Canadian Football: CFL betting tips & tricks

So … the NFL is a 12-month-a-year sport, you say. Perhaps that’s true in terms of media coverage and intrigue, but that belief doesn’t explain the suddenly burgeoning popularity of the Canadian Football League among U.S. sports bettors.

See, back in 2015, the Draft Duels and Fan Kings of the world hit upon a pretty neat idea, namely that daily fantasy sports could easily be adapted to CFL football. Behind this plan was the idea that the smaller league – just nine teams play in Canadian ball, with a Nova Scotia-based franchise tentatively in the plans for the 2020 or ’21 season – dotted with recognizable players from major U.S. college football programs would scratch that fantasy-football itch for Americans from CFL kickoff in June to NFL kickoff in September.

Combined with this was the expansion of ESPN to include ESPN3 and ESPN+ in the 2010s. These online stations allowed for lots of international content to be broadcast online by the finally accurately-named “Worldwide Leader in Sports”, making every single game of the CFL season and playoffs accessible to fans.

Did all this new popularity in the U.S. make a dent at sportsbooks? You bet! (So to speak.) In Las Vegas and everywhere else quality sports betting is done, CFL betting put itself on the map alongside summertime diversions such as Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour. And NFLbets can tell you from experience that watching Canadian Football and betting on CFL games is fascinating and fun!

Differences between CFL and NFL football

If you’ve seen a CFL game via TSN (essentially, the Canadian translation of “ESPN”), you’ve probably seen the clip directly below before, but we’ll run it here as a primer.

NFLbets would point out one other key difference between the Canadian and American games: Namely that the offensive and defensive lines are set a yard apart, thereby creating a neutral zone well larger than that of the NFL. Not only does this result in fewer concussions for CFL linemen, it also makes a third-down conversion in the CFL a bit easier than the NFL’s fourth-down conversion.

CFL betting at online sportsbooks

All the traditional betting opportunities for the NFL are available for the CFL at decent online sportsbooks. Week to week are posted point spreads, over/under lines and straight-up betting for all games; with nine teams, typically four games are on. The games are usually scheduled for between Thursday and Saturday, though games on any other day/night are usually scheduled at least a few times within a given CFL season.

The football bettor can naturally always find proposition bets on the Grey Cup winner and even division winners – just as with the Super Bowl, the lines for the following season are typically released the day after the CFL’s championship final, the Grey Cup game, is played. However, player props on individual games aren’t nearly as common at sportsbooks until playoff time. Of course, if you’re that intimately familiar with Canadian football that you’re confident enough to bet props like “Bo Levi Mitchell to Throw For Over 250 Yards,” you’ll know where to find that bet.

A few (very simple) tips for betting CFL football

NFLbets has been betting on CFL football for quite some time, and so feels competent enough to hand out a few simple tips for betting CFL football.

•  Scoring is higher. Despite the belief that NFL rules promote a bias toward high-scoring offenses, the stats tell a different story. Since expanding to 32 teams in 2002, the average points per game scored by a single team has fluctuated between 20.6 and 22.8, with a single exception (in 2013, that average was a freakish 23.8 per game). In the CFL, the average individual team’s score over the same period varied from just under 24.0 to 26.9 points per game.

•  Weather is so crucial. American fans are well accustomed to the concept of cold-weather teams versus warm-weather teams. Fair enough, but understand this: Just one of the nine (or ten) CFL sides are cold-weather teams. The sole exception is the BC Lions; despite playing in the most moderate clime of any Canadian team, the CFL’s Vancouver franchise plays in a dome.

How does this translate to CFL betting? Here’s the simplest way to apply that often-brutal Canadian weather to winning: You’ll generally be betting more overs on O/U bets in the first half of the season, unders in October and November. Also note that the Grey Cup is often played in inclement weather and thus reduces season-long high-scoring offenses to average production in the big game.

•  Parity is a lot stronger in the CFL. “On any given Sunday,” nothing. “Upsets” are well more common in the CFL week to week – and this has nothing to do with the 18-game regular season. The CFL has never truly produced anything like the 2007 New England Patriots or the 2017 Cleveland Browns, so always be prepared to hedge in CFL betting.

•  For the present, wager heavily on the Calgary Stampeders and against the Montreal Alouettes. Despite the quite high variance of most CFL teams’ rosters from season to season, these two teams look to be the CFL’s best and worst, respectively, well into the 2020s. Going into the 2018 season, the Stampeders are about halfway through a run in which they’re incessantly compared to the Belichick ‘n’ Brady Patriots and with good reason, having made the playoffs in 14 straight seasons and appearing in three of the past four Grey Cups. And the remarkable job the front office has done in shuffling players out at just the right time a la Belichick implies that Calgary will be the class of the CFL for years to come yet.

