Getting reacquainted with CFL

makinen_cfl
Football returns this weekend, not quite in full force. But unlike the NFL preseason game Thursday night, the results actually count in the Canadian Football League’s regular-season games on tap for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Of course, you can bet on all of it.
 
It has been 20 months since the league played, and when we left off, Winnipeg was upsetting Hamilton to win the 2019 Grey Cup 33-12. The Blue Bombers weren’t the league’s best team that season, going 11-7 and settling in as the third seed in the West. But they won three road postseason games, all as underdogs, en route to the title. It wasn’t a complete shock, however, as over the last four seasons, only Calgary has won more games than Winnipeg.
 
Keep in mind that I will be posting weekly game ratings for every contest of the 2021 CFL season on VSiN.com and in Point Spread Weekly, just as I have for college and pro football since 2017. I will also try to keep readers up to speed on any usual betting trends that form. First thing you should watch out for is that the nine-team CFL has four new coaches and three new starting quarterbacks this fall.
 
Basic CFL betting concepts to consider for 2021
 
 
1. Aim low with scoring expectations
The CFL is considered a wide-open, high-scoring league by those unfamiliar with it. But while NFL scoring has exploded in the last several years, CFL scoring has done just the opposite. In fact, since the start of the 2014 season, Unders boast a record of 276-202, good for 57.7%. If you drill even deeper with games showing totals of 55 or higher, that record is 40-23, or 63.5%. 
 
 
2. Road-field advantage?
In looking at the home-road results of the last seven CFL seasons, in only one year have home teams finished with a record of better than .500 ATS. There has been safety in betting road teams, as they are 312-261 ATS (54.5%) since the start of the 2013 campaign. Home teams have gone 325-257 outright in that span, but the point spread has proven to be more than the great equalizer, providing a nice betting cushion for road teams.
 
3. Bark, big doggie
Similarly to road teams holding an advantage, big underdogs have enjoyed the same. Going back to the 2010 season, CFL underdogs of 4.5 points or more boast a record of 237-189 ATS, good for 55.6%, a nice return on investment for a simple wagering system.
 
4. Go with the flow, not against it
While this angle isn’t nearly as lucrative as the others, results since 2013 have shown that backing teams coming off outright wins has been more effective than putting your money behind teams that lost their last contest. The difference has been 51.5% to 48.5% in terms of ATS success.
 
5. Combo system
If you’re looking for a narrower betting angle utilizing a combination of Concepts 2, 3 and 4, consider consistently backing road underdogs of 4.5 points or higher when coming off a victory. Since 2013, these teams have gone 57-40 ATS, for 58.7%. Again, it’s a simple concept that can bring you profits.
 
Team-by-team previews and situational records
 
BRITISH COLUMBIA LIONS
Coach: Rick Campbell — first season with B.C., coached Ottawa from 2014-19.
Starting quarterback: Mike Reilly — 10-year veteran has played with B.C. (2010-12, 2019) and Edmonton (2013-18)
Makinen’s BOY power rating: 25.5 (No. 6 of 9)
 
Season-by-season records since 2016
2019: 5-13 SU and 7-10 ATS, PF/PA: 22.8 (7)/25.1 (6)
2018: 9-10 SU and 10-9 ATS, PF/PA: 22.7 (7)/27.4 (7)
2017: 7-11 SU and 6-12 ATS, PF/PA: 26.1 (7)/27.8 (5)
2016: 13-7 SU and 13-7 ATS, PF/PA: 29.6 (3)/26.4 (4)
 
Situational records over last four seasons
Over/Under: 31-43 (42%)
At home ATS: 17-19 (47%)
Road/neutral ATS: 19-19 (50%)
In playoffs ATS: 0-3 (0%)
Vs. East Division ATS: 21-11 (66%)
Vs. West Division ATS: 15-27 (36%)
As favorite ATS: 19-16 (54%)
As underdog ATS: 17-20 (46%)
Off SU win ATS: 16-18 (47%)
Off SU loss ATS: 18-18 (50%)
 
