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 6.
CFL Week 6
Sorry this is late, but it doesn’t make sense for me to send this out before the lines are up, and there weren’t any numbers on the boards until Thursday afternoon.
It’s rematch week for the three big rivalries, with all of them happening on short rest. It will be four days between games for the Argos and the Ti-Cats, five days for the contestants in the Battle for Alberta, and six days for the participants in the Banjo Bowl. At least nobody gets an advantage over their rival, but expect injuries to play an especially key role since there’s so little time to recover. Once again, my initial sides came out a little closer to the openers than where the market has moved them, but at least some portion of that is due to injury information. I don’t see much that’s appealing to bet this week.
The games in Week 5 went 3-1 to the over, with an average total of 53.5, bringing the YTD game scoring average up to 41.3. Are we done with CFL offenses’ inability to get in the end zone, or was last week a significant anomaly? I don’t know, but in making totals for games this week, mine averaged out to just over 47 points per game. The openers I saw made the average total 46.25, and a few hours later the average of the consensus totals had dropped to 45.5. The market seems to think majors will still be at a premium, but this really isn’t a large margin. Barring some bizarre outcomes this week, it’s entirely plausible that totals will settle down over the rest of the season. I also expect them to rise a little bit over time, but not by much. I could easily be wrong, and scoring could return to what we saw in the mid-2000s or something else unexpected could happen, but my expectation is that the totals posted by sports books will fluctuate around the high 40s for most of the rest of the year.
Friday, September 10, 7:30pm EDT
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts
Toronto -3, Total: 47
Hamilton finally looked like the team many pre-season prognosticators expected last week, with Evans currently established as the team’s starter, although I found speculation that the team might be ready to trade Massoli to be, uh, premature. This game’s line opened Ti-Cats -1, which I thought was an overreaction to last week, but it quickly moved to Toronto -3, which I now think is a little bit of an overreaction the other way, even with the expectation that 2019 MOP Brandon Banks will be out for Hamilton. I don’t have a bet here, but if I can get Hamilton +3.5 I’d think about it. Anything higher would be too tempting to pass up.
Saturday, September 11, 4:00pm EDT
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Winnipeg -1, Total: 43
While everyone knew these were the two best defenses in the league, I didn’t expect it to be quite the grinder it turned out to be, as the only game to go under the total in Week 5, and expose 2019 MOP candidate Cody Fajardo just a little. I still think 43 is a little low for this game, but it’s not an absurd number. If I had a free bet to play a total this week, I’d play this one over, being contrarian and considering injuries, but I don’t like it enough to lay -110.
Winnipeg dominated Saskatchewan on Labour Day in Mosaic, so this number feels a bit low to me, even if both Purifoy and Gainey can’t go in the defensive secondary for the Bombers. It feels like for these top two games the market may also be incorporating some sort of zig-zag effect as well, leaning a bit toward last week’s losers. If the market moves to make Saskatchewan the favorite on the road, I’d have to bet on the Bombers after what I saw last week.
Saturday, September 11, 7:00pm EDT
Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Elks
Edmonton -1.5, Total: 46
Word is that Bo Levi Mitchell is taking first team reps in Calgary, so it seems probable, but not certain, that he’ll start on Saturday. When you have a QB with Mitchell’s history in the league, you can’t very well bench him, but if Maier would have led the Stamps to victory last week, and been responsible for all of Calgary’s wins this year, might Coach Dickinson have had to think about it? After a very shaky two games at home to start the season, Edmonton has now won two on the road. Is Calgary really the better team as the line suggests? Sure, the Elks are still dealing with players out due to COVID, but it sure didn’t hurt them last week. Lean Edmonton. Let’s see Bo Levi Mitchell look like his old self for at least one game before I become a believer in the Stampeders.
Saturday, September 11, 10:00pm EDT
Ottawa RedBlacks at B.C. Lions
B.C. -8, Total: 46
So the good news for the RedBlacks was that they posted more points in their game last week than all but four other teams did in any game in any previous week this season. In addition, they scored two offensive touchdowns, tripling their output in that regard so far this year. The bad news is that they still lost by 22. Now they’re making their longest trip of the year to face B.C. who is coming off the bye. This is a terrible spot for a team that hasn’t showed much. B.C. -8 is where I made my line, so no action for me, but things are not looking good for the boys from Ottawa, and I don’t think Dominique Davis at QB is the solution to their issues.
Bye: Montreal Alouettes
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.