The Alouettes, meanwhile, began degenerating from status as the most dominant team in the league in the 2000s after the ’10 season. After one of the worst starts by any Montreal football team in 2018, management decided to mortgage the future by trading two years’ worth of first-round picks in exchange for Johnny Manziel. NFLbets can’t imagine much success, likesay a winning record, for the Alouettes until maybe 2024 or so.

And as they say in Quebec to those into CFL betting, “Bonne chance!”

Playoffs?!?!? In November?!?!? Absolutely – if you’re into CFL betting

Saturday, 10 November 2018 10:42 EST

NFLbets offers zero apology for the following clip. Perhaps the original (sort of) viral video out of the NFL, then-Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora’s glorious post-game press conference rant got the meme treatment a good decade before “meme” entered popular parlance. For those who witnessed Mora’s glorious meltdown in 2001, it’s damn near impossible the hear the word “playoffs”, particularly in question form, without the Mora’s echo lingering.

In any case, American football fans might be more incredulous than Mora at the thought of playoffs?!?!?! in November – heck, only now are college football fans getting hit with the reality that five worthy playoff teams (Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Georgia, Notre Dame) could have one-loss records and legitimate claim to a BCS playoff spot plus we haven’t even mentioned the potentially again undefeated UCF yet, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole…

…because the playoffs have arrived in the Canadian Football League. If you don’t have enough NFL betting on your plate this week – and the point spreads ain’t exceedingly brilliant this week, let NFLbets tell ya – check out the CFL playoffs.

From an NFL bettor’s perspective, CFL playoff betting is nice because all those clichés which can simplify the would-be winner’s task are even truer. You know, stuff like “Throw out the win-loss records” and “football is the only sport played in all weather conditions” and “playoff experience matters” and defense wins championships (well, maybe not that last one so much) is amplified for the CFL, with its six-team bracket in a nine-team league.

Since the playoff format was set to the current standard in 1997, some 20 teams with losing regular-season records have made the CFL payoffs. These sides have won 8 of the 20 semifinal games in which they played. In the divisional round, these teams are 3-4; in Grey Cups, sub-.500 teams are 2-1, though note that both wins happened in back-to-back years in 2000 and ’01. The point: After playing 18 games from June through October, CFL teams can still get hot enough to surprise in the playoffs.

As for defense wins championships, NFLbets’d describe the situation in the CFL as more akin to “opportunity wins championships.” After seriously struggling to a 9-9 record in 2017, the 9-9 Toronto Argonauts snuck past the Saskatchewan Roughriders and into the Grey Cup, only to be double-digit underdogs against the Patriots-like Calgary Stampeders. Thanks to snowy conditions, a 100-yard “pass” play plus a 109-yard (!) fumble recovery for a second TD was enough to bag the Cup.

(Incidentally, NFLbets checked the forecast and tripled down on the under; this was one of the few wagers we won on last year’s Grey Cup, but was enough to cover all losses. The conclusion: Football and football betting are two different sports.)

In short, this weekend, we’re loving the underdogs. NFLbets says take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers +2½ at Saskatchewan and take the BC Lions +1 at Hamilton; on the latter bet, check the money-line (ML) odds on BC Lions, as a 1-point spread in a playoff game is pretty damn meaningless.

<p>In short, this weekend, we’re loving the underdogs. NFLbets says <strong>take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers +2½ at Saskatchewan</strong> and <strong>take the BC Lions +1 at Hamilton</strong>; on the latter bet, check the money-line (ML) odds on BC Lions, as a 1-point spread in a playoff game is pretty damn meaningless. </p>

CFL West semi-final: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Bombers enter the playoffs as the hottest team in the CFL, going in on a 5-1 run with the sole loss coming in a meaningless final-week game at the Edmonton Eskimos. Winnipeg’s scoreboard-spinning offense has been good for over 31 points per game in 2018 when mid-field master WR Weston Dressler is in the lineup. And after losing home-and-home games (without Dressler, natch) against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in early September, the Bombers handed the Riders a 31-0 beatdown in week 18.

On the side, folks in Saskatchewan are certainly repeating the “defence wins championships” mantra, because whoa is this team imbalanced. Juxtaposing a defense which tied the all-time CFL mark for pick-sixes (among other very impressive stats) is an offense led by Zach Collaros, a guy who’s thrown 13 interceptions against just nine TDs and who hasn’t played since mid-October. Indeed, despite the fact that Collaros’s backup is Brandon Bridge, in whom Riders coaches have shown no confidence, Riders head coach has not, as of Saturday morning, announced who his starter at QB will be.

