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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Which 'dog will have its day in Week 6?

Here are the line for this week's entries in our charity pro football underdog game. Only three home 'dogs this time around, at 5, 3.5, and 1:

9.5 OAKLAND at Atlanta
5 NEW YORK GIANTS at San Francisco
5 DETROIT at Philadelphia
5 BUFFALO at Arizona
5 GREEN BAY at Houston
5 TENNESSEE vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday 5:20 p.m. Pacific)
3.5 KANSAS CITY at Tampa Bay
3.5 ST. LOUIS at Miami
3.5 SEATTLE vs. New England
3.5 DALLAS at Baltimore
3 INDIANAPOLIS at New York Jets
2.5 MINNESOTA at Washington
1 CLEVELAND vs. Cincinnati
1 DENVER at San Diego (Monday night, pick still due 10 a.m. Sunday)

The standings are here. Good luck, players!

Comments (6)

Can't recommend the Titans over the Steelers tomorrow night, sports fans. I really dig Titans RB Chris Johnson's talent and skills, but Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall and QB Ben Roethlisberger and their talented WRs should run away with this game against Tennessee's lousy defense (Overall ranking: 29th out of 32); Rush (28), Pass (25)). Pittsburgh has NFL-best 53.2 percent converting third downs, and Rashard Mendenhall had 101 yards in season debut last week.

Roethlisberger (27,690) needs 300 pass yds to surpass Terry Bradshaw (27,989) for most in team history. He might get it tomorrow. In 4 career games vs. Titans, Roethlisberger is 3-1 & has completed 91 of 127 passes (71.7 pct.) for 1,138 yds with 10 TDs vs. 5 INTs & 109 rating. He has 6 TDs vs. 1 INT & 103.6 rating on the road this year.

It will be fun to watch the Titans' speedy WR Nate Washington (a former Steeler) matchup against the Steelers' shut-down corner, Ike Taylor. Another interesting feature: Titans' backup QB Matt Hasselbeck's starts against the Steelers -- remember Super Bowl XL?

"Mojo's Best Bets" up sometime after Thursday's injury reports.

The AP Pro32 - Week 6

Alex Karras dies at 77; NFL star turned actor
Alex Karras, a four-time All-Pro defensive tackle with the Detroit Lions, had memorable roles on TV's 'Webster' and in the Mel Brooks film 'Blazing Saddles.'


A dominant fixture on Detroit's defensive front for 12 seasons, Karras was known to millions for his role as "Mongo," the monosyllabic, horse-punching brute in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy "Blazing Saddles." He later starred in the ABC sitcom "Webster," which ran from 1983 to 1987.

Although he stood 6 feet 3, the 248-pound Karras was wide enough to be stocky, and he routinely fought his way past blockers at the line of scrimmage to burst into the offensive backfield. He was named to four Pro Bowls, and was also named All-Pro – an even more exclusive honor – four times. The Lions named him to their All-Decade Team for the 1960s.

"While his legacy reached far beyond the gridiron, we always will fondly remember Alex as one of our own and also as one of the best to ever wear the Honolulu Blue and Silver," Lions President Tom Lewand said a statement released Wednesday.

Karras' playing career was interrupted by controversy, however. In 1963, the NFL urged him to sell his financial interests in a Detroit bar rumored to be associated with gambling and organized crime. Karras first threatened to retire, then admitted to placing bets on NFL games. He was suspended for one season, along with Green Bay running back Paul Hornung.

Showing an early flair for theatrics, Karras dabbled in pro wrestling during his exile from the NFL, taking on "Dick the Bruiser" – former Packers lineman Dick Afflis – at Olympia Stadium in Detroit.

The early part of that match went according to plan, including Karras punching Afflis in his eye patch, causing fake blood to flow. The two eventually scrapped the script, though, with Afflis grabbing Karras by the throat, pinning him, and later admonishing: "Football players should leave wrestling to wrestlers and go back to their betting."

When he returned to the Lions in 1964, Karras poked fun at his own reputation, once refusing when a referee asked him to call the pregame coin toss.

"I'm sorry, sir," Karras said. "I'm not permitted to gamble."

Born July 15, 1935, in Gary, Ind., Alexander George Karras was the fourth of six children of George and Emmiline Karras, a Greek immigrant doctor and nurse, who lived in an apartment above their medical practice. His brothers Lou and Ted would also become NFL players, although neither was as successful as their younger brother.

Alex played at the University of Iowa, where he won the Outland Trophy as college football's dominant lineman, and helped the Hawkeyes to victory over Oregon State in the 1957 Rose Bowl.

A first-round draft pick of Detroit in 1958, Karras played with the Lions until 1971, when his contract was terminated because of what team officials called "diminishing athletic prowess."

"It's really very sad for most guys," Karras told the Detroit Free Press about the way football careers often end. "They've been playing football all their lives. They're 31, say, and whack! A knee injury or something and they're on the street, with no idea how to spend the rest of their lives."

Karras dabbled in acting during his NFL career, playing himself in the 1968 movie "Paper Lion," based on George Plimpton's nonfiction sports book.

