The CFL playoffs are finally here with the East and West Division Semi-Finals.
In the East, the Montreal Alouettes host a surging Hamilton Tiger-Cats team. In the West, the BC Lions host the Calgary Stampeders.
Both teams play on Sunday on ESPN2, and I’ll be watching them over the NFL. Call me crazy, but I would rather watch Dane Evans and Nathan Rourke than many of the other great football games this Sunday.
Below, read about my best CFL bets for the first week of the playoffs.
Kevin Davis’ Record (Tracked by BetStamp App): 49-48, -0.3% Return on Investment, +3% Closing Line Value
All CFL odds are current as of Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m. ET at the CFL sportsbooks listed.
Hamilton vs Montreal Best Bet
Hamilton +3 (-110) at FanDuel Sportsbook
WAGER: 1.5 Units
Both the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Montreal Alouettes faced adversity this season. Montreal got off to a rough start and fired their head coach. Hamilton started the season with a 3-9 record but got hot at the end to qualify for the playoffs with an 8-10 record.
Now, they’ll face off against each other in Montreal.
Both teams are good, but it’s worth noting that the Tiger-Cats are the two-time defending East Division champions. With impressive wins against Calgary, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg to end the season, Hamilton is rolling.
One reason why Montreal is favored is that despite a 9-9 record, they had an average scoring margin of +0.6, which was the second-best in the East. Only Toronto (+1) was better.
Hamilton, on average, lost each game by 2.9 points.
Despite this, the Tiger-Cats should cover a modest +3 spread behind the improved quarterback play of Dane Evans and an improved defense. I would bet Hamilton up to +2, but I strongly recommend betting on them now at +3 in case the line moves.
Calgary vs BC Best Bet
BC Moneyline (-125) at Betway Sportsbook
WAGER: 2 Units
Both Calgary and BC are strong teams this season, but whoever wins is highly likely to lose to Winnipeg in the West Division Final.
This weekend, these equally matched teams will play in BC, where the Lions are a small favorite. Against a strong Calgary team, BC’s moneyline at (-125) is worth a play rather than the spread.
Since 2005, the third- and fourth-most common margins of victory in the CFL are one and two points. 11.3% of CFL games are decided by exactly two.
Taking away the numbers, the other reason to bet on the Lions is because of quarterback Nathan Rourke. Before he got injured, he was undoubtedly the best QB in the league.
Rourke was a lock to have 300 passing yards, 60 rushing yards, and 3-4 passing or rushing touchdowns per game if he wasn’t playing Winnipeg.
The Canadian national played Calgary only once this season, throwing for 488 passing yards at a 75% completion rate while chipping in two passing and two rushing touchdowns.
Last week, Rourke returned from injury and played poorly against Winnipeg. With him playing such a strong team in his first game back, I am willing to look past that performance and place a two-unit wager on BC this weekend.