This, as they say, does not bode well for the Riders. NFLbets believes that, regardless of QB, Saskatchewan won’t be able to keep up with the Winnipeg offense.

CFL West semi-final: BC Lions at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
In Sunday’s game, NFL bets is banking on two factors: the inconsistency of the Ticats and the craftiness of Wally Buono.

At this point, NFLbets must say that the Tiger-Cats have been absolutely infuriating to wager upon in 2018. This team couldn’t string together two Ws or Ls ATS all year until the final three weeks, when the Ticats dropped three straight to East Division teams to close out the season at 8-10. Unlike their Broadway-conquering namesake, this Hamilton wasted their shot to take over the Eastern division on multiple occasions. The propensity to wither in the spotlight culminated in a week 20 no-show at home in a 30-13 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks, who were consequently handed the East and a playoff bye week.

Hamilton is facing up against the BC Lions and outgoing head coach Wally Buono, only a four-time Grey Cup champion and the CFL’s all-time winningest HC. The 2018 Lions season can be very easily summarized: BC went 7-2 at home, 2-7 away. So why is NFLbets so bullish on BC this week in Hamilton? In brief, we’ll say that we’re buying a Team of Destiny storyline for Buono and the Tiger-Cats are simply cold at the wrong time. Experience matters.

For more thorough analysis of each game, please check out the latest episode of the Rouge, White & Blue CFL Podcast co-hosted by NFLbets editor Os Davis and Blue Bombers backer Joe Pritchard. We’ll give you a few more reasons to bet the underdogs in round 1…

CFL betting, wk 20 (part 2): We don’t dig Johnny Manziel but like Alouettes -2 (also Riders -4½)

Saturday, 27 October 2018 15:28 EST

All righty, NFLbets has just enough time to get in some more betting on CFL week 20 and write up this column before the Ottawa Redblacks at Hamilton Tiger-Cats game kicks off. This particular CFL Best Bets piece will be short, as the impetus for wagering in both games may be expressed accurately in brief.

BC Lions +4½ at Saskatchewan Roughriders, over/under 50½ points

Even before the Winnipeg Blue Bombers clinched a playoff spot with their win over the Calgary Stampeders, BC Lions had earned their ticket to the postseason despite sitting one game back of the Bombers. Going into Saskatchewan, BC still holds the tiebreakers with the Bombers for the third spot and in winning this game would be in third place by dint of the tiebreaker.

But here’s the thing: Wally Buono, winningest head coach in CFL history and five-time Grey Cup champion, is no dummy. Wally looks at the schedule and sees this game, plus the next with Calgary in yet another must-win game for week 21; meanwhile, the Bombers can sit starters against Edmonton. He considers his roster, still returning key players from injury. He knows his team’s point differential is negative for the year (-14) and that his charges are adapting week to week to get wins.

And he’s not going to mind entering the playoffs at 9-9 if it means going through Hamilton and Ottawa (in either order), which would be the schedule for the West’s fourth-place finisher, as opposed to trips to Saskatchewan and Calgary (in either order) for the no. 3.

Truth is, once the Riders get out to a lead of a touchdown or more, Buono will yank his starters at halftime and tune up a few bench and/or returning players. Take the Saskatchewan Roughriders -4½ vs BC Lions.

Toronto Argonauts +2 at Montreal Alouettes, over/under 49½ points

Sad Johnny ManzielWatching Johnny Manziel play for the Montreal Alouettes in 2018 has been truly painful. After getting traded to the Als for week 7, Manziel has not been able to do much for a patchy (to put it extremely mildly) roster and coaching staff. His passing stats (95 of 146 for 1092 yards to go with three TDs against seven interceptions) are the worst among current CFL starters. He’s had some success running the ball, going for 177 yards on 25 carries for 7.1 per carry – less than half a yard less than his yards per pass attempt!

(Incidentally, Johnny’s weak arm resulted in the embarrassing situation of having his backup come in to heave the game-ending Hail Mary.)

Week to week, Manziel appears not to have learned the playbook at all unless that playbook actually consists of nothing but pages reading LET JOHNNY IMPROVISE. Forgetting hitting checkdowns. If Alouette receivers are getting open (as they occasionally have), Manziel doesn’t see them before taking to his feet or getting crushed under another sack.

Even worse is Manziel’s obvious lack of leadership ability and apparent apathy about this fairly fatal shortcoming for a professional quarterback. Johnny celebrates one-play victories alone, and rarely do teammates help him back up – literally or psychologically – after failure. A couple of below-average starts from Antonio Pipkin of Tiffin University and the Arizona Cardinals practice squad had teammates gushing. We’ve yet to hear a single positive word about Manziel from any Alouettes player in 2018.

