— After edging Rosenthal by one this past weekend, he’s leading me by only one.
Last week, I was 11-5 and Rosenthal was 10-6. For the year, he’s 103-57 and I’m 102-58.
*Note*: We're taking out the games in progress so you can see the predictions for the late games. You can thank us later.
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.