[SIZE=4][COLOR=”#A52A2A”][B]Breaking down the CFL’s stunning 2016 road trend[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
[B]Oddsmakers couldn’t seem to figure out what was going on in the Canadian Football League last season – and that resulted in a boon for bettors who put their faith in road underdogs.[/B]
In a year that featured plenty of bizarre trends and results, the strangest of all might be that road dogs went a stunning 34-22-0 ATS – a 60.71-percent success rate that confounded oddsmakers. That highlighted a season-long trend of overall road dominance; home teams won just 48.24 percent of all CFL games last season, while road faves covered at a similar rate (15-10-1, 60 percent) to that of road dogs. Road favorites went 17-9-0 SU, while road underdogs were 24-31-1 – an astounding result given that the league covers four time zones, and teams often play games with less than a week of rest time.
So what were the catalysts for the league’s crazy road underdog ATS trend? Here are three to consider:
[B]West Division Dominance[/B]
Rarely has the CFL ever seen such a chasm between the East and West Divisions as it did in 2016, when no East team finished above .500 while four West teams had at least 10 victories.
The West was particularly dominant when it came to games played in East locales; no East team won more than three regular-season home games all season, and the division as a whole went an abysmal 10-25-1 in its own stadiums. This was the single biggest factor in why road underdogs were so successful ATS; simply put, oddsmakers short-changed West teams in East cities, underestimating just how much better the West was.
[B]Winnipeg’s Stunning Resurgence[/B]
No team had a bigger positive impact on the overall road underdog trend than the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who transformed from a five-win unit in 2015 to a team that shocked the CFL world with an 11-7 regular season and an unlikely berth in the 2016 playoffs.
The Blue Bombers were road underdogs seven times over the course of the season, and came through with the cover on six occasions. Here’s the breakdown of those games:
Week 2: DID NOT COVER – L 36-22 at Calgary (-10.5)
Week 3: COVERED – W 28-24 at Hamilton (-9)
Week 6: COVERED – W 30-23 at Edmonton (-9.5)
Week 8: COVERED – W 34-17 at Toronto (-4)
Week 10: COVERED – W 32-18 at Montreal (PK)
Week 14: COVERED – L 36-34 at Calgary (-9.5)
Week 17: COVERED – W 35-32 at BC (-5.5)
As you can see, oddsmakers slept on the Blue Bombers away from Winnipeg – and they responded with five outright wins and a narrow loss to the powerhouse Stampeders after a rough first road game in Calgary. Expect the Blue Bombers to get a lot more respect in 2017.
[B]Otta-What Home Field Advantage?[/B]
On the flip side, the Ottawa Redblacks sure didn’t look like a Grey Cup champion team during the regular season, particularly in the nation’s capital. Bettors who put their faith in the Redblacks’ ability to win at home are still getting over their thorough scrubbing.
The Redblacks were favored eight times in their nine home games last season, and managed a single cover – a 29-12 win over lowly Toronto in Week 14, with Ottawa favored by 5 1/2. Here is how the rest of the Redblacks’ games as a home fave panned out:
Week 3: DID NOT COVER – T 26-26 vs. Calgary (+1.5)
Week 6: DID NOT COVER – L 23-20 vs. Toronto (+10)
Week 7: DID NOT COVER – W 23-20 vs. Edmonton (+3.5)
Week 9: DID NOT COVER – L 43-19 vs. Montreal (+9)
Week 10: DID NOT COVER – L 29-23 vs. BC (+2.5)
Week 16: DID NOT COVER – L 32-30 vs. Saskatchewan (+6)
Week 18: DID NOT COVER (L 39-36 vs. Hamilton (+3.5)
Outside of that magical win over the Argonauts in Week 14, the Redblacks lost outright five times as a home favorite, settled for a tie in Week 3 and eked out a three-point decision against the visiting Eskimos.
Just as the Blue Bombers should expect more respect from oddsmakers in 2017, the Redblacks will likely find themselves in a home underdog situation more often than they did last season.
REDBLACKS, STAMPEDERS READY TO ROLL IN GREY CUP REMATCH
OTTAWA — It’s been 208 days since the Ottawa REDBLACKS won the 104th Grey Cup in Toronto via a 39-33 overtime thriller against the Calgary Stampeders.
Since that fateful night in Toronto, which launched the nation’s capital into unexpected celebrations while simultaneously putting a sour final note on a historic 2016 Stampeders season, both clubs have had time to grow and reflect.
The critical pieces of the REDBLACKS’ offence have changed; heir-apparent quarterback Trevor Harris finally has the proverbial keys to his own offence, while 1,000-yard receivers Ernest Jackson (Montreal) and Chris Williams (BC) have been replaced by the formerly double blue duo of Kenny Shaw and Diontae Spencer. Running back William Powell, who missed all of 2016 with an achilles injury, will get the start in his first competitive game since November of 2015.
The order of the day in Calgary, meanwhile, has been continuity; Bo Levi Mitchell and co. have had an off-season to stew over last season’s unsavoury ending and have retained significant pieces from the squad that went 15-2-1 a year ago.
“We have some kind of chip on our shoulder,” Stamps receiver DaVaris Daniels, who will be expected to shoulder a larger load in 2017, told Stampeders.com. “It’s good to start the season (in Ottawa) — hopefully we can finish it here (in the 105th Grey Cup Championship) as well.”
