Week 5 is here and I’m feeling the Underdogs with my NFL Six Picks! And this isn’t some cheap imitation Underdog Sunday, akin to that horrific effort to turn one of the coolest cartoons of my youth into a 2007 feature film (more on that in a sec). This is a full on, all Six Picks, Wally Cox-original version of an Underdog weekend.
Remember Wally Cox? Of course you do. Perched in the upper corner of the original Hollywood Squares, Cox was a cornerstone (pun intended) of my early-’70’s family room TV viewing. Contestants could call out “Paul Lynde for the win” all they wanted, but if the guy didn’t have Wally’s “X” locked down in the corner, he was going to cede that day’s victory to his female opponent (“circle gets the square”) and her three consecutive tic-tac-toe “O’s.”
Wally Cox was also the voice of the first Underdog I ever cheered for on a Sunday morning — the cartoon version, of course. Our bungling, canine hero fearlessly fighting off the despised and despicable cartoon villains of the show, Riff Raff and (ANSWER to TRIVIA QUESTION 1), only one of the most dastardly (apologies to the actual Dick Dastardly) of all the Sunday morning cartoon bad guys…POP CULTURE TRIVIA QUESTION #1
What was the name of Underdog’s arch enemy on the famed cartoon series of the ’60’s and ’70’s (answer below)?
I previously mentioned that Disney failed miserably in their attempt to cash in on the childhood warmth and affection that folks my age universally felt about the original Underdog. Their 2007 effort, featuring the voice of that guy who played My Name Is Earl as our furry hero, was a disaster both aesthetically and at the box office.
However, there was one lasting image we can all take away from this colossal flop of the silver screen, and that is a connect-the-dots trail to Game of Thrones, for all of us jonesing for the final season of the HBO mega-series — hurry up and get here already! So with GOT in mind…we offer you POP CULTURE TRIVIA QUESTION #2
What Games of Thrones favorite portrayed the aforementioned bad guy in Underdog (the movie — answer below)?
What the hell does this have to do with Week 5 of the NFL you say? Absolutely nothing, but since I’m still struggling to get that half-point loss against the spread on Monday night out of my system, I am retreating to happy memories from my childhood. And so, to honor that Hollywood legend, Wally Cox, and his lovable character, Underdog, Six Picks will go ALL IN with Underdogs this week!
And here they are — NFL SIX PICKS (home team in all CAPS):
Giants (+7) over the PANTHERS — A tip of the cap here to Geno the Sox fan, who despite his disdain for, and lack of interest in, the NFL, found the time to complain this week about how confusing it is that SportsAttic sometimes refers to teams by their nickname, and then by their city in the next sentence. Okayyyy, so I’m looking for a bounce back on both sides of the ball for the Giants of New York this week, and seven seems like too many points to give for a Panthers of Carolina team that I just don’t believe in yet. Upset special, and a game ball to Gints GM Dave Gettleman, bravely fighting cancer as his new team bests his old one. (Giants 24-20)
Jacksonville (+2.5) over the CHIEFS — Yes, I’m still pissed that half-point cost me the Monday night game last week, plus I’m already getting tired of articles about Pat Mahomes (one even had the headline “Best QB in the League” this week — really? REALLY??). I’m sorry, but Andy Reid’s annual, inexplicable slide should be about ready to commence, and yes, the kid’s a talent, but he’s still a second-year QB, now facing a Top 5 defensive unit. There will only be one unbeaten team by Tuesday morning, and the Chiefs won’t be the one. (Jaguars 26-21)
Falcons (+3) over the STEELERS — Somethings’s gotta give in this matchup between one-win teams. You could make the case that the Falcons should be undefeated right now, and every week that goes by the Steelers remind me more and more of the NFL version of the Dodgers — plenty of talent, but unpredictable results. Something just smells wrong in Pittsburgh this year, and while they may still sneak into the playoffs once they get their act together, the rebound won’t begin until they suffer another home loss. I’m looking for Matty Ice to finally punch one in late to steal this one on the road. (Atlanta 38-34)
Raiders (+5) over LOS ANGELES (sorry, Geno) — I know it’s early in the Bolts’ L.A. experience, but I am far more likely to refer to the Raiders as being from L.A. than I am the Chargers these days. So call this one for Wally Cox, who I’m certain was a Silver and Black fan back in the day, and even sported a Ben Davidson-like mustache for a time in the early-’70’s. The Raiders have looked so bad on a weekly basis (even in winning, with that huge assist from the officials last week), that I see little logic behind this pick other than the Chargers don’t handle good fortune well either. (Oakland 27-26)
Cowboys (+3) over the TEXANS — What to do when two teams you don’t like play each other with only the obligatory “home team field goal” to guide you on the point spread? I’ll go with the hot running back (Zeke) over the hot Defensive End (J.J.), in a game that may actually turn out to be an entertaining one on Sunday night. (Cowboys 31-28)
Washington (+7) over NEW ORLEANS — Sorry, but I just won’t play ball and unwittingly support the smarmy Dan Snyder by referring to his D.C. football club by their nickname that is offensive to so many. But I will pick them against the spread, as the “other” Gruden has had an extra week to prepare, and even though New Orleans is in first place and covered easily last week, I didn’t think they looked all that good against the Giants. Drew Brees is always a handful, but look for Alex Smith to do his “game manager” thing and keep Brees off the field long enough for the Caps to eke out a close one. Washington 21-19
Last Week’s Six Picks Ledger: 3-2-1 (10-7-1 on the year)
Before we introduce this week’s LUCKY 7 guest prognosticator of the week, we need to bestow well-deserved props on last week’s guest — JJ from Alamo.
