Last Updated: 2019-06-22
Off to the usual slow start in the Canadian Football League and today is another with just a single game. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats visit the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton is favored by 4 and the total has moved from 52 to 54 and has settled back at 53. There was a time change to 4 p.m. EST.
This is an interesting game in that both head coaches were former defensive coordinators, so not sure how that will translate to team tendencies. The Tiger-Cats won their opener over Saskatchewan 23-17 and the Roughriders dropped a 44-41 decision to Ottawa in Game 2. Whether that’s a sign the Hamilton defense is stronger than anticipated is still too early to tell. Just as you can’t make any assumptions about the Hamilton offense after one game.
The Argonauts were the team who drew the opening week bye and teams who played in Week 1 are 5-1 straight-up and 4-2 ATS when playing a team who hasn’t taken the field yet, but that’s also countered a little bit in the stellar record of Week 1 and 2 home underdogs, who are 16-10-1 straight-up and 18-9 against the number. Most of those wins have come in Week 1, although it’s up for debate where you want to put the Argos, making their season debut.
Toronto quarterback James Franklin never really fit Trestman’s offensive scheme, so it’s no surprise that he struggled a little bit last season. He was replaced after taking over for Ricky Ray and eventually got the starting job back, but still had just 8 touchdown passes against nine interceptions. He did score 14 touchdowns on the ground, however, so is a decent two-way threat.
This is one of those weeks where you wish there were the traditional two games on the Saturday schedule, as it’s pretty much a coin toss. There are a number of trends that point to each team, as well as the over and the under, so not much help there.
After winning the Grey Cup in 2017, Toronto completely stunk it up last year and were especially poor on defense. The man who built the 2017 defense is back in the form of Corey Chamblin and he’s done some work with that unit, which will have some new faces this season.
Hamilton was held in check offensively last game, but has plenty of talent. The Tiger-Cats had better away numbers last season, but that had more to do with a 50-11 win over Montreal than anything else, as they finished 4-5 on the road, which was the same as Toronto finished at home.
Going to take a shot on the Argos +4 in this one, but without a whole lot of confidence, due to the traditional slow starts in the CFL until the numbers fall into place a little bit more.
END OF JUNE 22 PICKS
Finally broke through in the CFL last night, although it wasn’t pretty, as the Roughriders were able to get the backdoor cover. Just another single game in the Canadian Football League tonight, as the British Columbia Lions visit the Edmonton Eskimos. The Eskimos are favored by 3 and the total of the game is a lofty 55.
The big news in this one is obviously the return of Mike Reilly to face his former team, as the Lions quarterback spent the past six years before signing with British Columbia, the team he started his career with. Reilly isn’t expecting a warm welcome from his former fans, but realizes that comes with the territory.
The Lions dropped their first game of the season at home to Winnipeg, while the Eskimos knocked off Montreal and are playing their second straight home game of the season. Edmonton didn’t look all that impressive against the Alouettes after the quarterback change to Vernon Adams and if Adams can move the ball up and down the field with Montreal’s offense, you have to believe Reilly and the Lions will have some success.
The Eskimos were able to keep Montreal in check until a late hit sidelined starting quarterback Antonio Pipken and Adams came in and led his team back from an 18-point deficit. Edmonton was able to score and get the win, but not the cover.
Trevor Harris was solid for the Eskimos, throwing for more than 440 yards and will be looking to out-perform Reilly, but the Lions should pose a better challenge than the Alouettes.
Reilly is a veteran quarterback and shouldn’t be affected by the return to his old stomping grounds, but it’s always a possibility for players trying to do too much in that situation, but have to go ahead and take the Lions in this one, as they have the trends in their favor, as home favorites off a win at home are just 50-69-2 (42%) and away dogs off a home loss have covered the spread at a 55% clip over the years.
END OF JUNE 21 PICKS
An ugly start to the CFL season, as for the second time in three years, took the collar in the opening week. We were able to bounce back the previous season, so let’s see if we can’t duplicate that feat, although I’m pretty sure we were just 1-5 after two weeks before getting things in gear.
Just one game tonight, as is the case a lot of times in the nine-team Canadian Football League, where there are just four games each week. Tonight, it’s Saskatchewan at Ottawa in a game where we’ve seen some big line movement, as the Redblacks opened 6 and 49.5 and the line is now Ottawa -5.5 with a total of 43.5 at 5Dimes.
The main reason for the drop in total is the quarterback situation in Saskatchewan, where Zach Collaros is out for at least the next six weeks after being put on the six-game injured list. He was injured on the team’s first drive of the 2019 season and Cody Fajardo, who some may remember with the Nevada Wolfpack, will get the start tonight and the Roughriders signed another quarterback to the roster.
Despite Collaros being injured, the Roughriders had a chance to get the win against Hamilton, but couldn’t come up with the stops when they needed in the second half. It wasn’t a bad effort and the Tiger-Cats are a decent tem.
Ottawa lost in the Grey Cup a year ago, but suffered quite a few losses in personnel from that team and a lot of people were expecting a down year from the team, who went on to upset Calgary in the opening game of the season. Sure, it was a huge revenge game for Ottawa, but you didn’t expect to see them pull off the win as an 8.5-point underdog.
There could be a little bit of a letdown from Ottawa, especially when going against a team who is playing their second-string quarterback, although it is their week before a bye and the team’s home opener, so they should be focused for this one.
But the Roughriders play in the West, which is far stronger than the East, and also fall into one of my favorite CFL systems regarding away underdogs who lost the previous week as an away underdog. I have the Redblacks getting a 23-22 victory, so will take a shot on the ‘Riders plus the points in this one.