Vs. opponents
Vs. Calgary: 2-9 SU and 6-5 ATS, 3-8 O/U
Vs. Edmonton: 3-8 SU and ATS, 5-6 O/U
Vs. Hamilton: 4-5 SU and 5-3 ATS, 5-4 O/U
Vs. Montreal: 7-1 SU and ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Ottawa: 5-3 SU and 6-2 ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Saskatchewan: 4-6 SU and ATS, 4-5 O/U
Vs. Toronto: 5-3 SU and 3-5 ATS, 1-7 O/U
Vs. Winnipeg: 4-6 SU and 2-8 ATS, 7-3 O/U
 
CALGARY STAMPEDERS
Coach: Dave Dickenson — has coached Calgary since start of 2016 season.
Starting quarterback: Bo Levi Mitchell — MOP candidate has been with Calgary since 2012.
Makinen’s BOY power rating: 27.5 (No. 4 of 9)
 
Season-by-season records since 2016
2019: 12-7 SU and 6-13 ATS, PF/PA: 26.1 (5)/23.3 (5)
2018: 15-5 SU and 11-9 ATS, PF/PA: 28.6 (3)/19.7 (1)
2017: 14-5 SU and 10-10 ATS, PF/PA: 29 (2)/20.2 (1)
2016: 16-3 SU and 14-6 ATS, PF/PA: 33.1 (1)/21.2 (1)
 
Situational records over last four easons
Over/Under: 36-43 (46%)
At home ATS: 20-20 (50%)
Road/neutral ATS: 21-18 (54%)
In playoffs ATS: 3-4 (43%)
Vs. East Division ATS: 18-17 (51%)
Vs. West Division ATS: 23-21 (52%)
As favorite ATS: 35-36 (49%)
As underdog ATS: 6-2 (75%)
Off SU win ATS: 32-24 (57%)
Off SU loss ATS: 8-11 (42%)
 
Vs. opponents
Vs. British Columbia: 9-2 SU and 5-6 ATS, 3-8 O/U
Vs. Edmonton: 9-2 SU and 6-5 ATS, 6-5 O/U
Vs. Hamilton: 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Montreal: 4-4 SU and 1-7 ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Ottawa: 6-2 SU and 5-5 ATS, 6-4 O/U
Vs. Saskatchewan: 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS, 4-6 O/U
Vs. Toronto: 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS, 3-6 O/U
Vs. Winnipeg: 7-5 SU and 6-6 ATS, 8-4 O/U 
 
EDMONTON ELKS
Coach: Jaime Elizondo — first season with Edmonton, first-time head coach.
Starting quarterback: Trevor Harris — started 13 games for Edmonton in 2019, previously with Toronto and Ottawa.
Makinen’s BOY power rating: 24.5 (No. 7 of 9)
 
Season-by-season records since 2016
2019: 9-11 SU and 6-13 ATS, PF/PA: 23 (6)/23.3 (4)
2018: 9-9 SU and 8-10 ATS, PF/PA: 26.8 (4)/26.2 (6)
2017: 13-7 SU and 10-10 ATS, PF/PA: 28.9 (3)/28 (7)
2016: 11-9 SU and 7-11 ATS, PF/PA: 29.8 (2)/27.6 (5)
 
Situational records over last four seasons
Over/Under: 41-37 (53%)
At home ATS: 14-22 (39%)
Road/neutral ATS: 17-22 (44%)
In playoffs ATS: 3-3 (50%)
Vs. East Division ATS: 13-22 (37%)
Vs. West Division ATS: 18-22 (45%)
As favorite ATS: 17-31 (35%)
As underdog ATS: 14-12 (54%)
Off SU win ATS: 16-24 (40%)
Off SU loss ATS: 14-17 (45%)
 
