Woody's Winners, NFL Week 10

NFL WEEK TEN

I posted last week's column a day late, on Saturday, and for whatever reason, the extra day seemed to make a world of difference. Somehow, I pulled a 12-1 record in Week 9, including Cleveland's upset of New England. (My only slip-up was the Colts' 3-point loss to the Eagles.) It probably won't happen again this season, so remember, I'm not boasting, I'm reveling. I'll leave the boasting to Roy Williams.

Thursday's game was already picked (and played), so here are Woody's Winners for the other NFL contests in Week 10. Enjoy!

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Houston (4-4) @ Jacksonville (4-4)

The Jaguars and the “upstart” Texans bring up the rear in the AFC South with identical 4-4 records. The Texans are the only team to lose to Dallas this season, but don’t hold that against them. In franchise history, Houston has an 8-8 record against Jax while performing much more poorly against the rest of the AFC South (against whom they’re a combined 6-28). Pass defense is a burden for both teams, so points galore should keep the game’s scorekeeper plenty busy. Although the crowd at EverBank Field will be rowdy, Woody has a sneaking suspicion that those Jaguar engines will need a Texas-sized post-game tune-up.

Woody’s Winner (in an upset): Houston

FACT: The Texans and Jaguars are 2 of only 3 current AFC teams that have never won the AFL/AFC championship. Can you name the third? (Answer at the bottom of this article.)

Please click "more" to see my picks for Week 10's other NFL matchups!

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Minnesota (3-5) @ Chicago (5-3)

Vikings QB Brett Favre was in great form last week, but there’s a world of difference between a home game against Arizona and this Sunday’s brawl at Soldier Field in Chicago. Neither team wants to start the second half of their season with a loss, but for the Big Purple, an “L” would likely put the old kibosh on a return to the playoffs. The North Star comeback last week was nice, but the depth of the team’s turmoil may make a full recovery impossible. If the Bears D is hibernating, RB Adrian Peterson could break out in a big way; but it’s not yet sleepy-time in that toddlin’ town.

Woody’s Winner: Chicago

FACT: The home team has won 15 of the past 16 games between these NFC North rivals.

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Carolina (1-7) @ Tampa Bay (5-3)

The Buccaneers knocked off the Panthers 20-7 in Week 2, the only one of their five wins that were decided by more than a FG. Last week, Carolina lost QB Matt Moore for the season, and this week, they’re down to a fourth-string RB. While the Panthers seem to be falling apart, Tampa seems to be gelling, with improved play on offense thanks to WR Mike Williams and RB LeGarrette Blount. The Car-Cats probably have one more victory ahead of them this season, but it will likely be five weeks down the road. Hoist the Jolly Roger!

Woody’s Winner: Tampa Bay

FACT: The Panthers have averaged only 11 points per game this season, more than 5 points fewer than any other NFL team.

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Detroit (2-6) @ Buffalo (0-8)

This Sunday, a proverbial monkey will stiffly crawl off the back of one of these teams: Either the Bills will earn their first victory of the season, or the Lions will snap their string of 24 consecutive road losses. Not surprisingly, the game is blacked out in Buffalo, with more than 10,000 tickets unsold for the meeting at Ralph Wilson Stadium. With a few games under his belt, the return of second-string Detroit QB Shaun Hill should go smoothly. But will the Leos have any courage left after last week’s heartbreaking OT loss? Barely. Just barely.

Woody’s Winner (in a close one): Detroit

FACT: A scheduling quirk fostered by the realignment of AFC/NFC divisions prevented the Bills and Lions from playing each other for 11 straight seasons (1980-1990).

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N.Y. Jets (6-2) @ Cleveland (3-5)

The Browns are riding high after back-to-back wins against the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. They hope to complete the “New” trifecta by knocking off another favored team this week, the New York Jets. The J-E-T-S are coming off three straight lackluster efforts, being shut out by Green Bay and squeaking by against Denver and Detroit. They should have just enough fuel to land in Cleveland with a cargo hold full of cans of kick-butt. Shake. Apply liberally. Repeat.

Woody’s Winner: New York

FACT: Opponents have completed 6 of 7 fourth-down attempts against Cleveland this season.

