By Ian Cameron  () 

Winnipeg Blue Bombers @

Saskatchewan Roughriders

Spread: Saskatchewan -6.5

Total: 48

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers overcame the absence of their #1 QB Matt Nichols last week in an outright 34-28 win as near touchdown road underdogs against the Edmonton Eskimos. The Blue Bombers’ mighty 8-2 record will be tested even more this week with key personnel absences mounting as they face the red hot and surging Saskatchewan Roughriders who enter this annual Labor Day weekend rivalry game on a 5-0 straight up and against the spread streak in their last fve games.

Winnipeg got a serviceable and solid effort from backup QB Chris Streveler in his frst start in place of Nichols. He rushed for 95 yards and threw for 89 but, most importantly, he took care of the football with no turnovers which allowed the stout defense and special teams to do the rest. Edmonton’s offense moved the football but couldn’t fnish drives and Winnipeg forced 3 turnovers in the victory.

This won’t be an easy task for Winnipeg on the road. The list of injured or suspended players grew earlier this week when the CFL handed down a 2-game suspension to running back Andrew Harris for violating the league’s drug policy. He will be sidelined for the next two games and when it comes to Harris we are talking about the best RB in the CFL. Saskatchewan’s only wins during this fve game win streak against West Division foes were two wins in succession against the woeful BC Lions. The other three victories came against squads from the weaker East Division.

I know that Winnipeg is battling some personnel losses but the Blue Bombers have shown the ability to rise above it and perform with that “next man up” mentality. Winnipeg has only lost once by more than a TD this season and have gone a perfect 3-0 ATS in the underdog role. It’s Winnipeg plus the points for me here just like last week.

Toronto Argonauts @

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Spread: Hamilton -11.5

Total: 51.5

The Toronto Argonauts will face off against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in their annual Labor Day rivalry game. Toronto comes into it limping at 1-8 straight up this season, holding on to very faint playoff hopes in spite of playing in the weaker East Division. The latest blow for Toronto was a heartbreaking 28- 22 loss on Sunday against the Montreal Alouettes who currently occupy 2nd place in the East Division and are the team the Argos need to track down in order to make the playoffs.

Toronto got out to an early 16-6 halftime lead but were outscored 22-6 in the second half and wound up suffering another tough defeat. Toronto’s offense moved the football in another solid performance by QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson but red zone problems once again plagued the Argos when they had the football and their defense couldn’t stop QB Vernon Adams and the Montreal offense after halftime as the Alouettes got going offensively in the second half after a sluggish start to the game.

The compete level to keep battling has been there for Toronto in each of their last two games against Edmonton and Montreal but after losing both of those games and reaching the point where making the playoffs is now an extreme longshot, I worry about the psyche here for the Argos even against a bitter rival like the Ticats. Hamilton is fnding ways to win with Dane Evans at QB even though he’s been less than stellar in back-to-back games. The Ticats have won with timely offense, excellent defense and one of the top special teams units in the league. However, their last three games (all wins) were against struggling teams—two wins against BC and one against reeling Ottawa.

Hamilton failed to cover in their most recent attempt as home favorites when they escaped with a narrow 35-34 home win against BC as double digit chalk and there are growing injury concerns on the defensive side of the football entering this game for the Ticats with several players questionable to suit up. I’d lean slightly to the Argos here but they have a beyond disastrous track record in this matchup going 5-16 ATS in the last 21 meetings against Hamilton including a 64-14 loss back in June in Toronto. The Argos are also a dismal 1-6 ATS in their last 7 visits to Tim Hortons Field to face the Ticats. Tough game to call here both from a side and total perspective.

Edmonton Eskimos @

Calgary Stampeders

Spread: Calgary -3.5

Total: 48.5

The Calgary Stampeders are in a very rare circumstance entering their annual Labor Day Classic matchup with the Edmonton Eskimos. They have lost two straight games and that has rarely occurred over the last decade for Calgary. The Stamps lost close games in consecutive weeks against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes to fall to 5-4 and 4th place in the West Division although they are only half a game behind 3rd place Edmonton (6-4) and one game behind 2nd place Saskatchewan (6-3).

The intriguing part about the four team battle in the West Division is that whoever fnishes 4th in the West will be crossing over in all likelihood to play in the East Division side of the playoffs and that could be an easier path to the Grey Cup than playing two playoff games against teams from the superior West Division. I’m not suggesting any tanking would take place as the season goes on to fall to 4th in the West so you can crossover and play in the East Division side of the playoff bracket but you just never know.

As for this game, check the injury report because there is a laundry list of players questionable for both sides entering this game on both sides of the football. Will Bo Levi Mitchell return at QB fnally for Calgary or will Nick Arbuckle make his 8th consecutive start? That’s the biggest question for this contest. Calgary is battling cluster injuries involving key starters at RB, WR and along the defensive line. Edmonton is battling cluster injuries with key starters of their own along their offensive line and also at linebacker. Calgary blew a double digit lead to Montreal before their bye week and lost in OT. Edmonton is coming off a 34-28 home loss to mighty Winnipeg in a game the Eskimos dominated the yardage battle but lost on the scoreboard.

Calgary has taken the early money this week going from -2.5 to -3.5 in this game. Edmonton has not beaten a quality team yet this season and I’ve noted that multiple times. However, in the two losses against Winnipeg the Eskimos outgained the Bombers by a combined 407 total yards and in their loss to Calgary on this feld back in early August, the Eskimos outgained the Stamps by 157 total yards despite losing the game 24-18. Edmonton has played well enough to win those games against better competition but the little things: turnovers, penalties and special teams miscues have hurt them in each game. If they can clean that up, I believe they might fnally get over the hump with a quality win here.

Calgary has been vulnerable as favorites. In fact, they are 0-4 ATS in four previous tries as home favorites and 0-5 ATS overall when favored in games this season. That’s a track record I’m willing to put to the test here especially with this line climbing above -3 in most places. Edmonton was a slight road favorite in Calgary just a month ago and now they are 3.5 in this game. I’ll grab all the points I can get with the Eskimos here.

CFL Week 12 Best Bet

Edmonton 3.5 -110 (693)

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