Free Weekly CFL Picks Against the Spread
Each week during the Canadian Football League season our handicappers break down all the game match ups looking for the best bet on every match. Visit weekly for our handicapping analysis and CFL against the spread picks.
The script often flips in football, and I see this as a potential spot for that phenomenon to take place. Last week Edmonton's QB torched the defense, and the opposing QB sealed the deal by throwing picks trying to catch up, exactly the same thing that happened to Harris in Last year's Grey Cup. Hamilton's defense is really good, much better than Montreal's, way better in fact. When I look at the potential outcomes, I don’t see any potential of Edmonton winning this one big, but Hamilton could blow them out. I’m going to fade the last minute back-door cover, which is the most likely way Eskimo backers will cash, and take the squad that has been crushing teams at home all season. Give the -6 and back the Ti-cats.
“Morale is to the physical as three is to one", do you know who said? Napoleon Bonaparte, and there is a lot of truth to that in life, war and football. Montreal has a superior leader in Khari Jones over Edmonton's Jason Mass, and I think even some players on the Eskimos' side realize that. I rarely ever see a team back into the playoffs like Edmonton has and win a big game. The sloppy field conditions favor the "run-and-gun" style of the Als, and everybody “knows” Jason Maas is likely to be fired at season end. Edmonton players don't believe they'll go through the motions on Sunday, but they're waiting for next year. This game, this pick, isn't about scheme, talent, and tactics. It's all about heart, and that's why even though Edmonton is a dangerous team, especially on paper, they won't win the day. Montreal will win this one quite handily, lay the -2 points on the Khari kids.
Because these teams are out of the playoffs, there has been a lot of talk in the media about possibly putting other QBs in the game for evaluation purposes. I expect both starters to play the entire game unless the score gets out of hand. Both of these teams have already seen all their QBs play this season. Ottawa is starting their third-string QB, to begin with, so I don't see them going to their fourth-string unless they're losing badly. Argos HC Corey Chamberlain stated to the media on Wednesday that his focus is on winning at home for fan appreciation night, and QB Mcleod-Bethel Thompson would only be replaced if they had a comfortable lead in the fourth. Considering the QB match up and the positive energy in Toronto right now, I'm going to back the team on the upswing and lay the -6.
The way I see this game play-out is the home team overwhelming the visitors in the first half and then phoning it in, in the second half. I hardly ever back losers or bad sides in a funk, but the change at QB has given this RedBlacks team a spark, and let us not forget they played for the Grey Cup last year, so it’s not like they have a bunch of Tomato Cans standing on the sidelines. Ottawa is a wounded animal desperate for a meal, while the Ti-Cats are sitting back with their tummies full. I don’t care what the records are in this one; I'm backing the crazed dog with a lot of fight left, give me the RedBlacks and the +16.5.
Generally my rule of thumb is never pet a burning dog, and the Bombers are on fire right now, but not in a good way. This game means way more to the Bombers than the Alouettes, but this Montreal team keeps showing up regardless. The Als have proven this year they can beat any team anywhere and this week is no different, since this game might be played in slushy conditions, and the Bombers are for sure going to throw the sink at them, I don't like the Als on the ML, but the +3.5 gives me the warm and fuzzies.
Oddly enough BC hasn't been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, actually with their wins over Ottawa they just need to catch Edmonton for the cross-over spot. Realistically though BC is going to be playing for pride. You are what your record says you are, so the Lions will be playing with a big chip on their shoulder for the rest of the season trying to prove they're not hot garbage. Montreal is in no threat of being overtaken in the standings and will probably ride this one out. After the Al's previous miracle win against Calgary they came out a little flat against a Toronto team that should've beat them soundly, but it was Toronto and Montreal again came back and won. I think this week in BC the magic runs out; there is a limit to everything, especially in football. Mike Rielly and Company will not lose to a rookie QB at home when the Als fall behind on Saturday things are more likely to unravel than anything else. Shiltz will have to push the ball downfield and inevitably make a costly mistake. I'm going with the veteran QB and the re-vamped O-line to win big at home, lay the -5.5.
Overall I think Winnipeg is the team better positioned to win this week by virtue of their outstanding defense as well as their overall continuity in key positions/groups, but I noticed something concerning about their play early in the season. They don’t seem to respect and or prepare for Eastern teams on the road, and I can’t really blame them. Winnipeg is the best team in the league (arguably), but they only win when they want to. I don’t see them caring that much this week about the 6-5 Als. Another chink in the Bombers armor is that offense, I’ve seen it stall with Matt Nichols under center as well as Chris Streveller. The Bombers are a really solid team, but they’re not invincible. I like a motivated Alouettes team with a healthy starting QB to outlast and most importantly outscore the Bombers. Take the home dogs on the moneyline.
When I first looked at this line, I thought it was out-of-whack, a 9-2 division-leading team that won the last match-up almost a touchdown pooch. That didn't seem right, but if you watched Calgary dominate a pretty good football team in the Edmonton Eskimos the previous couple of weeks you'd know where that number comes from. Hamilton needed two scores on Special teams last time around to stay in the game, that won't happen again, and these comebacks they've been launching in the second half against 1-9 teams will fall short. Calgary is really clicking on all cylinders right now and will pull away after the first quarter and not look back. This line is a bit out actually, not because it's too high, but because it's too low, if the books are trying to bait me with a half-point I'll swallow the hook and the points. Take the champs to roll big time.
