It is no secret that I have taken a beating this CFL season. What should be noted is that my closing line value is very strong meaning that by the time a CFL game starts, the number I bet it at is a better number than the number it closed at.
If I bet a team at -3 and they close at -6, then even if they lose, in the long run, I will be a winning bettor.
This weekend, we have a full slate of four games, two nationally televised on ESPN Networks (Winnipeg/Edmonton and Toronto/Saskatchewan) and the other two will be televised on ESPN+.
On Thursday, we have a rare double-header. The winless Ottawa Redblacks host the Montreal Alouettes, who have a new head coach. In the second half of the double-header, the Grey Cup contending BC Lions host a struggling Hamilton Tiger-Cats team.
Friday, on ESPN 2, the struggling Edmonton Elks host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who are the best team in the CFL. Lastly, Saturday on ESPNews, we have a rematch of last week’s game between the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Below, I go over the differences between the CFL and NFL, and my best bets for this week’s slate.
CFL Betting Record (Tracked by BetStamp App): 11-16, -19.3% Return on Investment, +3.8% Closing Line Value
All CFL betting odds are current as of Tuesday, July 19 at 3 p.m. EST.
CFL Best Bets: Montreal Alouettes vs Ottawa Redblacks
Montreal Alouettes vs Ottawa Redblacks Prediction
In the East Division, none of the four teams have a winning record this season. At the bottom of the standings are the winless Ottawa Redblacks followed by the 1-4 Montreal Alouettes.
Montreal has been the most unlucky CFL team this season. Despite losing each game by an average of only 0.4 points, they have only won 20% of their games. Doing a deep dive into their schedule, it is easy to see all the heartbreak that the Alouettes have gone through this season.
In the first week, they lost to the 4-1 Calgary Stampeders by a field goal in the final minutes. In the second week, they lost by only a point off a missed field goal.
The latest blunder was last week at home against the Edmonton Elks, who are the worst team in the CFL. Going into the fourth quarter, Montreal was ahead by 13 points. Despite such a dominating lead, the Alouettes found a way to lose by one point.
Like Montreal, Ottawa has been unlucky this season. They opened their first three games against Winnipeg and BC, who are the two best teams in the CFL this season. In those games, the RedBlacks lost each game by less than a touchdown.
Unfortunately for the RedBlacks, their best player, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, was injured off a dirty hit in Week 5 and their season is arguably over.
I am not sure what to expect this week from both Montreal and Ottawa, but I believe that we will see a low-scoring game.
Montreal Alouettes 24, Ottawa Redblacks 17
Under 48.5 Points (-115) at BetMGM
Wager: 1 Unit
Looking at both Montreal and Ottawa, I have a hard time seeing how this week’s game will be high-scoring. New Redblacks quarterback Caleb Evans went only 18-for-30 with 203 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and two interceptions. Evans had two rushing touchdowns and 62 rushing yards off of only eight carries, but a performance like that is hard to replicate on the ground.
For the Alouettes, quarterback Trevor Harris, who started this season as a backup, does not inspire much confidence either. With a modest total of 48.5, the Under is a play worth making.
CFL Best Bets: Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs BC Lions
Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs BC Lions Prediction
Last year, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lost the Grey Cup in overtime and the BC Lions had one of the worst records. This season, Hamilton is 1-4 and BC is one of the best CFL teams.
Unexpectedly, BC is a touchdown favorite against Hamilton. The Lions win each game by an average of 16.8 points this year. The oddsmakers and bettors, in my opinion, have correctly determined that we should see a typical Lions game where they win by multiple touchdowns.
The reason for BC’s dominance is quarterback Nathan Rourke. In four games this season, Rourke is averaging an 80% completion rate (not a typo), 339 passing yards, 45 rushing yards, three passing touchdowns, one interception, and .75 rushing touchdowns per game.
If Rourke continues putting up numbers like these, then BC should beat every opponent other than Winnipeg by at least a touchdown this season.
On offense, Hamilton is not chopped liver either. Quarterback Dane Evans is a proven threat. This season, Evans has been interception prone but can be relied upon for around 300 passing yards a game.
In the past, Evans has been more dominant as a quarterback under Head Coach Orlondo Steinauer.
Hamilton could upset BC, but that is unlikely. Instead, I expect to see a high-scoring shootout where BC wins by around a touchdown.
