— Finally, it's happened.
After two losses, two ties, and another loss, I've finally beaten Rosenthal in the weekly PFT Picks. Last week, I nailed 11 of 14. Rosenthal connected on only nine. For the year, he still leads with a mark of 59-31. I'm at 56-34.
Hey, Three G? Do you hear those footsteps?
Florio's take: With the Falcons licking their wounds after an unexpected pasting in Philly, they get a Bengals team that, while coming off a bye, isn't nearly the same franchise that won the AFC North a year ago. Atlanta remains firmly in the scramble for playoff positioning in the NFC, where no team has lost fewer than two games. If they can't beat the Bengals at home, it'll be hard to stay there.
Florio's pick: Falcons 24, Bengals 13.
Rosenthal's take: How did a team with Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco get so boring? In a year filled with parity, the Bengals may be the most average. They are middle of the pack in almost every aspect on offense and defense. The Falcons have similar balance, but they are a little bit tougher, smarter, and saltier after an embarrassing loss.
Rosenthal's pick: Falcons 21, Bengals 16.
Florio's take: The Dolphins are 3-0 on the road, 0-2 at home. Sure, those losses came against two of the best teams in the league, the Jets and the Patriots. But the Steelers are one of the best teams in the league, too, and they've got the firepower to take down the Fins.
Florio's pick: Steelers 21, Dolphins 13.
Rosenthal's take: Florio has the Jets atop his power rankings. I would have the Steelers there. [Editor's note: Then do your own power rankings.] With that said, I'm curious to see how good this team can be with Ben Roethlisberger. We'll find out the next four weeks with three straight road games (Miami, New Orleans, Cincinnati) before Pittsburgh returns home for New England. The Dolphins are a tough out, but they haven't been able to beat good teams at home.
Rosenthal's pick: Steelers 24, Dolphins 17.
Florio's take: The Ravens are feeling surly after losing a game at New England that the Ravens should have won. The Bills will feel the brunt of it, in a big way.
Florio's pick: Ravens 41, Bills 13.
Rosenthal's take: The Bills will win a game. But it's not going to come against an elite defense coming off a painful loss. Buffalo's offensive line can't protect Ryan Fitzpatrick against Jacksonville, much less the Ravens. It's a week for Baltimore's offense to get happy. Joe Flacco can all the audibles he wants and throw down the field. Even Willis McGahee and T.J. Houshmandzadeh can get a taste of the action.
Rosenthal's pick: Ravens 34, Bills 14.
Florio's take: The Chiefs continue their tour of the AFC South with an inconsistent Jaguars team that has won three games -- but that has lost three games by 25 or more points each. With the Chiefs returning home for the first time in four weeks and needing to stay above .500 in the division Rosenthal accidentally (but perhaps accurately) called the "AFC Waste" during a PFT Daily segment this week, it's time for the Jags to lose one by less than 25 points.
Florio's pick: Chiefs 20, Jaguars 10.
Rosenthal's take: It's not just about who you play; it's when you play them. The Chiefs, returning home after two tough road losses, will face Jacksonville on the week Todd Bouman looks likely to start at quarterback. Not that it would really matter in this one. The Jaguars are the worst 3-3 team in the AFC; I'd take the Chiefs to win by two scores even if David Garrard started.
Rosenthal's pick: Chiefs 24, Jaguars 7.
Florio's take: Colt McCoy, who could eventually be another Drew Brees (or maybe a step or two below), will get his second start against Brees' team. Though the Saints aren't quite what they were last year, the Browns have been struggling. They played the Steelers tough, but they seem destined to enter their bye week at 1-6, even though they'll return to the scene of a thrilling win from their first year back in the league, 11 years ago. That version of the Browns could probably give this one a run for its money.
Florio's pick: Saints 31, Browns 13.
Rosenthal's take: Cardinals quarterback Max Hall got his first NFL win against the Saints. Can Colt McCoy do the same? It won't be easy, with Browns receivers Mohommad Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs still foggy after James Harrison's hits. A bigger issue resides in the Browns secondary. Cleveland invested a lot of resources into improving their pass coverage, with terrible results thus far. The Bowen Brees era will begin with a comfortable Saints win.
Rosenthal's pick: Saints 31, Browns 16.
Florio's take: That 4-1 start made people think the Bears are better than they are. They aren't. The Redskins easily could be much better than 3-3, and coach Mike Shanahan knows enough about Jay Cutler to put guys in position to pick him off a few times, or more. For Shanahan and for Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb, it's also a homecoming game.
Florio's pick: Redskins 28, Bears 20.
Rosenthal's take: "There's a reason why sometimes young linemen look like they don't know what they're doing,'' Bears offensive line coach Tice said this week, "because usually, they don't.'' So which group is worse: Chicago's offensive line or Washington's last-ranked defense? I don't particularly believe in either team here, but the coaching edge goes to the Redskins. Washington hangs around games they shouldn't, and their effort is more consistent.
Rosenthal's pick: Redskins 24, Bears 20.
Florio's take: The 0-5 Panthers still have a few shots at getting a win, but perhaps none better than this one. Coming off a bye with Matt Moore back in at quarterback and receiver Steve Smith likely returning from a high ankle sprain, the Panthers could avoid falling to 0-6. The 49ers, even if they lose, will still be in the hunt for the NFC West title, and their owner may commemorate the defeat by reiterating his vow that the Niners will pull it off.
Florio's pick: Panthers 16, 49ers 10.