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Tennessee (5-3) @ Miami (4-4)

“Chad” is a bad word in Florida, owing to some political nonsense a few years ago; but in Miami, they’re trading one for another. Chad Henne will ride the pine while veteran Chad Pennington tries to recapture his years of success behind center. He’ll be doing so at Sun Life Stadium, where the hometown Dolphins have not yet won this season. They’re due, sure, but it might prove a tough order against the Titans, who should be fresh after their bye week. The Fish don’t have to win at home in the playoffs, but they’ll have to win at home to make the playoffs. Maybe next week when the Bears saunter in?

Woody’s Winner: Tennessee

FACT: Despite ranking 24th in the NFL in yards per game (310.6), the Titans lead the league in scoring with a 28 point average.

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Cincinnati (2-6) @ Indianapolis (5-3)

The Bengals have sacked opposing QBs only 7 times this season, fewer than any other AFC team, so it’s doubtful that they’ll be able to put much pressure on Peyton Manning. Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out what’s likely to happen when you let the veteran Colts signal-caller go about his business. Although Queen City WR Terrell Owens seems to have found a new home, he’s not one who enjoys wasting his talent by suffering on a losing team. This personality trait should make itself obvious any time now. Like Sunday.

Woody’s Winner: Indianapolis

FACT: After winning 2 of their first 3 games, the Bengals have dropped 5 in a row.

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Kansas City (5-3) @ Denver (2-6)

This matchup pits the NFL’s best rushing attack (the Chiefs) against its worst (the Broncos).  Denver’s defense can’t stop the run, either; they’ve allowed over 150 rushing yards per game and a league-most 14 rushing TDs to boot. It’s a given that KC will try to control the clock, but will they be able to control the mile-high aerial attack? Woody thinks so. After the Broncos busted out of the gate last season with six consecutive victories, they’ve only won 4 of 18 games since. After Week 10, that’ll be 4 of 19.

Woody’s Winner: Kansas City

FACT: Kansas City has only lost 2 fumbles this season, fewest in the league.

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Dallas (1-7) @ N.Y. Giants (6-2)

New coach, same result.

Woody’s Winner: New York

FACT: Dallas has allowed 29 points per game this season, second-worst in the NFL behind Buffalo (29.1).

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Seattle (4-4) @ Arizona (3-5)

In Week 7, the Seahawks improved their record to 4-2 with a 12-point victory at home against Arizona. Since then, things have gotten ugly, with a capital “ugh.” Seattle has been outscored 74-10 over its last two games. Still, they’re tied for the best record in the NFC West, and the last thing they want is for the Cardinals to find their way back into the hunt. Will newly-healed QB Matt Hasselbeck find a way to wake up the ‘Hawks anemic offense? That remains to be seen. But even if he fails, the Ocean Birds should outlast the Cactus Birds – and their own back-in-action QB, Derek Anderson – in Week 10.

Woody’s Winner: Seattle

FACT: Seattle’s defense is the NFC’s second-worst against the pass, allowing 270.5 yards per game. (Arizona's defense is third-worst, giving up 255.5 passing YPG.)

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St. Louis (4-4) @ San Francisco (2-6)

It’s the Gateway vs. the Golden Gate as San Francisco welcomes St. Louis to Candlestick Park. Both teams are coming off their bye week after winning 2 of their last 3 games, so expect a little more spring in the step of opposing RBs Steven Jackson and Frank Gore. In the ongoing Niner Smith QB derby, backup Troy Smith will again start ahead of the injured Alex Smith. Unfortunately, he’ll be going up against one of the most improved defenses in the NFL. What’s more, Rams QB Sam Bradford has quickly adjusted to life under center without stalwart WR Mark Clayton. Like Mark Sanchez last year, the rookie wants to lead his team to the playoffs in his first year. This will get him a step closer.

Woody’s Winner: St. Louis

FACT: Rams RB Steven Jackson is third in the NFL with 172 carries, but has scored only 2 rushing TDs.