The journey to redemption for Dave Dickenson’s Stampeders begins against the same REDBLACKS team that dashed their hopes of a virtually-perfect 2016 campaign last year, and the second-year head coach knows his squad will have to be on its A-game Friday in the nation’s capital.
“We’ve got to come out with our best to beat these guys,” said Dickenson. “Our offensive line is going to have a huge challenge. They play fast (and) are a well-coached group over there.”
Bo Levi Mitchell and Jerome Messam will be the focal points of Calgary’s offence again in 2017; the former lost just two games from July through November last year, while the latter has established himself as the best power back in the CFL.
Though veteran receiver Bakari Grant departed the Stamps via free agency in favour of Saskatchewan, Mitchell believes his receiving corps — which still includes Marquay McDaniel and DaVaris Daniels — is still very much elite.
“The Americans we have at receiver are beasts, freaks,” said Mitchell, an Eastern Washington product. “The biggest compliment I can give is that our Canadians, I don’t think about them (as Canadians) I just think about them as receivers. In the CFL, it’s about your Canadian depth — we’ve got guys that can jump over (and) through people, so I’m excited about our group.”
After setting the league alight in his rookie season, Daniels is expecting an increase in production this year.
“After losing some guys in the receiving corps from last year, I think I have to step into a bigger role,” explained the Notre Dame alumnus, who hauled in over 1,000 receiving yards in his debut CFL campaign in 2016. “It’s (about) going out and leading by example. I’m looking forward to it, it’s something new for me and an exciting challenge.”
The Stamps defensive line, led by two-time CFL sack leader Charleston Hughes, was beefed up in the winter with the free-agent acquisition of tackle Bryan Hall, an Arkansas St. product who recorded 33 tackles and four sacks as an Argo last season.
Promising defensive end Ja’Gared Davis will get the start in Ottawa with starter Cordarro Law reportedly on the shelf long-term.
“I thought (Davis) was going to warrant play time regardless of Cordarro and Hughes,” said Coach Dickenson. “But now he gets a good shot to start. We’re going to play a rotation — we have to, [the REDBLACKS] have one of the better O-lines in the league.”
Calgary rookie Tunde Adeleke will enjoy something of a homecoming on Friday. Prior to becoming a noted return man at the university level with Carleton, the agile defensive back attended St. Francis Xavier in the nation’s capital.
“It’s exciting in general just to be on the active roster and being able to play in the first game of the season is exciting,” said the native of Nigeria. “It’s going to be exciting to go back and play on a field that I’ve played on multiple times but at the same time I just have to go out there and drown out the outside noise and do my job.”
There are plenty of new faces — and storylines — on the Ottawa side of the football in Friday’s prime-time matchup.
Former Arizona Cardinal William Powell appears to be the running back of choice, for now, with Mossis Madu backing up; Trevor Harris still has three 1,000-yard receivers, plus the likes of Diontae Spencer and Juron Criner, at his disposal; Ottawa’s defensive front seven could be one of the strongest in the league.
Despite being the reining Grey Cup champions, and perhaps because of their unexpected victory last November following an 8-9-1 regular season, the REDBLACKS don’t feel they’re getting the respect they deserve.
Ottawa defensive back Jonathan Rose echoed his quarterback’s sentiment.
“We feel like we dominated and still didn’t get the respect — I guess the Grey Cup wasn’t good enough,” half-quipped Rose, a Nebraska product. “We’re trying to go out, set a standard, and (get) people to start believing (in us) a little bit.”
With nearly the entire defensive line back and Khalil Bass added to a strong linebacker group spearheaded by Taylor Reed, the REDBLACKS defensive unit is confident in its ability to shut down a high-flying Stamps offence.
“We’re communicating well and finding some chemistry,” said Bass of his budding partnership with Reed. “We’re both guys that like to play fast, fly to the ball and knock people’s heads off — it should be fun to watch.”
Key in that mission will be shutting down Calgary’s all-star running back, Jerome Messam.
“When Messam gets rolling, it kind of limits what you can do defensively, so we’ve got to shut him down on the first couple plays,” explained Bass. “We’ve got to compete, get to the ball and make sure we’re finishing our plays.”
With the departures of multiple defensive backs from last year’s championship-winning REDBLACKS team, Imoan Claiborne has earned an opening-day start at DB. The 24 year-old registered just 14 tackles in spot duty last season, but will have an opportunity to cement himself as a regular following a strong camp.
[B][I]By the Numbers[/I][/B]
2 – Out of three meetings between the REDBLACKS and Stampeders in the nation’s capital have gone to overtime. (2015: 29-26 OTT, 2016: 26-26 tie)
16 – League-high sacks recorded by Calgary DE Charleston Hughes last season.
116 – Ottawa QB Trevor Harris led all CFL starters in pass efficiency in 2016.
.853 – Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell’s winning percentage, the best mark in the history of CFL starting quarterbacks.
1,004 – Receiving yards for Ottawa WR Kenny Shaw last season as a member of the Toronto Argonauts.
Both the Stampeders and REDBLACKS are loaded with high-end talent on both sides of the football, making it difficult to predict the winner of — and style of play in — Friday’s Grey Cup rematch.
With that said, Calgary owned the league’s best regular-season offence (32.6 points-per-game) and defence (20.5 points-allowed-per-game) while Ottawa ranked sixth in those two categories respectively.