END OF JUNE 20 PICKS
We were cruising along nicely in last night’s CFL game with the score 18-8 at the end of the third quarter, only to see 31 points in the fourth quarter and send us to a 6-point loss with the under 51 in Edmonton’s 32-25 win over Montreal. Making it worse, was the fact that it was Vernon Adams who led Montreal’s comeback after Antonio Pipken, who was ineffective and then injured. Adam rallied the Alouettes from a 25-8 deficit to tie the score at 25, but Edmonton ripped off a few big plays to score and take the win.
Anyway, on to Saturday, where we have two games after a pair of single games the first two days of the season, with a pretty good matchup between Winnipeg and the BC Lions as the best game of the day.
Ottawa at Calgary: The Stampeders and Redblacks open the season with a rematch of last year’s Grey Cup, but with the losses Ottawa suffered during the offseason, they’re expected to have a tough road to get back to the championship game, even though they do play in the weaker division of the two. If the Redblacks were in the west, they’d be hard-pressed to make the playoffs, but with Hamilton the only other decent team in the East, they have a shot at the playoffs and then anything can happen once you get there.Calgary is favored by 9 with a total of 51 and I made this one 27-17 for the Stampeders, so will take a shot on the under 51 in this spot. The Stampeders lost some decent players on both sides of the ball, while Ottawa’s losses were primarily on the offensive side, so have to hope things cancel each other out a little bit in that regard.
Winnipeg at British Columbia: This one is even with a total of 51 and I have it 27-27. The Bombers were my pick to win the CFL this season, primarily because they’re at 6-1, as I have them rated the top team with the power ratings, but British Columbia is a strong home team and will certainly be ready for this game, as Mike Reilly makes his debut with his new team at quarterback. Matt Nichols is a solid quarterback for the Blue Bombers, so this one could be an entertaining game. Winnipeg will be missing a couple of starters for this one, however, so it’s a game I’ll just stay clear of.
END OF JUNE 15 PICKS
Never a good sign when your starting quarterback gets injured on the first series of a game, which is what happened to Zach Collaros last night, and we came up three points short with Saskatchewan to start the season with a loss. Those things happen and there’s nothing you can do, so no point in getting upset or trying to get even. Just accept it’s part of betting and move on.
Tonight, another solo game in the CFL, as Montreal visits Edmonton and the Eskimos are favored by 10 with a total of 51, while I have the home team winning 26-18.
Montreal wasn’t a very good team a year ago and had plenty of drama with Johnny Manziel in the quarterback mix, but the team is settled on Antonio Pipken, who looked good at times and looked like the quarterback of a cellar dweller at others. I’m not entirely sold on Pipken and wouldn’t be surprised if Vernon Adams takes over for him at some point, although I’m a little partial to my fellow EWU grad.
The Alouettes weren’t entirely bad on defense last year, especially on the road, where they were much better than they were at home. They do have a few new faces, which should help, as well, particularly in the secondary.
Edmonton will see Trevor Harris behind center and he’s a solid quarterback who has been around the league. The Eskimos see Daniels starting the season on the injured list, but still have some decent players to catch the ball.
It’s difficult to tell how much Montreal’s philosophy will change with the last-minute head coaching change that sees offensive coordinator Khari Jones step in for Mike Sherman. Sherman loved to throw the ball and the Alouettes had the fewest rushing attempts in the league last season. While part of that was due to being behind in games, it was also a bit of a philosophy, so I wouldn’t be too shocked to see a few more rushes, although Jones was a quarterback in the league for 10 years and may want to continue the throwing trend.
As always, the first few games of the season are a little unpredictable, as you can only estimate the impact of the roster changes, of which there were plenty from a year ago. Have to follow the numbers in this one and will take a shot on the under 51.
END OF JUNE 14 PICKS
We’ll head to the Canadian Football League and we have one game on tap today, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders battle the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field. Weather could play a factor in this one, as temperatures are expected to be around 60 degrees, but there is a chance for thunderstorms, which could halt play.
The Tiger-Cats are favored by 3 and the total on the game has dropped from 48 to 47 this morning, although it’s difficult to tell how much of that is due to the weather forecast. I made this one 29-26 for Hamilton.
While the numbers suggest an over, it’s a little hard to get excited about overs, as totals were 66-86-4 (43.4%) last year and there isn’t quite as big of a home field advantage, at least in terms of scores, although home teams were 48-30 straight-up and 41-37 ATS. Overall, home teams had just a +1.4 margin, compared to +2.4 in the NFL.
Hamilton is led by Jeremiah Masoli and the former Oregon Duck is now 30 years old and has established himself as a star in the league. But all the yards gained by the Tiger-Cats didn’t always translate to points, which was the team’s demise last year when they finished 8-10.
The Roughriders welcome running back William Powell to the mix and the guy can play, which could also be one reason we saw a dip in the total, as Saskatchewan could look to establish the ground game a little bit more this season. Zach Collaros didn’t have the greatest of seasons a year ago, but did get wins, which is what it’s all about in this league.
I’d like to take Hamilton in this spot, but never easy taking an East team against a West team, as the West was 29-13 straight-up and 24-18 ATS last year, while these games went under the total 59.5% of the time. West teams were 5-6 straight-up as an underdog and 7-4 against the spread.
Definitely a tough game to find a real edge, as I actually have the Tiger-Cats as a better team on the road than they are at home. I would probably stay away from this one if there more games on the slate, since it’s one of the toughest games of the week, but can’t overlook the success of the West against the East, so will take the Roughriders plus the points in this one in what is pretty much a coin toss.
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