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New England (6-2) @ Pittsburgh (6-2)

Two 6-2 teams faced off Thursday night, and two others meet up on Sunday in a key AFC contest. The Patriots have earned their record by scoring points, while the Steelers have earned theirs by preventing their opponents from doing likewise. The difference-maker here is that the Iron City Boys have offensive playmakers that have demonstrated an ability to wreak havoc on weaker defenses. New England is susceptible to air attacks, so this game will come down to a bunch of Ws: a WR named Ward, another WR named Wallace, and a mark in the “W” column for the Black-and-Gold.

Woody’s Winner: Pittsburgh

FACT: The Steelers’ run defense has allowed only 58.2 yards per game in 2010, by far the fewest in the NFL.

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Philadelphia (5-3) @ Washington (4-4)

Monday Night Football offers a classic NFC East battle between America’s current capital and a former one. Despite playing musical quarterbacks, Philly has found success thanks to a rushing corps that has combined to post a league-best 5.1 yards per attempt. In typical governmental fashion, Washington has stumbled its way to an even record, losing to Detroit in Week 8 after Coach Mike Shanahan benched Donovan McNabb. He seems to be the only one who thought it was a good idea, while everyone else scratched their heads. More head-scratching this week will make the Redskins’ skin even redder.

Woody’s Winner: Philadelphia

FACT: The Eagles have been penalized 652 yards this season, tops in the NFC.

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BYE: Green Bay, New Orleans, Oakland, San Diego

NOTE: With 3 consecutive victories, the Raiders have the AFC’s longest current winning streak.

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ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION: Besides the Jaguars and the Texans, the only other current AFC team never to win the conference championship is the Cleveland Browns.

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Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, but please be cordial to others; this is all in good fun. Thanks!

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History
On Top of the World: Remembering the Lost Trend of Flagpole Sitting
Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly sitting on a flagpole atop the Hotel St. Francis in Newark, New Jersey
Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly sitting on a flagpole atop the Hotel St. Francis in Newark, New Jersey
Alamy

Flappers and bootleggers might be the most memorable aspects of the 1920s, but there's a lesser-known, yet no less colorful, trend from that decade: flagpole sitting. From the glamorous hills of Hollywood to the blue-collar dwellings of Union City, New Jersey, this unusual pastime turned eccentric showmen and ordinary people into overnight celebrities, before the crushing reality of the Great Depression grounded their climb to stardom.

Flagpole sitting is exactly what it sounds like: a person climbing on top of a towering pole, usually in the middle of a city, and testing their endurance by sitting atop it for as long as their body holds up. It began in Hollywood in January 1924, when a former sailor, boxer, steelworker, and stuntman named Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly was hired by a local theater to sit on a pole outside of the building for as long as possible to drum up publicity for a new movie. Kelly, a New York City native—whose nickname was supposedly inspired by his dubious claims as a Titanic survivor—wowed crowds by perching himself on the pole for an astonishing 13 hours and 13 minutes. The stunt worked, and once it got picked up by the papers, offers started pouring in from more businesses to perform pole-sittings. Kelly was eager to oblige.

News of Kelly's exploits spread, and before long, men, women, and children were climbing poles of their own. There was the three-week feat of Bobbie Mack, a young woman from Los Angeles; Joe “Hold ‘em” Powers, who sat for 16 days in Chicago in 1927 and climbed back down with six fewer teeth than he started with after a storm smacked him face-first into his pole; and Bill Penfield, who braved a pole for 51 days in Strawberry Point, Iowa before a storm forced him down. In 1928, a 15-year-old named Avon Foreman of Baltimore even established a juvenile sitting record of 10 days, 10 hours, 10 minutes, and 10 seconds (he practiced on an 18-foot hickory tree in his backyard). Foreman’s accomplishment was so inspiring to Baltimore mayor William F. Broening that he publicly declared that the youngster exhibited “the pioneer spirit of early America.”

Still, Kelly was the one making a big business out of pole sitting. Even when he wasn’t holding the record, he was the ambassador of the bizarre sport. He toured 28 cities, attracting massive crowds that jammed streets and lined rooftops just to get a glimpse of the daredevil poking out among the apartment buildings and businesses of Downtown, USA.

