Slack Lines, Week 8: No Fear of the Underdog

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 24, 2013



The Slack Lines crew (@CHFFSlackLines) puts the fun in painful, financially crippling gambling losses. Read more about this panel of maladjusted social misfits here in our Week 1 introduction.

Most of them are Red Sox fans, in case you needed a reason to further dislike them.

 

Current Slack Lines Standings:
Luke O’Neil (@lukeoneil47): 16-12

Jerry Thornton (@jerrythornton1): 11-17
Nick Altschuller (@altschuller): 11-17
Beau Sturm and J (@beausturm): 10-18
Matt Roberts (@KidRob21): 9-18-1

Some big home dogs this week. The Vikings are getting nine. The Rams are getting over 10. Jerry’s going right wing amongst a fairly liberal group. (You know, ObamaCare would help the NFL get out from under all these concussion lawsuits.)

But either democrat or republican, none of us are taking the handouts. (The Jaguars are getting 16.5? No, thank you. I prefer to start more than two touchdowns in the hole and pull myself up by my bootstraps... By the way, can you spot me some bootstraps? I've sold mine for lunch money.)

This week, we're all united behind our enthusiasm for frontrunners. If they win, we win together. If they lose, it was the other idiot's fault. 'Cause that's the American way.

On to the picks!

 

Nick on Carolina @ Tampa Bay (+6)
Things have gone from bad to worse for Tampa Bay, which is amazing because their season started with a flesh-eating bacteria attack. (Guard Carl Nicks actually had to have surgery to scrape the infection off a bone in his foot. The words “bone” and “scrape” should never been associated, unless we’re talking about a terrible heavy metal band.)

Since then, Josh Freeman was run out of town, Doug “Muscle Hamster” Martin injured his shoulder, and the rest of the team has come down with a case of “Starting QB: Mike Glennon.”

The Panthers, meanwhile, are heating up. Over the past two games—both victories—Cam Newton is 35 for 43 with four passing TDs, one rushing touchdown and no picks. Jonathon Stewart returns this week to bolster their top-10 running attack (130.2 yards per game) and further infuriate fantasy owners of DeAngelo Williams. And now Steve 

SmithSmith is in full-on Kill Mode after his tussle last week with Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Pissing off Steve Smith isn’t like kicking a sleeping dog; it’s like awakening an ancient curse. The man is certifiable. Steve Smith found The Silence of the Lambs unrealistic because, in his words, “Everyone knows you don’t pair liver with Chianti.”

The Panthers defense is tough, as well. Ranked seventh in Defensive Passer Rating, their backfield features my new favorite player, Captain Munnerlyn, though part of me wishes he had chosen a career in the military. (Yes, sir, Lieutenant Colonel Captain Munnerlyn!)

With one of the best front sevens in the league, Carolina is ranked fourth in Defensive Rusher Rating, with studs like Luke Kuechly and Star Lotulelei ready to ball up rookie backup RB Mike James and punt him out of Raymond James Stadium. During the 2012 college football season, many had Lotulelei penned in as a top-three pick in the draft before it was revealed he had a heart infection, and he subsequently dropped to 14th. Now he’s in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

See, Carl Nicks? That’s how you bounce back from an infection. Just rub some dirt on it, and get out there! (I would not rub dirt on it.)
Nick’s Pick: Panthers

Nick’s Locks: 
Chiefs (-7.5) This season, the undefeated Chiefs have played against Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Terrelle Pryor, Case Keenum and the corpse of Eli Manning. That’s not a murderous row, and Kansas City has squished them all.

Terrelle Pryor is fast, and they sacked him nine times. They sacked Mike Vick six times. This week the Chiefs D faces off against another triple-backup in Jason Campbell, who runs like it’s going out of style—and in an effort to look cool, he refuses to do so.

The Chiefs will beat the spread, and if this line was the over/under on sacks, they’d beat that, too. 
Seahawks (-11) To be honest, I just want the Seahawks to blow the Rams off the field so that we have another god-awful Monday night game. I get a sick pleasure from it. We’re THIS close to Jon Gruden cursing on live TV and Mike Tirico storming off set. 
49ers (-16.5) Vegas keeps throwing out astronomical numbers, and Jacksonville is still 1-6 against the spread. It’s sad. Although I do like their new honey-dipped helmets. Ferocious! 


Luke on Dallas @ Detroit (-3)
Well, look who's leading the standings now. Not so awful at picking games after all, am I? Of course I haven't actually been trusting my own advice, and I'm still losing my actual bets, but still.

