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Jun 27, 2019

Week 3 - Best Bet

Week 3 CFL Betting Preview (Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET)
Toronto Argonauts at Saskatchewan Roughriders

The first play of the 2019 CFL season last week did not go according to plan, as QB Mike Reilly had a rough night all around in his return to Edmonton. It was about the midway point of the third quarter in that game that Edmonton seized control for good in that game, as the Lions just didn't have the ability on defense to slow the Eskimos down. BC's defense has already started to be a concern through two weeks – if for no other reason then they hired a former DC as their new head coach – and that's definitely something to monitor with the Lions as the weeks go on.

For now, it's on to Week 3 as it's back to a full slate of games this weekend; a holiday weekend up in Canada. So early wishes to those up in Canada for a Happy Canada Day when it comes on July 1st, as it's actually the game that's played on that day that is getting the focus this week.

Odds: Saskatchewan (-11.5); Total set at 53.5

There aren't too many instances in professional football on either side of the border where we as fans/bettors can be completely sure of what type of message a coaching staff will bring to their team each week, but for this matchup, we all can be pretty sure both staffs have been harping on their respective defenses for days.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders defense – one that has the talent pool to be by far and away the best in the league – got shelled in Ottawa last weekend, giving up 44 points to the Redblacks and Dominque Davis. It was the second straight year that Saskatchewan's annual trip to Ottawa resulted in the Redblacks putting up 40 on the Roughriders, and thanks to the 2019 Riders offense, the 44-41 losing score this year looks a lot more flattering then the 40-17 one this organization suffered a year ago.

Yet, the message defensively will be just as stern this time around, as they can't go around giving up easy yards and points like they did and expect to win too many games. But if we can use last year as any indication, we should expect the Riders defense to step up from here on out, because last season's visit to Ottawa in Week 2 was the only time all year Saskatchewan allowed more then 34 points against. Welcoming a Toronto team that looked awful last week for the home opener is a great situation for this Riders defense to get back on track, and it's hard to believe that they won't be able to to some degree.

From Toronto's perspective, everybody knows about the offensive issues this team is likely to have this year, but I don't think many saw them giving up 64 points at home to Hamilton in their season opener. Toronto's staff had all of camp and the preseason to prepare for Hamilton and to lay an egg that badly was abysmal.

There is no way around that effort for the defense this week in practice, and on an individual and team level, every single man on that Toronto defense is looking for redemption this week. Going out on the road and silencing the crowd early with a big stop would be a huge boost of confidence for the Argos D, and considering the Riders are winless themselves, it's not like the Argos D comes into this game completely deflated, as they could be say against a perfect 2-0 SU opponent.

The Riders may have gashed Ottawa's D a week ago, but they only put up 3 more points against that same Hamilton team that Toronto faced, so Argos fans can take something from that, but the Riders defense did manage to hold Hamilton to 41 fewer points in their game as well. Hence the double-digit home chalk price. But with the emphasis on defense for both sides this week, the only way I can look at this game is to go 'under' the total for the full game.

That might seem odd to say given that we just saw each side give up 40+ points last week and it's easy to figure something similar will happen. But oddly enough, it's these scenarios where I look to go against conventional wisdom so to speak and it's because of the idea that neither team, on offense or defense, is really as bad or as good as they've looked through two games or less so far.

Furthermore, looking to go 'under' the total following a game where a team scored 40 or more points (ie: Saskatchewan) was a highly profitable scenario league wide last year. Not including two playoff games where totals went 1-1 O/U featuring a team coming off a 40-point performance, the 26 times it was live in 2018 produced a 5-20-1 O/U record the the following game.

Then, when you add in that teams coming off a performance where they allowed 40+ points (ie: both teams in this game), the O/U record the following game was 8-12 O/U a year ago, going 'low' here starts to look better and better. The opener for this game has already dropped a half-point for this game with early action seemingly looking low, as neither offense can really give you that much belief in their ability to put up 28 or so points.

With two winless teams looking to rebound after some of the worst defensive performances you'll see all year, I expect both teams on that side of the ball to step up in a big way this week, while their respective offenses still search for their identities. Put it all together and getting a combined score higher then the 40's will be tough this week.

Best Bet: Under 53.5

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