We’ve already listed our picks for the Thanksgiving games. And now it’s time to empty the tank for the rest of the games.
Let’s see if Rosenthal can hold me off.
This week should be interesting. We disagree on six games, and we actually predicted the exact same score for one of the biggest games of the week.
UPDATE: The “Read More” link isn’t showing up in the Rumor Mill. If you’re seeing this in the Rumor Mill, click on “Permalink” to get the full list of picks.
Vikings at Redskins
Florio’s take: The Leslie Frazier era begins in Minnesota. Most assume that a new coach will cure what ails the Vikings. Over the long haul, it’s unclear whether it will work. For one week at least, look for the departure of Brad Childress to allow the Vikings to focus on doing their job and salvaging some pride.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 24, Redskins 16.
Rosenthal’s take: I’m not picking the Vikings because of the Jason Garrett effect. (Or the Leslie Frazier effect in this case.) This theory supposes that Minnesota’s veterans will suddenly start trying with Herr Childress gone, showing the old boss what a bum he was. I’m picking the Vikings because it’s just wrong for this Redskins team to hit 6-5 and Washington is more banged up than ever.
Rosenthal’s pick: Vikings 22, Redskins 16.
Titans at Texans
Florio’s take: The Titans return to Houston without a certain Houston native at quarterback. Both teams are disintegrating, but the Texans have enough to outscore a team with a quarterback depth chart that currently consists of Rusty Smith and Chris Simms.
Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Titans 17.
Rosenthal’s take: Rusty Smith picked a good week to make his first NFL start. Houston’s defense is an epic disaster and Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger knows how to make chicken salad out of rookie quarterbacks. Jeff Fisher’s teams are historically at their best when things look bleak.
Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 20, Texans 16.
Jaguars at Giants
Florio’s take: The Jags have embarked on an unlikely winning streak, and the Giants have slumped after winning five in a row. Despite a dearth of receivers, the Giants have the defense to keep it close and the offense to outscore the Jags.
Florio’s pick: Giants 17, Jaguars 10.
Rosenthal’s take: It wasn’t that long ago when the Jaguars lost 30-3 and 42-20 in successive weeks. Jaguars fans wanted Jack Del Rio out and Trent Edwards at quarterback. Three wins later, the Jaguars are in first place. Respect from the football populace remains one win away. The Giants are badly banged up, yet they are 7.5-point favorites against another 6-4 team. Take the points and take the over on the Giants defense recording three sacks.
Rosenthal’s pick: Giants 23, Jaguars 20.
Panthers at Browns
Florio’s take: The Browns currently are good enough to play with anyone. The Panthers currently are bad enough to play with no one. And John Fox crosses another day off his calendar.
Florio’s pick: Browns 28, Panthers 16.
Rosenthal’s take: Colt McCoy has been a terrific story, but some time off won’t crush the Browns if their offensive line regains their form after an off week in Jacksonville. Seneca Wallace or the $7 million man Jake Delhomme can get it done. Cleveland shouldn’t need much offense, regardless of whether John Fox trots out Jimmy Clausen, Brian St. Pierre, or Rodney Peete.
Rosenthal’s pick: Browns 21, Panthers 16.
Steelers at Bills
Florio’s take: The Steelers got it all together at home against the Raiders, prompting many to assume that the Steelers are back. But the Bills have been playing well for the last five weeks, and they unleashed an epic explosion on the Bengals in the second half of Sunday’s 49-31 win. It’s tempting to go with the upset here, especially since Bills coach Chan Gailey may derive an extra little boost from the prospect of facing one of his former teams.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 27, Bills 14.
Rosenthal’s take: The Bills are 2-3 since their bye week, with the three losses coming by a combined nine points. (All to winning teams.) In this up-and-down year, Buffalo is as consistent lately as any team. Mike Tomlin admits the Steelers are an emotional squad, prone to big ups and downs. This could be a dangerous game for the Steelers, coming off the high of last week’s blowout win.
Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 27, Bills 26.
Packers at Falcons
Florio’s take: The Falcons have been unbeatable at home, and the Packers have been dominant. On Sunday, something has to give. Given that the Falcons (with the benefit of a pass interference penalty that wasn’t called) managed to beat the Ravens, a better overall team than the Packers, we’ll defer to the home team in a game that could go a long way toward determining where the possible postseason rematch will occur.
Florio’s pick: Falcons 28, Packers 27.
Rosenthal’s take: The battle of who can make fewer mistakes. The Falcons have committed the fewest penalties in football, while the Packers have only eight penalties during their four-game winning streak. Atlanta hasn’t committed a turnover in three games and has a +10 turnover margin. The Packers are +8. We should expect a well-played, one-score game because every Falcons home game is close. Edge goes to the more explosive passing attack. This game is too good to be at 1 p.m. ET.
Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 27, Falcons 24.
