florio’s take: Detroit has the perfect chance to right the ship after an embarrassing loss in Chicago. But if Ndamukong Suh tries to rip off Cam Newton’s helmet, there’s a good chance that Newton will rip off Suh’s helmet in response. For that reason alone, this one is worth watching.
Florio’s pick: Lions 35, Panthers 27.
Rosenthal’s take: I’m not sure how the Titans stifled Carolina’s running game, but I don’t expect the trend to continue. Detroit has just the overaggressive, soft-against-the-run defense that Cam Newton and company can exploit. Unfortunately, nearly any team can exploit the Panthers defense.
Rosenthal’s pick: Lions 34, Panthers 31.
Buccaneers at Packers
Florio’s take: The Bucs have played twice against 3-4 defenses in 2011. And they’ve been outscored 85-12 by the 49ers and the Texans. The Packers use a 3-4 defense. Uh-oh.
Florio’s pick: Packers 42, Buccaneers 10.
Rosenthal’s take: It’s a bad sign when Albert Haynesworth is trying to rally the troops. The Bucs are a sneakily terrible team because there isn’t one thing they do particularly well. The Packers do one thing better than any squad since the ’07 Patriots: throw the ball. That’s more than enough against an imploding Bucs defense.
Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 38, Bucs 14.
Bills at Dolphins
Florio’s take: With their first home victory since December 2009, could Miami win a second straight game at Sun Life Stadium? A few weeks ago, beating the Bills would have been unthinkable. Now that the Bills are bumbling a bit, the Fins could have a chance. If the Bills can’t right the ship after getting blown out by the Cowboys, the Bills will have no chance to get to the postseason.
Florio’s pick: Bills 28, Dolphins 24.
Rosenthal’s take: This is a massive game for the Bills, who can’t afford to lose in Miami after consecutive blowout defeats to the Ryan brothers. Buffalo gets the Dolphins at the wrong time. Matt Moore has settled down. The offensive line is playing much better. Brandon Marshall has gone beast mode, and Karlos Dansby has played himself into shape. Andrew Luck is far in the rearview mirror now.
Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 23, Bills 20.
Raiders at Vikings
Florio’s take: In a rematch of Super Bowl XI, it feels like the team that hasn’t been back in 35 years will need at least another 35 years before it will return. With Carson Palmer getting comfortable and Antoine Winfield done and the Vikings close to giving up, this one could get ugly.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 35, Vikings 21.
Rosenthal’s take: Don’t be surprised if the Raiders have a two-game division lead after this week. The Vikings don’t have the passing attack to take advantage of Oakland’s biggest weakness – the secondary. Carson Palmer has the arm strength and weapons to score on the league’s 31st-ranked defense in points allowed.
Rosenthal’s pick: Raiders 30, Vikings 24.
Cowboys at Redskins
Florio’s take: Even though the Cowboys are making a move to the top of the division and the Redskins are sliding into irrelevance, the records get thrown out the window whenever these two get together. Except this time. The Redskins are falling apart, and no amount of hatred of the Cowboys should make a difference.
Florio’s pick: Cowboys 28, Redskins 14.
Rosenthal’s take: Everything is looking up in Dallas. DeMarco Murray completes an offense that has started connecting on vertical passes again. The Cowboys defense has consistently been good all year, Eagles loss aside. This is usually a game the Cowboys blow, but these dreadful Redskins are beyond redemption. I’d stake my reputation on it.
Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 27, Redskins 17.
Cardinals at 49ers
Florio’s take: For any other team, like the one coached by Jim Harbaugh’s brother, this would be a trap game. For the 49ers, the team walking into the trap is the Cardinals.
Florio’s pick: 49ers 24, Cardinals 13.
Rosenthal’s take: Let’s not get carried away with John Skelton hype; the Cardinals are winning because their defense woke up. Skelton had a ton of mistakes and missed throws against Philly. Arizona’s defense gave Skelton 15 drives to work with. Two of Skelton’s biggest plays came after balls tipped by Eagles defenders. The luck runs out in San Francisco.
Rosenthal’s pick: 49ers 20, Cardinals 11.
Seahawks at Rams
Florio’s take: Last year’s top two teams from the NFC West get together for the first time since last year’s Week 17 elimination game for a game that is largely meaningless. OK, it’s completely meaningless. Except for Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, who needs more wins in order to have a shot a returning next year.
Florio’s pick: Rams 20, Seahawks 17.
Rosenthal’s take: The nicest thing I can say about this game: I’d rather watch it than Jaguars-Browns. If you miss it, don’t worry. ESPN has the huge rematch on Monday night in three weeks.
Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 16, Seahawks 14.
Titans at Falcons
Florio’s take: Last week, the Titans played on the road against an NFC South team. This week’s NFC South team is slightly better. And slightly more desperate.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 31, Titans 20.
Rosenthal’s take: Tennessee is the worst 5-4 team in the league. I mean that as a compliment to coach Mike Munchak. The offense lacks playmakers. Cortland Finnegan is the only defensive player headed to the Pro Bowl. The schedule gets tougher from here and the Titans don’t have enough firepower to beat good teams on the road.
Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 24, Titans 16.
Chargers at Bears
Florio’s take: The Bears are peaking at the right time. The Chargers are bottoming out at the wrong time. Regardless of whether the Chargers kick to Devin Hester, they’ll likely be heading home with the Bears’ collective boot in their behind.
Florio’s pick: Bears 34, Chargers 20.
Rosenthal’s take: It’s taken two months for everyone to realize the Chargers just aren’t very good. In nine weeks, they don’t have one truly impressive game. The defense has fallen apart faster than Florio’s PFT Picks record. [Editor's note: We will soon be hiring a new writer.] It’s also taken people a while to realize the Bears are legit. Their offensive line injuries won’t matter against San Diego’s poor pass rush.
Rosenthal’s pick: Bears 30, Chargers 20.
Eagles at Giants
Florio’s take: The playoffs start for the Eagles on Sunday night. And the playoffs end for the Eagles on Sunday night.
Florio’s pick: Giants 28, Eagles 17.
Rosenthal’s take: This game looked a lot better two weeks ago. You could make the argument the Eagles are still alive because a win here puts them two games back in the NFC East. That argument assumes the Eagles can beat teams like Arizona, much less the Patriots who arrive in Philly next week. The Giants will put a nail in Philly’s coffin before the Patriots get there.
Rosenthal’s pick: Giants 28, Eagles 20.
Chiefs at Patriots
Florio’s take: Scott Pioli makes his return to New England. Both he and the Patriots would likely be better off if he stays.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 38, Chiefs 13.
Rosenthal’s take: This game also looked a lot better two weeks ago. The Chiefs were on top of the AFC West. Now they are the team that scored scored 13 combined points at home against Miami and Denver, then lost their starting quarterback. A UFL team wouldn’t have cut Tyler Palko if he were still better than Joe Flacco.
Rosenthal’s pick: Patriots 31, Chiefs 14.