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Week Eight picks

The inability of referee Scott Green to properly apply the supposedly clear rule regarding going to the ground when making a catch not only cost the Vikings a win. It also prevented me from extending to two my streak of victories over Rosenthal.

Yes, he beat me by one game in Week Seven, and the difference was the outcome of the Vikings-Packers game.

For the week, Rosenthal got 10 right and four wrong. I was 9-5.

For the year, Rosenthal is 69-35. I’m 65-39.

And though it pains me to type this (in part because I’ll never hear the end of it from him), Rosenthal currently has a better showing than all of the ESPN “experts,” including the Accuscore projections and the fan-based picks.

Maybe he should apply for a job there. They probably need someone with a sturdy shine box.

Broncos vs. 49ers in London

Florio’s take: When the league picked this game to be the 2010 English export, it didn’t look like a bad choice. The 49ers were viewed as the favorite to win the NFC West, and the Broncos were regarded as a middle-of-the-road team with the potential to improve. Seven weeks into the season, the 49ers have only one win and the Broncos have two. The decision to thrust quarterback Troy Smith into the starting lineup smacks of the desperation coach Mike Singletary surely is feeling, and even though Denver lost to one Bay Area team by 45 in Week Seven, Week Eight likely will bring a seventh loss for the Niners.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 30, 49ers 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The NFL should send teams to London earlier in the season, before they show how bad they really are. The depleted Broncos defense gets worse every week, and the 49ers defense just made Matt Moore look like, well, Matt Moore from 2009. This is a crossroads/gut check/insert cliché game for both coaches. I trust Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton far more than Mike Singletary and Troy Smith.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 31, 49ers 21.

Jaguars at Cowboys

Florio’s take: Four prior games between these two teams have been decided by seven points or less. Continuation of that trend would help Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, even if the Jags lose. One more 20-plus-point blowout (the Jaguars already have suffered four) could get Del Rio fired. The return of David Garrard and the departure of Tony Romo could help, but probably not enough. But at least the Jags will possibly lose by less than 20.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Jaguars 17.

Rosenthal’s take: Jon Kitna versus the Jaguars secondary. The immobile quarterback versus the force that provides no resistance. If I was a betting man, I’d stay far away from this one because both teams are about as trustworthy as Florio’s hairpiece. At least the Jaguars seem like they care.

Rosenthal’s pick: Jaguars 20, Cowboys 16.

Dolphins at Bengals

Florio’s take: From 1978 through 2000, the Dolphins won nine straight games over the Bengals. Cincinnati has won the last two, but they haven’t played since Bill Parcells put his thumbprint on the Dolphins. More importantly, the game won’t be played in Miami, where the Fins are 0-3. Though the Bengals found some punch on offense against the Falcons, the Dolphins are more talented, more desperate, and (after believing they got screwed against the Steelers) more feisty.

Florio’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bengals 16.

Rosenthal’s take: Chad Henne has quietly improved all season, and he should do well against a Bengals secondary without Adam Jones and possibly Johnathan Joseph. Carson Palmer is also playing better, but it seems to take a 21-point deficit to warm him up. The Bengals defense is providing too many chances for failed comeback attempts.

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 24, Bengals 21.

Bills at Chiefs

Florio’s take: Some (I’m looking at you, Rosenthal) think that Bills coach Chan Gailey has something up his sleeve for his most recent former team. Pointing to an unlikely strong showing by Buffalo’s offense against a complacent Ravens defense, Rosey thinks the Bills can give the Chiefs a run for their money. Let’s see if Rosey puts his money where his mouth is. Arrowhead Stadium has been a-rockin'; Gailey and his team would be wise to not go a-knockin’.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 31, Bills 14.

Rosenthal’s take: I’m not sure people have really wrapped their mind around the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Bills racked up 514 yards on the Ravens. 514! The Harvard product is a joy to watch, with decisive, difficult throws often into tight windows. He’s a great runner and seems to like contact. And he has a red beard. The Bills will keep losing most weeks because their defense is an embarrassment, but at least they’ll be fun to watch.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chiefs 34, Bills 31.

