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 10 – for the Friday and Saturday games.
Here's an update on this week's odds at SPREADS.CA:
CFL Week 10
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It would be nice if sports books would put lines up on all the games at the beginning of the week, but I guess it’s a good sign for CFL bettors that they’re just not comfortable enough with their linesmaking on these games to hang a number and let it fly.
Let’s take a look at home field advantage in the CFL so far this year. It’s pretty easy to calculate. One takes the sum of all points scored by the home teams, subtracts the sum of all points scored by the visiting teams, and then divide this difference by the total number of games played. So, if we do that for all the games so far this year, including the games played so far this week, we get a cumulative home field advantage in the CFL of 0.8 points per game. That’s pretty low. And, if we only count games that occurred before this week, it would actually be just slightly negative.
The master caveat that applies to all football math, especially in the CFL, must be invoked here. Thirty seven games is way too small a sample size from which to draw conclusions. Heck, HFA has gone up by almost a point after just three games this week. Historically, CFL home field advantage has averaged about 3 points per game over the last two decades. Some years the math above has produced numbers that have been at or near zero or even negative over the course of a season. Does that mean that the home field advantage was really zero during that time? Probably not. In most, if not all, cases, outlier values will have been random fluctuations, and even during these periods, HFA was probably close to its long term average.
Is it possible that there is some reason home field would not be as valuable this year as it has been? Perhaps, but I don’t know what that reason would be. While crowds aren’t at capacity this year, there are still crowds, and I’d expect travel is, if anything, more difficult this year with the COVID restrictions in place than it has been in years past. So, why would traveling teams have an easier time of things this year than before? I can’t think of a good answer. So, my assumption is that the long term trend is more reliable than what games so far this year would indicate, but it’s something to keep an eye on. At the very least, before making bets we might want to ask ourselves if we’d still like the bet if HFA were actually lower this year than its historical average.
Monday, October 11, 1:00pm EDT
Ottawa RedBlacks at Montreal Alouettes
Montreal -7.5, Total: 48.5
Last week I warned bettors not to overreact to how well Caleb Evans looked against Edmonton in the previous week. This week, I’m also warning bettors not to overreact to how poorly Evans played earlier this week against the Argonauts. Averaged over the last two games, he’s 19/32 for 263 yds, 1.5 TDs and 1.5 INTs. In just his firsts two career starts, this gives him a better QBR so far this year than either Evans or Nichols. He gets rid of the ball quickly, he’s averaging 8.3 yards/attempt, which is 4th in the league among QBs with at least 50 attempts, and he throws an accurate ball. Last week the Argos taught him what I imagine was a pretty painful lesson about reading defenses and jumping routes, but were I in charge
in Ottawa, I’d keep with him, even if Evans or Nichols were ready to go. I think it’s worth seeing what he’s got, but in any case, a new QB is far from Ottawa’s most pressing need. His being mobile and getting rid of the ball quickly covers up the serious issues with the RedBlacks’ offensive line. I made the line in this game Montreal -10 and the total 51. Ottawa is intriguing right now, but they’re playing on short rest vs. Montreal getting extra rest this week. Evans boom and bust QB style has me adjusting their totals up a little as compared to earlier in the season. I’ll bet Montreal if the line drops to 7 and over if the total drops to 48, but I’m passing these numbers.
Monday, October 11, 4:00pm EDT
Toronto Argonauts at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Hamilton -4.5, Total: 43.5
Much like the Calgary/Saskatchewan game earlier this week, we have what looks like the higher power rated team with this line, Hamilton, having the worse record. Of course, Toronto is on a short week, and Hamilton has extra rest, and as far as I’m concerned, that calls for some adjustment. In this game the line still seems just a little higher than I might expect, but my computer models and adjusting for relative time off have convinced me that it’s about right. Hamilton has more to play for here, since if Toronto wins they clinch the season series and the first tiebreaker for seeding in the playoffs. My total is 44, so that’s a definite pass for me as well.
Bye: British Columbia Lions
NOTE: CHECK BACK AGAIN FOR WRITE-UPS ON THIS COMING WEEK'S CFL GAMES.
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.