Kelly's notable feats included an 80-hour sit in New Orleans and the 146 hours he spent high above Kansas City's Old Westgate Hotel. But even those were overshadowed by his largest-scale stunts: 312 hours on top of Newark’s St. Francis Hotel in 1927, 22 days on a pole above a dance marathon (another endurance fad of the time) in Madison Square Garden, and 23 days in 1929 in Baltimore’s Carlin’s Park on a pole that was 60 feet high. By Kelly’s own calculation, he’d spend around 20,613 hours pole-sitting during a career that lasted over a decade.

His peak came in 1930 when he lasted 49 days and one hour on a 225-foot pole on Atlantic City’s steel pier. The feat was witnessed by as many as 20,000 onlookers during the weeks he spent up top, becoming one of the first of many spectacles that would grace the pier in the 1930s. (He’d eventually be followed by acts like Rex, the water-skiing “wonder dog”; JoJo, the boxing kangaroo; and the city’s infamous diving horse routine.)

Estimates of Kelly’s fees range from $100-$500 a day throughout his career, paid by whatever outlet needed the publicity and sometimes by crowds who spent a quarter to get a view of his act from nearby hotel rooftops. And what did those onlookers see, exactly? A man on a circular padded seat high above the rabble, sometimes reading the paper, other times enjoying a shave. For food, he’d stick mainly to a liquid diet of broth and water, along with cigarettes, all of which were lifted up to him in a bucket. When he needed to sleep, he’d stay seated by wrapping his ankles around the pole and securing his thumbs into holes in his seat before nodding off. That's if he rested at all—he was also known to deprive himself of sleep on the pole for as long as four days.

The big money would dry up soon after his Atlantic City stunt, and the realities of the Great Depression put an end to flagpole sitting as a career. With up to a quarter of the population unemployed, people were apparently less interested in opening their papers to stories of men and women testing endurance at the top of a pole for more money than the readers would likely see all year.

"As Shipwreck Kelly analyzed it, it was the Stock Market crash that killed pole-sitting as the golden egg that paid the goose," a writer for The Evening Sun in Baltimore put it in 1944. "People couldn't stand to see anything higher than their busted securities."

Kelly’s personal story ends on a similarly somber note. Penniless and stripped of his daredevil veneer, he died of a heart attack in 1952 at the age of 59, his body found not far from the room he rented on West 51st Street in New York City. Underneath his arm at the time of his death was a scrapbook of newspaper clippings detailing his accomplishments as a once-champion flagpole sitter.

Though flagpole sitting has fallen out of the public eye since the Depression, it has occasionally shown faint signs of life. In 1963, 17-year-old Alabama native Peggy Townsend cruised past all of Kelly's highest marks by spending 217 days on a pole for a radio contest. That time was later beaten by Kenneth Gidge, who topped her at 248 days in 1971 before becoming an artist, inventor, and New Hampshire state representative later in life.

Today, the occasional pole-sitter still pops up in the news, though they're now most likely perched for protests or as living art installations. Regardless of the purpose behind it, it's unlikely that a person atop a flagpole will ever attract a sea of thousands of onlookers again—and the days when a man like Kelly could become a household name and dub himself the "Luckiest Fool on Earth" seem long gone.

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fun
This Water Bottle Doubles as a Foam Roller
Mobot
Mobot

It hydrates and it massages. The MOBOT bottle, as spotted by Outside magazine, is being billed as “the world’s first and only foam roller water bottle,” and many outdoor and adventure enthusiasts swear by it.

The stainless steel bottle is wrapped in non-toxic EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam, which can be rolled along your calves, hamstrings, glutes, or arms to soothe sore muscles and relieve joint paint. It was designed with athletes in mind, but we could see it being used by stressed-out office workers with stiff muscles who could benefit from a little self-care. Plus, the lightweight bottle is great for keeping your beverage cold all day, whether you’re at work, at an amusement park, or at the beach. A top loop allows it to be hooked onto a backpack or beach bag.

The bottle is available in three sizes: the 40-ounce “Big Bertha,” the 18-ounce “Firecracker,” and the 27-ounce “Grace.” There’s a range of colors and patterns to choose from, including neon-colored camouflage for those moments when you can’t decide whether you want to stand out or blend in.

You can order it on Amazon, but some styles have already sold out. Check out MOBOT's video below to see different ways of using the bottle.

[h/t Outside]

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