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Analysis and a Best Bet for Week 6 of the CFL

By Ian Cameron  () 

ORONTO ARGONAUTS @ CALGARY STAMPEDERS

Spread: Calgary -11.5

Total: 52.5

The Toronto Argonauts look like the worst team in the CFL after another horrible showing against Winnipeg last week in a 48-21 beatdown. Outside of a 1-point loss against a struggling BC Lions squad, Toronto has lost its other games against Hamilton, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg by a combined score of 144-42 in an 0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS start. QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson has not been the answer for an offense that can’t overcome a terrible line. The Argos’ offense is bad, the defense is bad and even the special-teams unit is a disaster after allowing two huge kick returns in last week’s loss. Calgary is coming off its second loss, a 30-23 decision to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It was not the same strong performance from QB Nick Arbuckle, who struggled to maintain the same high level of play he displayed in Calgary’s 37-10 win against Saskatchewan the previous week. Special teams was the difference as Calgary gave up a kickoff return TD and a missed FG return for a TD to the Ticats. The Stamps are still battling injuries on defense, but there is a chance they could get some of those players back for Thursday night. If so, this could easily end up being another lopsided loss for a horrendous Toronto squad that is just 1-7 SU and ATS in its last 8 against Calgary.

OTTAWA REDBLACKS @ WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS

Spread: Winnipeg -10

Total: 56

This Week 6 matchup will be a rematch of a game that took place two weeks ago when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rolled into the nation’s capital and beat the Ottawa Redblacks 29-14 as 4.5-point underdogs. Winnipeg enters this week as the CFL’s best team and the only remaining unbeaten team at 4-0 SU and ATS after a blowout against the

hapless Toronto Argos last week. Ottawa dropped its second straight game in a 36 -19 home loss to the Montreal Alouettes as the defense had its problems containing Alouettes QB Vernon Adams Jr. and the offense while the Redblacks’ offense sputtered once again with Dominque Davis at QB. That has prompted head coach Rick Campbell to look at a potential QB change for this game as Jonathon Jennings, former BC Lions starting QB, was taking reps with the first-team offense in practice this week. Ottawa could also be shorthanded defensively with the likely probability that safety Antoine Pruneau and CB Jonathan Rose will both be absent due to injuries. Ottawa did beat Winnipeg last year in their lone visit to IG Field, knocking off the Blue Bombers 44-21. But this year’s version of Winnipeg looks like a well-oiled machine that is playing great football in all three phases with a great run/pass balance, defense that ranks #1 against the run and great special teams. The Redblacks are 26-10 ATS in their last 36 games on the road, which is a tremendous long-term track record of excellence in this role. But I’m not sure that gaudy record is enough for me to want to step in front of this Winnipeg freight train right now. No point spread has been too large for the Bombers to overcome so far this season. This one may not be either.

EDMONTON ESKIMOS @

MONTREAL ALOUETTES

Spread: Edmonton -4

Total: 54

The Montreal Alouettes have had a great couple of weeks on the field and a bizarre last week off the field. Montreal has won games against Hamilton and Ottawa to improve to 2-2 on the season, but the team also fired GM Kavis Reed, a move that should have been made months ago. Vernon Adams Jr. appears to be slowly earning the permanent #1 QB spot with each start. Adams has completed 65.2% of his passes with 4 TDs in his first two starts for Montreal. The Alouettes have a nice developing quartet of receivers with B.J. Cunningham, Quan Bray, Eugene Lewis and DeVier Posey along with a solid RB in William Stanback. The Alouettes also have improved on defense over those last two victories, however, they did face a regressing Ottawa offense and a Hamilton squad that looked flat the week prior. Edmonton will be a whole different challenge for the Montreal defense, which allowed 32 points and a whopping 608 yards of total offense to the Eskimos in an opening-week 32-25 loss in Edmonton on June 14. There may not be a QB playing better than Trevor Harris, who has been awesome for the Eskimos with a blistering 73% completion rate to go with 8 TDs and no INTs. Edmonton has a strong WR corps with Greg Ellingson headlining that group and a great RB in C.J. Gable while its defense currently ranks top 3 in every major category, which is impressive considering Edmonton has a new defensive coordinator and has battled early-season injuries. I cashed an Over ticket in the first meeting between these teams, and I’m inclined to look that way again here. I also lean with the road team Edmonton and laying the points with the Eskimos, who have won 10 straight meetings against the Alouettes with 9 of those victories coming by 4 or more points.

 

BC LIONS @

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

Spread: Saskatchewan -5

Total: 51

The BC Lions have not been able to get out of their own way. Their only victory this season was a 18-17 win against the worst team in the CFL, the Toronto Argos. BC lost every other game to every good team it has played so far, going 0-4 SU, 1-3 ATS in all other games against Edmonton (twice), Winnipeg and Calgary. BC might have the worst offensive line in the CFL. It’s certainly BC or Toronto for that dubious distinction. The Lions surrendered

  1. sacks last week in an embarrassing 33-6 home loss to the Edmonton Eskimos — a defeat that had veteran QB Mike Reilly and head coach DeVone

Claybrooks calling out the team for that putrid performance. They haven’t been able to run the football or give Reilly enough time to find his receivers down the field, and the defense is still not where it needs to be either in terms of getting off the field consistently. I certainly predicted there would be early-season growing pains for BC with so many new players, including a new starting QB along with a new head coach and new schemes and coordinators, but this goes well beyond some early struggles. The Lions looked totally unprepared against the Eskimos last week. BC is saying all the right things about being angry and wanting to atone for last week’s performance, but maybe this Lions team simply isn’t good enough right now to do anything about it. Saskatchewan had a bye last week following its own clunker against Calgary two weeks ago. The Riders lost 37-10, so they won’t be lacking for motivation to bounce back here, either. Saskatchewan opened -2 and has been bet up to -4. It’s understandable, considering that BC hasn’t shown much in the way of stepping up in class against anybody. BC only beat Toronto 18-17 while Saskatchewan annihilated that same Toronto squad 32 -7. The Lions are talking the talk but I have my doubts they can walk the walk in terms of a strong performance and superior effort here.

I do think both defenses can play better than they did in their last games. With both teams needing a victory, the Under makes some sense to me.

It’s worth noting the Under is 41-18 -1 in the last 60 matchups between the Lions and Riders.

CFL Week 6 Best Bet: Calgary -11.5 -110

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