BC Lions 36, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 27
Over 50.5 (-115) at BetMGM
Wager: 1 Unit
When I saw the opening total for this week’s game, I had to get my vision checked. Not only can I still see, but I’m astonished that the total has been set at only 50.5 points for a BC Lions game.
Every time Rourke touches a football, 51 or more points are scored. Even against Winnipeg, BC scored 34 points. I like the Over at 50.5 points, and I would bet it up to 52.5 points.
CFL Best Bets: Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs Edmonton Elks
Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs Edmonton Elks Prediction
Winnipeg is the best CFL team and Edmonton is the worst. Even on the road, Winnipeg is a large favorite, but their team is built to win close games with their defense rather than blow teams out like BC.
Just look at the Blue Bombers’ schedule this season. Despite an undefeated record, they beat their opponents by an average of eight points a game. If you take away their 21-point win against BC, Winnipeg wins each game by an average of only 5.4 points.
Edmonton, on the other hand, is not a pretty picture. The Elks lose each game by an average of 16.5 points. Recently Edmonton has faired better.
Last week, in the biggest upset of the CFL season, the Elks beat the Alouettes 32-31 after a 14-0 fourth quarter. Three weeks ago, Edmonton beat Hamilton 29-25 on the road.
The problem for the Elks is that their quarterback situation is unreliable. Nick Arbuckle started the year as the starting quarterback but was traded due to poor performance. Rookie Tre Ford is the backup quarterback, but he is listed as injured even though he practiced earlier this week.
That leaves Taylor Cornelius as the likely Edmonton signal caller this week. Cornelius not only has more interceptions than touchdowns for his career, but he must face a brick wall in Winnipeg’s defense.
With a defensive line and linebacker group known for stuffing the run and putting pressure on the quarterback, Cornelius should be eaten alive. Additionally, the Blue Bombers have a knack for intercepting the ball.
On Friday night, we should see the Blue Bombers win a comfortable low-scoring game against the Elks.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24, Edmonton Elks 14
Under 47 Points (-105) at PointsBet
Wager: 1 Unit
Forty-seven as a point total for any Winnipeg game is too high, let alone against Edmonton. The Blue Bombers could put only 10 men on the field, and the Elks wouldn’t be able to score more than 20 points.
The Under is a great play for what should be a boring game between Edmonton and Winnipeg, and I would bet it up to 45.5 points.
CFL Best Bets: Toronto Argonauts vs Saskatchewan Roughriders
Toronto Argonauts vs Saskatchewan Roughriders Prediction
Last week, Toronto played Saskatchewan in a rare regular-season game in Nova Scotia. In the neutral site game, Toronto pulled off the upset winning 30-24 against a strong Saskatchewan defense.
Last year, Toronto was the luckiest team in the CFL, and this season, they are the unluckiest. In 2021, the Argonauts allow more points than they scored yet had the best record in the East Division. Outside of their narrow win against the Roughriders last week, it has been a disappointing year for the Argos.
In their first game, they beat Montreal by only a point at home after missing two field goals. In Week 4, Toronto lost to Winnipeg by only a point after missing an extra point that would have tied the game.
For Saskatchewan, if they played in the East, they would easily be the best team in the division. The problem is that quarterback Cody Fajardo is questionable for this week’s game. Fajardo’s health has been a question mark all season, but after being sacked last week, Fajardo re-injured his left knee.
Riders Head Coach Craig Dickenson has publicly stated that Fajardo has only a 50/50 chance of playing this week against Toronto. If that were to happen, the Riders would rely upon backup Mason Fine, who is largely untested in the CFL.
Even if Fajardo plays, the Riders’ biggest strength is their defense, which has more American players than usual for a CFL defense. The only problem is that Toronto found a way to score 30 points against that defense last week in Nova Scotia.
It will be tough, but on the road, Toronto should pull off another upset against Saskatchewan.
Toronto Argonauts 24, Saskatchewan Roughriders 20
Toronto +6 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
In the CFL, teams frequently play each other as there are only nine teams and they play 18 regular season games a year. In the rematches, the losing team typically performs better than in the previous game.
With that being a trend, why would I swim against the current and bet on the Argos?
Toronto never let Saskatchewan get to a comfortable lead in last week’s game. When you combine that with Fajardo’s injury status, it is hard to picture the Riders winning by more than six points.
The moneyline is tempting, but based on my numbers, I have a bigger edge with the spread than betting on the Argos winning outright.
Saskatchewan should be favored by only four points, so I would bet Toronto up to +5.
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.