Slack Lines, Week 2: The Prodigal Panel Returns

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 12, 2013



The Slack Lines (@CHFFSlackLines) crew puts the fun in painful, financially crippling gambling losses. Read more about this panel of maladjusted social misfits here in our Week 1 introduction. You might also consider buying a flower bouquet from one of them at the intersection of Mass. Ave. and Melnea Cass Blvd. in Boston.

Current Slack Lines standings:
Beau Sturm and J (@beausturm): 3-1
Nick Altschuller (@altschuller): 2-2
Jerry Thornton (@jerrythornton1): 1-3
Luke O’Neil (@lukeoneil47): 1-3
Matt Roberts (@KidRob21) 0-4

One week in the books, and we've got the bar owners on top and the demolition man on the bottom. Things should even out though, as they've all joined Jerry on the Eagles bandwagon. 

I'm not buying in to the Philly offense just yet, though. Sure, it's exciting. Of course it's impressive that last week was RGIII's big return, and still every TV viewer wanted his trick knee off the field so they could watch Michael Vick throw another lazer to Brent Celek.

Those are two aren't exactly fan favorites, while Griffin is the NFL's poster boy for cool. No one likes DeSean Jackson, including me, even though he's like my third cousin once removed. He's FAMILY and I boo him. Except last week. Last week I was cheering every post route and adding him to my Christmas card list.  

But this pace can't be kept. Not when Michael Vick is injury prone and stubbornly refuses to slide. And when his coach is apparently cool with that decision. This offense won't run with Nick Foles or Matt Barkley under center, and if the Eagles find themselves having to abruptly shift gears, I think the bandwagon blows its transmission. 

 

Luke studies up for NY Jets @ New England (-11.5)
butt fumbleAbout four days ago, we were looking at this game as a laugher, and then the Patriots barely squeaked by a hungry Bills team, the Jets pulled a miracle out of their ass over the hapless Bucs, and the entire Patriots receiving corps came up lamer than a pop culture reference in a sports column.

Since then we've heard that THE PATRIOTS AREN'T EVEN PRACTICING FOR THE JETS, and we’ve been regaled by the patron saint of whining, Ladainian Tomlinson, with his story about Rex Ryan telling his team that he once planned to punch Bill Belichick in the face.

So: bulletin board material for both teams, but it's not as if these two rivals need any motivation—especially since this is the first meeting since the Butt Fumble, the single greatest play in the history of sports. Sadly, we'll probably never see its like again.

While I'm tempted to say the Pats will handle the Jets, who came into the season ranked 32nd in some power polls (which actually seemed a little generous at the time), there's no doubt that they have the potential to disrupt Brady, who'll be throwing to Kenbrell “Brandon Lloyd” Thompkins and Julian Edelman, a.k.a. WW3, and no one else.

I would never ever, as a superstitious Pats homer, bet on the team, especially giving so many points. Plus, every single time I’ve bet on the Pats they end up losing. The 11.5 points is a gimme here.

It's going to be another nail-biter. And while we fans complain about that all season long, because we're in for a lot of them, let's not forget that back when they were winning Super Bowls the Patriots weren't blowing teams out every week.

Luke’s Pick: Jets

Luke’s Locks:
Chargers (+7.5) San Diego showed they can score points the other night against Houston, and that's a better defense than this Philly one. The Eagles should win, but not by this much.

49ers @ Seahawks (Over 44.5) Two great defenses, right? The under seems like the right bet, but both these teams can move the ball, and you can count on plenty of pent-up frustration from the now-bitter rivals to amount to plenty of penalty yards. That’ll move the ball while not moving the clock, leaving more time for both mobile quarterbacks to put up points.

Broncos (-4.5) ManningFace Bowl! Expect to see a lot more of the younger’s version in this one.

 

Nick probes Washington @ Green Bay (-7.5)
*Climbs up on soapbox*

I’ve been against the Redskins name for a while now, and just as periodicals and websites like Washington City Paper, The New Republic, Slate and The MMQB have announced this year that they’ll no longer use the word “Redskins,” I’m officially following suit.

However, I’ll be taking my protest one step further. From now on, I will refer to the team as the Washington Whities. While this may seem blatantly antagonistic, I don’t mean any offense by this name change, and let the record show that as a person not of color, I’m not offended by the term “whitey.”

In fact, I think the name speaks to D.C.’s proud Caucasian heritage, as well as the strength, courage and pride of all white people in our nation’s capital. This is simply an alternate name I think we should try on for size.

With that being said, another color that’s been associated with the Whities all week is rust. RGIII looked tentative against the Eagles and hesitant to run on his surgically perhaps-not-all-the-way repaired knee.

