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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Same 'dogs, different week

Here are the lines for this weekend's pro football games. Players in our charity underdog contest must find one (in caps) that they think can win its game outright. Many familiar names appear on the list:

16 JACKSONVILLE at Houston
10 ARIZONA at Atlanta
9.5 INDIANAPOLIS at New England
8.5 SAN DIEGO at Denver
8.5 CLEVELAND at Dallas
5 CHICAGO at San Francisco (Monday, pick still due Sunday morning)
4.5 OAKLAND vs. New Orleans
3.5 BALTIMORE at Pittsburgh
3.5 DETROIT vs. Green Bay
3.5 KANSAS CITY vs. Cincinnati
3.5 PHILADELPHIA at Washington
3 NEW YORK JETS at St. Louis
1 CAROLINA vs. Tampa Bay
1 MIAMI at Buffalo (Thursday 5:20 p.m. PST)

Some intriguing matchups and numbers there. We've been expecting a big upset for a couple of weeks now, but it hasn't materialized. Could this be the week?

If you want the Dolphins, see your doctor, but also get your pick in by 5:20 on Thursday afternoon, Pacific Standard Time. Good luck, players.

Comments (7)

Betting must be slightly anemic, there are some large spreads this week.

Rick Reilly claims ‘credit’ for Roethlisberger injury story, earns Steve Young Death Stare
By Jay Busbee | Shutdown Corner – 8 hours ago

Notable excerpt:

The glory-grab apparently didn't sit well with Steve Young, who stared daggers at Reilly, then tapped him with a "dude, what the heck?" look. Reilly only smirked as Scott did indeed credit Reilly for breaking the news of Roethlisberger's injured shoulder first on Twitter. (This is not the first time Young has broken out of the traditional ex-jock-turned-cheerleader mode; he ripped the NFL and replacement refs in the wake of the controversial Seattle-Green Bay Monday night game a few weeks back.)


Now, Reilly gets grief from many sources not just because of jealousy over his astronomical paycheck, but for the way he forces himself into stories with cute-but-dated pun-laden humor. The pertinent question here is, what exactly did Reilly break? At 11:02 p.m., he tweeted, "Asked Roethlisberger as he was leaving how bad his shoulder was. He just shook his head. Was wearing sling on right shoulder. Left w/ wife." Interesting detail, but then Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Dejan Kovacevic had reported more than a half-hour earlier that "Roethlisberger being evaluated for right shoulder injury, return questionable."

Reilly then said that Roethlisberger was not headed to a "medical destination," per a Steelers spokesman. Four minutes later, he reversed course, saying at 11:12 p.m. that Roethlisberger's agent told him that "the QB IS headed to hospital to have right shoulder checked out. Said its a 'non-traditional' inj." Problem for Reilly is, the Steelers beat writer, Mark Kaboly, had this same information five minutes earlier. (Hat tip: Deadspin.)

"Breaking news" doesn't exactly have the same cachet in the Twitter-enabled world than it did a few years back; these days, any news that gets broken by one source gets picked up by all others within minutes. Still, there is credibility that comes from breaking news. Thing is, you shouldn't have to ask for it.
UPDATE: And note that Rick Reilly is referred to as "Ricky Craven, NASCAR analyst" late in the video.

Roethlisberger out with potentially life-threatening rib injury


Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 10:30 a.m.
Updated 5 minutes ago

Ben Roethlisberger has a potentially life-threatening rib injury in addition to the upper chest injury that is significant in itself, and he said Wednesday he won’t be able to play until it heals.

“You’ve got to let it heal before you can take that chance,” the Steelers quarterback said.

Roethlisberger dislocated his top rib — the first rib — that protects the aorta, the largest artery in the body. Should the rib somehow puncture the aorta, it could be a life-threatening situation.

Roethlisberger also has a dislocation of the sternoclavicular joint that connects the sternum to the collarbone — essentially, the part that hooks the arm to the body. The dislocation occurs when ligaments tear under stress.

“From what he (his doctor) said, he’s trying to talk to experts because there’s no case study that’s had this exact same thing,” Roethlisberger said. “From what he told me, it was a 1998 rugby player or something. We’re just trying to talk to people and get an expectation (about how long the recovery will take) because we don’t know.”

Talking to reporters for the first time since getting injured Monday night against the Chiefs, Roethlisberger said the pain he has is “nine on a 10 scale” and that he has slept only a couple of hours each of the last two nights.


Injustice -- any pro football writer who didn't vote for Ray Guy to be in Canton is a simple-minded P.O.S.:

Legendary Raiders punter Ray Guy frustrated, but resigned that he's not in Hall of Fame


On one wall of his office hangs a giant framed certificate that says he is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. On the opposite wall is a poster commemorating the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team to which he was named in 1994. You can see him in the poster, wearing his Oakland Raiders jersey, No. 8. His leg is locked in an almost impossible leg kick, having just launched a football into the sky.

The poster is meant as a celebration yet it mocks him daily – a perpetual reminder that he is just one of two men on the 75th Anniversary Team who are not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the other being punt returner Billy "White Shoes" Johnson. And the fact Guy is not, as perhaps the greatest punter in history, might be one of the great injustices in sports today.

"He changed the game, really," says former Raiders coach Tom Flores. "It was never a glamorous position until he came along."

But, because of the position he played, many of the 44 writers who make up the Hall of Fame selection committee have kept him out. They don't see punting as football. Any day now, the Hall will announce the 25 finalists who made the latest cut for the 2013 induction class. Guy won't be one of them, just as he wasn't last year or the year before. More than 25 years have passed since he left the game, so he can no longer be considered in the regular voting. If he is going to make it, he will have to rely upon the senior selection committee to bring his name forward and this group has a long list of long forgotten players who merit serious consideration.

