PlayBook: Death In The Meadowlands

By Fraser Lockerbie

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Football season is upon us which means the gambling season is too. And The PlayBook has all your Week One lines and picks.


Slow starts have never been something taken in stride by the kind of hopeless and surly drunks who bet heavily on professional football games in September, the ugly and half-dumb swine who feast on the dead and sit in dark, dirty gambling circles on eerily calm and quiet moonless nights in the Meadowlands.

Ah yes, I remember now: we are gambling people and we do decidedly strange things. It’s a cannibal culture where no one win is ever that important, no team is sacred and we live life on the edge in a constant and costly state of catlike readiness, always dancing in time to a feverish beat. It’s a shady, fast-paced world full of wily and wild whores always looking to fleece fresh rubes just for the fuck of it, people who never think twice about any one wager and always come out on top, at least 10 points ahead. Indeed: we are a fast people living in faster times, and speed usually kills when the Cowboys and Giants collide for another midweek thriller in the deep swampy marsh of the new MetLife stadium, somewhere just to the southeast of the city that never sleeps.

Ho ho! And how’s that for hyperbole? We in what we like to call The Business are fond of overemphasis, particularly if it proves a point, today’s being that gamblers will make fast times out of anything, even some of sports’ seedier endeavors, like bloody backwater land-beaver wrestling in closed out topless bars in Punxsutawney or total bummer games like Wednesday’s NFL opener in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Cowboys-Giants rivalry is well known to us and it was hyped to all kinds of extremes in our little close-quartered corner of the world: it was supposed to be one of those full-time electric, heart-stopping humdingers, or so said the queer little man in the television, but it was a bona fide big market flop, like watching woodchucks slowly gnaw at your arm for eight or nine hours at a time. The whole first half amounted to little more than a 7-3 score and dragged on at such a petty pace that half the gambling community doubled down just to see if they’d swing the action, but by the time the game finally picked up we were all stone-drunk, hooting and hollering at the moon and in no mood to make good on our bets.

Which is bad news for anyone making a living at this, but good news for us; the football season starts anew this Sunday and it’s time to get down and dirty with all sorts of hardline and hell-bent bad decisions. Hot damn! It’s football season again, which means we can finally get back to business. Let the great fleecing begin:

Pittsburgh (+2) over Denver

Remember that time that 36-year-old quarterback came back from having his neck literally soldered on four times in 12 months and lit up one of the league’s best defenses in his first live game action in over a year? Neither do we.

Philadelphia (-8.5) over Cleveland

The first of many safe bets against Brandon Weeden and the Browns.

Tampa Bay (+2.5) over Carolina

Anyone expecting the air ’em out offense of Bucs teams past can forget it; the days of four-receiver sets featuring one and a half wide receivers, two thirds of a tight end and a suspiciously mobile pylon are over. This team’s ground and pound with a flash of play action and will be more middle of the pack than bottom of the barrel. Two and a half points against the Panthers is a gamble, but what the fuck are we doing here, right?

San Diego (+1) over Oakland

Once Oakland gets back to playing at 100 percent they could turn into one of the better teams in the league, but banged up, there are some holes, and the Chargers have something to prove.

Arizona (+3) over Seattle

Marshawn Lynch’s back spasms plus a rookie QB throwing to Sidney Rice and Golden Tate? We’ll reluctantly take John Skelton and the points and never speak of this again.

New England (-5.5) over Tennessee

Titans wideout and multiple felon (not in that order) Kenny Britt has already managed to get himself suspended for the season opener, which leaves a confusing jumble of talent to waddle through whatever mess of third-rate wide receivers and Olympic sprinters the Patriots decide to trot out on their secondary. With him, the Titans might have kept it close (probably not); without him, and even up against a virtually nonexistent defense, they’ve got no chance of keeping up with the Brady Bunch. 

Buffalo (+3) over New York

An unstable, mutinous team deploying a highly suspect and untested offense against what just might be one of the best new defenses in the league. (Thinking.)

Chicago (-9.5) over Indianapolis

Roll right. Roll right! ROLL RIGHT!

Detroit (-7) over St. Louis

Despite the fact that Week One is already underway, St. Louis is still going through the arduous motions of figuring out who their number one wide receiver is. Making that decision is considerably more difficult when charged to Sam Bradford in a live action game setting with a ferocious Lions pass rush descending upon him.

Quick Slants:

Jacksonville (+4) over Minnesota, Green Bay (-5) over San Francisco, Atlanta (-3) over Kansas City, Washington (+7) over New Orleans, Houston (-12) over Miami, Baltimore (-6.5) over Cincinnati. 

Catch up on Past PlayBooks Here.


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