With Week 1 in the books for the CFL, we are moving on to an exciting Week 2 slate on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
With three of the four games being televised on ESPN cable networks, and the other game on ESPN+, there are plenty of opportunities to watch the games live.
Week 1 taught us that the Ottawa Redblacks are no longer the doormat of the CFL and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers might not be the best team in the league anymore. It also showed us that the BC Lions significantly improved this offseason and that the Edmonton Elks might be the worst team in Canada.
Below, I go over the differences between the CFL and NFL, and my best bets for this week’s slate.
Kevin Davis’s 2022 CFL Betting Record: 2-2, +2.2% ROI, +1.5% CLV
All CFL betting odds are current as of Wednesday, June 15 at 11 a.m EST
CFL vs NFL: How These Football Leagues Differ
The biggest barrier that prevents American football bettors from wagering on Canadian football is that the rules seem confusing. In general, the differences in rules between American and Canadian football results in the latter having lower scoring games, and fewer games 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.
Three Downs Instead of Four
In the CFL, each offense has only three downs instead of four to make a first down. That means that instead of three-and-outs, you have two-and-outs.
With fewer chances to keep drives alive and the same number of yards to make, 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 fields are 110 yards long, 65 yards wide, have 20-yard end zones, and the uprights are 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 goal posts at the end of the end zone.
This translates to more two-point conversion attempts, more special teams touchdowns, and more successful field goals in the CFL.
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. The same is true for punts, as the punting team gets a point if the receiving team doesn’t return it out of the end zone.
CFL Best Bets: Montreal Alouettes vs Toronto Argonauts
Montreal Alouettes vs Toronto Argonauts Prediction
After a bye, the Toronto Argonauts kick off their CFL season in Week 2.
Last year, the Argos won the East Division with a 9-5 record despite allowing more points than they scored. They also went 6-1 at home despite having the worst attendance in the league. Toronto was very lucky last season until they lost to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the playoffs.
The Argonauts are a very confusing team to analyze, but that’s what makes betting on their games fun. This season, Toronto has improved their offensive personnel by adding the best wide receiver in the CFL in Brandon Banks, and arguably the best running back in Andrew Harris.
Meanwhile, Montreal had a rocky debut against Calgary last week, losing 30-27. A narrow loss on the road against a tough team may not look bad on paper, but Montreal’s offense should have scored fewer than 27 points.
Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. went 18-for-32 with two interceptions and only one passing touchdown. Running back William Stanback, one of the best backs in the CFL, left the game with an ankle injury after only three carries and is now out for six weeks.
Starting in Stanback’s place is Canadian Jeshrun Antwi, who not only looks promising but gives the Alouettes another spot for an American player. Despite my doubts about the Argos this season, they should easily take advantage of a weak Montreal offense at home.
Toronto Argonauts 27, Montreal Alouettes 21
Toronto Argonauts -3 (-110) at FanDuel Sportsbook
Wager: 2 Units
When the top team from the East Division last season hosts a mediocre team, shouldn’t they be favored by more than three points?
Montreal looked very vulnerable in Week 1 against Calgary, and they should have lost by more. The Argos may be in for a tough 2022 season, but they are in luck for their season opener against the Alouettes.
Bettors looking to back Toronto this week should get on them now, as I believe this line will close at 3.5 or 4 once limits are raised on game day. I would bet this up to -4.5 (-115).
CFL Best Bets: Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs Ottawa Redblacks
Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs Ottawa Redblacks Prediction
For the previous two CFL seasons (2021 and 2019), the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were the best team in the CFL and won the Grey Cup. The Ottawa Redblacks, on the other hand, were the worst team as they had a combined record of 6-26.
For 2022, it appears that the paradigm has shifted.
In Week 1, Winnipeg hosted Ottawa and the Blue Bombers opened as 11-point favorites. Based on betting activity, they closed as only seven-point favorites.
I was skeptical of this line movement as even though the Redblacks had a strong offseason, Winnipeg has the best defense in the CFL and they were the home team. I turned out to be wrong as the Blue Bombers narrowly beat the Redblacks 19-17 on an epic final drive completed by their backup quarterback Dru Brown.
