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. Collectively they’re a poor group of gamblers but a hell of a boy band.

 Slack Lines Standings:
Nick Altschuller (@altschuller): 8-8

Jerry Thornton (@jerrythornton1): 8-8
Luke O’Neil (@lukeoneil47): 7-9
Beau Sturm and J (@beausturm): 7-9
Matt Roberts (@KidRob21): 2-13-1

Quite the slate of games for Week 5. We’ve got unbeaten teams facing strong opponents. Talented divisional rivals facing off. Explosive offensives looking to stay hot.

And it’s all due to the teams NOT playing. The Vikings, Bucs, Steelers and Whities all have a bye week. It’s like an infected limb has been cut off, so the rest of the body can thrive. Of course, next week that limb will just be reattached, which can't be healthy. But what would you expect from NFL doctors?

Without further ado, on to the picks!

Beau and J politely discuss Buffalo at Cleveland
J: “Hey, Beau.” 
Beau: “Yeah, J?” 
J: “Which game did we get this week?” 
Beau: “Thursday Night Football.” 
J: “Nice! Love Thursday football. Who’s playing?”
Beau: “Buffalo at Cleveland.” 
J: “…Seriously?” 
Beau: “…Yeah… Seriously” 
J: “That’s worse than watching the Steelers.” 
Beau: “Go f@#* yourself!” 
J: “No. Seriously, it’s worse.”

Anyway, on to our 7-9 record and our lock for win number eight. L.O.C.K. (It always works when you spell it out.)

I wrote E.J. Manual was going to be a star. From my fingertips to God’s ears. And Manuel has played very well for a rookie QB. But now I’m saying I hope he throws four picks and sucks because I’m picking the Cleveland Browns!

Left for dead after trading away “star” running back Trent Richardson, the Browns are an impressive 2-0 while beating two 2012-playoff teams. How have they done it? On the back of Brian Hoyer, of course! No longer stuck behind the likes of Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or (insert garbage Cardinals quarterback here), Hoyer has shown he can lead a team and control the game, like during last week’s contest against the Bengals, even though was without even the semblance of a running attack. (Beau picked up McGahee in our fantasy league, hehehe…)


Buffalo, well… smoke and mirrors as far as I’m concerned. And my concern is all you’re worried about if you’re one of our many fans—or Beau’s dad. Buffalo’s major weakness on defense is stopping the run, having allowed the sixth most rushing yards in the league through four weeks. That works perfectly into Cleveland’s hands, as their running backs could use the help. At the same time, the Bills have been opportunistic, creating turnovers through the air, despite being without their top three defensive backs. That trend ends this week.

Defense wins. I’ll take the third-ranked defense at home against a rookie QB any day. L.O.C.K.: We’ll be 8-9 going into the weekend! 

J’s Pick: Browns

(Fantasy-wise, if your teams sucks as bad as mine, Ogbonnaya, NOT McGahee, will breakout this game. Ninety yards and two TDs.)

Beau Locks:
Eagles @ Giants (Under 54)
Chip Kelly said in last weekend’s postgame press conference, “Ninety percent of the people don’t care about your problems, and 10 percent are glad you have them.” I bet University of Oregon fans share both sentiments.

This game is gimmick versus bad talent. I’d rather watch Winnie the Poo with my daughters. And I HATE Winnie the Poo.

Bills (+4)
EJ Manual is a star… Smoke and mirrors… stats… blah, blah, blah. Cleveland sucks. Buffalo sucks less.

Beau’s College Lock: Maryland (+15.5) FSU is flat out ballin’. They’re blowing teams away on both sides of the ball, and true freshman QB Jameis Winston is making people forget the name of that Buffalo star-in-the-making. And Maryland is a whipping boy, right? Not. So. Fast!  Randy Edsall’s team is 4-0, playing fast and playing with attitude. The sixth-ranked defense in the country is barely giving up 200 yards a game and is ranked third in points allowed. Offensively they have a duel-threat QB in C.J. Brown and one of the most underrated playmakers in college football in Stefon Diggs. This game will be close, and Maryland covers.


Jerry deliberates about Seattle @ Indianapolis (+3)
These teams are a combined 7-1, and yet I don't think we've really got a handle on how good they are. Seattle looks invincible at home, but on the road, not so much. Last week it took a total collapse from Houston—a team beginning to show an almost San Diego Chargerian ability to get the least out of their talent and Norv games away—for them to stay undefeated. Meanwhile, the Colts rolled over the Jacksonville Byeweeks, a game about which we can conclude nothing. So with no real handle on the football involved, I'm going with the much more reliable, scientific and proven method of Comparative Sitcom Analysis.