The league leader in QB rushing yards in 2012 only managed 24 last week. As the Green Bay defense proved, they can, in fact, keep a quarterback from killing them with the run (unlike last year’s playoffs). Niners QB Colin Kaepernick managed only 22 yards on seven rushes.

Instead, he carved the Packers up through the air, to the tune of a career-high 412 yards. But RGIII doesn’t have the receivers Kaepernick does, and right now he’s a step slower.

Being a step slower, and seeing how macho NFL laws apparently mandate that only wimpy, non-leaders hook slide, means that Griffin will still be in bounds when Clay Mathews launches himself, like Raiden from Mortal Kombat,at his sternum (pop culture reference!). 


raiden

 

Nick’s Pick: Packers

Nick’s Locks:
Broncos @ NY Giants (Over 55) Neither team rushed for more than 100 yards last week. Neither team even knows who’s their top back. Doesn’t matter. Last week the Manning brothers combined for 912 yards and 11 touchdowns. Bombs away.

Bears (-6) We all saw Adrian Peterson rip off a 78-yarder on his first play from scrimmage last week. But he averaged less than a yard per carry on his next 17 attempts. The Bears will load the box, and what? Get beaten by Christian Ponder through the air at Soldier Field?

NY Jets @ Patriots (Over 43.5) The Pats will be looking to lay down the law during their home opener. And if Stevan Ridley ever wants to grab the reigns, now would be a GREAT time. I think the third back on depth chart right now is Marion Butts.

 

Beau (and J) tag team Denver @ NY Giants (+4.5)
J and I’ll feed you a bunch of stats and whatnot over the next few months, but this week, let me tell you a little story:

The first time I played my big brother in football was in the annual Turkey Bowl, a Thanksgiving morning sandlot game of school friends, high school football players, college football players home on break, older brothers and townies reliving the dream for one more day.

My older brother wanted to be on my team. I insisted that we be on opposite teams, so I could kick his ass and rub his face in his own blood. How’d it turn out? He thoroughly embarrassed me, hurt me, scored every touchdown, and he didn’t say one arrogant or boastful word to me.

Eli hates Payton—trust me. Eli won two Super Bowls. His big bro has only won one, barely. Eli beat Tom f’n Brady for all the marbles! Have you guys seen Brady? He’s perfect. Big brother couldn’t do it, but Eli did. Twice! But we all know the truth: Eli kinda sucks, and Peyton is arguably the best QB ever. Just look at what happened last week. 

Peyton

To conclude, I’d like to share a poignant and in-depth analysis of this complicated rivalry. 

Like you didn’t know that was coming?

Beau’s pick: Broncos. Peyton goes 3-0 head-to-head vs. little bro.

J’s Lock’s:
Eagles (-7.5)
I’m jumping on the Philly bandwagon and getting comfortable. The Texans took the first half off last week and still beat the Chargers. Imagine what it’s going to look like when San Diego faces an offense running a play roughly every 22.4 seconds, as the Eagles did in Week 1.

The Chargers can’t protect the ball, which means their defense will be on the field a lot. On the field a lot means they’ll be tired trying to keep up. Philly will be sharper in its second run with Chip Kelly’s prollege—See what I did there? It’s professional and college in one word—style offense. The Eagles are a fantasy football player’s dream.

Chiefs (-3)
On paper, I don’t see how in the heck the Chiefs, coming off a 2-14 season, would ever be favored against the Cowboys, who have all those weapons. But truth be told, I like them to cover.

With all the bumps and bruises on the Cowboys roster it’s impossible not to see that affecting their outputs. K.C. will use its ground game and the reliable Alex Smith (yeah, I said it) to control the tempo and not enter into a shootout with Dallas.

The Cowboys would have been dead in the water last week if not for the Giants troubles turning the ball over, and the Chiefs aren’t going to afford them the same luxury. Expect big days from Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe. 

Saints (-3.5)
I’m picking New Orleans to roll in this one, mainly because Tampa cost me my Week 1 pick against the Jets, and I’m bitter.

The Saints need to figure out how to run the ball if they want to contend for a Super Bowl, but I don’t think it matters this week. The other coach Ryan, the one who’s still fat, seems to have duct-taped together a defense that’s looking to improve on the worst statistical season in NFL history.

If they stop Doug Martin and make Tampa play from behind, there’s no way the Bucs can keep up through the air. I think huge days from Brees and Graham lead the Saints to an easy victory. And by the way, what happened to Mark Ingram? Pick up Pierre Thomas if you’re looking for a fantasy add.