Vs. opponents
Vs. British Columbia: 8-3 SU and ATS, 5-6 O/U
Vs. Calgary: 2-9 SU and 5-6 ATS, 6-5 O/U
Vs. Hamilton: 4-6 SU and 2-8 ATS, 7-3 O/U
Vs. Montreal: 8-1 SU and 5-4 ATS, 6-3 O/U
Vs. Ottawa: 5-4 SU and 2-6 ATS, 2-7 O/U
Vs. Saskatchewan: 4-5 SU and 2-6 ATS, 4-5 O/U
Vs. Toronto: 6-2 SU and 4-4 ATS, 5-3 O/U
Vs. Winnipeg: 5-6 SU and 3-7 ATS, 6-5 O/U
 
HAMILTON TIGER-CATS
Coach: Orlondo Steinauer — coached the 2019 season for Hamilton.
Starting quarterback: Jeremiah Masoli/Dane Evans — Evans started most of 2019 after season-ending knee injury to Masoli.
Makinen’s BOY power rating: 30 (No. 1 of 9)
 
Season-by-season records since 2016
2019: 16-4 SU and 13-5 ATS, PF/PA: 30 (1)/19.7 (1)
2018: 9-11 SU and 9-11 ATS, PF/PA: 29.4 (1)/25.5 (5)
2017: 6-12 SU and 10-8 ATS, PF/PA: 24.6 (8)/30.3 (8)
2016: 7-12 SU and 7-12 ATS, PF/PA: 27.8 (5)/27.7 (6)
 
Situational records over last four seasons
Over/Under: 39-38 (51%)
At home ATS: 18-20 (47%)
Road/neutral ATS: 21-16 (57%)
In playoffs ATS: 3-2 (60%)
Vs. East Division ATS: 18-14 (56%)
Vs. West Division ATS: 21-22 (49%)
As favorite ATS: 22-22 (50%)
As underdog ATS: 17-13 (57%)
Off SU win ATS: 19-16 (54%)
Off SU loss ATS: 18-18 (50%)
 
Vs. opponents
Vs. British Columbia: 5-4 SU and 3-5 ATS, 5-4 O/U
Vs. Calgary: 1-7 SU and 3-5 ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Edmonton: 6-4 SU and 8-2 ATS, 7-3 O/U
Vs. Montreal: 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS, 6-4 O/U
Vs. Ottawa: 4-7 SU and 5-6 ATS, 6-5 O/U
Vs. Saskatchewan: 2-6 SU and ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Toronto: 9-3 SU and 7-4 ATS, 9-3 O/U
Vs. Winnipeg: 4-5 SU and 5-4 ATS, 0-9 O/U
 
MONTREAL ALOUETTES
Coach: Khari Jones — coached the 2019 season for Montreal.
Starting quarterback: Vernon Adams — started 15 games for Montreal in 2019, only four starts in three previous years.
Makinen’s BOY power rating: 26 (No. 5 of 9)
 
Season-by-season records since 2016
2019: 10-9 SU and 10-9 ATS, PF/PA: 26.7 (3)/27.5 (7)
2018: 5-13 SU and 11-7 ATS, PF/PA: 19.2 (9)/28.4 (8)
2017: 3-15 SU and 4-14 ATS, PF/PA: 17.4 (9)/32.2 (9)
2016: 7-11 SU and 9-9 ATS, PF/PA: 21.3 (7)/23.1 (2)
 
Situational records over last four seasons
Over/Under: 33-39 (46%)
At home ATS: 13-24 (35%)
Road/neutral ATS: 21-15 (58%)
In playoffs ATS: 0-1 (0%)
Vs. East Division ATS: 14-18 (44%)
Vs. West Division ATS: 20-21 (49%)
As favorite ATS: 5-9 (36%)
As underdog ATS: 29-29 (50%)
Off SU win ATS: 9-14 (39%)
Off SU loss ATS: 23-23 (50%)
 
Vs. opponents
Vs. British Columbia: 1-7 SU and ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Calgary: 4-4 SU and 7-1 ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Edmonton: 1-8 SU and 4-5 ATS, 6-3 O/U
Vs. Hamilton: 3-7 SU and 4-6 ATS, 6-4 O/U
Vs. Ottawa: 4-8 SU and 5-7 ATS, 4-8 O/U
Vs. Saskatchewan: 4-4 SU and 5-3 ATS, 2-6 O/U
Vs. Toronto: 6-4 SU and 5-5 ATS, 3-6 O/U
Vs. Winnipeg: 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS, 6-2 O/U
 