It's been a while since these two played—2011, wherein Tony Romo put in one of the most Tony Romo stat lines ever, going for 331 yards, 3 TDs and 3 INTs—and they're two completely different teams. Both are 4-3, and both are capable of either unloading a dump truck of points or completely shitting the bed... Actually that sounds like they're the same team, never mind. They could be the exact same team.

stafford

Aside from the win-loss record, Romo and Stafford have almost identical numbers so far, with 15 TDs a piece, five picks to four, and 2010 to 2129 yards, respectively. Demarco Murray has 91 carries for 428 yards, while Reggie Bush has 98 for 426. Dez Bryant is averaging 13.5 yards and has six TDs, while Megatron has been good for 14.9 and six of his own. Also their color schemes are very similar. YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP.

What does any of that mean for this week's matchup? Nothing. Dallas is getting three points, and they're 6-1 against the spread this year, but Murray and Austin are questionable. Also questionable: your taste in music and fashion. That probably won't have much of an effect on this one either, but it's important to take all factors into consideration if you want to be a professional bettor like me. That said, I'm taking the points.

Luke's Pick: Cowboys

Luke's Locks:
Cowboys @ Lions (Over 51) Neither of these teams are going to be able to stop each other, so this game will come down to who can avoid the most boners, which sounds like the premise of the worst porn ever.
Dolphins (+6.5) I know I said Miami was a fraud a while back, but I have a bug in my computer that autocorrects the Patriots to the Dolphins, which is an oversight I should've corrected. New England doesn't usually lose two in a row, and they never lose at home, which would be great if New England annexed the rest of the country and assimilated the rest of you weird fans of other teams, but unless that happens after this posts, take Miami and the points. I think the Patriots will probably win this one, but there is literally no telling with this team anymore.
Seahawks (-11) The Rams reportedly asked Brett Favre to come out of retirement, and have been rumored to be looking at Tim Tebow. That is all the information I need.

 

Matt on Miami @ New England (-6.5)
In his recent article on Red Sox fandom for Esquire, Luke points out that word association for “Boston” returns answers almost exclusively related to sports, and more specifically, annoying/abrasive sports fans. If I were to do a word association for “New York,” my response would be "Jets." And if I were to do one for “Jets fans,” my response would be "barnyard animals."

Losing to the Jets is the worst. Due to that loss, I owe a friend unlimited dinner and drinks, a bet I will almost certainly welch on. However, he doesn't drink, so if I do pay out, it should be an eventful evening filled with bottomless Roy Rogers' and a never-ending bowl of popcorn shrimp.

I definitely fit the bill of the loud-mouthed, trash-talking Boston stereotype who thinks its edgy to wear his Sox cap out when visiting friends in Queens. After Victorino won the ALCS Saturday night, I blathered on to anyone who would listen about how the Field of Dreams line would play better as "Is this Heaven? No, it's Boston." I fancy myself a modern day Sully or Murph, with a 10-cent vocabulary and a college education (I know, I can't believe it either).

I realize that not everyone who’s a fan of Boston sports would want to be nationally represented by this caricature, but it doesn't bother me. The consensus reading of the Boston sports fan is of course inaccurate, as is my portrayal of Jets fans as mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers (maybe). I enjoy the national (sports) vitriol towards Boston, and my attitude towards the rest of the country could be well summed up by quoting Millwall supporters: "No one likes us, we don't care."

Definitely not doing us any favors by comparing Boston to the most notorious and illustrious hooligans in English football, but as our supreme chief and leader would say, "It is what it is." 
Matt's Pick: Patriots

Matt’s Locks o’ the Week:
Seahawks (-11) I would have liked this line even if Sam Bradford hadn't suffered a season-ending injury last week. Now that Kellen Clemens is starting, this is the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth. Clemens once lost a QB competition to Mark Sanchez, and I don't expect he has aged like wine.
Clemens
Eagles (-5.5) Here's hoping that Mike & Chip put all the delusional "the G-Men can still make the playoffs" callers on WFAN to the sword. Even the Giants-loving Sports Pope himself knows it’s impossible.
Lions (-3) This game's potential to set the record for DERP-iest game in NFL history is off the charts. No two franchises have contrived ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory more effectively than the Lions and Cowboys. Schwartz and Romo come in as a PICK 'EM as to who will blow the game for their respective team.

 

J on Green Bay @ Minnesota (+9)
This is like the four-foot gimme-putt you just pick up because it’s too easy. The Vikings suck and couldn't stop Beau tossing the stupid West Virginia veer to himself.

(Note from Beau: WVU runs a spread pistol offense now, dumbass.)

The only thing Minnesota had going for it was Adrian Peterson and his run to 2K. Well, that ain’t gonna happen, homie. On top of that, they brought in an MRSA-infected quarterback in Josh Freeman, who Beau cursed in 2009 by saying "That kid’s going to be a star."
(I did say that. Don’t listen to a word of my betting advice.)

