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. No writers were hazed in making of this blog.

Current Slack Lines Standings:
Luke O’Neil (@lukeoneil47): 18-18

Nick Altschuller (@altschuller): 16-20
Jerry Thornton (@jerrythornton1): 15-21
Beau Sturm and J (@beausturm): 14-21-1
Matt Roberts (@KidRob21): 12-23-1

I've only been "hazed" a few times in my life. 

I went to boarding school, and, as is typical for teenage boys, we were disgusting people. My sophomore year, someone clogged a toilet, and rather than find a plunger, the suspect—I know who it was, but I AIN'T NO RAT—did what any idiot teenage boy would do, which was to cross his fingers, flush the toilet 47 times, and run away when that porcelain levee couldn't hold those brown flood waters any longer. 

The entire dorm was punished, and as this wasn't the first time we underclassmen had acted like entitled jerks, the upperclassmen decided to toughen us up and haze us into respectability. 

There was a 2 am wakeup call with flashlights in our eyes and pillowcases over our heads. We were rustled into the bathroom and made to do pushups (Eeew! I know what's been on this floor!). We were thrown into cold showers and told to straighten up and fly right. It was all... kind of awesome. 

I know that may sound weird, but: A) It wasn't my poop; B) Someone turned the knob too far, and my cold shower was more of a tepid rinse; and C) It felt like being in a movie. (Quick, give me a terrible nickname I'll never shake!)

Plus, the experience felt more like a right of passage than a case of bullying. It served a purpose. We were idiots, and in a fairly benign way, we were taught a lesson. What's more, it's not like we didn't see it coming, and in the morning we were all friends again. 

I think following those guidelines is the key to hazing, and Richie Incognito broke them. Adhere to rules of common sense, and things don't go off the rails. In prep school, EVERYONE KEEPS THEIR DICK IN THEIR SHORTS. In the NFL, hey, maybe lay off the n-word. 

To use another example, in college, hazing's most fertile ground, some sports teams got in trouble for the old "throw the freshmen in the basement with a case of booze, and don't let them out until it's finished" ritual. (Hard to work a door handle with a 0.3 BAC.) As a result, the captains of my track team were encouraged to take a drastically different route for our annual kangaroo court. 

What they did was stuff dozens of snack bags with prunes, and throughout the evening they'd throw them in our faces and demand that we eat them. At the end of the night, I had a mild buzz and a full stomach, but a general sense of being let down. (No forced cross-dressing? You mean I shaved my legs FOR NOTHING?) 

My feelings changed at around 4 am that morning. Hell hath no fury like two pounds of insoluble fiber. But even in that state, I could see the whole experience as funny, and more importantly, I knew exactly where the plunger was. I had learned my lesson years ago, and I would not let history repeat itself. 


Beau on Detroit @ Chicago (+2.5)
Jay Cutler has been adamant that he’s going to be ready for this Sunday’s battle for the top of NFC North, despite suffering what’s been called a “serious groin injury” in Week 7.


But Mr. Cutler doesn’t do well with pain. Remember this image from the 2010 playoffs, when he went down with his infamous knee “injury” and mentally shut down on the sidelines?

Plan B for the Bears is heading back out there with Josh McCown. After drafting McCown in the third round, Arizona Cardinal’s quarterback guru and future Hall of Fame coach Dennis Green—for those of you who can’t dial into the sarcasm, he is neither of those things—said, "I think he's going to be a great one, when I buy into a quarterback, I really do." 

Ten years have passed since then, and in that decade McCown has manned such football powers as the 3-13 2006 Detroit Lions and the 2010 Hartford Colonials of the UFL.

After glancing at the Chicago quarterback situation, do I really even need to talk about Detroit’s fierce defensive line, their third-ranked offense, or Calvin Johnson going against Chicago’s 26th ranked defense? Well, I guess I just did.
Beau’s Pick: Lions

Beau’s Locks:
Cowboys (+7)
I’m still sticking with Romo for the entire month of November, even though they blew the spread last week with what seems like the only kind of win they can get: a last-minute, come-from-behind nail-biter.

LSU (+12)
The Tigers are 0-2 versus good teams this season. Alabama is a good team—the number one team, to be specific. But this is a rivalry game that still has meaning in the SEC. LSU has NFL-quality talent on both sides of the ball and two touchdowns is too much in this kind of game, even if they’re playing in Tuscaloosa. As a sidenote: If you saw the 60 minutes piece on Coach Saban, you’ll be rooting for LSU on the money line.

Texas (-7) The Longhorns will destroy WVU in Morgantown, but bet on Mountaineer fans to be loud, hammered, rude and burning couches anyway! Woo Hoo!! Go Mountaineers!


