After 11 weeks of CFL action, I am finally profitable for the season after going 7-1 over the last two weeks. This weekend, even though we have the return of college football, we still have four competitive CFL games.
All four games have a favorite of less than a touchdown and a total between 47 and 48.5 points. Each game has a combination of strong defense with injured and/or underperforming offenses. Additionally, the Saskatchewan/BC game will be on ESPN2 Friday night, with the other three games on ESPN+.
Below, I go over my CFL 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):
- +1.4% Return on Investment
- +3.8% Closing Line Value
All CFL betting odds are current as of Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 10 a.m ET.
Calgary vs Winnipeg Prediction
Coming fresh off their first bye week, the two-time defending Grey Cup Champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a 9-1 record and are hosting a feisty 6-3 Calgary Stampeders team. In their only matchup this season in Calgary, Winnipeg won, 35-28.
This week, the Blue Bombers should have a bigger advantage against the Stampeders due to Calgary’s quarterback controversy.
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Calgary’s DNA as a team this season has been a strong defense, a strong running game, and a mediocre passing game. The long-time starting quarterback for the Stamps, Bo Levi Mitchell, has seen his play decline over the last two seasons, and the team had enough last week when they benched him before halftime.
Replacing Mitchell last week was Jake Maier, who went 14-for-18 with only 156 passing yards, no passing touchdowns, and one interception. I am not sure if Maier is an improvement for Calgary, but what I am sure of is that he should be torn to shreds by an unforgiving Winnipeg defense.
The Blue Bombers have two NFL-caliber defensive linemen in Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat. They will both be breathing down Maier’s neck all game, and Winnipeg should win by more than a touchdown in this week’s low-scoring affair.
- Calgary vs Winnipeg Score Pick: Winnipeg 27, Calgary 17
Calgary vs Winnipeg Best CFL Bets
Winnipeg -5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
Under 48.5 (-110) at BetRivers
Wager: 1 Unit
I can’t decide which bet is better for this game: the Under or the Winnipeg spread. So I’m taking both.
The Blue Bombers are the best team by a mile in the CFL, and at home, they should be at least a touchdown favorite against any team they play. Additionally, Calgary has issues on offense going into this week, and Winnipeg has an insane defense.
How the total is at 48.5 is beyond me; that is basically an average total for a CFL game this season. I would bet the total up to 46.5 and the spread up to Winnipeg -6.5.
Hamilton vs Toronto Prediction
There is a tight fight between the top three teams in the East Division. All three (Hamilton, Montreal, and Toronto) have losing records and are within 1.5 games of each other in the standings. On Friday night, Toronto hosts Hamilton in a consequential matchup between two tough Ontario teams.
Even though Toronto is ahead of Hamilton by 1.5 games in the standings, they haven’t played that much better this season. The Argos have an average scoring margin of -3.4 and the Ti-Cats have an average scoring margin of -4.2.
The one thing to look out for this week is over who starts at quarterback for the Tiger-Cats. Is it regular starter Dane Evans, or is it backup Matthew Shiltz?
Evans, when healthy, is the better quarterback, but he has missed the last two games. Before last week’s game, misinformation was spread that he would be playing and the betting lines shockingly moved against Hamilton.
For this week’s game, I would be careful to trust any injury news coming out of Hamilton, and I would rely on the practice reports available on the CFL website instead.
Last week, Evans didn’t practice, yet people fell for the fake injury news reports. Shiltz had a strong game last week against Montreal, completing 69.2% of his passes while netting 303 passing yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.
My concern for Shiltz is that when watching him play and looking through his game logs, he has less of a command of the Ti-Cats offense than Evans. Shiltz prefers short passes, and Evans isn’t afraid to throw 40-yard bombs.
Toronto for all their issues has a strong defense and an aggressive quarterback. The Tiger-Cats have significant injuries in their secondary, and at home, Toronto should win.
- Hamilton vs Toronto Score Pick: Toronto 30, Hamilton 21
Hamilton vs Toronto Best CFL Bets
Toronto -3 (-105) at Caesars Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
I am reluctant to ever bet on Toronto as they were the most overrated CFL team going into the season, but this is a good spot for them. Hamilton’s defense is more vulnerable than usual, their quarterback situation is in flux, and they must play on the road in Toronto.
The most important key number in the CFL is three as about 10% of CFL games are decided by exactly three points. Once this game moves to Toronto -3.5 or worse, it will not be worth betting on. Ideally, I would like the grab Toronto -2.5, but I believe that -3 (-105) is the best price that we will be able to get on this game.