And yet, we’re somewhat riskily advising bettors to take the Montreal Alouettes +2 vs Toronto.

Why? In short, it’s all about Manziel and the Alouettes’ record-breaking numbers. Those numbers: the Alouettes’ 0-6 record in Manziel’s starts; that’s a record in futility for a starting QB in the CFL, i.e. no modern-era CFL quarterback has gone without a win or tie in his first six starts. And last week, the Als certainly would have had a punter’s chance had not Boris Bede missed a field goal and/or whiffed for a 34-yard punt to set up an Argonauts score.

Also, the Argos are bad. Like nearly as bad as Montreal bad. Bad enough to lose this week? Absolutely. We say Montreal’s 0-5 SU (but 2-3 ATS!) streak and Manziel’s 0-6 are snapped in a game you probably won’t want to watch. Take the Montreal Alouettes +2 vs Toronto. And if it comes in, you can celebrate like Manziel world: Dump champagne over your own head and whoop it up as your teammates ignore you.

NFLbets’ recommendations for CFL betting in week 20 (part 2):
•  Saskatchewan Roughriders -4½ vs BC Lions; and
•  Montreal Alouettes -2 vs Toronto.

CFL best bets record to date: 10-9.
CFL recommendations record to date: 10-9.
Overall record: 20-18.

CFL betting, week 20 (part 1): Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ottawa RedBlacks in win-and-in games

Friday, 26 October 2018 15:19 EST

Weston Dressler, Winnipeg Blue Bombers bettingWith two weeks remaining in the CFL season, not one of the league’s six playoff spots has been determined. Seven of the league’s nine teams remain playoff viable, and five have clinched. Now *this* is playoff-level football, a major adrenaline rush for fans and bettors alike. (NFL and college football fans not in the know on the CFL don’t know what you’re missing.)

Most on their seats’ edges – other than the bettors and fantasy football players, that is – are the Edmonton Eskimos and their fans. While drawing a bye in one of the last two weeks of the season is thought to be a fairly substantial advantage in most cases, but the unlucky Eskimos can be eliminated with a Winnipeg Blue Bombers win.

Of course, the Bombers are playing the Calgary Stampeders, who again only need a win to clinch top spot in the West and thus homefield advantage. Suddenly, the ever-invincible Stamps of the 2010s seem quite vincible indeed: They enter this week on an 0-3 run ATS (1-2 SU). Nipping at Calgary’s heels are the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who took out the Stampeders for the second time in 2018 in week 19. Chris Jones’s Riders play their last regular-season game against BC Lions, who are an awful 1-7 SU (3-5 ATS) as visitors.

And the East? Don’t even get NFLbets started. After trading the lead black and forth through much of the season and neither taking the initiative to seize control, the Ottawa Redblacks upset the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton last week to get the season series to 1-1 and set up this week’s rubber match.

Fascinating stuff all, but let’s talk some tangibles vis-à-vis betting CFL games this week.

Calgary Stampeders +3 at Winnipeg Blue Bombers, over/under 53 points. American CFL fans and Canadian NFL fans tend to equate the Stampeders of the 2010s to Belichick/Brady’s New England Patriots. Similar in tactical craftiness, the steady and clutch QB, plug-and-play personnel schemes and, most importantly, all bring to mind those insufferable (though not infrequently lucrative) Patriots. Minus all the various ’Gate scandals, of course.

If this comparison is valid, then the 2018 Calgary Stampeders may be equated with the 2006 New England Patriots, i.e. holding a roster with all the parts except the wide receivers. Bo Levi Mitchell is doing what he can with the likes of Eric Rogers and one or two practice squad callups, but even Tom Brady was limited with Reche Caldwell as a go-to guy.

On the other side are the Blue Bombers suddenly seemingly miraculously having pulled themselves out of a death spiral of a mid-season four-game losing streak, including dropping two the Roughriders – except it ain’t that miraculous. Here’s a few really simple stats that define the 2018 Winnipeg Blue Bombers:

• With Weston Dressler on the active roster this season, the Bombers are 9-3 SU and a fantastic 11-1 ATS. Without him, they are 0-4 SU/ATS; guess which four games he didn’t play.

• With Weston Dressler in the lineup, the Bombers score 33.33 points per game. Without him, they score 24.25 per.