It seems most observers are weighing the larger regular-season sample size more heavily than last year’s shock Grey Cup result, as a whopping 80 per cent of CFL fans along with six of seven CFL.ca writers are picking the Stamps to avenge last year’s Grey Cup defeat this Friday.
One thing is for sure: Rain or shine, TD Place will be rocking on the banks of the Rideau Canal.
Another: These are two of the league’s most promising teams, and they have plenty of tools at their disposal to put on a show for the first edition of Friday Night Football.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET and can be followed live via CFL.ca Game Tracker or seen on TSN, RDS and ESPNEWS.
[size=”3″][I][B] Friday’s CFL betting preview and odds: Stampeders at Redblacks [/B][/I][/size]
[B]Calgary Stampeders at Ottawa Redblacks (+5.5, 55.5)[/B]
The Ottawa Redblacks begin defence of their Grey Cup title when they host the Calgary Stampeders in a rematch of the title game Friday. The Redblacks pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Grey Cup history when they shocked the Stampeders 39-33 in overtime after falling short against the Edmonton Eskimos 26-20 in the championship game the previous year, and hope the pieces are in place to make their third straight appearance in the title game.
“You can always be proud of it and remember it but it’s important to turn the page,” Ottawa coach Rick Campbell told reporters. “Our goal is to be a playoff team and see what kind of damage we can do from there.” The Stampeders were unable to parlay a 15-win regular season into a Grey Cup victory and will be eager to begin their quest to return to the championship game. Bo Levi Mitchell won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player award after throwing for 5,385 yards and 32 touchdowns, and formed one of the most feared quarterback-running back tandems in the league with Jerome Messam, who won his first career rushing title with 1,198 yards, and the dynamic duo hopes to exact a measure of revenge in the nation’s capital. “It took a long time to get over what happened,” Messam told reporters. “We have a lot of guys that were here last year and they still have that bad taste in their mouth.”
TV:[/B] 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, ESPNews
LINE HISTORY:[/B] The Stampeders opened as 2.5-point road chalk and by Thursday evening that number was to 5.5. the total hit the betting board at 55 and has been bumped up a half-point to 55.5.
ABOUT THE STAMPEDERS (2016: 16-3-1):[/B] DaVaris Daniels is on the verge of becoming one of the league’s most prolific receivers after catching 51 passes for 885 yards and nine touchdowns in 11 games en route to earning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie award in 2016. Calgary’s secondary, which recorded a league-high 80 pass breakups, is banged up as Brandon Smith is out for the foreseeable future while all-stars Tommie Campbell (hamstring) and Jamar Wall (foot) are questionable for the season opener. Andrew Buckley, who tied a CFL record for the most rushing touchdowns by a Canadian quarterback with eight, earned the backup role behind Mitchell and former Iowa Hawkeyes star Ricky Stanzi beat out Mitchell Gale for the third option under centre.
ABOUT THE REDBLACKS (2016: 10-9-1):[/B] Ottawa begins life without Grey Cup MVP Henry Burris, who retired after the historic victory, but Trevor Harris is a more than capable replacement as he threw for 3,301 yards and 16 touchdowns in 12 appearances last season.The Redblacks raided the Toronto Argonauts by snapping up wide receivers Diontae Spencer and Kenny Shaw, and defensive back A.J. Jefferson after losing Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams, who combined for 165 catches and 20 touchdowns last season, in free agency. Ottawa released 25 players Sunday, including former Toronto wide receiver Tori Gurley and Shakir Bell, who rushed for 1,058 yards in two previous seasons with Edmonton, to meet the league’s roster requirements ahead of Week 1.
[B]TRENDS DATING BACK TO 2016:[/B]
* RedBlacks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a home underdog of 3.5-10.0.
* Over is 6-1 in Stampeders last 7 games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0.
* Over is 7-1 in RedBlacks last 8 games overall.
* Over is 4-0-1 in the last 5 meetings.
CONSENSUS:[/B] The road chalk Calgary Stampeders are getting 57 percent of the action from Covers users and the OVER is getting 51 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data for this matchup here.
[B]EXTRA POINTS [/B]
1. Calgary has won 14 or more games in four consecutive seasons.
2. The Stampeders have won four of their last five season openers.
3. The Redblacks led the league in passing yards per game (343.9) in 2016.
NO DECISION: REDBLACKS, STAMPS TIE GREY CUP REMATCH
OTTAWA — Brett Maher and Rene Paredes exchanged field goals in overtime and, for the second season in a row, the Ottawa REDBLACKS and Calgary Stampeders tied a football game, 31-31.
Trevor Harris threw three touchdown passes while the Stampeders erased a late 14-point deficit to force overtime nearly seven months after the cross-division foes forged an all-time classic in the 104th Grey Cup in Toronto last November.
While the REDBLACKS won that game, this Week 1 matchup produced no decision on an overcast Friday night at Ottawa’s TD Place.
Harris finished his night with 300 passing yards, three touchdown passes and an interception on 33-of-45 passing while reigning MOP Bo Levi Mitchell checked in with 376 yards and two touchdowns while completing 31 of 48 attempts. Meanwhile, Marquay McDaniel, who left the Grey Cup with an injury, led all pass-catchers with 114 yards on 10 receptions.
