Editor's Note: Nick Christenson is handicapping Canadian Football League games this season and making picks each week. What follows is Mr. Christenson's CFL predictions and picks for Week 12 – for the Friday and Saturday night games.
Lots of personnel moves this week, none bigger than Edmonton trading QB Trevor Harris to the Montreal Alouettes. With Vernon Adams out indefinitely it makes sense that Montreal would want to acquire a QB who might be able to do for them this year what Zach Collaros did for Winnipeg last year. He won’t be available to the Alouettes this week, though, so it’s still Matthew Shiltz at pivot for the time being.
On the other hand, I get that it has been a disappointing year for Edmonton, and certainly Harris hasn’t played well at all this year, but it’s not like Taylor Cornelius has been setting the league on fire. Heck, at least Harris was on the field for Edmonton’s only two wins. The bottom line is that I expected the Elks to be poor this year and they have been, but that’s certainly not all Harris’ fault. But, if Edmonton is bound and determined to move on, then this is probably good for Harris as well, so everyone wins, I guess.
The second biggest personnel move this week was Winnipeg addressing their biggest, arguably only, weakness by signing kicker Sergio Castillo, although he won’t be eligible to play this week. Current kicker Ali Mourtada did make 3 of 4 field goals last week, but as a team the Bombers are hitting 57% of FGs on the season, and that’s not going to cut it. If Castillo can kick as well as he did last time he played in the CFL, it will make the Bombers even tougher to beat than they already are, not that league balance needed that.
Let’s revisit totals in the CFL for the year. As of right now, the average scoring per game so far this year has been 43.3 points with a median total of 42.5. Over the last five weeks, which I believe to be more representative of what we can expect going forward, the average total has been 45. Over the last four the average has been 44.3. The opening totals on this week’s games have averaged 44.25. I feel this is just a little low, but it’s not out of line with what we’ve been seeing. The average of the totals I made for this week’s games is 45.25. Feel free to adjust your perceptions of the game totals and/or my totals according based on whatever you think the right scoring baseline should be.
This week's CFL odds according to SPREADS.CA:
Friday, October 22, 7:30pm EDT
Toronto Argonauts at Montreal Alouettes
Toronto -1, Total: 49
The good news is that Shiltz looked quite good for the Als last week. The bad news is it was against Ottawa, so who knows how he might perform against a decent team. Overall, I have Toronto a little better than Montreal, with a bonus because now the Argos are stronger at QB with Adams out and because Toronto is coming off the bye this week. I made the line pick-em. It opened Toronto -1 and both that and the current consensus of Montreal -1 seem quite fair. I made the total 49.5, so no action for me on this game.
Saturday, October 23, 4:00pm EDT
Ottawa RedBlacks at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Hamilton -14.5, Total: 41.5
It looked like Hamilton was coming on for a while, but now they’ve lost two straight, although they easily could have won both of those games. Nonetheless, Hamilton doesn’t seem capable of becoming the runaway best team in the East like most expected before the season began. Still, if there’s a situation for Hamilton to get right, it will be against the RedBlacks. Not only has Ottawa won only two games this year, they’re only 3-9 ATS. The total of 41.5 is the lowest total set for either team this year. In fact no CFL game has had a consensus closing total below 42.5 at all. I made the side Hamilton -13.5 and the total 43, so if I were to play a total this week, I’d look over in this game, but this isn’t enough separation to entice me to play the game.
Saturday, October 23, 7:00pm EDT
British Columbia Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Winnipeg -11.5, Total: 42.5
BC has now dropped three straight overall, all home games, and haven’t won a game against a West opponent since week 2, only 1-5 overall against their half of the league. Now they’re on the road against the league’s best team who demolished them 30-9 at BC place in week 9. The Lions still have a shot to make the playoffs, but their backs are really against the wall here. I made the line -10.5 and the total 43.5, so no play for me in this game.
Saturday, October 23, 9:45pm EDT
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Calgary Stampeders
Calgary -1, Total: 44
So, Calgary is 5-5 having won three straight, with two of those being against the Roughriders with QB Bo Levi Mitchell just now rounding into form. Saskatchewan is 5-4, but that’s 2-4 after a 3-0 start. So, other than some sort of zig-zag theory where the Riders are due to win against the Stampeders, doesn’t it appear that Calgary is the better team, or at least Saskatchewan’s equal? The only real plus for Saskatchewan is that they’re coming off a bye, which is certainly worth something. So why is Calgary only a 1 point favorite at home? Should we not rate them a little better on a neutral field, and if so, shouldn’t they be at least 3 point favorites at home? I mean, maybe you want to make them 3.5 points better and swing it to 2.5 (a big move) because of the bye, but that’s about it, right? So, I like Calgary -1 a little, although if I could get Cal -115 on the moneyline, I’d prefer that. I made the total 45, so I have no play there.
Bye: Edmonton Elks
Nick Christenson has been using mathematical methods and computer modeling to as tools for successful sports betting for over 15 years. He lives and works out of Las Vegas, Nevada where, during rare off-seasons, he enjoys cooking, reading, and hiking.