The 2011 CFL betting season gets underway on Thursday night at Percival Molson Stadium, where the two time defending Grey Cup champs, the Montreal Alouettes look to get their season off on the right foot when they take on the BC Lions.
We start with the Lions, who might be coming off of an 8-10 season, but it was one in which hopes got higher and higher as the season progressed. Head Coach Wally Buono saved his job by leading his team to seven wins in its last 10 games in the regular season last year, and as a result, QB Travis Lulay is once again going to be calling the shots as the team's signal caller instead of the often questionable QB Jarious Jackson. Many of the same pieces of the puzzle are intact, but the key signing was that of Most Outstanding Lineman OL Ben Archibald. BC's offensive line was a joke last season, and hopefully, the signing of one of the best in the league will be able to shore things up for all five up front. WR Geroy Simon, last year's finalist for the Most Outstanding Player award is back in the saddle, and he is going to be gunning for another 1,000+ yard campaign to boot. Don't be shocked if the defense is one of the best in the league after a strong second half of the season last year, as this is one of the two units that kept the majority of its 'D' intact from a year ago.
Of course, the other defense that is still basically whole is that of Montreal. The defending Grey Cup champs are head and shoulders above the rest of the league right now, and for good reason. The Als have the top 'D' in the game for sure after raiding the secondary of the Calgary Stampeders in the offseason, and the entire front seven is coming back as well. On the other side of the ball, expect another season of 500+ points thanks to the play of QB Anthony Calvillo. AC is one of the best players that has ever played in this league, and even though at some point he has to slow down, we don't expect that time to be this year, especially with this crop of receivers. Jamel Richardson and Kerry Watkins are both absolutely lethal, and now that he is a slot back, SJ Green should have a heck of a lot more production as well. WR Ben Cahoon is now gone, as is RB Avon Cobourne, but the latter's play should be easily replaced by RB Brandon Whitaker, who looked absolutely fantastic in relief of Cobourne last year when he was injured.
We know that the Alouettes are the defending champs, and we know that they are deservedly favorites in this game. However, we're not so sure that the Lions are going to make for welcome guests in this one. BC has a statement that it needs to make, and it's been a dozen games since it has lost a game in regulation by more than four points. Take the Lions +6.5 and run on the CFL odds in Week 1.