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 15 – for the (2) Friday and (2) Saturday night games.
First things first. It seems like The Powers That Be have decreed that the makeup game between the Elks and Argos shall be considered as the first game of week 16 and not the last game of week 15. So, I will not evaluate it this time out.
This is a wonderful time of the year for serious North American sports bettors, with so many sporting events out there to watch and bet on, but let’s have a little bit of sympathy for the sports book linemakers (but only just a little). The NFL is in full swing, as are the NBA and NHL. The American college football season is reaching its climax as we are closing in on conference championships. Now, this week, American college basketball has gotten underway, with, by my quick count, 120 lined games just on Wednesday. There are more sports going and more betting lines up on a daily basis right now than at any other time of the year, so let’s just say that not every contest is getting a sports book manager’s full attention.
How much time are the sports books putting into tracking news and line moves in a sport like the CFL? For most of them, not very much. For many of them, these lines are getting no attention at all. This means there can be opportunities for those focused away from the sports, conferences, and teams that consume the most oxygen. Do you think that halftime lines in smaller NCAA basketball conferences and the CFL are being tracked at all? No way, they’re being put up and left to run completely on autopilot. Look for these sorts of opportunities. They can be quite profitable.
This is now the fourth game in a row where the Toronto Argonauts have looked lackluster at best, although they’ve managed to win three of them. In these same last four games, their point differential has been -15. That’s astounding for a team that has gone 3-1. I said last week that I was not impressed with how they were playing, and I saw nothing to change my mind since then as they eked out a 3 point victory on the road at Ottawa. My power ratings have the current 1 seed in the East as the sixth best team in the CFL.
This week's CFL odds according to SPREADS.CA:
Also note that SPREADS.CA offers boosted odds on these CFL games/sides:
Friday, November 12, 7:30pm EDT
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts
Hamilton -1, Total: 45
After a rocky start to the season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats may not be the dominant team that many expected at the beginning of the season, but they are rounding into better form and look to be the class of the East. It’s entirely appropriate that Hamilton would be a road favorite in the game that will decide the top seed in the East playoffs. In fact, I think this is just a little low, making my number Hamilton -2.5, but this isn’t enough of a difference for me to bet. I think the total is just about spot on.
Friday, November 12, 10:30pm EDT
Calgary Stampeders at British Columbia Lions
Calgary -2.5, Total: 46
B.C. may not technically be eliminated from the playoffs, but their route to the post season is pretty narrow, and certainly requires them winning their last two games. Calgary can punch their ticket and end the Lions’ playoff hopes with a victory in B.C. Place. The Stamps have won four of their last five while the Lions have dropped six straight. The one bright spot for B.C. is that Calgary is pretty likely to be the three seed in the West, so they may be a little more cautious pulling players with injuries and such late in the game, but I think that’s a small consideration at best. I actually think this line is a little low, so I lean Calgary here. I made the total 44.5
Saturday, November 13, 4:00pm EDT
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Montreal Alouettes
Winnipeg -6.5, Total: 44.5
Winnipeg has announced that MOP candidate Zach Collaros will get a rest on Saturday, giving the start to Sean McGuire, and wisely so, in my opinion. On the other hand, by winning out, Montreal has a shot at hosting their first round playoff game, so they’ll be going at full speed with a QB in Trevor Harris who is gaining more and more experiene with his team by the week. At the same time, the Blue Bomber defense won’t be resting this week, and this defense gave Harris plenty of problems when the two teams faced off in Winnipeg last week. This game opened at Winnipeg +8, and anyone who jumped on the underdog getting more than a TD was smart, in my opinion. I still like the Alouettes +7, which is currently available in some spots, as I expect McGuire to struggle a bit. In order for the Bombers’ defense to be as dominant as it has been, they need the offense to move the ball well enough to keep them off the field and not give the opposing offenses great field position. Without Collaros, I don’t trust the Bombers’ offense to be able to do this consistently. I made the total 43.5 with the backup in at QB.
Saturday, November 13, 7:00pm EDT
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Edmonton Elks
Saskatchewan -10.5, Total: 44
I haven’t heard who is going to start at QB for the Elks this week. If I were coach Elizando, and I thought he was ready, I’d want to see what I have in recent acquisition Nick Arbuckle, since I feel pretty confident that I know what I already have in Taylor Cornelius. However, I haven’t been at Edmonton’s practices, so I don’t know where Arbuckle is in his development. Saskatchewan could possibly still win the West even if they lose out, but they really need to win one to be certain they get the week off plus the conference championship game in Mosaic. Next week’s game will be on the road against a hot and motivated Hamilton team, so I’m guessing the Riders’ locker room is all about the narrative that they need to win this one to cement their playoff story. I made the line Saskatchewan -10 and the total 43.5, so that’s a pass for me.
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.