The drama was hardly unexpected for two teams that have always been closely matched considering four of their last six meetings have needed overtime. Last season the clubs tied 26-26 in Week 3.
Both sides aim to settle the score once and for all on Thursday, June 29 in the latter half of a home and home in Calgary.
After the two teams combined for 72 points in Ottawa’s Grey Cup victory last November, Friday’s rematch took a much different tone early on. Neither offence could get the ball rolling out of the chute but after three straight punts to open the first quarter, the REDBLACKS turned a Jerome Messam fumble into three points off the foot of the newly-acquired Maher.
With the first 15 minutes providing only the trio of points, Mitchell and Harris each settled into a rhythm after that. On Ottawa’s fourth possession of the game, Harris connected on six straight passes including a six-yard touchdown to the running back William Powell, capping off a nine-play drive and, after a two-point conversion to Greg Ellingson, extending the REDBLACKS’ lead to 11-0.
While the Stamps’ offence slumbered through the opening frame, punting twice and fumbling, the 2016 Most Outstanding Player came to play for the second. Mitchell’s 43-yard completion to DaVaris Daniels along the sideline set up an 11-yard chip shot by Paredes, then, late in the half, the Stamps’ offence was given one more chance to tie the game.
Completions to McDaniel and Kamar Jorden moved the Red and White into scoring range before one of the game’s more bizarre plays got Calgary back on the board again. On a first-and-goal from the nine, Jorden lost control of the football just as he was crossing the goal line. While the REDBLACKS recovered and returned the fumble for an apparent six points the other way, the CFL Command Centre confirmed the original ruling on the field — that the ball crossed the plane of the goal line before coming loose.
With the Stamps in the end zone for their first time in 2017, it was business as usual on the two-point try as Mitchell hooked up with McDaniel, tying the game at 11 apiece through 30.
The REDBLACKS broke the tie early in the third, mounting a 10-play, 56-yard drive resulting in a 27-yard field goal by Maher to make it 14-11. But Mitchell’s 35-yard pass to Daniels, which needed to be challenged and overturned on a close play along the sideline, set up a 20-yard field goal by Paredes to even the score again.
The home team’s response was a quick one, however, thanks in large part to an unexpected contributor in Brendan Gillanders. The former Ottawa Gee-Gee went over the 50-yard mark with a 14-yard surge deep into Calgary territory before, on second-and-six, Harris found Juron Criner in the end zone for the major.
While the nine-play, 65-yard scoring drive over 4:09 put the REDBLACKS back in the driver’s seat with a 21-14 lead heading into the fourth, the defending champions weren’t done there. After a quick two-and-out by the Stamps’ offence, Harris picked up right where he left off, going straight to Brad Sinopoli for two first downs before eventually threading the needle between Stampeder defenders to the newcomer Stangby for a 32-yard touchdown. Harris completed five of his seven passes on the drive, culminating with his third touchdown of the night to make it 28-14.
Just when it seemed like the REDBLACKS might be ready start milking the clock and putting their stamp on a season-opening win, Jamar Wall gave the visitors new life when he stripped the ball from the hands of Gillanders. Wall recovered at the Ottawa 24 and on the ensuing play, Mitchell hit third-year national Lamar Durant in stride in the end zone, giving the Stamps a quick six and cutting the deficit to 28-21 with 7:03 remaining.
A critical stop on defence put the ball back in the hands of Mitchell, while the Stamps’ offence avoided a scare when Jorden was ruled down by contact before fumbling the football. The Stamps rode the Messam train into the end zone the rest of the way, No. 33 rumbling 19 yards and then capping the drive off with a three-yard run to make it 28-28 with 2:01 to go.
The final two minutes couldn’t solve anything and, like these two clubs and their fans have become so accustomed to, overtime would be required.
In the extra frame, with the REDBLACKS knocking on the doorstop, Calgary became the benefactor of some good fortune when Harris’ pass was tipped before landing into the lap of Wall, immediately ending the scoring threat. But on the ensuing drive, Paredes, usually one of the CFL’s most consistent kickers, missed the potential game-winner from 37 yards out.
Paredes made good on his next attempt after that, leaving Ottawa with one last chance to either tie the game with a field goal or win it with a touchdown. Ottawa’s second-down try was stymied and Maher was forced to put the ball through the uprights to clinch the single point in the standings.
After his early fumble, Messam finished with 65 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries to go with 19 yards on five catches.
Daniels made two highlight-reel catches along the sideline, both of which might have gone for scores had he not run out of room, but left the game injured the fourth after hauling in four passes for 90 yards.
Jorden was targeted 11 times for the Stampeders, catching five of those passes for 72 yards and a score.
For the REDBLACKS, Powell looked elusive in his first game since 2015 after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury last year in training camp. But the veteran back was forced to exit the game while his replacement, Gillanders, rushed for 80 yards on 12 carries in relief — although his fourth-quarter fumble proved costly for the REDBLACKS.
Sinopoli led Ottawa with 88 yards on eight catches while Ellingson also chipped in with eight receptions for a total of 66 yards.
Stangby, stepping in for Kenny Shaw, who left early after apparently aggravating an injury suffered during training camp, was impressive in his CFL debut, making a highlight-reel touchdown grab and finishing his night with 61 yards on five catches.
In the end, while the result isn’t what fans might hope for, Friday night’s contest produced 53 first downs and 853 yards of offence.