Redskins at Lions

Florio’s take: For the third straight year, these two franchises meet in Detroit. In 2008, the Redskins kept the Lions winless by only eight points. In 2009, the Lions ended a 19-game losing streak with a win over the ‘Skins. Assuming Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, back after suffering a shoulder injury in Week One, won’t throw four passes to DeAngelo Hall, the rested, ready, and confident (perhaps delusional) Lions should be able to get it done. Last week’s meltdown by the Chicago offense concealed the fact that the Washington offense isn’t dramatically better, and the Lions look to be in line for their second win of the year.

Florio’s pick: Lions 20, Redskins 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Signs the Lions have come a long way: (1) they are still talking playoffs after a 1-5 start and it doesn’t seem completely insane; (2) they’ve outscored their opponents this year (thanks Rams!); (3) they are favored against a 4-3 Redskins team and I’d still give the points.

Rosenthal’s pick: Lions 24, Redskins 17.

Panthers at Rams

Florio’s take: Like the other team that will contend for the NFC West crown, the Rams are tough at home and soft on the road. This week, a win at home would pull the Rams to 4-4, and it would end a four-game losing streak against Carolina, a slide that began in St. Louis nearly seven years ago with a double-overtime loss to the eventual NFC Super Bowl representatives. This time around, the Rams simply have the better team -- which given the state of the Panthers isn’t really saying much.

Florio’s pick: Rams 24, Panthers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The Rams are winless on the road, so it’s good the league loaded them up with home games before a three-game road trip after Thanksgiving. The Panthers finally found a passing game, which could make them a dangerous spoiler the rest of the way. Every game for the Rams is dangerous because they aren’t that talented, but they’ve responded very well to losses this year.

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 22, Panthers 20.

Packers at Jets

Florio’s take: The Jets remain the hottest team in the NFL, with a swarming defense and a sufficiently competent offense. Receiver Santonio Holmes had two extra weeks to hone his timing with quarterback Mark Sanchez, which should result in an even more souped-up passing attack. The Packers aren’t remotely close to being Super Bowl ready, and without again getting a couple of gift calls on touchdown plays they can’t expect to win this one.

Florio’s pick: Jets 27, Packers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Packers lost another linebacker for the season, while the Jets are fully healthy after their bye. Revis Island is ready to re-open with tougher immigration laws and there’s a sense New York hasn’t played their best despite being 5-1. All logic points to the Jets. (I’m sure Florio is taking his beloved Jets.) All the more reason to take the Packers, who are ready to go on a run.

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 26, Jets 21.

Titans at Chargers

Florio’s take: Vince Young likely will return for a Tennessee offense that did fairly well without him. But the two Tennessee losses have come against teams that run a 3-4 defense, the preferred attack of the Chargers. And the Charger

s have much more talent than their 2-5 record suggests. Assuming that the late surge in Week Seven against the Patriots woke up the four-time defending AFC West champions, the Chargers will stay alive for at least another week.

Florio’s pick: Chargers 23, Titans 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans have a knack for frustrating opponents and forcing them into mistakes. The Chargers have a knack for frustrating their fans and making unforced errors. The Titans lead the league in takeaways and have scored the most points off turnovers. The Chargers have the most giveaways in the AFC. Add it up, and Norv Turner’s head should explode sometime in the third quarter.

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 26, Chargers 21.

Vikings at Patriots

Florio’s take: Vikings coach Brad Childress has been talking lately. A lot. His words regarding the officiating in Sunday night’s loss to the Packers got him a $35,000 fine. His barbs directed at the Patriots and Bill Belichick could get Chilly a butt-whipping on par with the 31-7 defeat his team absorbed from Belichick and company four years ago. Brett Favre, who won’t play only if he can’t move, will be jumping on his “broke foot” when things go well, and he’ll be walking like John Wayne with hemorrhoids when things go poorly. Count on plenty of Rooster Cogburn on Preparation H sightings.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 35, Vikings 13.

