CFL Betting Notes - Week 1
June 19, 2017
By David Schwab
Football is back ‘north of the border’ with the start of the 2017 CFL regular season. Week 1 is highlighted by a rematch of last season’s Grey Cup title game between the Calgary Stampeders, out of the West Division and the East’s Ottawa RedBlacks. Calgary cruised through the regular season right to the title game, but the Stampeders were stunned by Ottawa in overtime 39-33 as 9 ½-point favorites.
CFL futures are backing Calgary again as a 13/4 favorite to win the 2017 Grey Cup followed by British Columbia at 4/1 and the Edmonton Eskimos as 9/2 third favorites. It is time to get things started with the following Week 1 matchups (all records listed are from the 2016 regular season).
Thursday, June 22
Saskatchewan Roughriders (5-13, 9-9 ATS) vs. Montreal Alouettes (7-11 SU, 9-9 ATS)
Point-spread: Montreal -6
Total: 50 ½
It was a rough year for Saskatchewan in 2016, but it did show some positive signs for the future with a four-game winning streak towards the end of the season both straight-up and against the spread. Veteran CFL quarterback Kevin Glenn joined the Roughriders this past offseason and if he can remain healthy for an entire 18-game schedule they should be able to improve on a very disappointing five-win season. Defense could still be an issue after allowing an average of 29.4 points per game in 2016.
The outlook for Montreal is also trending up after missing the playoffs last season in the East Division. The Alouettes did take some steps to build on a defense that allowed an average of 23 PPG, which was ranked second only to Calgary. The biggest change for this season is at the quarterback position with another CFL veteran switching uniforms. Darian Durant will take over as the team’s starter with Vernon Adams Jr. waiting in the wings. The addition of Earnest Jackson along with last season’s leading receiver Nik Lewis gives Durant some solid options in the passing game.
-- Montreal has a 8-2 edge ATS in the last 10 meetings and the total has stayed UNDER in 16 of its last 21 home games against Saskatchewan.
Friday, June 23
Calgary Stampeders (15-2-1 SU, 13-5 ATS) vs. Ottawa RedBlacks (8-9-1 SU, 7-11 ATS)
Point-spread: Calgary -2 ½
Calgary remains loaded on both sides of the ball heading into this Grey Cup rematch and it is probably chomping at the bit to avenge that loss after clearly establishing itself as the best team in the league. Bo Levi Mitchell is back under center after leading the CFL in touchdown throws in 2016 with 32 against just eight interceptions. Also returning are most of his top weapons in receivers DaVaris Daniels, Marquay McDaniel and Kamar Jordan while Jerome Messam is back to anchor the ground game.
The RedBlacks won the CFL title in 2016 with losing record in the regular season and their futures odds to repeat at 8/1 suggest a step backwards this year. Trevor Harris is firmly established as Ottawa’s starting quarterback and getting this team off to a fast start with another upset against Calgary could rest squarely on his ability to put some points on the board early and often.
-- Calgary has covered ATS in five of its last seven games against Ottawa and the total has gone OVER or ended as a PUSH in the last five meetings.
Saturday, June 24
Edmonton Eskimos (10-8 SU, 9-9 ATS) vs. British Columbia Lions (12-6 SU, 13-5 ATS)
Point-spread: BC -2 ½
Edmonton was a crossover team in the playoffs last season and after getting past Hamilton in the East Semifinal it came up short against Ottawa in the East Division Final. Mike Reilly is back at quarterback after leading the league in total passing yards with 5,554. He was second on the list in touchdown throws with 28. Adarius Bowman still figures to be one of his top targets in the passing game, but age becomes a concern at 32-years old. The loss of wide receiver Derel Walker could be an even bigger concern for the Eskimos.
BC made it all the way to the West Finals as the second-best team in that division and it should be right in the mix again this season with quarterback Jonathon Jennings leading the way. The one concern with him is turnovers after throwing a league-high 15 interceptions to go along with his 27 touchdown throws last year. The big plus for the Lions this season is the addition of Chris Williams, who was with Ottawa last season.
-- BC has covered the spread in five of its last six home games against Edmonton and it holds a 4-1 edge ATS in the last five meetings overall. The total stayed UNDER in both meetings last season.
Sunday, June 25
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-11 SU, 6-12 ATS) vs. Toronto Argonauts (5-13 SU, 5-13)
Point-spread: Hamilton -4
Hamilton had won six previous matchups against its bitter division rivals (both SU and ATS) until suffering a 33-21 loss last season in early September as a 6 ½-point road favorite. The Tiger-Cats will look to a healthy Zach Collaros to avenge that loss and get this season off to a strong start. If Collaros can stay off the injured list in 2017, this team has the talent to win the East, but given his recent history that could be a big if. Jeremiah Masoli has already proved that he can also run this offense after throwing for 2,695 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016.
The Argonauts slipped to last place in the East and the chances of turning things around are not all that promising with the longest odds on the board to win a CFL title at 15/1. Ricky Ray is another veteran quarterback that needs to prove that he can stay on the field, but Toronto’s lack of quality receivers could be an even bigger concern for this offense. The Argonauts could also take their lumps on the other side of the ball with a defense that dead last in the league in 2016 when it came to total points allowed (568).
-- Hamilton has gone 6-1 ATS in its last seven road games against Toronto and the total has gone OVER or ended as a PUSH in four of the last five meetings overall.
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