The Play Pen
Slack Lines III, Week 1
Betting advice by morons, for morons
Two years ago, Slack Lines set out to prove the futility of sports gambling. We succeeded with flying colors.
(Although, seeing as how we succeeded in proving pointlessness, I’ll say we flourished with neutral tones, like beige, ivory and taupe.)
With a record floating just above .500, I am the two-time reigning Slack Lines champ. That’s not a boast. That’d be like bragging about how long it’s been since you last vomited. (Seven years and counting!)
Things will be different in season three. We’ve got more writers. We’re giving you more picks. Slack Lines is bigger and badder. At the very least, it’s equally as mediocre.
Returning with me for season three is Rory Duyon. You may know Rory from his sportscaster gigs. (“Bentley hockey! So ‘Ice’ to Meet You!”) I know Rory as the craziest sports statistician I have ever known. He’s like Neo from The Matrix, if Neo was stuck exclusively in Microsoft Excel.
Joining the Slack Lines team is Matt Roberts. He’s a man of many nicknames, tattoos and trades. He calls himself a union laborer and a “project manager,” but I know that’s just code for EXPLOSIVES expert, and he’s looking out for my safety by trying not to get me involved in his shadowy deeds. What a sweetheart. At first, you think he’s a dark storm cloud, then you realize he’s just a wad of pink cotton candy someone dropped in the dirt.
Next up, we’ve got Cedric Adams. If you’ve ever walked into Silvertone, Cedric’s probably handed you a Miller High Life and a shot of Chartreuse. Why? Because yellow and green are the colors of his favorite football team: The Barcelona Dragons. (He’s also quite found of the Packers.)
Beau Sturm is joining the ranks. Beau is a Steelers fan, and he co-owns Trina’s Starlite Lounge and Parlor Sports, where I encourage you all to drink and poke fun at him. Not because of the Steelers thing, but because this is a man who drives a muscle car to work then mixes a drink named the "Call Me Maybe." Seriously. You will answer for you duplicitousness, Sturm!
Rounding out the team is Greg Reeves. Greg is a Giants fan. He’s also the chef at Green Street Grill, where if any burger is ordered “Eli style,” Greg will purée it, serve it in sippy cup and come by your table to burp you personally. Warning: Never order anything “LT style.”
This season, each Slack Lines contributor will be providing a preview of one game, along with three additional Iron Lock Picks o’ the Week. As usual, we’ll have standings and a winner shall be determined. Follow along and root for your favorite. Do not gamble along with your favorite if you enjoy a good credit standing.
Without further ado, on to the picks!
Greg on: Philadelphia @ Cleveland (+9)
This summer, Mr. Mike Vick wasn’t talking about a game, and to please Allen Iverson, he wasn’t talking about practice either. He brought up something way bigger. He was talking about DYNASTY. Way to go, your team went 8-8 last year and didn’t make the playoffs. I think he’s been huffing some leftover dog tranquilizers. Then again, it doesn’t really matter what Vick’s been talking about because he starts the season off against the Browns. They may be the worst drafting franchise around. As many say, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Cleveland has 26 players who’re either rookies or in their second year. Cleveland rookie QB Brandon Weeden will be comic because he’ll be weeded all day trying to avoid Cole, Babin, and Graham. Just kidding about Graham. Who knows if Trent Richardson will be effective, after having multiple offseason knee surgeries.
I see Philthy rolling and dropping a nice steamy one on Cleveland. Greg’s Pick: Iggles
Iron Locks: Aint’s (-7), Hotlanta (-3), Blitzburgh (+1.5)
Rory on: New England @ Tennessee (+5.5)
At long last, the NFL returns, and we can watch our 2012 AFC East Division Champion New England Patriots. Seriously, if they had T-shirts made, would anybody be surprised? The Patriots have won the last eight division titles when Tom Brady has been healthy. Coincidentally, that’s the number of run-ins with the law Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt has had since he was drafted in 2009. As a result, Britt will be watching Sunday’s game in street clothes due to a one-game suspension
Can we talk about this for a second? How exactly does someone get arrested eight times in three years? When you’re young and wealthy, is it that hard to amuse yourself without breaking the law? When you’ve got millions in the bank, I don’t care if you’re out clubbing on the moon. Just take a cab home. You can afford it. Rory’s Pick: Patriots
Iron Locks: Oakland (-1), Buffalo (+3), St. Louis (+7.5)
The Raiders are playoff bound for the first time in 10 years (remember where you heard it first). I predict Kenny Britt gets arrested again before the Jets offense scores another touchdown. And the Rams, because my girlfriend says so.