Hey, nevermind the Steelers' critical injuries, their Coach Mike Tomlin lost this game (despite the holy cow incompletion challenge) -- by: 1) benching Mendenhall after 6 rushes for 6 yds., AND 2) attempting that 50+ yd. FG with 0:54 left. Bonehead. Obviuously should've either gone for it, or punted them deep -- Congrats to anyone who picked the Titans! (time delay, sorry).

I adjust. The Steelers lost more than a game. More injuries piled up on the ones they had before the opening kickoff. They included halfbacks Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle), offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey (knee, medial collateral ligament) and Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring).

"We have to find a way to close it out," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "We had opportunities to close out the game and didn't do it. We allow those drives to continue to happen."
They have lost all three of their road games.

"We are not doing enough to finish games in hostile environments," Tomlin said.

Excerpts from

They're just not very good, and now they're breaking down. They figure to be recurring underdogs for most of the rest of the year. Might pay off once or twice somewhere along the way, but they seem snakebit and unreliable either way.

"Mojo's Best Bets"
Quench the Forest Fires Edition
(Last week, 2-1; Overall 7-8 (.467))

Best Bets
(Last week, 1-0; Overall 4-2)

MINNESOTA (+2.5) at Washington -- Interesting QB duel presented in this matchup: Minnesota's Christian Ponder and Washington's #1 pick rookie Robert Griffin III are currently the top two QBs in accuracy. The Vikings defense will be up to the challenge of shutting down Washington's potent run offense, Minnesota having only given up 1 rushing TD so far this year. Meanwhile, the Vikes' awesome RB Adrian Peterson should be more than Washington can handle, especially if they have to keep an eye on the spectacular Percy Harvin, too. Percy Harvin already is the third player in NFL history -- and first since Gale Sayers (1965-67) -- with rushing, receiving and kick return touchdowns in three consecutive years.

If the Vikings OL can protect Ponder well enough and he connects with Harvin on some plays against Washington's next-to-last-ranked pass defense (and 26th overall), it should make for a bad week's end for pro sports fans in Washington.

Here's a stream of stats to back up this pick, courtesy of the Associated Press:

Vikings WR Percy Harvin leads NFL with 329 yards after the catch, more than 80 percent of his receiving total of 407. Of Harvin’s 38 receptions, 22 have been at or behind line of scrimmage. ... Harvin also ranks first with 38.3-yard kick return average, while teammate Marcus Sherels fourth in punt returns, averaging 14.9. ... Since Ponder’s first NFL start last October, Harvin has 100 catches, second most in NFL. ... Vikings have scored on all 15 trips to red zone (six TDs, nine FGs). ... RB Adrian Peterson needs one 100-yard game to tie Robert Smith (29) for career Vikings record. ... Minnesota one of three teams (Houston, New England) to not allow running play of 20-plus yards. Longest rush given up by Vikings is 15 yards. ... Vikings kickoff coverage teams last in NFL, allowing average start at about 34-yard line. ... Minnesota DE Jared Allen has five sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in last three games vs. Washington. ... Redskins NFL’s worst on third down, converting 23.3 percent.

INDIANPOLIS (+3) vs. NY Jets -- Jets have too many problems piling up on them, starting with a mile-long injury report, and ending with average play from their former #1 pick QB. Lots of doubt and some finger-pointing, the second coming of Tebow nothwithstanding. In contrast, the Colts are enthused by their performance last week in upsetting the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Colts' #1 QB pick, rookie Andrew Luck is the real deal.

Upset Special
(Last week 1-0; Overall 2-3)

SEATTLE (+3.5) vs New England -- The Patriots have a gigantic injury list this week, too, with key people such as WR Wes Welker, and 3 of their TEs banged up and listed as questionable. That will limit the Patriot's options running their otherwise extremely effective no-huddle offense. Though New England's ground game is very solid, they're going to be running into a Seahawks defense that is performing at top levels in all segments of the defensive game. Add to that, Seattle's outstanding RB Marshawn Lynch on offense in a ball-control contest, that even with a rookie QB facing Patriots Coach Bill Belichick's scheming, I'm picking Seattle at home in the rain to upset New England on Sunday. Watch for an early long pass play by QB Russell Wilson to get the Seattle fans frenzified.

Seahawks’ No. 1 defense eager to face Pats’ No. 1 offense

Gamblers' Corner
(Last week 0-1; Overall 1-3)

GREEN BAY (+5) at Houston -- The line is down to 3 now, and without a serious running game and star WR Greg Jennings out, look for the Packers' Jordy Nelson to be QB Aaron Rodgers' prime target and have his 2012 breakout receiving game. Texans' starting S Quintin Demps is out, so Houston has a vulnerability back there. The play of the game is likely to be on defense, either forcing a key turnover or a blown coverage.

Packers face a turnaround moment in Houston

Under coach Mike McCarthy, the one thing the Packers have done fairly consistently when things are falling apart is raise their level of play to match that of a quality opponent.

"The crazy thing about it," nose tackle B.J. Raji said. "I'm not really concerned about us in these type of games. I'm more concerned about us in games we should win. We're going to show up for this game.

"It's 'Sunday Night Football.' We're going to play well. Since I've been here, that's how we've played in big-time games."

Kansas City got a break with this sensational news out of the NFL today, but probably not enough with the Chiefs' 2nd-string QB Brady Quinn starting for injured Matt Cassell:

TB CB Aqib Talib suspended four games for non-prescription Adderall pill

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