The best sitcom ever to be set in Seattle is Frasier. The best set in Indiana is Parks & Recreation. Let's check the tale of the tape:

Main Protagonist
Frasier: Frasier Crane
Parks & Recreation: Leslie Knope

As much as I'm a fan of the creator of the Leslie Knope Employment Enjoyment Summerslam Grill Jam Fun-Splosion, Frasier was the longest-running primetime character ever, spanning 20 years (1984-2004) and two different shows; a fact that once won me money at bar trivia. Plus, great as Ben Wyatt is, Knope never had a spouse as dead sexy as Lilith Sternin Crane. 
Edge: Seahawks


Metrosexual Side Character
Frasier: Niles Crane
P&R: Tom Haverford

Three years ago, Niles would've cleaned up against most other sitcom sidekicks with the line "He was eminent back when my eminence was merely imminent." But Tom crushes this one. Rent-a-Swag. His musical vacuum, DJ Roomba. His cologne, Tommy Fresh. And he once advised that you shouldn't call a girl the day after you meet; you wait three months then text her "What's crackin’?" A modern day legend.
Edge: Colts


Sexy Female Friend
Frasier: Daphne Moon
P&R: Anne Perkins

Both are hot. Daphne's got the edge with an adorable British accent. Anne counters with exotic, mixed-race cuteness, plus for a while she decided to sleep around. Too tough to call.
Edge: Draw

Lovable Curmudgeon
Frasier: Martin Crane
P&R: Ron Swanson

With all due respect to the retired, everyman cop with the two effete sons, Swanson in a landslide. The man who gave us the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Who once said "There's been a mistake. You've brought me the food my food eats." Who uttered the words "Clear alcohol is for rich women on diets." And who once went into a diner and ordered all the bacon and eggs they have? There's no competing with that. 
Edge: Colts


Besides, Andrew Luck once went on Parks and Rec and threw touchdown passes to Andy Dwyer for his bachelor party. Russell Wilson could only have been on Frasier in spermatozoa form.

Jerry's Pick: Colts

Jerry's Locks:
Bills @ Browns (Under 41) There is one common denominator for all these Thursday night games: Pervasive awfulness. The offenses aren't ready for football. The officials aren't ready. The broadcast crews aren't ready. Presenting this to the world as an example of primetime football is like trying to get people interested in cinema by showing them Argo. Not the Ben Affleck Argo. The fake Star Wars rip-off Argo they were pretending to make in Ben Affleck's Argo.

Raiders (+4.5) Because of the baseball playoffs, this game won't even kick off until 11:35 pm EST. That's a huge edge for Oakland, as only 3-5 percent of their fans have jobs to wake up for.

Patriots (+1.5) I'm a little hesitant with this pick because there's a chance Cincy will be able to gash the Patriots defense on the ground with Vince Wilfork gone. In fact, his Achilles problem could be New England's undoing this season. If only there was an expression for a small but fatal flaw like that...


Nick dissects Detroit @ Green Bay (-7)
The Packers haven’t lost a regular-season game in Lambeau since the Dolphins eeked out an overtime squeaker in Week 6 of 2010. The Lions haven’t won in Lambeau since they released Erik “The Kraken” Kramer against Mike “Air Attack” Tomczak in Week 16 of 1991. Lions fans born after that victory are now old enough to drink, although being Lions fans, I’m sure they started early.

Both teams have great offenses. Green Bay has the wide-receiving hydra of James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Detroit has Calvin Johnson, who’s like having five Lions in one package, which, if we’re getting technical, really makes him more of a Voltron than a Megatron.


There are clear differences between these sides, though. With a healthy Reggie Bush, Detroit can break big plays out of the backfield. The Packers plan over the years has been to start whichever RB is least hampered or concussed, and with every rare 100-yard day, Green Bay natives briefly consider cashing in their team stock and retiring to sunny Lake Winnebago.

On the defensive side, Detroit’s Nick Fairley and NDonkeyKong Suh are finally gelling into the fearsome front the team hoped they’d become. The Packers, meanwhile, get safety Morgan Burnett back from a hamstring injury, but Clay Matthews and cornerback Casey Hayward are both questionable with bum hamstrings. It’s like someone ripped “touch your toes” out of the Green Bay training manual.