The rematch will be played at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium on Thursday with plenty more fireworks expected.
— Golden State paid the Bulls $3.5M for the pick they grabbed Jordan Bell with.
— Chris Paul, Blake Griffin both opted out of their contracts, are free agents.
— Toronto Blue Jays are 0-9 this season when trying to get back to .500.
— Orioles have allowed 5+ runs in 20 consecutive games, first team to do that since 1924.
— Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell Jr was drafted #15 Thursday; his dad works in the Mets’ community relations office, so good for them.
— RIP coach Frank Kush, who won 176 football games at Arizona State and is a main reason why ASU is now in the Pac-12. He also coached the Colts for three years.
[B][I]Saturday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here……[/I][/B]
13) Can you imagine being a high school/college pitcher, being really excited about the draft, and then being picked by the Colorado Rockies? Can’t be a good feeling- Coors Field is the worst pitchers’ park in the major leagues, thanks to the high altitude.
12) Must be fun recruiting for teams at Fresno State these days, with alums Derek Carr, Aaron Judge and Paul George in the news so much, all for very good reasons.
11) Miami Marlins batters swung at 71 of Max Scherzer’s pitches Wednesday; they missed 30 of them and got only two hits. Scherzer threw 118/121 pitches in his last two starts; you wonder if they’ll give him an extra day of rest, or make sure he is held under 100 pitches in his next start.
Don’t want your meal ticket getting burned out in June, especially when you have such a big lead in your division.
10) Mets’ TV guy Keith Hernandez was exasperated watching the Dodgers pummel the Mets this week; late Wednesday night, with LA way ahead of another game, Mets’ skipper Terry Collins was writing down some notes on a card.
“What could he possibly be writing on that piece of paper?” Hernandez said.
9) Dodgers are 21-4 when they hit 2+ homers in a game, 4-16 when they don’t hit any homers, 23-6 when they hit one.
8) San Antonio is moving up from AA to AAA baseball next year; they’re going to get a new ballpark at some point. Sounds like Colorado Springs is out as a AAA city- hard to have your young pitchers throwing in high altitude, without losing their confidence.
Amarillo is expected to take San Antonio’s place in the AA Texas League.
7) NBA’s projected salary cap will come in at $99 million, $5M higher than last year, but about $2 million less than estimates in April. The crummy playoff season, with so many fewer games than there could’ve been, was blamed for the decrease.
The luxury tax was lowered from $121 million to a projection of $119 million.
6) When the Colorado Rockies had their expansion draft in 1992, two of the guys they picked are now major league managers— Joe Girardi and Brad Ausmus.
5) Minnesota Twins/Cleveland Indians will play two regular season games in Puerto Rico next season.
4) Kansas City Chiefs gave coach Andy Reid a contract extension, then surprisingly fired GM John Dorsey, who had been with the Chiefs for four years.
3) Remember a few years ago, when a guy named Frank McCourt owned the Dodgers and got into a nasty divorce dispute involving the ball club with his future ex-wife? Well, that ex-wife is now going to be the US ambassador to Belgium. Hope she can get the baseball package on TV over there.
2) IUPUI was invited to replace Valparaiso in the Horizon League. Valpo replaced Wichita State in the MVC, after the Shockers jumped to the AAC.
1) Woman named Nina Skye was recently fired from her teaching job at a religiously-affiliated preschool in Los Angeles; the reason?
Turns out Christian preschools aren’t fond of their teachers being porn stars.
EDMONTON (11 – 9) at BRITISH COLUMBIA (13 – 7) – 6/24/2017, 10:00 PM
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.
Head-to-Head Series History
BRITISH COLUMBIA is 4-1 against the spread versus EDMONTON over the last 3 seasons
EDMONTON is 3-2 straight up against BRITISH COLUMBIA over the last 3 seasons
3 of 5 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Saturday, June 24
EDMONTON vs. BRITISH COLUMBIA
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Edmonton’s last 6 games when playing on the road against British Columbia
Edmonton is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against British Columbia
The total has gone OVER in 5 of British Columbia’s last 6 games at home
British Columbia is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Saturday, June 24
Edmonton @ BC Lions
June 24, 2017 @ 10:00 pm
by 7 1/2
[size=”3″][I][B] Saturday’s CFL betting preview and odds: Eskimos at Lions [/B][/I][/size]
[B]Edmonton Eskimos at BC Lions (-3.5, 60)[/B]
The BC Lions look to build on a promising 2016 campaign when they open the new season at home against the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday. The Lions won 12 regular-season games under coach Wally Buono and notched a playoff victory for the first time since 2011 after going a combined 16-20 over the previous two years, and hope to take another step forward by beating the Eskimos for the third consecutive time in Vancouver.
“Winning is critical early in the season,” Buono told reporters. “If you want to be a contender then you have to play and act like a contender.” Edmonton’s top brass decided to shake things up after a disappointing fourth-place finish in the West Division. The Eskimos, who won the Grey Cup in 2015, sneaked into playoffs via to the crossover rule, and general manager Ed Hervey paid the price with his job in the offseason, but Edmonton returns a core group of veterans who are hungry to keep pace with Calgary and BC in the West. “I definitely think we’re a better team,” Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly told reporters. “We’re a little more experienced than we were last year and our news guys have done a great job of competing and picking up the systems very quickly.”