Rosenthal's take: The 49ers ruined a chance for this to be a matchup of winless teams. They'll both have one win after Sunday. The Panthers get Steve Smith back at wide receiver and Matt Moore returns as the starting quarterback. Devin Thomas makes his Carolina debut. That this means big improvement for the Panthers passing game is a sad statement as to its former condition, but it gives them a chance to be competent. The 49ers' last-ranked turnover margin will take care of the rest.
Rosenthal's pick: Panthers 19, 49ers 14.
Florio's take: The Rams are coming into their own, but that 38-point loss at Detroit still lingers. They're on the road again, against a Bucs team trying hard to stay in the thick of things in the NFC South. My first hunch was to go with St. Louis, and I'd stick with that hunch if they were playing at home.
Florio's pick: Buccaneers 24, Rams 17.
Rosenthal's take: The Rams are winless on the road; their last road game was a 44-6 loss to Detroit. The Bucs have lost their last two home games by a combined score of 69-19. These teams combine for a 6-5 record. You can call that parity or mediocrity, but it's just a function that some schedules are easier than others. This game is still worth the price of admission to watch two of the most exciting young quarterbacks go to work.
Rosenthal's pick: Bucs 23, Rams 17.
Florio's take: The Titans have been inconsistent, and the Eagles are hitting a groove after knocking off the 4-1 Falcons. If the Broncos were able to take down the Titans in Nashville, the Eagles should be able to swoop in and outscore the Titans.
Florio's pick: Eagles 30, Titans 20.
Rosenthal's take: I'm on the Titans bandwagon. The Titans own a defense greater than the sum of its parts, and an offense with underrated parts (Michael Roos, either quarterback, Kenny Britt.) Tennessee has a nasty group up front on both sides of the ball, which will give Philly problems. Maybe I'm on the bandwagon because I took them to win the AFC South. All right, it's definitely because I took them to win the AFC South.
Rosenthal's pick: Titans 26, Eagles 21.
Florio's take: The Seahawks pulled off a big win on the road (for once), which makes them only more dangerous at home. The Cardinals have lost only two games -- by more than 30 points each. Get ready for another one that could come close.
Florio's pick: Seahawks 35, Cardinals 17.
Rosenthal's take: The Cardinals are 3-2, but have reason to believe they'll improve. They may get back receivers Steve Breason and Early Doucet from injury this week. Max Hall can only improve on Derek Anderson's performance. Seattle has played excellent at home, and they are starting to figure things out on offense with a young receiver group and a settled running back rotation. Six points is too high a spread, but we'll give Seattle the slight edge because of Qwest Field and their excellent special teams unit.
Rosenthal's pick: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 17.
Florio's take: The Chargers are sputtering and the Pats are soaring. Though the Chargers may indeed pull off a sellout, the fans won't be too pleased with what they see from an injury-riddled home team that shoots itself in the foot even when the squad is healthy.
Florio's pick: Patriots 28, Chargers 13.
Rosenthal's take: The Chargers are first in the NFL in yards on offense and defense, yet they are 2-4. They've mostly failed because of special teams and turnovers, but their pass protection fell apart in St. Louis and their receivers are banged up. The Patriots are a decent matchup for them. New England doesn't have the playmakers on defense to hurry Philip Rivers or the secondary to cover who suits up.
Rosenthal's pick: Chargers 30, Patriots 27.
Florio's take: Amazingly, these two old-school rivals are both 2-4. The Broncos have the "feel" of a better team, and they battled the Jets down to the wire. That should give them the boost they need to win the games they should, pushing Oakland coach Tom Cable even closer to being nudged out the door.
Florio's pick: Broncos 34, Raiders 19.
Rosenthal's take: For a 2-4 team, the Broncos own some impressive results. They have a blowout win (Seattle), and a tough win on the road (Tennessee). They outplayed the Colts and Jets in Denver, but red zone woes and turnovers led to losses. As Wade Phillips might say, the Broncos are a better 2-4 team than other 2-4 teams. Like the Raiders, for instance.
Rosenthal's pick: Broncos 30, Raiders 20.
Florio's take: Earlier this year, it appeared that the Packers easily would roll over the Vikings, twice. Since then, the Vikings haven't got a lot better, but the Packer have gotten a lot worse. No running game, a rash of injuries, and an inability to win close games (each loss came by three points) swings the pendulum back toward the Vikings, who find themselves very much alive for a division title and even a bye week in the playoffs if they can finally turn on the offense.
Florio's pick: Vikings 30, Packers 21.
Rosenthal's take: Five games in, we're still waiting for the Vikings passing attack to improve. Randy Moss hasn't helped much. Brett Favre doesn't rank in the top 20 quarterbacks in completion percentage, yards, yards-per-attempt, or quarterback rating. While Green Bay is banged up, their passing attack remains the best unit in this game. And the difference between Minnesota and Green Bay's defense isn't as great as you think.
Rosenthal's pick: Packers 26, Vikings 17.
Florio's take: Last year, the Giants swept the Cowboys. Including the 2007 playoffs, the Giants have beaten Dallas four out of five times. The Cowboys know it. More importantly, they know they've lost four out of five games this year, and the 4-2 Giants are due for a correction.
Florio's pick: Cowboys 27, Giants 17.
Rosenthal's take: Wade Phillips says the Cowboys are the best 1-4 team in the league, which nicely sums up his coaching tenure in Dallas. He only sees the positives about the Cowboys, and expects all the sloppy mistakes (penalties and turnovers) to simply go away. Unfortunately, I'm turning into the Wade Phillips of PFT picks. I continue to blindly take Dallas, when the results (and New York's D-line play) suggest it's not logical.
Rosenthal's pick: Cowboys 23, Giants 20.