OTTAWA REDBLACKS
Coach: Paul LaPolice — first season with Ottawa, coached Winnipeg from 2010-12.
Starting quarterback: Matt Nichols — quarterbacked Winnipeg to league title in 2019, eight-year veteran, biggest player move in league.
Makinen’s BOY power rating: 20.5 (No. 9 of 9)
 
Season-by-season records since 2016
2019: 3-15 SU and 5-13 ATS, PF/PA: 17.3 (9)/31.3 (9)
2018: 12-8 SU and 10-10 ATS, PF/PA: 26.3 (5)/23.7 (3)
2017: 8-10 SU and 12-7 ATS, PF/PA: 27.1 (5)/25.4 (4)
2016: 10-9 SU and 9-10 ATS, PF/PA: 28 (4)/27.7 (7)
 
Situational records over last four seasons
Over/Under: 35-42 (45%)
At home ATS: 13-25 (34%)
Road/neutral ATS: 23-15 (61%)
In playoffs ATS: 3-2 (60%)
Vs. East Division ATS: 17-16 (52%)
Vs. West Division ATS: 19-24 (44%)
As favorite ATS: 11-22 (33%)
As underdog ATS: 25-18 (58%)
Off SU win ATS: 13-19 (41%)
Off SU loss ATS: 19-21 (48%)
 
Vs. opponents
Vs. British Columbia: 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Calgary: 2-6 SU and 5-5 ATS, 6-4 O/U
Vs. Edmonton: 4-5 SU and 6-2 ATS, 2-7 O/U
Vs. Hamilton: 7-4 SU and 6-5 ATS, 6-5 O/U
Vs. Montreal: 8-4 SU and 7-5 ATS, 4-8 O/U
Vs. Saskatchewan: 4-5 SU and ATS, 7-2 O/U
Vs. Toronto: 3-7 SU and 4-6 ATS, 3-7 O/U
Vs. Winnipeg: 2-6 SU and ATS, 4-4 O/U
 
SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS
Coach: Craig Dickenson — started coaching Saskatchewan in 2019 season.
Starting quarterback: Cody Fajardo — second in MOP balloting for Roughriders in 2019, full-season starter for B.C. in 2018 and Toronto in 2017.
Makinen’s BOY power rating: 28 (No. 3 of 9)
 
Season-by-season records since 2016
2019: 13-6 SU and 12-6 ATS, PF/PA: 26.3 (4)/21.4 (3)
2018: 12-7 SU and 10-9 ATS, PF/PA: 24.6 (6)/24.6 (4)
2017: 11-9 SU and 11-9 ATS, PF/PA: 28.1 (4)/23.8 (2)
2016: 5-13 SU and 9-9 ATS, PF/PA: 19.4 (9)/29.4 (8)
 
Situational records over last four seasons
Over/Under: 33-42 (44%)
At home ATS: 20-17 (54%)
Road/neutral ATS: 22-16 (58%)
In playoffs ATS: 1-3 (25%)
Vs. East Division ATS: 20-14 (59%)
Vs. West Division ATS: 22-19 (54%)
As favorite ATS: 17-15 (53%)
As underdog ATS: 23-18 (56%)
Off SU win ATS: 21-19 (53%)
Off SU loss ATS: 19-12 (61%)
 
Vs. opponents
Vs. British Columbia: 6-4 SU and ATS, 4-5 O/U
Vs. Calgary: 3-7 SU and 4-6 ATS, 4-6 O/U
Vs. Edmonton: 5-4 SU and 6-2 ATS, 4-5 O/U
Vs. Hamilton: 6-2 SU and ATS, 3-5 O/U
Vs. Montreal: 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS, 2-6 O/U
Vs. Ottawa: 5-4 SU and ATS, 7-2 O/U
Vs. Toronto: 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS, 3-6 O/U
Vs. Winnipeg: 5-8 SU and 6-7 ATS, 6-7 O/U
 
