For Labor Day weekend, we have a double-header on Labor Day and games on Friday and Sunday.
Recently, I have been crushing my CFL picks, but unfortunately, betting opportunities have dried up as more games have been played.
If more news comes out or the lines move, I might make more bets. Luckily, bettors can track my action on the BetStamp App on my account (@BoogieDownCFL) to see what I am betting.
Outside of the Edmonton vs Calgary game, all games this weekend have a favorite of a touchdown or less. There is parity among the nine CFL teams, and that makes picking games harder.
Below, I go over my best CFL bets for this week’s slate and the differences between the CFL and NFL.
Kevin Davis’ Record (Tracked by BetStamp App): 30-25, +4.3% Return on Investment, +3.4% Closing Line Value
All CFL betting odds are current as of Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 10 a.m ET.
Ottawa vs Montreal Prediction
Montreal 24, Ottawa 20
Both the Montreal Alouettes and Ottawa RedBlacks are not as bad as their records suggest.
The Alouettes have a 4-6 record after a rough start to the season, but their average scoring margin is a respectable -1.3 points per game. They are also 1.5 games ahead of Hamilton for the coveted second-place playoff seed in the East Division.
The RedBlacks are 2-8 this season after finishing 3-11 last year. It doesn’t look like it on paper, but this year’s Ottawa team is much better than last year.
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Last season, the RedBlacks had an anemic offense and a terrible defense. This season they have an anemic offense, but a strong defense. In fact, Ottawa has allowed the fewest points per game this season among East Division teams.
As a result, Ottawa’s average scoring margin of -5.1 is a huge improvement from last year’s average scoring margin of -11.4.
The problem for the RedBlacks is going to be getting through a strong Montreal defense that is coming off of a bye. In their upset against Winnipeg as a double-digit underdog, the Alouettes held Winnipeg to only 17 points. In their last game against Hamilton, Montreal contained their rushing attack and won by a point.
When you combine this with questionable quarterback play by Trevor Harris for Montreal and Nick Arbuckle for Ottawa, we should see a low-scoring one-possession game won by Montreal.
Ottawa vs. Montreal Best CFL Bets
Under 50 (-110) at BetRivers
Wager: 1.5 Units
I have a hard time seeing Ottawa winning, but if the Redblacks’ spread falls to +7 or better, I will bet on it.
The better wager for this week’s Friday night game is to bet on Under 50 points being scored.
The average CFL game this season has a combined 50 points per game. For Ottawa games, only 43.5 combined points are scored.
This is not an accident, as Ottawa can’t score, and they have a strong defense. In the past two games, Ottawa played Edmonton, a team with a weak offense and an awful defense. In the first game, 42 combined points were scored, and in the second game, 43 combined points were scored.
Montreal has a strong defense and an OK offense. I would be surprised if the Over hits, and I would bet the Under up to 47.5 points.
Winnipeg vs Saskatchewan Prediction
Winnipeg 24, Saskatchewan 18
Not a single East Division team has a winning record this year, and four out of five West Division teams have winning records.
Sunday night, we have an exciting showdown between the 10-1 Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the 6-5 Saskatchewan Roughriders in Saskatchewan.
The Blue Bombers not only have the best record in the CFL, but they are the two-time defending Grey Cup Champions. As a result, you would expect them to be more heavily favored against the Riders, but there is a good reason for the tight spread.
Not only is Saskatchewan a tough team to play on the road, but Winnipeg has had some narrow wins lately. In fact, six of the 10 Blue Bombers wins this season have been by seven points or less. Last week against Calgary, they won by only two points.
Saskatchewan has had offensive issues lately as quarterback Cody Fajardo has been affected by a knee injury. Fajardo has either missed games or has played and been unable to deliver.
Last week, Fajardo delivered against a tough BC defense, and that is probably why Winnipeg opened as only a 3.5-point favorite. In that game, Fajardo threw for 321 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, and completed 79.2% of his passes.
The issue is that Saskatchewan allowed seven sacks against BC last week. Against the toughest defensive line in the league in Winnipeg, they should have even more trouble.
It will be a tough game for the Blue Bombers, but they should win by about a touchdown.
Winnipeg vs Saskatchewan Best CFL Bets
Winnipeg -3.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
Wager: 1.5 Units
Virtually every week this season I have bet on Winnipeg and I have reaped the rewards, as the Blue Bombers are 7-4 against the spread.
