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CFL Division Finals
The opening round of this year’s CFL Grey Cup Playoffs featured two divisional semifinal matchups this past Sunday. The favorites prevailed in each game straight-up, but Montreal covered as a 3 ½-point road underdog in a tight 19-16 loss in overtime to Hamilton in the first game, and British Columbia forced a PUSH as a four-point underdog on the road in a 29-25 loss to Saskatchewan.

The Tiger-Cats will now head to Toronto this Sunday to face the Argonauts in the East Division Final and the Roughriders will go on the road to Calgary to face the Stampeders in the West Division Final. The following is a brief betting preview for both contests with the opening pointspread and ‘over/under’ lines provided by TopBet.

Sunday, Nov. 17

Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. Toronto Argonauts
Point-spread: Toronto -3 ½
Total: 54 ½

Hamilton’s defense has risen to the occasion to get this team to this point. Down the stretch of the regular season it held its opponents to 26 points or less in six of its last eight games. It went 5-3 straight-up during that run and 4-4 against the spread. The total stayed UNDER in seven of those eight games and it stayed UNDER the closing 51 ½-point against the Alouettes this past Sunday.

The Tiger-Cats only managed to score 19 points in that game with Henry Burris completing 23-of-36 passes for 204 yards and one score. This was a far cry from the CFL-best 274 yards a game he averaged in the regular season. They also struggled to run the ball against Montreal in that game with a total of just 51 yards on the ground. Hamilton was ranked sixth in the league in scoring during the regular season with an average of 25.2 points a game.

The defending Grey Cup Champions took a much easier route to this year’s division final by winning the East at 11-7 SU (9-8-1 ATS) and earning a much needed first round bye. The Argonauts went just 2-3 SU in their last five games and 1-3-1 ATS. They averaged just 23.8 points a game during that stretch and the total stayed UNDER in four of the five games.

Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray missed much of the second half of the regular season due to injury, so the extra week off went a long way towards getting him completely healthy for this game. He finished fourth in the league in passing yards with 2,878 while completing an impressive 77.2 percent of his 303 attempts.

These two met three times this season including a recent home-and-home series in early October in which Hamilton won both games SU and ATS. The total stayed UNDER in both games after going OVER in the previous five games between the two. The home team in this series is 6-2 both SU and ATS in the last eight games.

Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Calgary Stampeders
Point-spread: Calgary -5
Total: 53

Saskatchewan was clearly the best team in the CFL during much of the first half of the season with an 8-1 SU start in its first nine games. After losing all four of its games in the month of September both SU and ATS, it rallied with a 3-2 SU (2-2-1 ATS) record down the stretch. The total went OVER the 51-point line in the playoff win over BC and it went OVER in the regular season finale against Edmonton after staying UNDER in the Roughriders’ previous six games.

The one constant all season long was the team’s ability to play shutdown defense. Even as the team sputtered through that four-game skid, this unit has only allowed more than 30 points in one of its last 12 games. Darian Durant has also done a good job leading the offense. He was third in the league in passing yards (4,154) and first in touchdown throws with 31.

The Stampeders stormed past the Roughriders in the West standings on the strength of an 8-2 SU record in their final 10 games of the season. They were 5-4-1 ATS in those games and the total stayed UNDER in seven of the 10 contests. Calgary was the highest scoring team in the CFL this season with an average of 30.5 points a game.

Kevin Glenn has pretty much gone the entire season as the Stampeders’ starting quarterback and while he may not have the gaudy numbers as some of the other gun slingers in the league, he did a good job at taking care of the ball. He completed 66.6 percent of his 335 attempts for 2,710 yards and 18 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

The home team in this divisional matchup is 8-1 SU in the last nine meetings and 5-2-2 ATS. The total has gone OVER in five of the last seven games. Calgary had a 2-1 SU edge this season, but the three games were evenly split ATS at 1-1-1.

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