Editor's Note: Nick Christenson is handicapping Canadian Football League games this entire season and making picks each week. What follows is Mr. Christenson's CFL predictions and picks for Week 16. There was a make-up game played on Tuesday night which doesn't factor into this write-up.
Last week of the regular season. We made it! Pay those who bet under 1.5 games canceled or rescheduled due to COVID. It’s playoff time!
In a previous article, I wrote about what a great time of year this is for sports bettors, especially those who bet sports that aren’t the primary concerns of sportsbook operators. We got a prime example of that last week in the Winnipeg/Montreal game where the market was very slow to react to news that Zach Collaros would not be playing for the Bombers. We got another one for this Tuesday’s game.
(I’m writing this on Tuesday afternoon before the Elks/Argos game, because the lines for this weekend’s games became widely available this morning.)
A few early sites put up lines in the Toronto -7.5 range, which I wrote were
probably high based on speculation about who would actually play in the game. Then it was announced that Pipkin would start at QB and the number dropped only a little bit. Later yesterday another source went into detail just how many regular Argonauts would not be playing in the game, but numbers as good as Edmonton +4 to Edmonton +6 were widely available all evening.
As I type this, the consensus line is Toronto -1, so everyone who bet the Edmonton side earlier, and I hope you all got down on the bet, received tremendous line value, and now gets to decide if they want to keep all that value or hedge some or all of their bet.
This sort of thing never happens to NFL betting lines. Few, if any, books would have put up initial numbers under this circumstance, and once the first rumor of a change in starting QB got out, it would have spread over social media like wildfire, and the game would have been taken off the board until multiple credible media sites had investigated thoroughly. While quick-on-the-trigger sports bettors can find opportunities like this in the NFL, they last for seconds, not hours. Sports books have much higher limits and take much higher volumes on the NFL, so they can’t afford this level of vulnerability. This is just one of the ways in which savvy bettors can take advantage and win.
Friday, November 19, 7:30pm EST
Ottawa RedBlacks at Montreal Alouettes
Montreal -14, Total: 45
Montreal needs to win this game to have a shot at hosting their playoff game against the Ti-Cats next week. This is the end of Ottawa’s season. I expect both teams to play this one pretty much straight-up. I haven’t heard news, but my supposition is that it will be Devlin Hodges getting the start for the RedBlacks and Trevor Harris at the helm for the Als. I made the line Montreal -13 and the total 46.5, so no bet for me here.
Friday, November 19, 10:30pm EST
Edmonton Elks at British Columbia Lions
B.C. -5, Total: 48.5
This game is all about pride and tryouts for both sides. The Elks will be off short rest, since they’re getting off a game on Tuesday. Nathan Rourke will get the start for the Lions. He hasn’t seen significant action since week 1. I don’t know who will start at QB for the Elks, and it probably depends a little on how today’s game goes. If I were the Elks’ coach, I’d be looking to start Nick Arbuckle here, but Edmonton’s management didn’t ask me. I made the line BC -6. I think Rourke is the bigger step down from Reilly than Arbuckle is from Cornelius, but this is really a rest imbalance working against the Elks. No bet on the side for me. I made
the total 48.
Saturday, November 20, 4:00pm EST
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Hamilton -6.5, Total: 42.5
Along with Montreal, Hamilton is the other team who has something to play for here, and they get to see if Montreal wins (which they probably will, remember, they’re playing Ottawa) before they take the field. If Montreal and Hamilton both win (or lose), the Ti-Cats get to host next week’s game. Saskatchewan doesn’t have anything to play for, and they will play next week, so I expect they’ll take the opportunity to give some starters a bit of a rest, but they haven’t announced their intentions yet. Based on my guess as to what they might do, I made the line Hamilton -5.5 and the total 43.5, so no bets for me based on my current information.
Note: If Montreal does manage to lose their game on Friday, there’s a good chance we can get bets in on Saskatchewan before all the books react. On the off chance Montreal loses, In will happily take Saskatchewan +6.5.
Saturday, November 20, 7:00pm EST
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Calgary Stampeders
Winnipeg -4, Total: 42
Neither team has anything to play for. Winnipeg has the bye week, which conventional wisdom suggests means that they may be inclined to play harder and play more starters, but I’m not at all sure that will be true. Last week Winnipeg played McGuire at QB and rested a lot of starters, and I guess I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t approach this week the same way. Calgary hasn’t announced how they’re going to approach this game, but I expect them to rest Bo Levi Mitchell, who struggled with injuries during the earlier part of the season. If it’s McGuire vs. Jake Maier, sign me up for camp Maier. Heck, all I need to hear is that McGuire is getting the start for the Bombers and I’m all over Calgary +4 regardless of what Calgary plans to do. On the assumption that Zach Collaros won’t hit the field for the Bombers, I made the total 41.5, so I have no play on the total with this information.
Bye: Toronto Argonauts
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.