Analysis and a Best Bet for Week 5 of the CFL

By Ian Cameron  () 

EDMONTON ESKIMOS @

BC LIONS

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The Edmonton Eskimos are 2-1 and enter this West Division clash coming off a bye week although their results in games following a bye in the Jason Maas coaching era have been hit or miss. BC got its first win of the season last week in Toronto. It wasn’t pretty, but got the job done in a narrow 18-17 win against the lowly Argos. The competition wasn’t the greatest, but the fact the Lions can finally say they have a win under their belt should spark the team and improve their overall confidence level moving forward. BC is likely to get WR Bryan Burnham back after he sat out the last game due to injury and his return is massive for the offense as he’s been a very consistent playmaker for the Lions in the passing game in recent seasons and will be an added weapon for QB Mike Reilly in this game. The BC Lions defense, aside from a terrible late game meltdown in Calgary two weeks ago, has stepped up and improved its play in the last couple games, showing signs of starting to become the defense we are used to seeing under the guidance of head coach and defensive guru DeVone Claybrooks. That defense will need to play well here because Edmonton’s offense led by QB Trevor Harris, RB C.J. Gable and WR’s Greg Ellingson and Ricky Collins has been a tough offense to slow down. The Eskimos lead the league in total yards and passing yards and have averaged 30.7 points per game. The Edmonton defense had a lot of new faces on it, plus a new coordinator, but it has managed to play solid on that side of the football ranking top 3 in total yards, passing yards and rushing yards allowed. This is a rematch of the game that took place in Week 2. The Eskimos won decisively, 39-23, in Reilly’s return to Edmonton to face his former team. BC will be looking to avenge that defeat, and certainly the win over the Argos should give them a morale boost but beating the worst team in the CFL by just a point isn’t exactly a surefire sign the Lions are back on track. It’s worth noting the Over has been the dominant trend in games between Edmonton and BC, cashing at a 5-0-1 clip in the last 6 meetings.

TORONTO ARGONAUTS @

WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS

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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were my choice to win the West Division before the season started and they’ve backed it up with a strong 3-0 SU and ATS start to the season. The Blue Bombers host the only remaining winless team in the CFL, the 0-3 Toronto Argonauts. Winnipeg has arguably the best defense in the CFL as it is holding foes below 20 points per game and that is in spite of playing three solid or better teams in BC, Edmonton and Ottawa to begin the season. The Bombers shut down the Redblacks offense completely last week even without one of their best players on that side of the football as outstanding LB Adam Bighill didn’t play due to injury. The good news for Winnipeg is that Bighill is expected to return for this game and QB Matt Nichols should be good to go after sustaining a head injury that forced him out of last week’s win against Ottawa. The Blue Bombers are a well-balanced offense that can throw and run the football effectively with a slew of receivers and the best RB in the league, Andrew Harris, while the defense has been excellent at getting pressure on opposing QB’s and collapsing the pocket. They also have the CFL’s top defense against the run, allowing a paltry 42.7 yards per game on the ground. Toronto’s offense has been missing in action. The Argos offensive line has been woefully bad, unable to establish the line of scrimmage or adequately protect their QB’s. Toronto had McLeod BethelThompson at QB last week against BC in place of the injured James Franklin but the offense was no better. The Argos are ranked dead last in all but one major offensive category and they are averaging only 12.7 points per game. The defense has been poor as well although that stop unit did finally step up with a better game against BC last week, holding the Lions to 18 points although they did still give up 443 total yards. Nevertheless, it was a small step in the right direction for the Argos defense. Winnipeg has owned this head-to-head series in recent years, going 5-1 SU, 6-0 ATS against Toronto since 2016. The Over has cashed in six straight meetings between the Argos and Blue Bombers. However, it is not easy to envision this struggling Toronto offense going on the road and scoring points in bunches against one of the stingiest defenses in the CFL.