TORONTO ARGONAUTS
Coach: Ryan Dinwiddie — first season with Toronto, first-time head coach.
Starting quarterback: Nick Arbuckle — first season with Toronto, has played sparingly as backup at Calgary since ’17.
Makinen’s BOY power rating: 22 (No. 8 of 9)
 
Season-by-season records since 2016
2019: 4-14 SU and 9-8 ATS, PF/PA: 20.7 (8)/31.2 (8)
2018: 4-14 SU and 6-12 ATS, PF/PA: 20.5 (8)/31.1 (9)
2017: 11-9 SU and 10-10 ATS, PF/PA: 26.7 (6)/25.1 (3)
2016: 5-13 SU and 5-13 ATS, PF/PA: 21.3 (8)/31.6 (9)
 
Situational records over last four seasons
Over/Under: 35-38 (48%)
At home ATS: 16-21 (43%)
Road/neutral ATS: 14-22 (39%)
In playoffs ATS: 2-0 (100%)
Vs. East Division ATS: 15-16 (48%)
Vs. West Division ATS: 15-27 (36%)
As favorite ATS: 8-10 (44%)
As underdog ATS: 22-33 (40%)
Off SU win ATS: 11-12 (48%)
Off SU loss ATS: 18-28 (39%)
 
Vs. opponents
Vs. British Columbia: 3-5 SU and 5-3 ATS, 1-7 O/U
Vs. Calgary: 1-8 SU and 2-7 ATS, 3-6 O/U
Vs. Edmonton: 2-6 SU and 4-4 ATS, 5-3 O/U
Vs. Hamilton: 3-9 SU and 4-7 ATS, 9-3 O/U
Vs. Montreal: 4-6 SU and 5-5 ATS, 3-6 O/U
Vs. Ottawa: 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS, 3-7 O/U
Vs. Saskatchewan: 2-7 SU and 3-6 ATS, 3-6 O/U
Vs. Winnipeg: 2-6 SU and 1-7 ATS, 8-0 O/U
 
WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS
Coach: Mike O’Shea — has coached Winnipeg since start of 2014 season.
Starting quarterback: Zach Collaros— eight-year veteran, first full season with Winnipeg, has 92 career TDs with Toronto, Hamilton and Saskatchewan.
Makinen’s BOY power rating: 29.5 (No. 2 of 9)
 
Season-by-season records since 2016
2019: 14-7 SU and 15-6 ATS, PF/PA: 28.4 (2)/21.3 (2)
2018: 11-9 SU and 11-9 ATS, PF/PA: 29.4 (2)/23 (2)
2017: 12-7 SU and 13-6 ATS, PF/PA: 30.8 (1)/27.9 (6)
2016: 11-8 SU and 11-7 ATS, PF/PA: 27.8 (6)/25.6 (3)
 
Situational records over last four seasons
Over/Under: 45-34 (57%)
At home ATS: 21-15 (58%)
Road/neutral ATS: 29-13 (69%)
In playoffs ATS: 5-2 (71%)
Vs. East Division ATS: 22-11 (67%)
Vs. West Division ATS: 28-17 (62%)
As favorite ATS: 22-17 (56%)
As underdog ATS: 25-11 (69%)
Off SU win ATS: 31-15 (67%)
Off SU loss ATS: 16-12 (57%)
 
Vs. opponents
Vs. British Columbia: 6-4 SU and 8-2 ATS, 7-3 O/U
Vs. Calgary: 5-7 SU and 6-6 ATS, 8-4 O/U
Vs. Edmonton: 6-5 SU and 7-3 ATS, 6-5 O/U
Vs. Hamilton: 5-4 SU and 4-5 ATS, 0-9 O/U
Vs. Montreal: 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS, 6-2 O/U
Vs. Ottawa: 6-2 SU and ATS, 4-4 O/U
Vs. Saskatchewan: 8-5 SU and 7-6 ATS, 6-7 O/U
Vs. Toronto: 6-2 SU and 7-1 ATS, 8-0 O/U
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