In the Week 2 rematch at Ottawa, Winnipeg should have starting quarterback Zach Collaros back in action as he has been practicing with the team all week. This time around, Ottawa opened as a 7.5-point underdog at Sports Interaction in Canada and then dropped to a six-point underdog by the time the line hit the states.
Betting action has since pushed the line to Winnipeg -2.5 points, which I believe is an overreaction to last week. Ottawa is no longer the doormat of the CFL, but they do not deserve to be narrow underdogs against the defending Grey Cup Champion Blue Bombers.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27, Ottawa Redblacks 22
Winnipeg Blue Bombers -2.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
Wager: 1.5 Units
I will admit that I bet Ottawa at +6 (-115) as soon as their line was available across the border but moving the spread 3.5 points is an overreaction. Winnipeg should be a four-point favorite and anything at the key number of three or below is a great price.
The defensive line, led by Willie Jefferson, is the best in the CFL and linebacker Adam Bighill won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award last year. Additionally, defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat is rumored to be returning this week.
It will be a tough game on the road for the Blue Bombers, but 2.5 points is an absolute bargain. I would bet this up to -3 (-115).
CFL Best Bets: Calgary Stampeders vs Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Calgary Stampeders vs Hamilton Tiger-Cats Prediction
Both Calgary and Hamilton had disappointing Week 1 performances.
The Stampeders hosted a weak Alouettes squad and narrowly won by three points. They somehow allowed 27 points despite holding the opposing quarterback to a 56.3% completion percentage, and the starting running back got injured.
Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell completed 21-of-34 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown. Mitchell has had a long-storied career with Calgary, but it appears that his best days are behind him.
Hamilton visited Saskatchewan as a narrow underdog and lost 30-13. Quarterback Dane Evans threw two interceptions, and the rushing attack was flatter than a bottle of Mountain Dew that was opened four days ago.
What could go easily unnoticed when looking at the Tiger-Cats score is that they were only trailing 6-3 at the end of the first half. It was a fourth-quarter collapse that was the cause of their large defeat.
Outside of that collapse, the Ti-Cat defense held a dangerous quarterback in Cody Fajardo to only one passing touchdown and starting running back Jamal Morrow to only 1.6 yards per carry.
In what I expect to be a low-scoring game, Hamilton should narrowly win.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 22, Calgary Stampeders 18
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Moneyline (-115) at BetWay Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
Hamilton’s Week 1 performance was disappointing, but so was Calgary’s. The silver lining for the Ti-Cats is that their defense was competitive up until the end of the game, and they should fare better against Mitchell and the Stampeders at home.
Hamilton should be a narrow favorite, which is why I like their moneyline at -115. 11.5% of CFL games are decided by two or fewer points, which is why I would rather bet the Tiger-Cats now at -115 to win outright, than wait for their spread to potentially get to -2.
CFL Best Bets: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs Edmonton Elks
Saskatchewan Roughriders vs Edmonton Elks Prediction
Last week, the Edmonton Elks put on the worst defensive performance that I have ever seen in the CFL.
Against an inexperienced quarterback in Nathan Rourke for the BC Lions, Edmonton allowed Rourke to complete 89.7% of his passes for 282 passing yards and three touchdowns. To add insult to injury, Rourke had 78 rushing yards on seven carries and two additional rushing touchdowns.
They also allowed 108 rushing yards on 17 carries and two more rushing touchdowns to BC’s starting running back in a 59-15 blowout loss. There’s nothing else to say other than Edmonton played awful in their Week 1 opener, but the question is if they will continue to play this poorly.
Saskatchewan won their Week 1 contests against a tough Hamilton team 30-13. The Roughriders had a strong defensive performance but looked vulnerable on offense. Fajardo piled on the passing yards, but had a hard time putting touchdowns on the board.
The Roughriders should win on the road against the Elks, but it might not be in a blowout.
Saskatchewan Roughriders 27, Edmonton Elks 20
Edmonton Elks +10 or Better (-115) at PointsBet Sportsbook
After last week’s defeat against BC, I have a hard time building up the courage to bet on Edmonton. Currently, they are 7.5-point underdogs, but PointsBet has them catching nine points. If they move to 10-point underdogs or more, I will place a small wager on the Elks.
Even against a much better team, they should be competitive at home. A win by a field goal and a touchdown may be a large lift for Saskatchewan even against Edmonton, and that is why I would bet Edmonton at +10 or better.