Matt on Denver @ San Diego (+7)
Certain things come to mind when one hears the name Peyton Manning: forehead the 
size of a drive-in movie theater, resembles a horse, races tractors through a mud bog in the offseason (probably).


peytonBut the VERY FIRST thing that pops into MY head when Peyton is brought up: Papa John Schattner, a true legend. The guy is the national version of New England’s Ernie Boch, Jr., but instead of rocking the blues and flipping cars down the auto mile, he's slinging bold-flavored 'za from coast to coast, with an inimitable, devil-may-care attitude and the panache of a Prohibition-era bootlegger. Whether it’s sinking half-court shots or feeding the masses, Johnny Schatts is always on point. I really can't blame old Peyton for casting his lot with such a righteous rocker from way back when. 

Big-market segue: Well, this football matchup has all the zing of a Papa Johns garlic sauce packet. *winks* A mini resurgence has the dynasty-that-never-was Chargers back to mid-table mediocrity at 4-4. This is something of a coup, as almost all the pundits had San Diego left for dead in the preseason, predicting them to be the league’s worst team.

But far from being propped up by the Jaguars and Buccaneers of the world, the Chargers are good in their right. The quarterback whisperer Mike McCoy and a receiver group of rookies, castoffs and geriatrics has inspired the return to relevance of Philip Rivers, who looked ready for the NFL rest home in the sky.

The return of Von Miller and his hipster glasses could potentially have a major impact on the outcome of this game, as both teams have suspect pass defenses. If he can get pressure on Rivers, it will slow down the track meet this game is likely to become. The sitting total is 58 points, 4.5 points higher than the next closest game. 

The lads are gonna sling the rock all over the yard, and I like Manning to one up and run away from Rivers. 
Matt's Pick: Broncos

Matt's Locks:
Dolphins (-3) 
Nobody, and I do mean nobody, circles the wagons around racist bullies like the Dolphins. Last week was Tampa's Super Bowl, and the Schiano Men lost in horrifying fashion. They won't rebound. 

Texans (+2.5)
Never mind the cover, a win over Arizona is definitely *smiles into camera* in the cards. Thank you, and God bless.

Bengals (-1.5): The Bengals D will feast on the eagle Joe Flacco and the anemic Ravens offense. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are averaging 2.7 yards per carry in an offense that’s supposed to be based around the run and play action passing. No bueno. 


Luke on Carolina @ San Francisco (-6)
It's getting to that point of the season where we start to learn who everyone is, and so far, all of our predictions have come true. Not our game predictions, of course. I meant our predictions about all of us being horrible people to take betting advice from.

Except for me, because if you had, for some inconceivable reason, actually been taking my advice this whole time, you would be exactly even. Minus about 10 percent multiplied by 18 of whatever your normal wager is. NOT BAD. That's cover charge money. That's a write off. In fact, the way I typically bet, I consider that type of loss to be a reasonable entry fee for the club in the first place.

If my typical picks weren't enough to turn you off, that preamble right there should do the trick.


Going by my normal Patriots-centric thinking, I'd like to see Carolina humiliated and revealed as a sub-par team, one unlike the actually halfway-decent one they've looked like lately. That way, they're dispirited when coming to face New England the following week.

Let's be honest, Carolina's last four wins: against Atlanta, Tampa Bay, St Louis and Minnesota, haven't exactly come against what you might call “actual” “NFL” “professional” “teams.” San Francisco is on a five-game win streak themselves, though none of the teams they've beaten (Jacksonville, Tennessee, Arizona, Houston and St Louis) are exactly the cream of the crop.

So who takes it? I say S.F., but if that line moves any higher we're getting into questionable territory.
Luke's Pick: 49ers

Luke's Locks:
Buccaneers (+3)
Tampa Bay, as dysfunctional as they are, are not going to let themselves go winless. We saw it last week with a near-stunner against Seattle. And Miami has had themselves what you might call a bit of a PR nightmare that can't have made for a great week of practice.

Broncos @ Chargers (Over 58)
All the points. Give me all the points, so I may feast upon them and gorge myself until I burst.

Cowboys (+7)
The Saints are vulnerable, and Dallas can score. A lot. 

Jerry on Dallas @ New Orleans (-7)
I think I was born to be an agent. Not so much for the easy money, luxurious lifestyle, conspicuous wealth or even the chance to get famous off the God-given talents of others, as much as that appeals to me. No, I'd like to be an agent because there's nothing in the world that gives me as much satisfaction as manipulating the public. 

 As good as it must feel to sign a guy to a nine-figure deal knowing you're going to get 10 percent of it, in their quiet moments of reflection at the end of a long day of handing pens to guys, it has to be incredibly gratifying to know you managed to give the American people some inconsequential story to obsess about. 


 I mean, take Dez Bryant. He’s semi-accomplished wideout on a middle-of-the-pack NFL team with a recent history of garden variety accomplishments. But he made himself THE story in the league for more than a week and a half. And how? By carrying his club to victory? Nope. Setting records? Not hardly. That was the guy on the other team. By throwing a hissy fit on the sidelines and getting up in the grill of half his teammates because said opponent was setting records instead of him? Ding ding ding.  

