Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

Saturday's Best Bet

Week 5 CFL Betting Preview
Montreal Alouettes vs Ottawa Redblacks

There was little to no sweat involved in last week's CFL play, as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defense clamped down on Ottawa's offense and cruised to a 15-point win. The margin of victory (or who won) meant little for the play as we were on the 'under' 53.5 for the game, and with a 15-4 score at half, there was plenty of wiggle room that we didn't even use in the end.

It was another good victory for the undefeated Winnipeg Blue Bombers who host a winless Toronto team, but for the Redblacks, it was a bit of a drawing board moment in terms of their offense and what works/doesn't for them going forward. It's the latter's game in Week 5 that becomes this week's focus, as Ottawa stays at home to welcome in a Montreal team coming off their first victory and their own explosive offensive performance.

It's the first meeting of the year between these two Eastern division rivals, and despite performances on opposite ends of the spectrum last week, the betting market appears to be preferring the 'larger' three-game body of work for both sides with Ottawa nearly a double-digit favorite for this game. Can the Redblacks bounce back after a rough outing, or will Montreal be out to prove that last week's win over Hamilton was no fluke and they are much better then being credited as this year?

YTD: 2-1 ATS

CFL Odds: Ottawa (-9.5); Total set at 51

Montreal has been a very bad team in this league for a few years now, so you can appreciate that the market took last week's win with a grain of salt, as it really was a good spot for Montreal in hindsight. It was the back end of a home-and-home with a previously undefeated Hamilton team that had just put a 41-10 beating on the Alouettes the week prior. Montreal may not be a great team in 2019 too, but they are still professional athletes with talents out there, and they made a point to prove that they weren't going to get run over by the same time twice in a row.

And yet, while there is the stance that it was simply a one-off for the Alouettes in a strong situational spot, they did do a lot of good things, and still had plenty of room for improvement. An emphasis on the running game – RB William Stanback rushed for 203 yards and 3 TD's – was what led Montreal to victory, but QB Vernon Adams Jr – who rushed for a TD as well – only had 202 passing yards and didn't throw for a touchdown. Considering his longest pass completion was 46 yards, that means that Adams completed 13 other passes for just 156 yards. Essentially going 13 for 24 for 156 starts (average of 6.5 yards per attempt) is not very good in this league and it's where that huge room for improvement persists.

The good news for Montreal in that regard is that if they can keep the ground production going, Adams and the rest of Montreal's offense is going up against an Ottawa defense that's allowed at least 28 points in all of their games so far in 2019. The Alouettes may not be as offensively gifted as the three West teams Ottawa has faced to give up that number, but coming off a 36-point outing, there aren't many reasons out there to think that Montreal can't put up 25+ points themselves in this matchup. Who knows, add in a short field thanks to a turnover or two, and Montreal could be putting up 30+ in consecutive weeks, something they only did once all year in 2018, and it came in the final two weeks of the season. In fact, those were the only two games Montreal scored 30 or more all of last year.

While I am high on Montreal's ability to put up points in this one, I am still not ready to pull the trigger on taking the points on the side. I say that because Montreal's own defense has allowed 29 points or more in all three of their games this year, and in their two road games, opponents have put up at least 32 points. For an Ottawa attack that lived at that number for the first two weeks of the year, they are looking to prove that being held down by Winnipeg was more the anomaly than the norm, and just like every other team has for most of the past couple of years, scoring points on Montreal tends to come rather easily. The Alouettes allowed 30+ points against in seven of their 18 games a year ago, and had Hamilton added a 'rouge' to their scoring last week, Montreal would be 3-for-3 in doing so here in 2019. That's not something that's going to change overnight, and it might not be until late August or September that Alouettes fans can trust their defense to keep opponents down.

So while trend bettors will be quick to point out that each of the last eight meetings between these two have cashed 'under' tickets with an average score of 38.1 points, the 2019 versions of these two teams are quite different. Three weeks of play may not be the biggest sample size, but both defenses aren't what they used to be, and with two young QB's looking to establish themselves in this league – as opposed to say an established Trevor Harris/Henry Burris for Ottawa in year's past, and others like Johnny Manziel simply learning the game in a trial-by-fire method for Montreal – both offenses should be very aggressive and be able to pick apart these two respective defenses.

All streaks are made to be broken, and this run of 'unders' in Montreal/Ottawa games ends this week.

CFL Best Bet: Over 51 points

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