Matt game plans for San Francisco @ Seattle (-3)
I’m still a bit salty over last year’s Patriots loss to the Seahawks. More than the loss itself, the thing that sticks in my craw is Dickey Sherman’s “U Mad Bro?” meme-trolling of Tom Terrific on Twitter.

Now, I like a good meme as much as the next teen, but memes should be fun and light, like Grumpy Cat or World’s Most Interesting Man parodies, not bitingly anti-Patriot. The fact that Petesy “Pumped & Jacked” Carroll happened to be coaching the Seahawks only makes the saltiness saltier.

This is the former Pats coach who made the team worse by a game every year, through a series of backslaps and woo- hoos, until the roster was stripped bare.

Uncle Pete now finds himself flush with talent on both sides of the ball. Previously derided QB Russell Wilson is now a media darling, his intangibles so far off the charts he reads the field like Neo from The Matrix. It’s all just a series of numbers and symbols streaming in front of his eyes.

KaepernickOn the opposite sideline stalks tweaker extraordinaire Jim Harbaugh. His nervous ticks and incessant gum chewing are totally unnerving.

Brilliant game-planning aside, if he ever got exposed as a closet carpet farmer, no one would be surprised.

While 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick appears to have gotten the good genes over his long-lost brother in a Schwarzenegger/DeVito Twins-type situation, he’s been no stranger to controversy. His tattoos (gasp!) and Dolphins hat have provided plenty of ammo to hacky columnists looking to bash a true talent.

Seattle will regress this season, and their home-field advantage won’t be a factor in this game. Look for a better-coached Niners team to dictate the pace and style of the game, and win outright. 

Mattʼs Pick: 49ers

Matt’s Stone-Cold Locks of the Century (of the Week):
Lions (-1.5)

Ainʼt no party like a Detroit party cuz a Detroit party don’t stop. I’m also marriage-contractually obligated to pick the Lie-downs as much as possible.

Rams (+6.5)
St. Louis beats the Falcons in a track meet, one dome team over another.

Eagles (-7.5) I did a full 180 on Chip’s Eagles. Now I’m drinking the Kool Aid.

 

Jerry dissects Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (-7)
My off-the-field issues with Ben Roethlisberger are well documented. First and foremost, unlike in Big Ben’s past, I've always been about putting the ladies on a pedestal. 

Also, Roethlisberger’s long had a reputation as an arrogant, narcissistic goober with no respect for those who built his city on the rock ’n’ roll of Super Bowl championships. I mean, who can't be nice to Terry Bradshaw? 

Even if you don't like him braying like a donkey on the FOX NFL Sunday panel, how can you not respect his star turn as Coach Morton on the very special graduation episode of Blossom?

Still, by all accounts, Roethlisberger appears to have cleaned up his act, and perhaps he's started to earn the much-coveted Slack Lines Benefit of the Doubt (TM, all rights reserved).

DaltonAndy Dalton, though, is another story. I'm getting increasingly fed up with him squandering perhaps the greatest opportunity of any famous person in America. 

With all due respect to the name Andy (the name of my favorite TV sheriff and the name of the owner of my favorite sheriff from an animated movie) there’s no excuse for not dropping his first name and just going with Dalton.

How could you not? You could go through life answering to the name of the greatest character in modern fiction, a philosophy-major-turned-bouncer who saves a small town and rips throats in the process? And you choose not to? 

That’s a crime against humanity. Believe you me; if my name was Dalton, and I was a quarterback, I'd inspire my troops with nothing BUT lines from Road House

"Pain don't hurt."  
"I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."  
"Take the biggest guy in the world, shatter his knee, and he'll drop like a stone." 

 

There’s nothing sadder in the world than a wasted opportunity.

That said, the entire AFC North stands at 0-1, but the Steelers are coming off a game where their highlight was an unforced Tennessee safety on the opening kickoff. And they averaged just 2.1 yards per rush, which is less than they would've gotten if Big Ben just toppled forward on every play. Pittsburgh needs the Pirates to make a World Series run now more than ever because they're in for a long football season.

Jerry's Pick: Bengals

Jerry's Locks:
NY Jets (+12.5) I can't believe I'm going with the Jets. But New England is so beat up at the skill positions it's as simple as explaining cell phone plans to preschoolers. "What's better? Having all your players healthy, or only a few of your players healthy?"

Philadelphia (-7.5) Chip Kelly is experimenting with formations that split his offensive linemen out to the hash marks. The Chargers are exploring new and better ways to Norv up big leads late in games.

Saints (-3.5) Tampa Bay simply wasn’t ready for what the Jets were bringing. They completely underestimated Geno Smith's ability to draw a stupid penalty while getting pushed out of bounds in crunch time.

Until next week, folks.

Follow @CHFFSlackLines for more inane commentary. 


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