Chiefs at Seahawks
Florio’s take: Two teams that enjoy significant home-field advantages, and that hold the lead in the worst two divisions in football, get together in Seattle, where the Seahawks have the edge. Of course, they had the edge against the Giants a couple of weeks ago. Of course, the Chiefs aren’t the Giants.
Florio’s pick: Seahawks 21, Chiefs 17.
Rosenthal’s take: A weird game that means a lot. Even one win against a quality team could get Seattle to eight wins and a division title. The Chiefs, meanwhile, need at least one or two more road wins to finish atop the AFC West. (The last Chiefs road win was in Week Two.) The difference here will be on the ground. Seattle’s banged up defensive line can’t handle Jamaal Charles.
Rosenthal’s pick: Chiefs 28, Seahawks 21.
Dolphins at Raiders
Florio’s take: This one conjures memories of that epic 1974 playoff game that ended Miami’s run of two straight Super Bowl wins. The only difference? Neither team is as good as they were 36 years ago. Both come off of embarrassing showings, but the Raiders have a little more right now than the Dolphins.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 24, Dolphins 20.
Rosenthal’s take: The Raiders have responded well to embarrassment this year, rebounding from their ugliest losses (Tennessee, San Francisco) with wins. Miami has similarly bounced back from their worst moments to find life. Something has to give here. Even if Tyler Thigpen plays, I stubbornly believe the Dolphins are a better team than their pathetic showing against the Bears indicated.
Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 19, Raiders 17.
Rams at Broncos
Florio’s take: The Broncos rediscovered their home-field advantage in Week 10, with a 20-point shellacking of the Chiefs. But then the Broncos rediscovered their stink against the Chargers. The Rams remain very much alive to win the division, and winning only at home won’t be enough to get it done.
Florio’s pick: Rams 28, Broncos 27.
Rosenthal’s take: Sam Bradford is promising, but this Rams offense is still very poor. They are 30th in points. Only the Panthers are less efficient through the air. While the Rams’ pass rush is impressive, the secondary has sprung leaks in recent weeks. The Rams haven’t won a road game all year and now have three straight away from St. Louis. This game will show have far the team has to go.
Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 31, Rams 24.
Eagles at Bears
Florio’s take: I’ve been down on the Bears all year, and now it’s time to make amends. With Mike Vick on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week and the Bears surely sick of hearing about Vick, a rested and motivated and overachieving Bears team will use the Giants’ defensive game plan as a launching point for their own attempt to confuse and confound Vick. Though the Eagles likely will still make the playoffs and Vick will remain an unlikely MVP candidate, Philly won’t be running the table — and the Bears will take full advantage of their chance to enter the ranks of the NFC’s elite.
Florio’s pick: Bears 24, Eagles 20.
Rosenthal’s take: The Bears defense is legitimately great. They could give Michael Vick even more problems than the Giants did. The problem here is that the Eagles are balanced. They can win games with their offense or defense, through the air or on the ground. Raise your hand if you think Jay Cutler can hold up against a pressure-based, quality defense at this point. (OK, put it down Shanahan. You look ridiculous.)
Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 20, Bears 14.
Buccaneers at Ravens
Florio’s take: I really want to take the Bucs. I really want to take the Bucs. I really want to take the Bucs. I don’t have the nerve to take the Bucs. Yet.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Buccaneers 17.
Rosenthal’s take: Mike Mayock likes to compare Josh Freeman to Joe Flacco. I agree they’re similar, but Freeman is three years younger and may already be better. Flacco has the better supporting cast, though. The combined record of the seven teams Tampa has beaten: 17-53. The combined record of the three teams Tampa lost to: 22-8.
Rosenthal’s pick: Ravens 30, Bucs 24.
Chargers at Colts
Florio’s take: The Chargers match up really well with the Colts, winning four of the last five meetings. But for their playoff meetings, the stakes have never been higher for the Colts, given that a loss would drop them to 6-5 and put them at serious risk of ending their eight-year streak of 10-win seasons and playoff appearances. The spirit of Peyton Manning is willing, but the flesh of his teammates is weak. And the Chargers once again are red hot.
Florio’s pick: Chargers 34, Colts 30.
Rosenthal’s take: These two teams haven’t played each other at Indianapolis since Billy Volek helped finish off the Colts in the 2007 Divisional Round playoffs. The Chargers match up well because of their physical offensive line. San Diego also has the secondary to slow Peyton Manning down. Put this one on Philip Rivers’ MVP resume.
Rosenthal’s pick: Chargers 34, Colts 30.
49ers at Cardinals
Florio’s take: Monday night will be a perfect time to break out the Christmas tree, because the dog will be urinating on the television instead.
Florio’s pick: Cardinals 24, 49ers 13.
Rosenthal’s take: If nothing else, this game will finally knock one dreadful NFC West team out of realistic playoff contention. The winner here, on the other hand, may only be one game out of first. I desperately want to pick both teams to lose, but Florio won’t allow that. The 49ers will either stay winless on the road or I’ll stay winless picking the Cardinals to win.
Rosenthal’s pick: Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.