TV:[/B] 10 p.m. ET, TSN, ESPN2
LINE HISTORY:[/B] The hometown Lions opened as 3-point favourites and that number was bet up mid-week as high as 4.5 Thursday evening since the number has faded down to 3.5. the total hit the betting board at 57.5 and has been bet up 2.5 points to an even 60.
ABOUT THE ESKIMOS (2016: 11-9 SU, 9-10-1 ATS, 11-9 O/U):[/B] Reilly enjoyed a banner year as he led the league in passing yards (5,554) and total touchdowns (37), but will have to make do without explosive playmaker Derel Walker, who joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after catching 198 passes for 2,699 yards and 16 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Edmonton must also absorb the loss of special teams ace turned star linebacker Deon Lacey, who signed a futures contract with the Miami Dolphins after recording 103 tackles and three interceptions in 2016. Cory Greenwood was brought in from the Toronto Argonauts during free agency to replace Lacey but tore his ACL on the second day of training camp and will miss the 2017 season.
ABOUT THE LIONS (2016: 13-7 SU, 13-7 ATS, 11-9 O/U):[/B] Rookie linebacker Micah Awe looks to fill the void left by Adam Bighill, who signed a three-year futures contract with the New Orleans Saints, after recording 109 tackles with BC in 2016. Jason Arakgi, who is the CFL’s all-time leader in special teams tackles, surprised many in the organization by abruptly announcing his retirement following the 42-10 preseason victory against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on June 16. Jonathon Jennings seems poised to join the CFL elite at quarterback after throwing for 5,226 yards and 27 touchdowns last season but will have to wait to connect with marquee free agent signing Chris Williams, who is not fully recovered from a torn ACL suffered at the tail end of last year.
TRENDS DATING BACK TO 2016:[/B]
* Lions are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 Saturday games.
* Over is 5-1 in Lions last 6 home games.
* Over is 5-1 in Lions last 6 games as a home favorite.
* Eskimos are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
* Eskimos are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 meetings in BC.
CONSENSUS:[/B] The home chalk Lions are getting 62 percent of the action from Covers users and the UNDER is getting 55 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data for this matchup here.
That’s how close both the BC Lions and Edmonton Eskimos were from advancing to last year’s Grey Cup.
The Lions lost to the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Final while the Eskimos fell to the eventual Grey Cup Champion Ottawa REDBLACKS in the other division final when they crossed over to the East.
“It feels like yesterday we were leaving Calgary in the Western Final and that taste is still bitter in my mouth,” receiver Bryan Burnham told BCLions.com.
The disappointment of being so close to competing on the CFL’s biggest stage has no doubt lingered in the minds of Lions and Eskimos players alike, but both teams will have the opportunity to pick up where they left off at BC Place on Saturday night.
BC’s offensive core from the 2016 season has remained intact.
Quarterback Jonathon Jennings had a breakout 2016 campaign, ranking third in touchdown passes (27) and passing yards (5,226). He is flanked by last year’s touchdown leader Emmanuel Arceneaux as well as the equally dangerous Burnham, who together formed the second-most illustrious duo of the 2016 campaign.
The Lions will have to wait for their biggest off-season addition, dynamic receiver and one of the CFL’s fastest players in Chris Williams, but the return of Nick Moore gives the Lions plenty of weapons on offence in the meantime. And if BC’s prolific passing attack isn’t enough, the Lions’ league-leading rushing attack from last season returns mostly intact, led by the dangerous duo of Chris Rainey and Jeremiah Johnson.
While most of BC’s offence remains in one piece, the defence tells a different tale.
Last year’s dominant linebacker duo of Adam Bighill and Solomon Elimimian, commonly referred to as ‘Team 100’, has been split up. Bighill is now with the New Orleans Saints, leaving some big shoes to fill at weak-side linebacker. The Lions addressed that need during free agency by signing former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Tony Burnett, who will get the start in Week 1 in rotation with promising young off-season addition Micah Awe.
On the defensive line, the Lions are without Alex Bazzie and Jabar Westerman, both free agent departures, but the biggest changes come in the secondary. With hopes of generating more big plays on that side of the ball, Head Coach Wally Buono has moved Loucheiz Purifoy to safety while Chandler Fenner takes purifoy’s spot at SAM linebacker.
Despite all the changes, the Lions believe they’ve improved since finishing second in the CFL with a 12-6 record a year ago.
Jennings says that facing off against a divisional opponent will be a good opening test for his team.
“Winning in the West is such a big deal,” said Jennings. “It’s big for us to go out there and try and be 1-0, not just overall but in the west.
“Edmonton is a really tough team,” he added. “We had some close bouts with them last year, we’re going to try and go out there and play a fast physical game.”
Williams enters the season on the Lions’ 6-game injured list but could be activated sooner. Right tackle Kevin Palmer, kicker Swayze Waters, defensive backs Buddy Jackson and Steven Clarke and receiver Stephen Adekolu are among those on the 1-game injured list for Saturday’s contest.
Waters, the big leg and former Toronto Argonaut who signed as a free agent this off-season, will be replaced by 24-year-old Ty Long.
In Edmonton, you can expect the Eskimos will once again be a threat in the West with the help of star pivot Mike Reilly. The Central Washington product and 2015 Grey Cup MVP leads an equally impressive offence with weapons that include returnees Adarius Bowman, sophomore Brandon Zylstra and former Argo Vidal Hazelton.
