Last week, Rosenthal and I disagreed on two games. After the Steelers took down the Titans, the only thing standing between our won-loss record to date was the 49ers. And when San Fran obliterated the Bucs, Rosenthal reclaimed his two-game lead.
This week, we disagree on four games. So I could close the gap, I could take the lead, or I could fall down and be unable to get up.
Why do I have a feeling it’ll be another wash?
We both were 9-4 last week. For the year, he’s 52-30 and I’m 50-32.
Panthers at Falcons
Florio’s take: The Panthers keep getting close, but they can’t close the deal. They’ve been competitive in every game they’ve played, losing twice by seven, once by five, and once by three. The Falcons currently are demoralized, with yet another loss to the Packers and a hamstring injury to rookie wideout Julio Jones. The Panthers are getting the Falcons are just the right time, and there simply may be nothing that the Falcons can do about it. Let’s get this picks party started with an upset.
Florio’s pick: Panthers 27, Falcons 23.
Rosenthal’s take: Dangerous game for Atlanta. Their season could easily slip from disappointing to disastrous. Cam Newton continues to shine, but Ron Rivera’s defense is one of the worst in the league. If you combined the 2011 Panthers offense with the 2010 Panthers defense, Carolina wouldn’t be bad.
Rosenthal’s pick: Atlanta 28, Carolina 24.
Colts at Bengals
Florio’s take: The Bengals haven’t beaten the Colts since 1997, the year before Peyton Manning entered the NFL. This time around, Peyton is gone. And the Colts are 0-5. And owner Jim Irsay is openly talking about drafting Andrew Luck. And the Bengals are better than anyone realizes.
Florio’s pick: Bengals 28, Colts 20.
Rosenthal’s take: The impressive Bengals defense hasn’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of quarterbacks. They flummoxed Colt McCoy, Kyle Orton, Alex Smith, and Blaine Gabbert. Of course, they also forced Ryan Fitzpatrick to have his worst game of the season. That was a long way of saying the Bengals are ready for Curtis Painter. Join me on the Bengals bandwagon, won’t you?
Rosenthal’s pick: Bengals 20, Colts 13.
49ers at Lions
Florio’s take: It’s the biggest game between these two teams since the 1957 playoffs. That time, the Lions beat the 49ers in San Francisco. This time, they get together in Detroit. After last week’s decimation of the Buccaneers, it’s hard to pick against the 49ers. But this season is all about exorcising demons in Detroit, and the Lions have lost seven straight to San Fran, and the Lions are 2-14 in the last 16 games against the 49ers.
Florio’s pick: Lions 27, 49ers 21.
Rosenthal’s take: Tackle Joe Staley said two weeks that the 49ers offensive line didn’t suck. He’s been proven right, and now they can make a statement by holding up against Detroit’s deep defensive line. The 49ers defense also doesn’t suck. It’s the best group Matthew Stafford and friends have faced all year.
Rosenthal’s pick: 49ers 23, Lions 20.
Rams at Packers
Florio’s take: My barber/toupee adjuster is a big fan of correction weekends in the NFL, whispering “grassy knoll” whenever he thinks that the league has decided it’s time for a team with a great record to fall to a team with a bad record. Even if there’s truly a conspiracy to give the Packers a loss and the Rams a win (and there isn’t), the Packers are still good enough to overcome it.
Florio’s pick: Packers 31, Rams 10.
Rosenthal’s take: The Rams will probably make longtime Packers cornerback Al Harris a captain on Sunday. If Aaron Rodgers wins the coin toss, he should announce in Harris’ honor that the Packers “want the ball and we’re going to score.” Harris won’t get any game-winning interceptions this time.
Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 42, Rams 17.
Bills at Giants
Florio’s take: It’s a Super Bowl XXV rematch, 21 years later. Despite losing that one, the Bills haven’t lost as the road team in this series since 1970, winning three straight. With four interceptions of Tom Brady and Mike Vick, Eli Manning could be the next victim of Buffalo’s ball-hawking defense.
Florio’s pick: Bills 30, Giants 27.
Rosenthal’s take: I kicked myself for not picking the Bills last week, so I may as well screw up again. Buffalo’s air show didn’t travel well to Cincinnati, and they will face a Giants team salty after an embarrassing loss. Buffalo’s injuries have started to stockpile.
Rosenthal’s pick: Giants 30, Bills 27.
Jaguars at Steelers
Florio’s take: This used to be one of the great rivalries in the AFC. (Key words: “used to be.”) The Steelers, though flawed, know how to get it done at home. The Jaguars, also flawed, don’t know how to get it done at home or on the road. Jacksonville actually leads the all-time series 12-9. Let’s make it 12-10.
Florio’s pick: Steelers 31, Jaguars 17.
Rosenthal’s take: Jack Del Rio says his defense is playing well, and anyone that says otherwise has an agenda. Fair enough. The Jaguars defense still needs to be better to survive starting Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. A ton of resources have been spent on the defense. It’s good, not great.
Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 26, Jaguars 10.
Eagles at Redskins
Florio’s take: When the Eagles traveled to Washington last year, Mike Vick had a game for the ages. And that performance now seems like ages ago. Every week, the Eagles are backed against the wall and, every week, they fail to deliver. The Redskins have a great opportunity to settle the score — and to cement their grip on a once-dominant division that’s now in a down cycle.
Florio’s pick: Redskins 27, Eagles 23.
Rosenthal’s take: In theory, this should be Jim Haslett’s salvation game. The Redskins defensive coordinator can watch his vastly improved group force Michael Vick into mistakes. Unfortunately for Haslett, Rex Grossman will make more mistakes. That will make it Juan Castillo’s salvation game.
Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 28, Redskins 24.
Texans at Ravens
Florio’s take: The Ravens are too strong on both sides of the ball for a Houston team that has blown its shot at a 5-0 start — and that now faces a struggle to win the division without linebacker Mario Williams for the rest of the season and receiver Andre Johnson until further notice.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 30, Texans 13.
Rosenthal’s take: Fun game. The Ravens versus the Texans offensive line is as good as it gets. Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Baltimore’s Lararius Webb are both playing like Pro Bowlers. Ray Rice running against a vastly improved Texans rush defense will be interesting. Give the edge to Baltimore overall, and don’t be surprised if we see a rematch in the playoffs.
Rosenthal’s pick: Ravens 27, Texans 24.
Browns at Raiders
Florio’s take: The first home game since the passing of Al Davis won’t go well for the team that faces the Raiders, whoever that team may be. Sorry, Cleveland. The wave of emotion may not carry the Raiders through the next 11 games, but it will at least get them through the next one.
Florio’s pick: Raiders 28, Browns 18.
Rosenthal’s take: The Raiders host the Browns, Chiefs, and Broncos the next three weeks. The old Raiders would find a way to blow one or two of those games. Cleveland’s underrated pass rush could pose a problem, but I think this Raiders team is too consistent to lose to a bad team at home. Don’t let me down, Raider Nation.
Rosenthal’s pick: Raiders 24, Browns 17.
Cowboys at Patriots
Florio’s take: The Cowboys are getting healthy just in time to face their stiffest challenge of the year. The Patriots are riding a 19-game regular-season winning streak at home, and the Cowboys simply aren’t ready to blow a lead or choke in the clutch against a team as good as the Patriots.
Florio’s pick: Patriots 34, Cowboys 20.
Rosenthal’s take: Tom Brady got his revenge on Rex Ryan last week. Now Brady tries to get Rob Ryan back for the beatdown the Browns put on the Patriots last year. The Patriots defense gives up a ton of yards, but they have played well in the red zone and forced timely turnovers. Translation: Expect to see “Bad Tony” at some point.
Rosenthal’s pick: Patriots 34, Cowboys 24.
Saints at Buccaneers
Florio’s take: Yes, the Bucs have beaten the Saints three of the last six times the two teams have met. But Tampa’s team is feeling a little shell-shocked after getting shellacked in San Fran, and the Saints realize that, if the Lions can overcome the Packers in the NFC North, the Autobahn to Indy can still wind through the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. If, that is, the Saints can keep winning.
Florio’s pick: Saints 31, Buccaneers 21.
Rosenthal’s take: The Bucs don’t have the type of roster yet where they can withstand injuries to key players. Their defensive line will miss Gerald McCoy, and their running game needs LeGarrette Blount. The deep Saints offense can withstand injuries, but all their skill players are all healthy at the same time for once. Tampa can’t match up.
Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 30, Bucs 21.
Vikings at Bears
Florio’s take: The Bears seem to be coming apart at the seams, specifically along the offensive line. Unlike last year, the blocking isn’t getting any better as the year progresses, and the Vikings have the same kind of punch along the defensive line that the Lions unleashed on Monday night. This one feels like it’ll be decided by a late Ryan Longwell field goal coming after a Jared Allen strip sack.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 20, Bears 17.
Rosenthal’s take: This is Jared Allen’s chance to let America know about his incredible season. Forget breaking the single-season sack record by the end of the year. Allen could break it during this game.
Rosenthal’s pick: Vikings 24, Bears 21.
Dolphins at Jets
Florio’s take: The Dolphins have beaten the Jets twice in New York under Rex Ryan, but both games were more than a tad flukey. This time, the Jets are desperate and desperation should be enough to ensure a win, especially since Miami is breaking in Matt Moore at quarterback, with Sage Rosenfels waiting in the wings. Though one game won’t address flaws that run deep on the roster, the Jets won’t have to worry about waking up to a 2-4 record on Tuesday morning.
Florio’s pick: Jets 28, Dolphins 16.
Rosenthal’s take: The last time Miami visited the Jets, New York’s offense was in a mini-crisis. Mark Sanchez’s development was questioned. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was taking criticism. Sound familiar? Miami won that game, but Miami had a defense last year.
Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Dolphins 14.