For Week 5 of the CFL season, we have only three games, as three teams have a bye. Even with only three games, we have some exciting betting opportunities on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Two of the three games will be televised on ESPNews (Ottawa vs Saskatchewan on Friday and Winnipeg vs BC on Saturday). The other game will be available on ESPN+.
Even with four weeks of action now in the books, there are still unknowns in the CFL landscape. Winnipeg is the defending Grey Cup champion, but BC has played better than any team so far. Ottawa is winless, but they are vastly improved from last season. Lastly, Calgary appears vulnerable, but they face a weak Edmonton team on the road.
Below, I go over the differences between the CFL and NFL, and my best bets for this week’s slate.
Record (Tracked by BetStamp App): 7-10, -15.4% Return on Investment, +1.5% Closing Line Value
All CFL betting odds are current as of Wednesday, July 6 at 11 a.m EST
CFL Best Bets: Calgary Stampeders vs Edmonton Elks
Calgary Stampeders vs Edmonton Elks Prediction
On the CFL’s official website, Calgary is rated as the third-best team and Edmonton is rated as the second-worst in this week’s power rankings. The betting markets have a much different take, as the Stampeders have opened as only a three-point favorite against the Elks.
Calgary has a history of winning and they are undefeated this season with a 3-0 record. The problem is, the Stamps have lost their luster this season.
One reason for that is lackluster offensive play from veteran quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. Last season, Mitchell threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Even though this season Mitchell has better numbers, he hasn’t passed the eye test in any of his first three games. And those games were against arguably the worst three teams in the CFL (Montreal, Hamilton, and Edmonton).
Even though Calgary has its issues, Edmonton is the worst team in the CFL this season. Against Calgary in Week 3, the Elks lost 30-23. Last week, I picked Edmonton to win outright as 7-point underdogs, and they won 29-25.
While I would like to pat myself on the back and consider myself to be a genius, the Elks got very lucky. Edmonton trailed 22-15 entering the fourth quarter, but came back with an interception and a touchdown pass from their rookie quarterback Tre Ford on the ensuing drive.
Then in the final two minutes, Hamilton quarterback Dane Evans fumbled the ball on his own 14-yard line and Edmonton returned it for a touchdown. The Elks shouldn’t have won that game, and I doubt they will get that lucky this weekend against Calgary.
Calgary Stampeders 25, Edmonton Elks 17
Stampeders -3 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1.5 Units
When Calgary opened at -3, I jumped all over them in the same way that opposing quarterbacks jump all over Edmonton’s defense.
Calgary should move back to -3.5 or worse, so I would jump on them now, even though I would feel comfortable betting this line up to -4. The Elks are outmatched against the Stampeders, and they should lose by about a touchdown.
CFL Best Bets: Ottawa Redblacks vs Saskatchewan Roughriders
Ottawa Redblacks vs Saskatchewan Roughriders Prediction
Ottawa vs Saskatchewan is going to be the best CFL game of the weekend for betting. The Roughriders have a 3-1 record, while the Redblacks are 0-3. This season, East Division teams have a 1-12 mark against their West Division counterparts.
With Ottawa in the East and Saskatchewan in the West, should bettors pencil in Saskatchewan because the west side is the best side?
Ottawa is getting a bad rap this season. Last year, they were the worst team in the CFL, and they are winless so far this campaign. The big difference between 2021 and 2022, however, is that the Redblacks have much better personnel. It has just been hard to notice because all three of their games have come against the top two teams in Canada.
Ottawa’s first two losses came against the two-time defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Last week, the Redblacks lost 34-31 to a BC Lions team that is beating opponents by an average of 29.3 points per game.
On the other hand, the Roughriders are coming off back-to-back blowouts of Montreal. Before sweeping the Alouettes, Saskatchewan topped Hamilton and Edmonton, but had a hard time putting away both opponents until the fourth quarter.
We should see a close game this weekend, and I am going to go out on a limb and predict that Ottawa will win outright as a 7-point underdog.
Ottawa Redblacks 24, Saskatchewan Roughriders 18
Redblacks +7 (-110) at Caesars
Redblacks Moneyline (+235) at BetRivers
Wager: 1 Unit on each
Saskatchewan should be favored at home against any CFL team other than Winnipeg and possibly BC, but setting the Roughriders as seven-point favorites against one of the most improved CFL teams is ridiculous.
Last week at home against a weaker Montreal team, Saskatchewan was only favored by 4.5 points. I doubt that the Roughriders got almost three points better over one week.
Ottawa lost by less than a touchdown in all three of their games against the toughest two teams in the CFL. Against Saskatchewan, they could win, but at least they should cover as seven-point underdogs. I’d feel comfortable betting this spread up to +4.5 and the moneyline up to +165.
CFL Best Bets: Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs BC Lions
Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs BC Lions Prediction
Both Winnipeg and BC are undefeated. The difference is Winnipeg has won each game by an average of six points, while BC has won its games by an average of 29.3 points.
Winnipeg is the two-time defending Grey Cup Champion. Even on the road against a hot team in BC, it seems puzzling that the Blue Bombers currently stand as three-point underdogs.
Winnipeg’s secret sauce is their nearly unstoppable defense that has a defensive line led by Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat that is impossible to guard. The d-line is complemented by linebacker Adam Bighill and a strong secondary.
The Blue Bombers will have their hands full against Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke. The Canadian national is putting up cheat code numbers in his first full year as a starting QB.
Rourke has an 83.8% completion rate and is averaging 359 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, 60 rushing yards, and one rushing touchdown per game. Anytime a quarterback is averaging four touchdowns in the three-down CFL, bettors need to take notice.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the Blue Bomber defense should contain Rourke and come through with an upset.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24, BC Lions 20
Blue Bombers +3 (-110) at Caesars
Blue Bombers Moneyline (+140) at PointsBet
Wager: 1 Unit Each
I love Winnipeg in this spot, but I believe that oddsmakers and bettors disagree. As a result, I am not making my bets on Winnipeg until the lines move more on game day. Why bet on Winnipeg now at +3, when I might be able to nab +4 or +4.5 later?
The Blue Bombers have won some narrow games recently, but frankly, they should have won those games by more. They were up 17-0 in their last game and only won by a point off a missed extra point. Winnipeg is the best team in the CFL, and BC is the second-best.
The Blue Bombers should win as narrow underdogs, but it will be by less than a TD. While I expect these lines to move the other way, I’d still be comfortable betting the spread down to +1 (-110) and the moneyline at +125.
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.