I can't picture the Jets winning another game. Sad.

Mojo's Best Bets
"Why a Duck?" or Inside a City of Portland West Hayden Island Planning Session Edition

Best Bet
(Last week: 1-0; overall, 7-6 (.538))

BALTIMORE (+3.5) at Pittsburgh -- This one is kinda the inverse of an Upset Special this week. I'd lay off, but others might find this a very best bet. It's part of what makes this game so exciting going in.

The first of 2 games in 3 weeks in the NFL's toughest, bitterest, rivalry. This one's a flip, with Baltimore actually the betting favorite and not the underdog in Vegas since Steelers' star QB Ben Roethlisberger is out, even though starting RB Rashard Mendehall, a powerful back with game-breaking speed is back from several weeks off due to injury. I wouldn't touch this one, though, because it's being played at Heinz Field which the NFL's #1 defense calls home, so I've included my opinion here for guidance. Even with second-stringer Byron Leftwich and his around-the-world passing windup, Pittsburgh has too many offensive weapons for the depleted Ravens defense to cover and defend. The Steelers' surge continues tomorrow night, I believe.

Immaculate Reception football means a lot to its caretaker

PHILADELPHIA (+3.5) at Washington -- The Eagles start their rookie third-round draft pick at QB, Nick Foles, the seventh QB taken in the draft (right after Seattle took Russell Wilson, whom the Eagles also had rated higher). Foles is big and has a very strong arm, though his footwork is not his strong point. But, with LeSean "Shady" McCoy as your RB, you let Shady do the running, use the excellent TE Brent Celek, and take occasional well-timed shots downfield against one of the NFL's worst defenses. The Redskins surrender a 27th-in-the-league 27.1 points a game largely because of a terrible pass defense, giving up an average of 301.7 yards through the air.

Upset Special
(Last week: 1-0; overall 5-5 (.500))

CHICAGO (+6) at San Francisco -- Defenses about even, kicking games about even (but 49ers K, David Akers, is having an off-year and slumping, btw) but return game advantage, Bears (Devin Hester!) -- the difference comes down to Chicago's slightly better running game coming into town with starting QB Jay Cutler likely out with a concussion, while the 49ers should have their #1 QB, Alex Smith, trying to make his 27th straight start despite a concussion suffered in the 2nd quarter of last week's tie game against the Rams:

Smith began experiencing blurred vision after a quarterback sneak early in the second quarter and later had headaches and nausea. He said his latest concussion was more severe than the head injury he sustained last year in a Week 2 loss against Dallas. Smith indicated he also had temporary vision issues in that game.

On Sunday, his vision became increasingly worse. He said doctors told him a hit he took from Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar on the first play of his final drive could have contributed to his concussion six plays later. (From "49ers QB Smith looks ready for Monday," by Eric Branch, SF Chronicle 49ers blog).

It would be a bad idea for the 49ers to play Smith this week, and if they do, he may not last the first half. One can only wonder, too, what effect SF Coach Jim Harbaugh's "minor procedure" at Stanford Hospital yesterday for irregular heartbeat might have, too.

Gamblers' Corner
It's a U-Pik week!

INDIANAPOLIS (+9.5) at New England / CLEVELAND (+8.5) at Dallas -- Wouldn't it be loverly for the Colts to embarrass the Pats in New England on their great race from worst to first this year? Heck yeah. If you're way back in the pack, might as well take a ride on the Colts this week.

Similarly, the Browns had some injuries impede their progress out of the gate this year, but they've got a talented young QB and a burning desire to recover the excitement of Browns' football that's been missing since Art Modell turned his back on Cleveland and moved his team to Baltimore. The Cowboys are a messed up team, starting at the top with their owner, Jerry Jones, a hick Steinbrenner-wannabe. With the traditional Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas just a few days away and with their rivals the revived Black-and-White-Redmen coming to town, they're setting themselves up for another classic 21st century spectacular Cowboys collapse. Baylor U. just might be the best football team in Texas.

Report: NFL retirement board paid $2 million to ex-players while league denied concussion risks
By Brian McIntyre | Shutdown Corner – Fri, Nov 16, 2012 11:36 AM EST

Notable excerpt:

According to documents obtained in a joint investigation by PBS' "FRONTLINE" program and ESPN's "Outside the Lines," the National Football League's retirement board awarded at least $2 million in disability payments to at least three former players after reaching the conclusion that football was the cause of their brain injuries.

In 1999, the retirement board determined that the late Mike Webster, a Hall of Famer who played 17 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Pittsburgh Steelers before finishing his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, was "totally and permanently" disabled due to repeated blows to the head he received as an active player. Webster passed away in 2002 at age 50 and was the first former player to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy after donating his brain for research.

Bob Fitzsimmons, Webster's attorney in that disability case and the current co-director of the Brain Injury Research Institute, believes the conclusions reached by the retirement board to be the "smoking gun" in current lawsuits against the league.

"It's pretty devastating evidence," said Fitzsimmons. "If the NFL takes the position that they didn't know or weren't armed with evidence that concussions can cause total disability — permanent disability, permanent brain injury — in 1999, that evidence trumps anything they say."

There is little doubt that the conclusions reached in 1999 by the NFL's seven-member retirement board — which consists of three owner representatives, three player representatives and non-voting representative of the NFL commissioner — will be used in the lawsuit filed against the league by nearly 4,000 former players (and likely growing after today) who allege that the NFL engaged in a decades-long plan to cover up the link between concussions and permanent brain injuries.

Full article at http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/report-nfl-retirement-board-paid-2-million-ex-163614698--nfl.html

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