On the Fourth of July, Canadian Football League betting action wraps up its first week of play with the duel between the Western Conference foes, the BC Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos.
British Columbia Lions (8-10, 10-8 ATS in 2009) - Last year was the first season under HC Wally Buono that the Lions failed to finish at least .500, but it didn't stop them from getting into the playoffs. It took crossing over into the Eastern Conference, but the Leos were amongst the last four teams standing last year after knocking off the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. After dealing with a plethora of quarterbacks over the past few years due to injuries, the team has cut ties with QB Buck Pierce, who is now starting for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. QB Casey Printers was picked up off of the scrap heap at the end of last season to lead the Lions after Pierce and current backup QBs Jarious Jackson and Travis Lulay were all injured. Printers led the team to three losses to end the regular season, but he was responsible for the playoff victory against the Tabbies in Steeltown. Buono loves his running back situation at this point, as the Lions are going to be relying on RB Jamal Robertson, a Toronto cast off to tote the rock in '10 after he had a 1,000+ yard year for the Boatmen last year.
Edmonton Eskimos (9-9, 6-12 ATS in 2009) - The mission for the Eskimos in 2009 is to have the road to the Grey Cup end up in the stadium that will ultimately host the game. Commonwealth Stadium has become the last venue in the league to convert from grass to turf, and the city now has the championship game upcoming this year in November. QB Ricky Ray is going to have a very dangerous offense at his disposal this year. WRs Andre Talbot and Brad Smith have joined the fold, while WR Kelly Campbell, who was one of the most explosive receivers in the game two years ago, is back after a year trying to make an NFL roster. Ray didn't have the best season of his career in 2009, but there is no shame in throwing for 4,916 yards and 22 TD passes on the year. He came up just short of his fourth 5,000+ yard passing season. The CFL veteran has thrown for 32,370 yards and enters this year just 25 touchdowns short of 200 for his illustrious career. The defense is going to be a real question mark at this point, but HC Richie Hall, known as a defensive mastermind, is taking over the coordinator duties as well on that side of the ball. Expect to see more innovative blitz packages out of the Esks than what we saw a year ago when the unit conceded 27.9 points per game and allowed at least 30 in nine of its 18 games.
The home team has dominated this series of late, winning and covering the CFL lines in six straight games. There's no reason to believe that the Eskimos can't keep that trend going against a BC team that is probably going to take a little bit of time to gel with Printers under center.
Selection: Edmonton Eskimos -4 at BetCanadian