MONTREAL ALOUETTES @

OTTAWA REDBLACKS

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The Ottawa Redblacks were bounced from the ranks of the unbeaten teams in the CFL as they suffered their first loss of the season in a 29-14 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Ottawa was outgained by 195 yards in the loss and even after Winnipeg QB Matt Nichols left the game due to injury, the Redblacks couldn’t take advantage with an offense that sputtered for the first time this season. Dominique Davis had a tremendous first two games running the Ottawa offense but Winnipeg provided the blue print for shutting him and the Redblacks offense down last week. It’s doubtful that Montreal can duplicate that effort as it simply does not possess the level of defensive talent and acumen that Winnipeg has. That being said, the Alouettes enter this game with some positive momentum after notching their first win of the season last week in a solid performance against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, winning that game 36-29. It was the best game this season for the Alouettes offense as QB Vernon Adams Jr. was much better and RB William Stanback had a breakout performance and carried the football for over 200 yards. WR’s B.J. Cunningham and Quan Bray had terrific games in the passing attack as well. The Montreal defense stepped up its play to a certain degree after struggling mightily in its first two games, which were both losses, but the defense still has a long way to go before they can be confused with being a good defense. That Montreal D will be tested here by Ottawa, whose offense had been rolling prior to last week but that may have been a product of the Winnipeg defense they were up against being one of the top defenses in the league. The Under is on a blistering 7-0 run in the last 7 meetings between these two teams. Montreal continues to be an under-the-radar pointspread team cashing at a 7-1 ATS clip in their last 8 games dating back to last season. I think the spot favors Ottawa off a loss to a good Winnipeg team while Montreal is winless on the road this season, so my lean here would be to lay the points with the home favorite.

CALGARY STAMPEDERS @

HAMILTON TIGER-CATS

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The Calgary Stampeders were an injury-riddled mess heading into last week against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. They appeared to be ripe for the picking. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Calgary, despite having to cobble together a team especially a defense for last week’s road game in Saskatchewan, went out and played a dominant 60 minutes against the Riders in a thorough 37-10 win. Calgary QB Nick Arbuckle starting in place of Bo Levi Mitchell, who injured his throwing shoulder two weeks ago, was very sharp and impressive in that start on the road against a solid defense throwing for 262 yards and 2 TDs while completing 19-of-22 passes. The duo of Ka’Deem Carey and Terry Williams at RB played well in the absence of #1 RB Don Jackson as the two combined for over 100 rushing yards while the performance of an injury-plagued Calgary defense was the most shocking part of last week’s win. The Stamps were ravaged by injuries along the defensive line and yet managed to hold Saskatchewan to 10 points and just 249 total yards. You can’t help but give Calgary a ton of props for its performance in very difficult circumstances. Can the Stampeders duplicate it for a second straight week on the road as they will travel to Hamilton to face the Tiger-Cats coming off losing their first game of the season. Hamilton QB Jeremiah Masoli didn’t have his ‘A’ game last week by his standards and the injury loss of outstanding RB Sean Thomas-Erlington during the game didn’t help. The Ticats defense that had been very stout in the first three wins of the season didn’t play well at all last week. Hamilton gave up big plays through the air and on the ground against Montreal. They will be looking to shore that up quickly against a Calgary offense that hasn’t shown much drop-off going from Mitchell to Arbuckle at QB. The injury situation is still very tedious for Calgary heading into this game but the good news for the Stampeders is they have completely owned the Ticats in recent years. Calgary has won 10 straight head-to-head meetings against Hamilton and have gone 7-3 ATS in those contests. Hamilton has been unable to beat Calgary, but this will be their first time facing them without Mitchell at the controls. This Calgary offense can’t be underestimated as Arbuckle has looked nothing short of terrific so far but Hamilton’s defense is still better IMO than what we saw last week and it’s worth noting they are 2-0 SU and ATS on their home field this season. I think this is a good “bet on” situation for Hamilton and perhaps a “bet against” situation for Calgary playing a second straight road game and coming off a very satisfying divisional win. I’ll give Hamilton a look this week as long as they are in a near pick ‘em range.

CFL Week 5 Best Bet: Hamilton

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