Not only did JJ become the first SportsAttic guest to correctly pick against the spread, but his bold prediction of Raiders-Browns being an overtime affair actually came to fruition! Well done, and certainly not unexpected, since JJ is a diehard Jets fan, meaning that in addition to obvious impeccable character, he possesses keen NFL insights as well.
Against that impossibly high bar of prognostication excellence, please join me in welcoming to SportsAttic this week’s LUCKY 7 guest prognosticator of the week — Reece from Lubbock, Texas!
In a desperate and transparent effort to appeal to a younger demographic, SportsAttic is heading to the collegiate ranks for this week’s guest (although I’m not sure the Underdog references will aid us in our pursuit of the twenty-something fan).
And despite the fact that Lubbock Reece identifies as an Astros and Rockets fan, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as he takes time away from his studies and the many wholesome activities he and his fraternity brothers undoubtedly engage in on weekends down at Texas Tech, to drop a little Southwest Texas wisdom on SportsAttic and our legion of followers:
Broncos (pick ’em) over the JETS — “Hey SportsAttic — I’m going with the Broncos in New York in a matchup between two QB’s that have been unproductive this year — Case Keenum and Sam Darnold. Darnold has only looked NFL-ready in a single game this year, the opener against the Lions, whereas Keenum has proven he can be productive in this league. Keenum needs to step up and shake the slump after that tough loss Monday night to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The Jets are the perfect team to bust his slump against. The difference here may be that Denver is capable of winning even when Keenum plays like shit (see Raiders game), but the Jets are winless when Sam goes bad. Look for Darnold to continue to make rookie mistakes and turn it over more than once against Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and a tough Broncos D. Denver arrives in New York angry and takes it out on the inexperienced QB to leave town with the win.” (Broncos 31-14)
SportsAttic take: Ouch. Nothing like the invincibility of youth delivering an uppercut to the jaw of AtticBro and Gang Green fans everywhere. Let’s see now, Case Keenum? THE Case Keenum?? Last I saw ole Case, wasn’t he the one shitting the bed and handing the NFC Championship to the Eagles? I agree with Lubbock Reece that the Jets haven’t shown they can overcome a subpar Sam the Man, but the Golden Age of Darnold begins in earnest tomorrow, and look for the Jets D to put some points on the board courtesy of the mediocre-at-best Keenum. (Jets 23-17)
So now with the certainties of Week 5 in the books, we return to the Pop Culture Trivia portion of our post.
ANSWER #1: For those of you who remembered “Simon Bar Sinister” as the evil villain of the old Underdog cartoon series, grab yourself a Schaefer, or some other retro beer from back in the day, and dial up an old Hollywood Squares on YouTube. You are a Trivia Winner!
ANSWER #2: And before he became the beloved Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones, it was none other than Peter Dinklage who played the evil Mr. Sinister in the ’07 flop.
Lastly, while still on the topic of unsung cartoons from days gone by, here are my Top 5 (and no, Scooby Doo is not an option — Scooby Doo was actually the New York Yankees of Saturday morning cartoons — we are digging deeper than that here at SportsAttic):
- Aquaman (and props to HBO’s Entourage for doing the big screen remake starring Vincent Chase)
- Ricochet Rabbit (even if Droop-a-long did usually steal the show)
- Dick Tracy (The Brow was one of my fave bad guys)
- Magilla Gorilla (“have you got a gorilla for sale…” — I’m a sucker for a catchy jingle)
- Mr. Magoo (not sure that one would pass through today’s politically correct filter due to the contentious relationship Magoo had with his Asian houseboy Charlie, but when Magoo got his car on the open road? Well, let’s just say it looked a lot like AtticBro behind the wheel before LASIK surgery. “Oh, Magoo, you’ve done it again!” )
Enjoy the weekend everyone!