Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM
Week 6 Best Bet
Week 6 CFL Betting Preview (Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET)
BC Lions vs Saskatchewan Roughriders
Week 6 of the CFL season gets going on Thursday with the winless Toronto Argonauts in Calgary to take on the Stampeders, but it's a matchup between two other struggling teams that closes out the week that gets our attention this week.
The BC Lions went out and made the biggest splash in free agency by signing QB Mike Reilly, hired Calgary's DC DeVone Claybrooks to help sure things up defensively, and it's all gone wrong for the Lions through the first five weeks of the year.
Mike Reilly has been sacked the most times of any QB in the league, he and the rest of his offense got embarrassed at home last time out in a 33-6 loss to Edmonton, and defensively the Lions allow the most points per game of any team in the West at 31.6/game. It's all been ugly for BC this year, and at 1-4 SU – their only win being a walk-off rouge against the lowly Toronto Argos, they'd better turn things around soon.
Saskatchewan hasn't been much better at 1-3 SU with their only win coming over Toronto as well, although there were two close road losses to begin the year out East that put them in this position. A 37-10 defeat in their last outing (at home) against Calgary was rather embarrassing as well, and hopefully for Riders fans, the fact that they had Week 5 off is probably a good thing. It's now up to the Riders to show that they used that extra prep time wisely and continue to add to the Lions misery in 2019.
So after last week's play on the 'over' in the Montreal/Ottawa game pushed our record to 3-1 ATS on the year, where should your money be going in the finale for Week 6? Let's break it down:
YTD: 3-1 ATS
CFL Odds: Saskatchewan (-5); Total set at 50.5
Betting lines for Week 6 came out on Tuesday afternoon and if you are a big believer in incorporating handicapping the market just has much as handicapping teams as I am, it's hard to ignore what we've seen from the market for this game already. Saskatchewan opened as a less than FG favorite for this home game off their bye (-2/2.5) and was promptly bet up and up until it reached it's current number. The total got hit on the low side for a move of a full point (51.5 to 50.5) as well.
That's quite an early statement on what the market really thinks of this BC Lions team as there is a strong belief that there is no end in sight to their 2019 struggles, and expecting Reilly and company to all of a sudden turn it around on the road against a rested team is something nobody wants to get behind.
That's an understandable position for sure, as there hasn't been much of anything good from the Lions in any of their four games. Their lone win saw them blow a lead late and win on a missed FG, so even in a positive result, it's not like things went well for them. Obviously it's still early in the week and we could very well see some buyback on BC at this number, or if it gets higher, but like the rest of the market, I'm not interested in backing the Lions here.
At the same time, while taking a home team off a bye is a favorable situation to get behind, especially with a Roughriders team that's got high expectations for 2019, they've got to go out and show that they can play at a consistently high level as well. That blowout loss to Calgary was a dud of a game in all regards, and it really feels like Saskatchewan has simply been trying to find their footing since the cheap shot their starting QB Zach Collaros took early in Week 1 put him on the shelf. Hopefully the bye week helped with that process as they've moved on with Cody Fajardo under center, as even Farjardo's probably feeling more comfortable being the guy with each passing week.
But teams off a bye week this year after having played at least one game (ie not counting Toronto's Week 1 bye), are just 3-2 SU on the season. Two of those three wins have been by a TD or less, and the two losses have been by at least 13 points. Yes, league wide results like that don't necessary apply to any/all specific teams in this league, but it's enough to cause pause on the Riders, especially with the best of the number long gone. Heck off a bye or not, it's really hard to pull the trigger on a line that's already moved a full three points from open and expect to win long term.
Which means the side is getting passed on again this week, and it's on to the total we go. Obviously the early move there has been to the 'under', and with both teams coming off outings where they scored just 10 points or less, you can understand that sentiment.
However, going back to those league-wide post-bye week trends this year (again not including Toronto's Week 1 bye), teams off a bye week (Saskatchewan) have averaged scoring 24.2 points the next time out on the field, while giving up 25.8 points/game on defense in those spots. That's 50 total points right on the nose which is where this number currently sits, meaning it's time to go into more specific details regarding these two teams.
(For those that are wondering, if you include Toronto's 64-14 loss in Week 2 after their bye, those numbers change to 22.5 points scored post-bye, and 32.16 points allowed post-bye).
Regarding specifics, this BC team knows they are built to have success with their offense doing the bulk of the heavy lifting, and putting up six points like they did a week ago simply won't cut it. The Lions didn't make Reilly the highest paid player in the league to try and grind out 18-17 wins like they had in Toronto, and with a defense that gives up 30+ per game and is still working out the kinks in terms of getting acquainted with Claybrooks philosophy, it's going to take some time before the Lions can trust that they'll win games without putting up 30+ points themselves.
Well I'm not prepared to back the Lions ATS-wise, I do believe the offense will be able to bonce back nicely this week, as the Riders defense is still working out its own kinks under a new coaching regime. Reilly hasn't been great, but the Lions O-line shares plenty of responsibility in BC's early struggles, and against that defensive pressure the Riders can bring, this week of prep should be a good one for that unit.
At the same time, the Riders offense shouldn't have many issues moving the ball up and down the field against this Lions defense who like I said earlier – is probably not going to come close to hitting their stride until their Week 8 bye. Two weeks to prepare to go up against this suspect Lions defense is going to help Saskatchewan score at least those 24.2 points post-bye week teams have put up this year, and I would not be surprised if they are the the final West Division team to put up 30+ against BC this year. The Eskimos (twice), Stamps, and Blue Bombers have already accomplished that feat, and this week it will be Saskatchewan's turn.
With the massive line move in favor of the Riders we've already seen, you've got to like their chances of being able to put up points, and with BC still relying on Reilly to carry the load, and in desperate need of a bounce back offensive performance themselves, this game should get well into the 50's or even 60's when all is said and done.
CFL Best Bet: Over 50.5 points