Finally, Detroit’s offensive line has been stout, giving up just three sacks in four games. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 10 tens in three games, so basically their o-line is made of Swiss cheese, an analogy that in Wisconsin can get you locked up (or, as they call it in Green Bay, “three brats and a cot.”)

Wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lions' Lambeau losing streak continue, but they get within seven.

Nick’s Pick: Lions

Nick’s Locks:
Jaguars (+11.5) These Jacksonville lines get more and more enticing. It’s like each week Vegas sets out a mousetrap, and each week they replace the previous cheese with something runnier, smellier and even more delicious. I guess this week it’s my turn to get my neck broke.

Saints (Pick ‘Em) We’ve come to the realization that the Bears have a good offense, for once. In fact, they’ve put up more points than anyone but the Broncos. But maybe it’s time we realize that, for once, the Bears defense kinda stinks. Even with all those touchdowns, their point differential is just +13. The Saints are +53, as they’re playing lights out on both sides of the ball. Maybe someday the Bears will give that approach a try.

Broncos (-7.5) Denver is 4-0, winning by 22, 18, 16 and 32. A team has to come within two touchdowns of the Broncos before I hesitate to give up just over one. 


Luke whiteboards Houston @ San Francisco (-6.5)
Yet again, the Texans have been touted as a potential Super Bowl contender, an annual routine that typically results in the Texans not becoming Super Bowl contenders. By the way, is anyone else ever “touted” as anything besides Super Bowl contenders? Seems like that's an underutilized word.

Anyway, getting their asses handed to them by the Ravens two weeks ago was not exactly a ringing endorsement for their chances, not to mention giving a game away to the Seahawks. This week they get another chance to prove themselves, playing last year's Super Bowl losers.


The Houston defense is playing well, ranked second in total passing yards allowed. As for the 49ers, we still don't know who this team is. They've proven they can win or lose to anyone. You have to like their homefield advantage, but the seven points looks awful hard to pass up, especially since we never know which San Francisco team is going to show up.

What if it were the SF Giants? That would be kind of awesome. Have to like the Texans against Sandoval and company. With that in mind, I'm going with Texans –500 against the the Giants, and +7 against the 49ers.

Luke's Pick: Texans

Luke's Locks:
Bengals (-1.5) 
It's a bad sign for your franchise's prospects when I can never spell the name of your city correctly on the first try. Cincinatti? Cincinnatti? Who cares. Last week the Patriots proved they can win against a top-notch offense, but can they do it against a solid defense, particularly the type that brings the sort of pressure that gives Brady fits? No. I'm gonna stick with my string of betting against the Pats, mostly because the reverse jinx seems to be working out so far.

Eagles (+2)
Likewise with my stretch of picking against the New York Giants. Wait a minute, maybe they've actually been the ones fielding the baseball team accidentally? Couldn't do much worse with a bunch of guys in stirrup pants.

Cowboys (+7.5)
Screw it. My anti-Broncos bandwagon starts today.


Matt reads the tealeaves for NY Jets @ Atlanta (-10)
It's a shame this game is scheduled for Monday night and not Sunday at 1 pm, depriving us viewers of the church crowns and fancy suits worn to the early game by the God-fearing Falcon fan base.

NFL football can definitely pass as a religion of sorts, but it can be strange to see it mix with the more traditional variety. A 1 pm game begs to be tailgated at 8 am, not pre-gamed for in the house of the Lawd. As someone familiar with Foxborough’s old Sullivan stadium, where my uncle and I would see grown men carried INTO the game, I can assure you that sobriety and piety don't mix with football. 

As a card-carrying member of the Boston-College-hating segment of my city, I can't believe Matt Ryan turned out to be a solid NFL QB. BC isn't supposed to have skill position players, they're supposed to crank out overrated, scrappy linebackers and offensive linemen with Polish last names. Grinders. Lunch pail guys. Not fancy-pants pretty boys who play in a dome and don't get their kit dirty. 


The Falcons are 1-3 against the spread this season, their one cover coming in their only win. The Jets land in Atlanta just in time for Ryan & Co., and I expect them to throw up a double-digit W and bounce back from a rare home loss. 

Matt's Pick: Falcons

Matt’s Locks:
Rams (-11.5) My definitive oral history of Ironhead Heyward's Zest commercial will be out later this month on Scores of men between the ages of 29-65 still refer to a loofa exclusively as a "thingy."

Saints (Pick 'Em) The Saints are the Lions on steroids, and the Bears can’t stop them worth a lick.

Eagles (+2) The G-Men and their awful D will be the cure for what ails Chip's offense.


Until next week, folks. 

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