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 7.
CFL Week 7
Lots of QB news for this week. I was surprised that Edmonton QB Trevor Harris was placed on the 6-game injured list. I didn’t see any indication of this during last week’s game, although he was sacked seven times, so maybe it’s not that surprising. The Elks list Taylor Cornelius as Harris’ backup. Cornelius has never taken a CFL game snap. Saskatchewan QB Cody Fajardo says he’s good to go on Friday after leaving last week’s game due to concussion. Even though he didn’t play well when he was in the game over the last two weeks, both of those were against the Blue Bombers’ defense. Having him ready to go is a big deal. Hamilton seems to be saying they’ll start David Watford against Calgary on Friday. It looks like Jeremiah Masoli will be his backup, which seems strange. I mean, if Masoli is good enough to go at all, I would expect him to start. Ottawa signed former NFL QB Devlin Hodges, and Toronto signed QB Cole McDonald. It’s way too early this week for either to see playing time for their new teams. Barring something truly bizarre, after this weekend only one pre-season #1 QB will have started every game for his team this year: Zach Colaros for Winnipeg. In 2019, no QB started every game for any team, but it was week 15 when Mike Reilly was the only QB to have started every game.
Week 6 games went 2-2 over/under this week despite averaging only 42.75 points per game. Some teams seem to be figuring out how to break through the red zone while others still less so. Over the last two weeks the average game scored 49.5 points, though. Again, small sample size of course, but this seems pretty plausible as something near a game average going forward.
Montreal head coach Khari Jones will be out this week due to COVID. The team has had enough warning to adequately prepare for this Saturday’s game, especially coming off the bye, but I can’t help but feel that this has to affect their coordination and communication at least a little during the game.
Friday, September 17, 7:00pm EDT
Calgary Stampeders at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Hamilton -2, Total: 43.5
Well, Calgary finally got a win with Bo Levi Mitchell at the helm in the revenge game of the Battle of Alberta. Now they get a scheduling break by facing Hamilton at Tim Hortons Field when the Ti-Cats are starting David Watford, their #3 QB. Hamilton is a short favorite here, which I think is just about right.
Friday, September 17, 9:45pm EDT
Toronto Argonauts at Saskatchewan Roughriders
Saskatchewan -4.5, Total: 44
Everything seems to point to Cody Fajardo starting for Saskatchewan. If he’s going to go and is near 100%, this line seems a little short to me, but not enough to bet. My yardage totals model suggests that the total may be a little short this week, but the Roughriders are 1-4 to the over so far this year. On the other hand, Toronto has been 3-2 to the over and two of the teams on the Riders’ schedule have been Winnipeg, far and away the best defense in the league, which we would certainly expect to skew their scoring stats. Toronto, on the other hand, ranks 6th in scoring defense. I’ll still lean over here, but I’m not rushing to the window to bet this.
Saturday, September 11, 7:00pm EDT
British Columbia Lions at Montreal Alouettes
Montreal -3, Total: 48.5
I have these as two pretty evenly matched teams. On the one hand, Montreal is playing without their head coach in Molson Memorial. On the other hand, the Als are coming off the bye and B.C. faces the longest travel situation for a West team all year. On the third hand, despite the long travel, BC has cashed the last five straight ATS in Montreal. I have a tiny lean to Montreal, but the game’s an easy pass for me.
Saturday, September 11, 9:45pm EDT
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Edmonton Elks
Winnipeg -6.5, Total: 44.5
Winnipeg has looked strong and, if anything, continues to improve on both sides of the ball. Their average point differential is 10 points per game. That’s exceptional. Now the best defense in the league catches Edmonton with a QB who has yet to take a game snap in the CFL? Oof. The line opened Bombers -5.5, which was too low. It’s now up to 6.5, and it still looks low to me. I expect it to go higher. At the very least, I think we’ll see a market consensus of at least 7 at close, so just as a market play Bombers -6.5 would not be a bad bet. I lined this at 7.5, so I don’t think it’s a great bet, but the Bombers are certainly my preferred side. The total opened at 45 and is now 44.5 at most places. I think this still may be a little high, but, again, not so much that I want to bet it. If you’re bound and determined to bet a game under this week, though, this is the one I’d suggest.
Bye: Ottawa RedBlacks
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.