Meanwhile, Green Bay loses their three top passing targets last week and just kept on trucking. Doesn’t matter who’s running routes when Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback. It’s hard to drop passes thrown directly into your hands.

Rodgers

Lacy runs all day. James Jones returns this week, and Jordy Nelson continues to be one of the most consistent WRs no one talks about. Another ho-hum day at the office for Rodgers as the Pack rolls on. These two teams shouldn’t even play this game. Just pick up.

Fantasy spoiler: If you picked up Jarrett Boykin and are expecting him to save your garbage fantasy team, think again. Trade him now. 
J’s Pick: Packers

Beau’s Locks:
Missouri (+3) Remember that time I said Missouri isn’t that good, then they went out and destroyed Florida with a backup freshman QB? Well, I’m still not buying the Tigers as a real contender, but I do think that they can beat the Ol’ Ball Coach’s Gamecocks, especially seeing the big drop off at QB since Connor Shaw went down.
Oklahoma (-7) This is the first time this season that Texas Tech, lead by coach Kliff Kingsbury (doesn’t it seem like he was playing just a couple of years ago?), will face a real defense, or any defense for that matter. After an embarrassing loss to Texas last weekend, Oklahoma will be playing with the proverbial chip on their shoulder.
Chiefs (-7.5) I won’t give in. Every single time I’ve bet against Cleveland, I’ve lost.  Now, they travel to the home of the last unbeaten NFL team, where they just set the world record for crowd noise. I have railed about the lack of skill positions and the rebuilt offensive line that makes the rebuilt transmission in my 15-year-old SUV look like a Ferrari. To add insult to injury, they start yet another quarterback. I won’t be downed by the Browns. 

 

Jerry on Seattle at St. Louis (+11)
Any way you look at it, this is going to be a tough task. Maybe the toughest challenge we'll see on Monday Night Football all season. Not for St. Louis, so much. I'm talking about the Herculean effort it will take for Jon Gruden to pump Kellen Clemens' tires all night. Clemens couldn't start over one of the quietest draft busts of our time. He couldn't be trusted with an offense averaging a paltry 6.44 YPA, the third-worst offense in the NFL.  

And that's the task that's before Gruden this week. America may have lost its faith in its leaders, its institutions, its churches and itself. But if there's one segment of the population that's above criticism, it's Monday Night Football quarterbacks. At least while Chuckie is the XO on this ship. Gruden strictly adheres to the QB Infallibility Doctrine. No other species, save perhaps college basketball coaches—"Coach Carpetbag is just doing an absolutely tremendous job with the young kids in this program”—sits atop the food chain in an ecosystem so entirely devoid of predators the way MNF QBs do. So it'll take a lot of prep work and dedication on his part to turn Clemens into a Gruden Grinder, instead of Grind-ing him up into rhetorical dust. 

gruden

If I may be so bold, I'm going to suggest Gruden take some of his old verbal tongue-baths directed at other nondescript QBs and just copy and paste Clemens in there, Mad Libs-style. 

"I wanna tell you, Mike. You talk about making that elite throw. Well, that WAS an elite throw by [Kellen Clemens]. I'm telling ya, not too many guys can put it through a tight window like that. That is a BIG TIME pass. And that's why I always call him'[Kellen] Big Time Throw' because NOBODY makes the Big Time throws the way [Clemens] does. I'm really excited about what we're seeing out of this kid right now..."  

Hey, the public believed Obamacare would work; they'll believe this too.
Jerry’s Pick: Seattle


Jerry's Locks: 
Chiefs (-7.5) Kansas City remains the only unbeaten team in football at 8-0. A group of embattled coaches, so sick of their owners saying, "Why can't you be more like Andy? Andy never loses, and look at how bad his team was last year. I bet HIS owner is so proud of him..." start a Mean Girls-like "I Hate Andy Reid" Facebook page. 
Dolphins (+6.5) The Patriots score a late touchdown to cover. However the play is brought back after Dolphins' coach Joe Philbin alerts the officials that New England is in violation of an old Massachusetts Bay Colony statute still on the books that reads "Should thy neighbor trespass upon thy land unwelcome, he shall be evicted, his heirs made to suffer with the lash and his wife burned for witchcraft." In his postgame presser, Belichick admits he was not aware of the law, and that he hated losing the points more than his sons or Linda Holliday.
Jets (+6.5) Fresh off their success against New England, the Jets continue to abstain from sex. Antonio Cromartie returns three interceptions for touchdowns, develops a universally accepted Unified Field Theory of physics and fixes the Obamacare website. 

Until next week, folks. 

Follow @CHFFSlackLines for more inane commentary.

 


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