There is a chance of rain on Saturday, but honestly, it doesn't matter that much to me. This game is a basement bowl. It is going to be a low scoring affair between two desperate teams with really good defenses and mediocre offenses. Rain will just make it a little uglier. Having said that I'm going to fade getting caught in the "zig-zag" and take the UNDER again this week. Often I'll take the points in a garbage bowl because they're usually settled by field goals, so if you like to play the spread the points are not a bad wager, but on this occasion, I think the total going UNDER 51.5 is the slightly better bet.
This is a classic situation where an under-rated team plays an over-rated squad, and the difference is evident in the spread. I think either side could win this one, but not by two scores. Frankly, I find the 11 point spread border-line ridiculous, and if I were an Argo, I'd be insulted by it. I'm going to fade the usual bad beats that are out there (pick-sixes, fumbled punts, etc.) and go with this one being a close defensive battle between two evenly-matched rivals. I don't play totals often, but if you're into that kind of thing, I think the UNDER is worth a look here, myself, I prefer to take advantage of a weak line when I think I've found one. I’m going with Boatmen again this week and taking the +11 points.
I’m going to fade any advantage Montreal might have playing in front of a mostly French-speaking crowd and back the Argos this week. Iron sharpens iron and Toronto has faced the toughest competition the CFL has had to offer this year, and let us not forget their one win is against the league-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers. With the season on the line and an Alouette team ripe for a letdown, I'm rowing with the Argos Sunday and taking the +6 points.
Calgary has a winning SU record, but they haven’t exactly been blowing teams out of the water going 1-3 ATS at home. The Al’s are a very hungry team and should be able to keep up with the 2019 Stampeders. It's irrelevant to me who starts at QB for Calgary, but as long as Adams starts for Montreal, they'll hang around all game and might even upset. I'm taking the Als and the points on Saturday.
The part of me that cheers for underdogs and hates watching a team take beat-down after beat-down wants to believe that the Lions have fixed their woes on offense and are going to be competitive Saturday. The part of me that makes good handicapping decisions says no way. The Hamilton defense has looked very good this year, and that match-up against a struggling offense spells blow-out to me. I have to roll with the better team here and swallow the chalk take the Tabbies and lay the -10.5.
Watching Calgary play the last couple of weeks should make me stay away from the high variance of their recent performances and back the ever consistent Eskimos, but it's the battle of Alberta and Calgary always finds a way to win at home. I seriously doubt Stampeder starting QB Arbuckle is going to have a flawless game, but it doesn't matter, history is on his side. Regardless of the circumstances, Calgary wins this game a lot at home, and they're up against an Edmonton offense that can be contained and kept out of the red zone. Calgary wins a close one in "Cowtown," but take the point for bad beat insurance.
When I look at these two teams after watching them play, I see two completely different creatures. One, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats who look like a talented Football team that plays good football, and then there is the other one, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who look like a football machine that executes football commands. The Ti-Cats will be jacked up for this game and will probably hang around until half-time, but they'll make more mistakes than their opponent, and eventually, the wheels will come off. Give me the big blue machine, and I'll gladly lay the -2.
One Swallow doesn't make a summer, but two Alouette victories keep a season alive. This is the first time in a long time the Alouettes have a system they believe in, not only that, they're still in the playoff hunt and are playing meaningful football. Edmonton might be walking into buzz-saw here and could lose SU if they don't bring their A-game. Montreal is going to give Edmonton all they can handle, if the Als fall short it will not be by much. I'm taking the points, and a very live home dog.
Inspired clubs in the CFL can show up and win games with points coming only from Special teams and Defence, but this Argo team has been playing a pretty uninspiring brand of football so far this year and seems to be just going through the motions. The Bomber defense is for real. The team has first place in the West as its goal, and it's a long-suffering franchise with a legit shot at the Cup, there’s no way Winnipeg lays an egg here. Toronto might not be able to reach Winnipeg’s side of the field offensively let alone the end-zone, and the home team will win the position battle, and the visitors will be whittled down into kindling. Eat the chalk and stick with a winner, take the Bombers.
Everyone knows how important winning the turnover battle is in football and hard it is to win outright when you give the ball away. Ottawa has been beating that trend lately, but it can't go on forever. The numbers catch up to them this week, and Bombers punish them for being careless with the rock. I like the Bombers SU and ATS, but my best bet is actually the OVER on the 54 total, both of these teams can score and it looks like the Bomber defense has been slightly overrated this week based on last week's performance. This game is likely to be a shoot out, not a defensive grind. Hammer the over.
The Bombers are 6-3-1 ATS in their last 10, but they are usually the dog, and that's the position I prefer to play them in, 4.5pts is too many points for a team that just plays "consistently". Winnipeg disappoints as the fav again on Thursday Night.