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WEEK 9 CFL ANALYSIS AND A BEST BET

By Ian Cameron  () 

Calgary Stampeders @

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Spread: Winnipeg -8 • Total: 48.5

The Blue Bombers return home at 5-2 but off back-toback losses and will be looking to right the ship with frst place in the West Division on the line as they host the Stampeders, also 5-2. Winnipeg appeared to be invincible in starting the season 5-0 SU and ATS, but that aura has evaporated after consecutive road losses against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the winless Toronto Argonauts, the latter as two-TD favorites. Last week’s loss was peculiar as Winnipeg raced out to a 20-0 lead in the second quarter but seemed to fall asleep and get complacent, allowing the Argos to rattle off 10 straight points before halftime to turn the momentum. The Blue Bombers never really got back on track. The offense once again underwhelmed as QB Matt Nichols, who had been criticized for inconsistency, struggled for a second straight game while the vaunted Winnipeg defense got carved up by QB McLeod BethelThompson, who engineered a game-winning TD drive in the fnal minutes. The Blue Bombers are still one of the league’s elite teams and, even after two disheartening losses in a row, I would expect them to fre back with a strong performance in a game of this magnitude against the defending West Division champs. Winnipeg has a 3-0 SU and ATS record on its home feld, winning tby an average of 21.4 points against Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton. Dating to last season, they’ve gone 6-0 ATS in the last six home games. Calgary hasn’t been winning games in pretty fashion, but the bottom line is a three-game winning streak. QB Nick Arbuckle and the offense has been effective enough while the defense has managed to overcome a multitude of personnel losses in the offseason and with earlyseason injuries to put up respectable numbers. The Stamps’ stop unit is surrendering just 16.7 points and 343 total yards per game during the win streak. We may see the return of No. 1 QB Bo Levi Mitchell for Calgary. He is slated to practice this week but is questionable to return as Calgary may opt to wait until the next game because of Arbuckle’s win streak as the starting QB. Calgary is on a 6-0 Under run in road games and 4-0 overall. I like the spot for Winnipeg, but the oddsmakers seem to agree with that sentiment in making the Blue Bombers a substantial favorite.

Saskatchewan Roughriders @

Montreal Alouettes

Spread: Saskatchewan -2 • Total: 51

The Roughriders had yet to beat a team at .500 or better until last week, when they came from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat the Hamilton TigerCats 24-19. Riders QB Cody Fajardo had a good game, battling through a minor injury to lead his team to victory against one of the better defenses, while Saskatchewan’s defense bottled up QB Dane Evans and the Ticats offense in his frst start since the season-ending injury to Jeremiah Masoli. Montreal is coming off a frustrating 30-27 overtime loss to the Ottawa Redblacks, which snapped a three-game win streak. The Alouettes lost in more ways than one when QB Vernon Adams Jr. was injured in the third quarter and never returned. Antonio Pipkin took over at QB and the Alouettes offense simply wasn’t the same. Adams’ status is up in the air and, if he isn’t ready to go, it will be Pipkin getting the start. The Alouettes defense played well last week, which is not refected in the score because Ottawa got two kick-return TDs from DeVonte Dedmon. Montreal proved last week it wasn’t ready being favored, much less laying a full TD, but is now back in the preferred and more successful points-spread role as an underdog. Montreal is 4-1 ATS as an underdog this season, but the prospect of backing the team with Pipkin possibly under center against a capable Saskatchewan defense doesn’t excite me. The Under appears to be a bet worthy of making here, and it’s worth noting the Under has cashed at a 5-1 clip in the last six meetings between these teams.

Ottawa Redblacks @

Edmonton Eskimos

Spread: Edmonton -8.5 • Total: 48

The Redblacks got back in the win column and snapped a four-game losing streak with a thrilling 30-27 OT win against the Montreal Alouettes. Ottawa was bolstered by its defense and special teams, which included a pair of kick-return TDs in the victory to bail out the mostly sputtering offense. QB Dominique Davis returned from injury last week for the Redblacks. He wasn’t crisp but got through the game and picked up the win. One would think he will be more comfortable and sharper with a game back from injury under his belt. Ottawa has not looked impressive and, in the win last week, it was special teams that was the big factor. The Redblacks have been outgained in six straight games, which is a concerning trend. Edmonton is the opposite. The Eskimos have outgained their opponents in six of seven games this season, including last week against the Calgary Stampeders even though they lost 24-18. The Eskimos offense hasn’t been quite as good the last few games due to injuries at WR and along the offensive line, but QB Trevor Harris has still performed fairly well with a 71% completion rate along with a 10-2 TD-INT ratio. Edmonton has been at its best at home this season, going 3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS. The team is 2-0 SU and ATS off a defeat this season, though the wins came against the two weakest teams (Toronto and BC). I would look toward the favorite here, given that Ottawa continues to have its share of trouble on offense and defense. The Over at a low total might also be worth consideration. Ottawa’s offense is better with Davis at QB instead of the inept Jonathon Jennings, while Edmonton’s offense should welcome this step down in class.

BC Lions @

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Spread: Hamilton -12 • Total: 51.5

The Lions needed the bye week in the worst way as they went into it on a woeful 1-6 SU and ATS start to a season flled with big expectations. BC suffered consecutive double-digit blowout losses to the Saskatchewan Roughriders before its bye week, and this game is probably the last hope to try and turn the season around. It may be too late in the tough West Division, with Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan ahead of them. BC’s offense has been a brutally bad underachiever considering it has veteran QB Mike Reilly, but he has been plagued by a porous offensive line and the lack of a consistent ground attack. BC scored only 67 points in its last four games. DeVone Claybrooks was hired as head coach in the offseason after years of directing a terrifc Calgary defense as the coordinator, but the Lions defense hasn’t picked up on any of those characteristics. BC’s struggling defense has allowed 30-plus points in every game aside from its only win, against the Toronto Argos. The bye week can only help. Hamilton will look to bounce back after its second loss of the season in Saskatchewan last week. QB Dane Evans had his frst start in place of Jeremiah Masoli, who is done for the season with a torn ACL, and the Ticats played admirably in defeat. They took the lead in the fourth quarter, but Saskatchewan came back to win with a game-winning TD drive in the fnal minute. I thought Evans struggled early last week but settled down and got much better as the game progressed. Playing at home against a weaker defense should lead to some much greater success for the Ticats’ offense. They might also get WR Brandon Banks back from injury after he didn’t suit up last week in the loss at Saskatchewan, which would be a massive help to Evans and the Hamilton offense. It’s a tricky game as BC is sitting in a nice spot here off the bye week but isn’t a good football team. Still, it’s a lot of points to be laying on Hamilton with their backup QB. The Over is a bet that makes sense to me. The Lions offense has enough playmakers to eventually fnd some traction, but the Ticats offense probably will be better than last week. Evans getting one game under his belt, coupled with an extended week of practice, should make him much more comfortable running this offense.

CFL Week 9 Best Bet: BC/Hamilton Over 51.5 -110

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