D’haquille ‘Duke’ Williams will also be making his Eskimos regular season debut on Saturday. The former Auburn University football star looked impressive during his first pre-season campaign, racking up 129 yards on three catches. Williams has the potential to fill the large void that was left by Derel Walker, who is currently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Eskimos Head Coach Jason Maas says his team is extremely focused and prepared heading into Week 1.
“Guys are locked in,” Edmonton head coach Jason Maas told Esks.com. “Do we feel like they’re going to do some things we haven’t prepared for? Absolutely. But we’re going to be able to adjust…. We’re excited.”
While replacing Walker on offence will be key, the Eskimos look to pick up where their offence left off after leading the CFL with 418.7 net yards per game in 2016. The bigger question will be on the defensive side of things, where injuries have taken their toll before Week 1 has even kicked off.
WILL linebacker Corey Greenwood suffered a season-ending injury in camp, while late addition Forrest Hightower remains out of action in the Esks’ defensive backfield along with Marcell Young. All three have been added to the Esks’ 6-game injured list along with defensive end Marcus Howard, receiver Shamawd Chambers and offensive lineman Colin Kelly.
Travon Van and Mitchell Bryant have landed on the 1-game injured list and also will not suit up on Saturday.
With the injuries, 2015 second round draft pick Arjen Colquhoun, who just signed with the Eskimos after a year in the NFL, will make his first career CFL start at field corner.
[B][I]By the Numbers:[/I][/B]
10 – Consecutive games with a touchdown pass for Mike Reilly, a span over which he’s fired 17 in total.
18– Straight successful field goal attempts by Eskimos kicker Sean Whyte in regular season action.
23 – Rushing touchdowns scored by the Lions in 2016, the highest total in the CFL.
173 – The number of yards Adarius Bowman needs to tie Eddie Brown for 30th on the CFL All-Time receiving yards list (8,663).
Both the Lions and Eskimos are led by premiere pivots with multiple offensive weapons at their disposal. Reilly led the league in passing yards last year (5,554 yards) and finished second in passing touchdowns (28) behind Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell. Twenty-four-year-old Jennings emerged as the one of the league’s premiere pivots in 2016, showcasing his mobility and strong arm week after week.
The game will also feature three of the top four receivers from last year. Bowman led the league in receiving yards (1,761), followed by the now-departed Walker. Arceneaux (1,566) and Burnham (1,392) ranked third and fourth respectively.
In a game loaded with offensive talent, the winner in Week 1 could be determined by which defence is able to put the most pressure on the quarterback and play the shut down role more effectively. BC was tied last year at the top of the league in sacks (52) while veteran defensive linemen Almondo Sewell and Odell Willis will be looked upon to lead that way in the trenches for the Eskimos.
Kickoff is slated for 10:00 p.m. ET and can be followed live via CFL.ca Game Tracker or seen on TSN and ESPN2.
ESKS FREEZE LIONS COMEBACK IN WILD FINISH AT BC PLACE
VANCOUVER – A wild final three minutes came down to who had the ball last as the Edmonton Eskimos opened the regular season with a 30-27 win over the BC Lions Saturday night in Vancouver.
After the Eskimos surrendered a two-score lead in the fourth, Mike Reilly had the game in his hands with under 40 seconds remaining and delivered a strike to a wide open Brandon Zylstra in behind coverage for a 76-yard gain to set up a chip-shot Sean Whyte field goal with zeros on the clock to take the victory.
Well before the Esks had a chance to pull out the dramatic win, they were propped up by a sensational debut from newcomer D’haquille Williams who recorded 110 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.
Quarterback Mike Reilly finished 20 of 28 for 315 yards and two touchdowns while running back John White had 104 yards on the ground to complement Zylstra`s 152 yards receiving.
Both offences stumbled out of the gate, executing well on first down but struggling to convert on second once they reached midfield. After two consecutive Lions punt singles, the Esks took an early 3-2 lead with four minutes left when Sean Whyte knocked an 18-yard field goal through. The boot was set up by a 44-yard reception from newcomer Williams.
The Esks had a chance to build on their small lead when Odell Willis and JC Sherritt teamed up to force a Jonathon Jennings turnover but they were forced to settle for a 20-yard Whyte field goal.
Unfortunately for Sherritt and the Eskimos, the star linebacker went down at the start of the second quarter, favouring his left leg, and had to be helped off. Sherritt was all alone in the middle of the field when he suffered the non-contact injury and was seen being tended to on the sideline near his left ankle where typically achillies injuries are found.
The defences continued to hunker down for the majority of the half until the Eskimos put up the first significant score of the game. Reilly found Zylstra open down the seam for a 44-yard gain before the Esks QB hooked up with what seems to be his new favourite target in Williams. Reilly stood in the pocket and delivered a deep ball to the endzone where the former Auburn receiver climbed the ladder, snagged the pigskin and landed inbounds for his first CFL touchdown and a 13-5 lead that Edmonton could take to halftime.
Even though the Edmonton offence created separation before the break, it was their defence in the first half that was the story despite the loss of Sherritt. For the most part, they contained Jennings in the pocket and held him to just 104 passing yards.
On the other sideline, the Esks defence was the least of the Lions’ worries who had two big plays called back on penalties. A 90-yard punt return touchdown by speedster Chris Rainey was brought back on a holding call and a 43-yard Nick Moore reception went for not after another hold along the offensive line.