Normally I don’t like looking at against the spread (ATS) numbers as they can easily fluctuate because of small sample sizes, but for Winnipeg, I take an exception. The Blue Bombers are the best team in the CFL by a mile, and bettors continue to underestimate them against strong competition.
On a neutral field, I don’t see any CFL team as better than a +7 favorite except a full-strength BC Lions team or the Calgary Stampeders. Saskatchewan is a better team than their 6-5 record suggests, but I don’t see their offense doing well against Winnipeg.
I like the Blue Bombers at -3.5, and I would take them up to -4.5.
Toronto vs Hamilton Prediction
Toronto 27, Hamilton 24
Toronto is in first place in the East Division and Hamilton is only in third place. The two cities may be separated by only a one-hour drive (depending on bad Toronto area traffic), but their distance in the standings is growing.
Both teams are about equal in strength, but the Argos are 2.5 games ahead of the Tiger-Cats in the standings. If Hamilton loses they are likely out of the playoff hunt.
What to look for with the Tiger-Cats is who they start at quarterback and if they play the whole game. Is it regular starter Dane Evans, or is it backup Matthew Shiltz?
Evans started last week, but Shiltz played a significant number of snaps. The key will be looking at Hamilton’s practice reports to see if Evans continues to be limited in practice or if he is fully healthy.
If Evans is healthy, I view this game as a toss-up, and if he isn’t fully healthy, then Toronto should be favored.
Last week, Hamilton led 16-3 at one point and found a way to lose, 37-20. Evans went 19-of-30 but had no passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Shiltz completed 13-of-15 passes but threw for only 144 passing yards.
In general, Evans is more aggressive than Shiltz, which is why he is much more dangerous as a quarterback.
Toronto has some issues of their own, but assuming Evans isn’t fully healthy, they should win on the road against Hamilton.
Toronto vs Hamilton Best CFL Bets
Toronto if +3 or better
For the past two games, I have had negative closing line value in games where Hamilton has played based on misreading the quarterback injury news. As a result, I am only going to bet on the Tiger-Cats on game day or until Evans’ injury status is clear.
Toronto is the better team, but Hamilton is decemt and playing at home. The Argos are +1.5 underdogs. If their price drops to +3 or better before Labor Day, I will place a bet on them.
Otherwise, I will bet Toronto up to a pick em’ if there is any hint that Evans is hurt.
Edmonton vs Calgary Prediction
Calgary 38, Edmonton 20
In possibly the most lopsided matchup of the CFL season, the Calgary Stampeders host the Edmonton Elks. Both teams are located in Alberta in cities that vote the same way in elections (I also bet on Canadian politics), but those are the only things that those two teams have in common.
The Elks have an average scoring margin of -13.2 points per game, and the Stamps have an average scoring margin of +5.6 per game. Additionally, the Stampeders lost by only two points last week against Winnipeg.
In that game, Calgary started a new quarterback in Jake Maier, who is a big improvement over the previous starter, veteran Bo Levi Mitchell. Maier went completed 82.1% of his passes and threw for three passing touchdowns.
Against any team, this is an achievement, but against Winnipeg, it is a miracle. If he can do that against the Blue Bombers, imagine what he will do to the Elks.
While 12.5 points is a lot of points to swallow, with Calgary and Edmonton, it is worth a look.
Edmonton vs Calgary Best CFL Bets
Calgary -12.5 & Over 49.5 Points Parlay (+264) at Caesars Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
I am a little bit hesitant to back a CFL team as nearly a two-touchdown favorite, but I can make an exception for an offensively explosive team against Edmonton’s defense.
The Elks have played better recently, but they are still a lousy team. If Calgary covers as 12.5-point favorites, the Over is likely to hit, as well. Most sportsbooks don’t let you parlay heavy favorites and Overs without charging an extra vig, but Caesars allowed me to parlay both at the normal price of +264.
There is a correlation between heavy favorites covering and Overs hitting, and heavy underdogs covers and Unders hitting. Low-scoring games are likely to be closer than high-scoring games.
If Calgary wins by a large margin, it is likely a high-scoring game. At +264, this is a single-game parlay worth betting on up to -13.5 or Over 52 points.
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 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.