Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

Week 4 Best Bet

Week 4 CFL Betting Preview (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs Ottawa Redblacks

It was good to get the first win of the year last week with the Argos and Riders staying well below their total, partly because a lengthy weather delay had many of the guys wanting to get the game done and over with after it was basically decided before the storm clouds rolled in. But you can't dwell on wins (or losses) for long in this industry, as it's on to Week 4 and we've got eight of the nine teams in action.

Week 4 begins with a rematch from Week 3 between Montreal and Hamilton, and while that game (and scenario) does bring some interesting handicapping measures with it, it's not the focus of this week's piece. Instead, that goes to the Friday Night showcase game between Winnipeg and Ottawa, with the latter being a well-rested group as they are coming off a bye week.

This is also a battle between a pair of undefeated teams, as both sides enter the week with 2-0 SU records. For Winnipeg fans, a 2-0 start may have been expected given that they were a win away from the Grey Cup a year ago, but for an Ottawa team that was in that Grey Cup, but went through massive changes this off-season in losing their starting QB and one of their top two WR's (among other roster changes), a 2-0 SU start is a pleasant surprise.

Can Ottawa keep that undefeated season going, or will Winnipeg roll into town and grab their second road win of the season?

YTD: 1-1 ATS

Odds: Ottawa (-3.5); Total set at 53.5

It's always nice to be a football team at home and off a bye week (there are multiple by weeks for each team in the CFL for those that don't know), and so far this year, teams that have already played a game and then gone on bye are 2-1 SU. That does bode well for the Redblacks in this spot as they sat back and live scouted the Blue Bombers during Winnipeg's 28-21 home win vs Edmonton, as they hope their offense – which has averaged 38 points per game so far – can remain hot.

QB Dominique Davis has been the spark behind that offensive surge with his arm and his legs. Davis threw 4 INT's in Ottawa's Week 1 win over Calgary, but it was his three rushing TD's that powered the Redblacks to the win, while in Week 2 against Saskatchewan, he chucked the ball all over the yard in throwing for 354 yards and 3 TD's in that win. Dual threat QB's can have great success in the CFL game if they are highly accurate in the passing game, and while that wasn't the case for Davis in his first start, he rectified that rather quickly in his second outing.

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.

However, Winnipeg's defense will likely pose a tougher challenge for him and the rest of Ottawa's attack this week, as they've got the league's best rushing defense so far (52 yards allowed per game) as well as the 2nd best defense in points allowed per game (22/game) behind Hamilton, who's had the benefit of playing two very bad offenses in Toronto and Montreal so far. Two weeks of real game film is plenty for Winnipeg's HC Mike O'Shea and the rest of his staff to dive into, and being a former defensive standout at LB in this league during his playing days, you know that O'Shea and company are going to have some creative packages for Davis and Ottawa to try and dissect.

Davis has been on the two extreme ends of the passing spectrum through two games, and while he was phenomenal through the air against Saskatchewan, teams are still going to believe that's the weaker part of his game and will force Davis to try and beat them that way.

From Winnipeg's perspective, they'll look to find early and often success against a Redblacks defense that's allowed 34.5 points per game so far, as both Calgary and Saskatchewan had no problems moving the ball up and down against this defense. Based on that alone, Winnipeg's Matt Nichols should have a solid evening, however, that week of rest helping Ottawa probably shows up defensively first, and in the much bigger way. Ottawa's coaching staff had to do plenty of self scouting during that week off, and they won't be shy about throwing new looks at Nichols and company as well.

Which brings us back to what worked for us last week in that we once again have a scenario were we've got one team (Ottawa) off a game of scoring 40+ points. 2018 saw teams in that role go 5-20-1 O/U, and last week continued that trend with both the Saskatchewan game staying low, as well as the Hamilton game; a week after the Tiger-Cats put up 64.

That trend is there live again this week after Ottawa's 44-point effort in their last game, and from a schematic angle from both perspectives, it makes sense to see both teams emphasize defense more in an attempt to slow down some creative offensive attacks so far. With the winner in the two meetings a year ago between these two scoring 40+ each time, you've got to figure that those results still sit in the back of the minds of these defensive coaching staffs, as it will be there side of the ball that looks to take center stage on Friday.

Winnipeg has a run of 0-5 O/U going in their last five outings against a team with a winning record, and Davis' time on each end of the QB performance spectrum is bound to level off to a merely 'average' game at best. This week's game probably ends up with a similar score to the Blue Bombers outing a week ago (28-21) for either side, with a combined score in the 50's unlikely.

Best Bet: Under 53.5

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