— [Editor's note: Each week, Rosenthal and I will go head to head, picking the winner of each game. The guy who does worse each week gets to be the one to copy and paste together the text the next week. Despite trouncing Rosenthal last year when we divided the games each week, I somehow got stuck packaging up the first set of picks while he drank tequila with Alex Marvez on Bourbon Street. Let's hope they kept their shirts on.]
Florio's take: Sure, the Rams won only one game last year. Yeah, they'll be lucky to win more than four in 2010. OK, the Rams haven't beaten the team that used to play in St. Louis in St. Louis since 2004. But it's a new era for the Rams, with the passing game possibly waking up while the running game still has Steven Jackson, and coach Steve Spagnuolo using his defensive background to tinker with the other side of the ball. The Cardinals are moving the wrong way, with key player departures, a still-shaky running game, and real concerns at quarterback.
Florio's pick: Rams 17, Cardinals 10.
Rosenthal's take: This is oddly a big game for Arizona. To scrape out nine wins, they can't split with the Rams. It's also a big game for the Rams. If they can't win at home in their crappy division, they aren't going to win and Rams fan disinterest will reach new lows, Sam Bradford or not. I have a lot more faith in Ken Whisenhunt, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adrian Wilson, Darnell Dockett, and Larry Fitzgerald than most. This is still a solid Cardinals team. (Notice how I left out Derek Anderson.)
Rosenthal's pick: Cardinals 27, Rams 20.
Florio's take: Eagles coach Andy Reid surely would have preferred to launch the post-Donovan McNabb era with a game against a slightly less formidable opponent. In last year's home opener, Kevin Kolb got his first career start against a potent Saints team that came to Philly and scored nearly "fitty". Though the Eagles ultimately could turn it around and get to the playoffs like they did last year, it could be another long day for Reid and company against one of the best teams in the conference.
Florio's pick: Packers 38, Eagles 21.
Rosenthal's take: I just picked the Packers to win the Super Bowl, yet I'm not remotely confident they will win this game. Eagles should remain a very tough out at home, and Andy Reid hasn't suddenly lost his playcalling ability because of a slow preseason. My big question: Philly's pass rush. Will Brandon Graham and a rebuilt linebacker group make a difference? Since "stay away" isn't an option to pick here, I'll say no.
Rosenthal's pick: Packers 34, Eagles 31.
Florio's take: New Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will find out very quickly that the talent gap isn't nearly as big as it was when he was coaching one of the best teams at the college level -- and that he's now on the wrong side of it. If the 49ers are going to end up being one of the worst teams to ever earn a playoff bye, they need to take care of business in the worst division in the conference.
Florio's pick: 49ers 20, Seahawks 13.
Rosenthal's take: Logic says the beleaguered Seahawks offensive line can't block anyone, much less a strong 49ers defense. Logic also says Seahawks reclamation project Mike Williams should have turned into a pumpkin a a month ago. But logic doesn't apply here. The Seahawks may not be any good this year, but they have made positive steps in the leadership of their franchise. Pete Carroll can "win forever" if he only plays home openers against so-so opponents.
Rosenthal's pick: Seahawks 20, 49ers 17.
Florio's take: The Cowboys went 2-0 last year against the Redskins and 3-0 against the team for which their new quarterback played. Though Dallas was sluggish in the preseason, they'll get it together in time to rudely welcome a hobbled Donovan McNabb to D.C.
Florio's pick: Cowboys 30, Redskins 17.
Rosenthal's take: The Cowboys struggled in the preseason, but they are everything the Redskins aren't on offense; explosive, experienced in their system, and battle tested. It's strange to think of the Cowboys as the smart, veteran team. But they fit the bill here, even if they aren't yet at their best.
Rosenthal's pick: Cowboys 20, Redskins 16.
Florio's take: The Rex Ryan aim-high-and-talk-big experiment gets started Monday night against a Ravens team that finally has a better offense than defense. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh gets the first crack at shutting up a team that has done plenty of boasting despite winning nothing. Unless Darrelle Revis can cover three guys at once, this one is not going to end well for the home team.
Florio's pick: Ravens 24, Jets 16.
Rosenthal's take: Thank you to the Monday Night Football scheduling gods for putting this slobberknocker in Week One. This is going to be sweet and painful. It will be fascinating to see if Mark Sanchez's confidence problems crop up. In theory, this should be a tasty matchup against a broken-down Ravens secondary. But Baltimore knows how to cover up weaknesses and Joe Flacco is visiting Revis Island at the right time.
Rosenthal's pick: Ravens 16, Jets 14.
Florio's take: Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel are reunited for the first time since winning three Super Bowls in four years for a Chiefs team that has a long way to go in order to be competitive -- but that quietly is moving in the right direction. The Chargers have typically started slowly under Norv Turner, barely beating the Raiders in the second game of last year's Week One Monday night doubleheader. The fumes of some offseason contract issues (two of which persist) could make it even harder for San Diego to get the pull the lawnmower cord on the 2010 season. Though they'll likely eventually win the division, I think they'll have to dig out of an 0-1 hole to do it.
Florio's pick: Chiefs 17, Chargers 14.
Rosenthal's take: The Chiefs should be a lot more fun to watch this year, and we expect Charlie Weis to help uncork some big plays in Week One with Jamaal Charles and rookie Dexter McCluster. The Chargers defense, meanwhile, needs to figure out what it can do well. For now, the best thing it can do is let Philip Rivers get the ball back with enough time to score a winning touchdown.
Rosenthal's pick: Chargers 35, Chiefs 34.