Rosenthal’s take: After the Patriots released Lawyer Milloy then lost to the Bills 31-0 to open the 2003 season, ESPN’s Tom Jackson said the “Patriots hate their coach.” Three weeks after New England traded Randy Moss to Minnesota, it’s the Vikings that seem to hate their coach. The rest of the country hates Brett Favre, who seems to know it and wear it on his face during every depressing press conference. This is the week Moss begins to realize how good he had it in Foxborough.

Rosenthal’s pick: Patriots 24, Vikings 14.

Buccaneers at Cardinals

Florio’s take: Bucs coach Raheem Morris thinks he has is the best team in the NFC. Less than two years ago, the Cardinals actually were the best team in the NFC. Though the Cardinals have looked horrible at times, the managed to take down at home a Saints team that thumped the Bucs in their own stadium. And that’s good enough for me.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 24, Buccaneers 20.

Rosenthal’s take: The “best team in the NFC” isn’t favored in Arizona, where the Cardinals are 2-0 this season. If the Bucs are to live up to Raheem Morris’ hype, this is a game they win going away. Arizona’s passing game is a mess, while the running game isn’t much better. It’s a miracle they are 3-3. Still, these teams are more similar than different. And they’ll have the same record after this one.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cardinals 19, Bucs 14.

Seahawks at Raiders

Florio’s take: Here’s the toughest call of the week. Tony Dungy thinks the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC. Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson thinks his team is the most talented in the entire NFL. The Seahawks had been unable to win on the road before taking down the Bears two weeks ago. Before a far=less-than-full stadium against a Raiders team buoyed by a 59-point uprising against the Broncos on Sunday, the Raiders likely will finish an unlikely ascension to .500 at the halfway point of the season.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 27, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: Every time the Raiders win a game, they say they turned the corner. Even though they haven’t won back-to-back games since 2008, I’m just crazy enough to believe them this time. The Seahawks whole offensive gameplan seems to be “don’t throw interceptions” but they need a little more than that on the road.

Rosenthal’s pick: Raiders 23, Seahawks 16.

Steelers at Saints

Florio’s take: At one point in September, it looked like this game would feature a clash of the best two teams in the league. It remains half right, with the Steelers among the best of the bunch and the Saints sliding toward irrelevance. Though the defending champs’ backs are being pushed against the wall, that 13-point loss to the Browns means the days of dominance have ended, at least for now. A one-dimensional offense is no match for a multi-faceted Steelers defense, and this one could turn into a rout, which would mean the ratings will only double those from Game Four of the World Series.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 34, Saints 21.

Rosenthal’s take: A lot of tough games to pick this week. I’ve debated this one for days, but the tiebreaker goes to the Steelers. Even though Pittsburgh’s pass defense has looked shakier the last two weeks, New Orleans has struggled against far worse groups. At some point, it’s worth recognizing the 2009 Saints passing attack just may not come back.

Rosenthal’s pick: Steelers 27, Saints 24.

Texans at Colts

Florio’s take: The Texans obsessed over their Week One visit from the Colts, and it paid off. Since then, the Texans have been roughly average. They get another crack at the Colts on Monday night, at a time when plenty of Indy players are missing. But as long as Peyton Manning remains healthy, the Colts will be tough to beat, especially at home. Manning realizes the importance of not being swept by the Texans -- and not falling to 0-3 in the division.

Florio’s pick: Colts 33, Texans 27.

Rosenthal’s take: Dallas Clark and Austin Collie will be missed, but I’m not really that worried about the Colts offense in this game. They have great depth and the Jeff George Colts could score 30 points on this awful Texans defense. The bigger question is whether the Colts defense can snap out of their funk. At home, in a huge division game, I’ll take my chances they make enough plays.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 38, Texans 31.