With Week 10 of the CFL season approaching, we are close to the halfway mark to the regular season. Despite much of the schedule being played, virtually every team has a shot at making the playoffs - even the 1-7 Ottawa RedBlacks.
The key to betting the CFL is to bet the games early in the week like I do. By the time the game kicks off, the price that I bet a game at is better than the kick-off price. Even though I am a losing CFL bettor this season, in the long term, I should be a winning bettor for the rest of the season since I am beating the closing line.
This week, we have a full slate of four games, but only Saturday’s game between the BC Lions and Calgary Stampeders is nationally televised on ESPN2. The other three games are only available on ESPN+.
Below, I go over my best bets for this week’s slate, as well as the differences between the CFL and NFL.
Kevin Davis’ CFL Betting Record (Tracked by BetStamp App)
- 18-22, -15.3% Return on Investment, +4.5% Closing Line Value
All CFL betting odds are current as of Tuesday, August 9 at 10 a.m ET.
Montreal vs Winnipeg Prediction
Last week the Montreal Alouettes and Winnipeg Blue Bombers played each other in Montreal, and this week, they face each other again in Winnipeg.
The Blue Bombers were a 5.5-point favorite and they won by 15 points. This week at home, Winnipeg is a 13-point favorite. Even after a blowout win and having home-field advantage, should the Blue Bombers be this heavy of a favorite?
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are the only CFL team left with an undefeated record, and they are the two-time defending Grey Cup Champions. Montreal has a 2-6 record and has seen several coaches, including their head coach, fired this season.
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Even though this looks like a lopsided matchup, it is anything but. Last week, Montreal was tied with Winnipeg, 14-14, up until the fourth quarter when Winnipeg went on a 21-6 run against Montreal. Blue Bomber spread bettors got lucky, as the Alouettes should have covered last week.
What is notable about Montreal is that even though they have won only 25% of their games, they have an average scoring margin of -2.1 per game, which is the best in the East Division. They should have close to a .500 record, but because of bad luck, they have a losing record.
One thing that is possibly skewing the spread is the injury reports surrounding Montreal quarterback Trevor Harris. The official CFL site lists him as questionable for Thursday’s game as he hasn’t practiced yet this week. Other non-league sources believe that Harris is just being rested this week, and he is ready to start against Winnipeg again.
If Harris plays, Montreal should be competitive against Winnipeg, and they might even win.
Score Pick: Montreal 25, Winnipeg 21
Winnipeg vs Montreal Best Bet
Montreal +13 (-110) at PointsBet
Wager: 2 Units
In a low-scoring CFL this season, no team should be close to a two-touchdown favorite unless they are playing Edmonton at home. The only reason why the Blue Bombers won last week in a blowout is that Montreal blew the game in the fourth quarter.
Winnipeg is indisputably the best CFL team, so for the rest of the season, they are likely to be priced at a premium except for against Calgary or BC. I am not going to argue that Montreal is a better team, but they have a fighting chance to win due to variance.
The Blue Bombers have yet to have a bye week this season, and the Alouettes have been unlucky all year. That is part of the reason why I would be shocked if Winnipeg covers this week.
Montreal is a dog worth taking, and I would bet them up to +10.
Toronto vs Hamilton Prediction
Every week in my CFL column, I sound like a broken record on Toronto. They may have a winning record this season, but I am skeptical of the Argos.
Last season, despite a 9-5 record, they allowed more points than they scored. This season, they have a winning record, yet have an average scoring margin of -3. Eventually, Toronto is going to lose more games than they win, the question is if that starts happening soon.
For the previous two CFL seasons (2021 & 2019), Hamilton represented the East Division in the Grey Cup losing to Winnipeg. This season, the Ti-Cats started with an 0-4 record, but now have the second playoff seed in the East Division with a 2-6 record.
There is a log jam at the bottom of the east where Montreal is tied with Hamilton in the standings, and Ottawa (1-7) is only one game out of the playoffs.
The key for the Tiger-Cats this week, as it was last week, will be stopping Toronto running back Andrew Harris. When Harris has a decent game, the Argos usually win. Unfortunately for Toronto, when Harris has a bad game, they usually lose.
Two weeks ago when Toronto lost to Ottawa, Harris had only 17 rushing yards and Toronto put only 13 points on the board. Last week, Harris rushed for only 47 yards off of 14 carries. Hamilton should have won last week against Toronto, and this week, they should avenge their loss.
Score Pick: Hamilton 30, Toronto 24
Toronto vs Hamilton Best Bet
Hamilton -2 (-110) at BetRivers
Wager: 1 Unit
Last week, I bet on Hamilton as a +105 moneyline underdog and they closed at +115 or +120 at most sportsbooks. This week, my plan is to bet on the Ti-Cats later in the week in an attempt to get a better price.
At home against a weaker team, the Tiger-Cats should win. Toronto cannot win if Harris is grounded by Hamilton’s defense, and Hamilton’s offense, led by quarterback Dane Evans, is a sleeping giant.
I’d be OK betting Hamilton up to -2.5, but I am waiting for the possibility that I can get them at -1 or better later this week.