The Lions came out with a different scheme offensively it seemed in the third quarter and despite not posting a major they did move the ball well. Jennings found Moore and Manny Arceneaux over the middle on consecutive plays to set up a 27-yard field goal from K Ty Long.
Jennings and Moore connected once again on the next BC possession, leading to yet another Long field goal to cut the Edmonton lead to 13-11 midway through the third frame.
Settling on field goals wasn’t doing the Leos any favours however and after relinquishing some of the momentum Edmonton regained control of the game and relied on their stud tailback to do so.
John White took a handoff and countered towards the left side of the line, turned up field and romped 43-yards to set up a Vidal Hazelton touchdown reception on a slant two plays later to put the Esks advantage at 20-13 to close out the third quarter.
As the fourth started however, it was the Lions offence that awoke, ignited by a turnover. A misfielded punt by the Esks and recovery by Lions put BC at the Eskimos 24-yard line. A quick completion by Jennings to Rainey preceeded a 13-yard Jeremiah Johnson run up the middle. The convert was blocked.
With barely enough time to celebrate, the Eskimos countered. A huge reception by Williams allowed White to punch in a major from two-yards out to quickly restore the two-possession lead at 27-17. The score was set up by a 50-yard kickoff return from LB Chris Edwards.
The Lions answered on their next possession with another Long field goal before getting one last shot to stage a comeback, getting the ball with 1:46 left on the clock. After surrendering a sack, Jennings bounced back and delivered. The young pivot scrambled to the left, planted and delivered a strike down field to Moore who hauled in a 62-yard reception, setting the Lions up inside the Esks five. On the next play Travis Lulay punched in a two-yard score with 56 seconds remaining to tie the game at 27.
The Lions had a chance to take the late lead but Long missed the 32-yard convert just wide left.
Next week, the Lions head to Toronto to take on the Argonauts on Friday Night Football while the Eskimos host their home opener at Commonwealth Stadium in a matchup with the Montreal Alouettes.
Over/under win totals for college football this season
— Georgia Tech, 6
— Illinois 3.5, under -$120
— Indiana 6.5, over -$120
— Iowa 7, over -$120
— Iowa State 5.5, under -$130
— Kansas 2.5, under -$130
[B][I]Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday………[/I][/B]
13) A’s 10, White Sox 2— Oakland had three players hit their first MLB home run in this game, the first team to do that since 1914- the Kansas City Packers.
White Sox manager Rich Renteria got tossed for the second day in a row; he’s not thrilled with the Jim Wolf/GregGibson umpiring crew.
12) Franklin Barreto is a highly-touted shortstop prospect for the A’s; he played 2B in his big league debut— he didn’t get to Chicago until Saturday morning, but homered in his first MLB game, which started at 1:30 in the Windy City. Quite a day for the young man.
11) Its been a decade since the San Francisco Giants had only one player in the All-Star Game; looks like thats going to be the case this season.
10) Jordan Spieth leads the Hartford Open after three rounds; last seven times he held the 54-hole lead, he won the tournament six times— he T2 at the 2016 Masters.
9) Canyon Barry (Rick’s son) is playing with the Knicks’ team in the Orlando summer league, but New York doesn’t have a team in Las Vegas this summer— will the Knicks sign him or will he play for someone else in Las Vegas?
Canyon Barry studied nuclear engineering in college, so NBA offenses should be a snap.
8) If I’m keeping a scorebook at a ball game nowadays, I score where the ball went, and take notes on who actually fielded the ball. If a ball is hit to shortstop but is fielded by the 3B, that is misleading, so I would put 6-3 down (noting it was hit to where the SS normally is) then note it was the 3B who actually fielded the ball.
7) Baseball transactions:
— Arizona sent OF Jeremy Hazelbaker to AAA.
— Tampa Bay activated C Wilson Ramos, DFA’d Derek Norris
— Bronx DFA’d 1B Chris Carter, brought up 1B Tyler Austin.
— Texas put P Martin Perez (thumb) on the DL.
— Astros sent P Joe Musgrove down to AAA, activated Lance McCullers.
— Giants DFA’d 3B Aaron Hill, brought up rookie 3B Ryder Jones.
6) Dodger reliever Pedro Baez drew a 4-pitch walk with the bases loaded Thursday night, first pitcher to do that since the Cubs’ Courtney Duncan on May 5, 2001.
5) Dodgers’ SS Corey Seager got a Grade 1 hamstring strain Friday, isn’t supposed to go on the DL— like the rest of us, he is day-to-day.
4) I’m skeptical of the pitch speeds radar guns give out in stadiums; those guns can be calibrated to be “hot” or “cold” and can give inaccurate readings.
For instance, when I got my speeding ticket, the gun was “hot” and therefore inaccurate. ��
3) Orioles 8, Rays 3— First time since June 2 that Baltimore held a team under five runs.
2) Mets 5, Giants 2— San Francisco is 27-50; last year, they lost their 50th game on August 12.
Jason deGrom is the first Mets’ pitcher since Johan Santana in 2010 to finish eight innings in three consecutive starts.
1) Mark Leiter Jr got his first big league win against the Diamondbacks Friday. Arizona is managed by Torey Lovullo.
Lovullo was once traded for Mark Leiter Sr on March 19, 1991, six days after Mark Jr was born.