And when, the good Lord willing, I'm advising clients, I'll have them do the exact same thing. Because in my little Jerry Maguire fantasy, my mission statement will be "Make people famous." And that's it. Fame creates wealth. There's no such thing as bad publicity. Up a guy's Q Rating, and you and he will be eating Kobe steaks off the butts of expensive call girls and washing it down with that $100,000 bottle of Champagne the Red Sox had in the best hotels in the world.  

Two weeks ago, Dez Bryant had a good game (3 for 72, 2 TDs) opposite Calvin Johnson's game for the ages. But because he went all H.A.M. on his teammates, the TV cameras couldn't have followed him more if he was Bruce Jenner carrying the royal baby into an Amanda Bynes court hearing. Ryan Seacrest doesn't get that much face time in a month. You can't buy that kind of publicity. But then again, you don't have to. 

 You don't have to win championships, have unique skills or really be much more than pretty good at what you do. You just have to act like a jerk.

 I don't even think this will be much of a game to be honest with you. But you can be damned sure I'll be watching. And taking notes. My future career depends on it.
Jerry's Pick: Saints

Jerry’s Locks:
Packers (-1.5) 
I like the Pack, despite the fact that for the foreseeable future we'll only be seeing Aaron Rodgers on Discount Double Check ads. Which for the record have now achieved that rare status of being commercials with so many variations you forget what the original joke was. Like the Geico cavemen. Or the one with the sad dogs and that Sarah McLachlan song, which stopped being funny a long time ago.

Bills (+3) 
The difference for the Bills last week against a very good K.C. team was an improbable 100-yard Pick-6. The difference for Pittsburgh last week was... everything. A team record 55 points and 610 yards surrendered, which actually looked worse than the numbers indicate. And though it pains me to say it, the worst player on the field was Troy Polamalu. He's always been one of my all-time favorites to watch. Now? I don't know if he's injured or old or if Tom Brady is in his head or what. And he also looks exceptionally heavy to me. It was all I could do to tell the difference between New England passing downs and promos for Mike & Molly.

Buccaneers (+3)
The worst bullying victim in the NFL this week will be America, for being subjected to this dirty diaper of a Monday nighter. It'll be worse than the scene in Step Brothers when that mean Chris Gardocki made Dale and Brennan lick the white dog poop. And while it would take a lot to get me to take Tampa over anybody, Joe Philbin losing 40 percent of his O-line to something that could've been settled with a couple of office detentions is hard to come back from.


Nick on Miami @ Tampa Bay (+3)
By now, we’re all caught up on the Dolphins hazing scandal. Jonathan Martin was treated poorly. Richie Incognito was suspended from the team. Some Miami coaches may have known about and supported the hazing (though they probably didn’t know the extent to which it went). No one is coming away untarnished.

EXCEPT Ryan Tannehill. His name has barely come up in all this mess.


How are you ducking all this dirt, pretty boy? You should be leading this team. You should know if one of your lineman is snapping towels at nerds and stuffing them into lockers. (Note: replace “snapping towels” with “hurling racial slurs,” “nerds” with “rookies,” and “stuffing them into lockers” with “forcing them to pay 15 large for extravagant Vegas vacations.”)

At a press conference this week, Tannehill said “If you asked Jonathan Martin who his best friend is on this team two weeks ago, he’d say Richie Incognito,” and “All I know about Richie is that he’s a great teammate to me.” That tells me Tannehill is woefully out of touch.

Look, Ryan, I know you play for the Dolphins, but long gone are the days when you could act like you’re above your teammates and just buy their love with luxurious Isotoner gloves. As Marino proved, you’re never going to win that way.

If your offensive line would have been more cohesive, maybe you wouldn’t have been sacked a league-leading 35 times. Maybe you wouldn’t be down two starters on an already porous line going into a game that you need to win to keep your playoff hopes alive. Maybe you should be a vocal leader and not so...incognito.

*Thanks you for your bouquets and wild applause. Accepts Sportswriter of the Year and King o’ Puns Award from Rick Reilly. The camera cuts to Matt Roberts trying to put on a brave face but feeling robbed.*
Nick’s Pick: Buccaneers

Nick’s Locks:
Whities @ Vikings (Under 50.5)
Neither of these teams can consistently put up points. And the only reliable aspect to the Washington offense is Alfred Morris will gain 10 times more yards than any other back on the roster, but when it does come time to score Mike Shananan would rather have the equipment manager hurl himself into the end zone.

Titans (-12)
The Jaguars had an extra week to prepare for this game, and somehow, with the suspension of Justin Blackmon, they’ve found a way to get worse. It's like you took an exotic vacation and came back with malaria.

Raiders (+7)
The NFC East is a pet cemetery, as all of the teams in the division just refuse to die. I think the Zombie Giants make this game…well, the word probably isn’t “interesting,” but the score should be close, and I don’t think the back-from-the-dead Peyton Hillis is going to do much against Oakland’s sixth-ranked run defense. 

Until next week. 

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