BC vs Calgary Prediction
Winnipeg is the best CFL team this season, but there is debate over which team is the second best between the BC Lions and Calgary Stampeders. Luckily for us CFL fans, that debate might be settled this weekend as both teams play each other.
The Lions are second in the west with a 6-1 record, and the Stampeders are third with a 5-2 record. Altogether, all three of both teams’ losses all come against Winnipeg. Outside of the Blue Bombers, both teams are undefeated. That is why it should be no surprise that this game is viewed as close to a toss-up.
BC has an average scoring margin of +17, while Calgary has an average scoring margin of +8. Both teams are used to winning by a touchdown or more, but the Lions are arguably the most dominant team in the CFL this season.
The key to British Columbia’s success is in their sophomore quarterback Nathan Rourke. Not only is Rourke a Canadian national, but he has been unarguably the best CFL quarterback this season. He averages three passing touchdowns, .7 rushing touchdowns, 345 passing yards, and an 81.3% completion rate per game.
Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, on the other hand, is at the tail end of his career. Mitchell is close to my age, and he is averaging only one passing touchdown a game. Looking at Mitchell’s game logs and watching his play, it is hard to see him throwing for more than 225 passing yards in a game unless it’s against a bad team.
The spread may be a toss-up on this weekend’s game, but BC shouldn’t have a hard time winning assuming that Rourke is firing on all cylinders.
Score Pick: BC 35, Calgary 22
BC vs Calgary Best Bet
BC (-105) Moneyline at PointsBet
Wager: 2 Units
Home-field advantage matters in the CFL, but that is not enough of a reason to not make BC a favorite. The Lions have dominated every team but the Blue Bombers this season, and it seems like the Stampeders are just limping through games with a strong defense and a weak offense.
Nathan Rourke obviously can’t continue putting up these video game numbers, but I have a hard time seeing how Calgary can stop him. I like BC in this spot up to -2.5.
Saskatchewan vs Edmonton Prediction
The toughest game on this weekend’s CFL slate to handicap is between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Edmonton Elks. Edmonton is the worst team in the CFL, but they are playing at home and Saskatchewan has injury issues.
Even though the Roughriders have been banged up recently, they are coming off their first bye week of the season. The question for Saskatchewan is if their injured players, like quarterback Cody Fajardo, are fresh enough to play to their potential.
I have followed Fajardo since he played at the University of Nevada, because I am the type of degenerate that stays up until 1 a.m. ET watching college football on Saturdays. Fajardo has always been a mobile quarterback that is great at completing short passes. That is why it is no surprise that his game has translated well in the CFL.
Looking at Fajardo’s game logs, it is easy to see how his season has gone. He started off strong early in the season, but once he started having knee issues, his play has gotten worse. He has been less aggressive running the football, and he has been timider in the passing game. As a result, the Riders have relied more on running back Jamal Morrow.
Not only should Fajardo benefit from rest, but he also benefits from an Edmonton defense that is the equivalent of a screen door submarine in the ocean. The Elks allow 36.3 points per game, and they have yet to beat a West Division team.
I am not sure how good the Riders will be this week, but I am cautiously optimistic about their chances against a weak Edmonton squad.
Score Pick: Saskatchewan 30, Edmonton 15
Saskatchewan vs Edmonton Best Bet
Saskatchewan -5.5 (-115) at FanDuel
Wager: 1 Unit
Laying almost a touchdown on the road is a tough pill to swallow, but so is betting on Edmonton as that small of an underdog. Saskatchewan should win against Edmonton.
Based on what we have seen from the Elks this year, they are the type of team to check out mentally once they are down. This means that Saskatchewan has a good chance of covering and winning by at least a touchdown.
I like Saskatchewan at -5.5 right now, and I’m fine betting them up to -7.5.
CFL vs NFL: The Biggest Differences
The biggest barrier that stops people who like betting on American gridiron football from betting on Canadian gridiron football is that the rules seem confusing. In general, the differences in rules between both games mean lower scoring games, and fewer games are decided by three, four, six, seven, or 10 points.
To make the rules less confusing, I have assembled a guide below on the differences between the CFL and NFL.
CFL: Three Downs Instead of Four
In the CFL, each team on offense has only three downs instead of four. That means that instead of three and outs, you have two and outs.
With fewer chances to keep possessions alive and the same number of yards to make up, CFL offenses tend to be pass-heavy. In 2021, 61.8% of CFL offensive plays were passing plays. Additionally, more teams go for it on third down in the CFL than fourth down in the NFL.
CFL: Bigger Field
CFL Fields are 110 yards long, 65 yards wide, have 20-yard end zones, and the field goal post is at the beginning of the end zone. NFL fields are 100 yards long, 53.33 yards wide, have 10-yard end zones, and have their field goal post at the end of the end zone.
This means more two-point conversion attempts, more special teams touchdowns, and it is easier to make field goals.
CFL: The Rouge
In the Canadian game, teams can score on one-point plays also known as singles or rouges. If a team misses a field goal and the opposing team doesn’t return it past the end zone, the kicking team gets a point. For punts, the punting team gets a point if the receiving team doesn’t return it past the end zone.