Cedric on: San Francisco @ Green Bay (-4.5)
Redemption seasons start at home this year! Aaron Rogers has too many downfield options for the 49er's defense. Look for Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson to burn San Fran’s linebacker corps. The only question is whether the Packers defense can get off field on third down. Expect lots of Lambeau leaps early, and the Packers defense to barely hang on. Cedric’s Pick: Packers
Iron Locks: New Orleans (-7), Baltimore (-6), Seattle (-2.5)
If Seattle is favored in their rookie quarterback’s debut, and they’re on the road, AND they suck, how bad must the Cardinals be?
Beau on: Pittsburgh @ Denver (-1.5)
On January 8th, 2012, I was on my way home from West Virginia and got dropped off at Pittsburgh International Airport three hours early so I wouldn’t miss a minute of a layup playoff game that would put my Steelers in the AFC Championship game with the hated New England Patriots. Eight to 10 IC Lights later, I was on a flight home with nothing but blurry recollections of Tim Tebow throwing over the deep middle on the best defense in the league.
I want revenge badly, but here’s what makes me pump the brakes: The Steelers offensive line (that already sucked) is now injured; we don’t have a serviceable running back; our thin defensive backfield won’t have one of it’s best players because his organs will fail at high altitude; and for the first time in my 38 years of existence, I'm worried about our linebacking corps. Whatever…
The Denver faithful (a term that isn’t quite as meaningful now that Tebow is a Jet) has yet to see how Payton 2.0 will get up off the mat after taking a good ol’ NFL hit. Well, win or lose, the Black and Gold will abide. Beau’s pick: Broncos
Iron Locks: (I just wanna put this out there: I hate every line this week)
Cinci (+6) Dalton is for real and Baltimore’s D is old; Bears (-10); Seattle (-2.5) This may be the last time I pick Seattle to win this season.
Matt on: Cincinnati @ Baltimore (-6)
The Ravens claim this is the year they expand the passing game. Well, a monkey wearing silk dungarees is still a monkey, and a bad quarterback in an expanded passing game is still a bad quarterback (see: Flacco, Joe). The inﬂuence in this game will come from the D, with Lardarius Webb criminally underrated at corner, and Haloti Ngata clogging the line. They receive the baton from Ray “overrun the play then celebrate with teammates after a 7 yard gain” Lewis, and Ed Reed, who has been rocking the hipster beard since James Harden was going to the picnic with his daddy and coming home with his mama.
The Bengals are putting their faith in ﬂaming redhead Andy Dalton and wideout AJ Green, who’s a bonaﬁde stud. After those two at the top, the situation gets murkier. They went out in the offseason and signed BenJarvus Green-Ellis, whose main strength as a player is not fumbling. He mastered the most basic rule of being a running back, but failed to understand any of the nuance. So to clarify: running in a straight line and not-dropping an oblong slab of inﬂated leather will get you $9 million over three years.
I donʼt see Cincy being able to score at all against BʼMore at home, and expect the Ravens to overrun and overwhelm them, much like they did to the Steelers in Week 1 last year. This one gets ugly early, the Ravens put it in cruise control, and we all make hilarious Wire references in our head during the 4th quarter. Mattʼs pick: Baltimore
Iron Locks: Lions (-7.5), Bills (+3), Steelers (+1.5), Modell (-6)
Nick on: San Diego @ Oakland (-1)
Apparently Northern California is where USC quarterbacks go to retire. Last season, Carson Palmer willingly sat at home, not collecting a paycheck, rather than suit up for the Bengals. After he was traded to the Raiders, he proceeded to throw 16 picks in 10 games. His backup is Matt Leinart, and my sources tell me he’s been fined repeatedly for wearing Sperry Top-Siders on the sideline.
Making matters worse, Palmer, who's just a husk of a QB at this point, has no one to throw the ball to. Darrius Heyward-Bey is known for two things: a 4.25 40 and not being able to catch. Sadly, an NFL football field is the one place on Earth where running quickly away from your mistakes doesn’t solve anything. Wideouts Jacoby Ford and Denarious Moore are hurt. Right now, Oakland is counting on undrafted rookie Rod Streater and Jabar Gaffney, who was signed on Wednesday after being cut by the Pats.
We all know Darren McFadden is going to look great in this game. And we all know he’s going to get hurt around Week 6 and be worthless for the rest of the season. Like McFadden, the Chargers love to start a season strong, and then finish in a disappointing, totally predictable fashion. Nick’s Pick: Chargers
Diamond-Clad Locks: Chiefs (+3), Cardinals (+2.5), Texans (-12)
Until next week.
Email Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the Slack Lines team on Twitter: @altschuller, @roryduyon, @beausturm and @KidRob21