Saskatchewan vs BC Prediction
Saskatchewan and BC have played each other twice this season with BC winning both games. Last week, both teams played each other in Saskatchewan, and the Lions won, 28-10. In that game, BC Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke got injured, and he may not return this season.
Losing Rourke is going to be a major blow for British Columbia, who have an 8-1 record and are only a half-game behind Winnipeg in the standings. Rourke has been the best CFL player all season as he averaged 364.6 passing yards, 33.8 rushing yards, 2.8 passing touchdowns, .8 rushing touchdowns, and a 79.2% completion percentage per game.
The drop-off between most starting and backup quarterbacks in the CFL is not that large, but the drop-off between Rourke and backup Michael O’Connor is significant.
Like a box of chocolates, with O’Connor, it is hard to know what you are going to get. He has only 37 career passing attempts over three CFL seasons.
In relief of Rourke, O’Connor completed all five of his passes last week for only 36 yards. This is a sharp contrast to the aggressive Rourke.
Saskatchewan, next to Winnipeg, has one of the best defenses in the CFL. With key defensive players coming back from injury last week, BC should struggle to put points on the board for the first time this season.
Saskatchewan is no lock to win either as they also have turmoil at the quarterback position. Starting quarterback Cody Fajardo has been hobbled with a knee injury this season and his play has declined. Last week, he was benched during the game and replaced by Mason Fine.
As a replacement, Fine was an improvement over Fajardo, throwing for 210 passing yards and one passing touchdown, but he also completed only 61.5% of his passes. With Fine and O’Connor playing this week and two strong defenses, I see a low-scoring game that Saskatchewan might win.
- Saskatchewan vs BC Score Pick: Saskatchewan 21, BC 17
Saskatchewan vs BC Best CFL Bets
Under 47 Points (-110) at BetRivers
Wager: 2 Units
I like the Riders to win this week, but the bet that has the best value this week by a mile is the Under on the point total. Before the lines came out, I was expecting BC to be a narrow favorite and the total to be set at 45 points. Instead, the total opened at 48.5 points on FanDuel, and I jumped on the Under like an excited kid on Christmas Day.
In this spot, you have two teams with weak quarterback play and strong defenses. This is my favorite bet of the week, and I would bet the Under up to 45.5 points.
Ottawa vs Edmonton Prediction
Ottawa and Edmonton are the consensus worst two teams in the CFL this season. Last week, Ottawa hosted Edmonton and lost, 30-12. This week, the Toilet Bowl heads to Edmonton.
Should we expect a different result?
After the first half, Ottawa was down only 12-9, but then Edmonton won the second half, 21-0. It was painful to watch, but both teams are offensively challenged.
Edmonton’s quarterback Taylor Cornelius completed just 59.3% of his passes for 208 passing yards. How Edmonton scored 30 points last week is beyond me.
Ottawa split quarterbacks with the mobile Caleb Evans throwing for 111 passing yards and journeyman Nick Arbuckle throwing for 85. Neither had any interceptions or touchdowns, but Evans added 82 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown.
I expect to see a low-scoring game on Saturday night that Ottawa might win.
- Ottawa vs Edmonton Score Pick: Ottawa 17, Edmonton 14
Ottawa vs Edmonton Best CFL Bets
Under 48.5 Points (-110) at BetRivers
Wager: 1 Unit
Ottawa +3.5 (-110) at BetRivers
Wager: .5 Units
Edmonton is the worst team in the CFL, that is why they were a 4.5-point underdog last week against Ottawa. Making them 3.5-point favorites at home (an 8-point swing) was an overreaction to last week’s game. Both teams are about equal in talent and Edmonton should only be a narrow favorite at home.
Reluctantly, I am betting on the RedBlacks to cover a +3.5 spread as we could easily see them win or at least lose by less than a field goal. About 21% of CFL games are decided by fewer than 3.5 points, so I would rather take the points than the +140 money line.
Even though I am betting on Ottawa, the best bet in this game is on Under 48.5 points to be scored. Both teams can’t score to save their lives, yet the total is a relatively modest 48.5 points. I like the Under, and I’d take it up to 46.5 points.
CFL vs NFL: How Canadian Football League differs
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 ten 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 endzones, and the field goal post is at the beginning of the endzone. NFL fields are 100 yards long, 53.33 yards wide, have 10-yard endzones, and have their field goal post at the end of the endzone.
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.