Figuring in that the Stamps haven’t topped 33 since week 16, the last time breakout WR Reggie Begelton suited up, Calgary enters a CFL game as an underdog for the first time since mid-2016. With good reason(s), says NFLbets. Take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers -3 vs Calgary. You’ll also want to consider taking the over on an O/U of 53 points – but remember that this is Canadian football: Do *not* ignore the weather and check the forecast as close to game time as possible. In general, precipitation means fewer points.

Ottawa Redblacks +3½ at Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 53½. NFLbets’ll make this simple: Stay away from this point spread. These two teams have been far too erratic to dependably bet upon at all: The longest winning or losing streak SU or ATS either side has had was the three wins – two against the beatdog Toronto Argonauts – Hamilton somehow strung together in weeks 11 to 13. (And even on that run, the Ticats were 2-1 ATS!)

NFLbets would therefore be tempted to play the inconsistency, stick with the home team and take the reverse of last week’s result to bet the Hamilton Tiger-Cats ML. But that bet on the Kitties pays at just -180 – not at all worth it on these guys. Give the points? Yeah, right. Each team has been involved three times in games when the SU winner couldn’t cover the spread.

The best bet here – in fact, yes, NFLbets will officially recommend that NFL bettors take the under on an O/U of 53½ points. The single compelling reason here: WR Brandon Banks is out for the remaining two games. One of the CFL’s biggest weapons downfield, Banks is the prototypical field-stretching receiver and reduces Jeremiah Masoli’s options drastically while giving the Redblacks defense an assist by allowing them to stifle Luke Tasker.

No matter who loses wins this one, we reckon it’ll be done on defense.

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 20 (part 1):
•  Winnipeg Blue Bombers -3 vs Calgary;
•  Calgary at Winnipeg, over 53 points; and
•  Ottawa Redblacks at Hamilton Tiger-Cats, under 53½ points.

CFL best bets record to date: 9-8.
CFL recommendations record to date: 10-9.
Overall record: 19-17.

CFL betting, week 18: What’s up with Riders as underdogs and Eskimos as favorites?

Thursday, 11 October 2018 13:35 EST

CFL retro betting logoSometimes a second opinion can give you insight. Thanks to the Rouge White & Blue CFL Podcast, yours truly got some salient advice from co-host Joe Pritchard that helped solidify yours truly’s convictions about a couple of bettable lines in CFL week 18 – and a couple unbettables.

Let’s talk Hamilton Tiger-Cats -7½ at Toronto Argonauts and the over/under of 53 points. The Ticats ran up 42 and 36 on the Argos in a home-and-home series earlier in the season, they’ve averaging 35.6 points per game in the second half thus far, and they’re coming off a bye. Hamilton *will* score points this weekend. But can the Argonauts keep up?

NFLbets is (now) saying yes. While only terminal disconnection with reality would allow one to call the Argos’ offense “high-flying,” they’ve managed to put together 22 or more points in 8 of the past 9. Last week’s mathematical elimination from the 2018 CFL playoffs does not eliminate the sense of urgency for Toronto to play well in front of a certainly sparse crowd. On the contrary: Disappointing free-agency pickup James Franklin will be playing for his job in ’19 going down the stretch; luckily for him and ironically for Argos backers, his receiving corps is more well-stocked then at any point during the season thus far, with Duron Carter, S.J. Green, Armanti Edwards, Myles White and Malcolm Williams all active.

So yeah, NFLbets is recommending taking the over on an O/U of 53 points in this one.

Saskatchewan Roughriders +3½ at Winnipeg Blue Bombers has a similar dynamic at play. We know the Bombers will score points – they’ve been running up scores fairly well all year and in the last three have put up 31, 30 and 40. Even against this vaunted Saskatchewan defense, Winnipeg was still good for 23 and 27 points in earlier meetings, albeit in losing efforts.

Why the Riders aren’t inspiring more confidence in oddsmakers is a bit of a mystery. Chris Jones’s guys are 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS, 2-2 ATS on the road) in the last eight games; the last six SU Saskatchewan wins were by 2, 8, 5, 1, 5 and 7 points. The offense has only proven viable in fits and spurts throughout this season, however, which throws out the trustworthiness of betting either side of the point spread, the over/under and even a money line bet on either. We say stay away.

Forget Ottawa Redblacks +3 at Edmonton Eskimos, too, while you’re at it. Seriously, who can tell? The Redblacks’ longest streak winning or losing SU has been *two games* this season. They’re a remarkable 5-3 SU against the West and just 3-3 SU against their East rivals. And all of Ottawa’s win-loss marks ATS are identical to their SU records; in 12 of 14 games, a Redblacks SU win meant an ATS win, while a SU loss meant an ATS loss.

Against the Redblacks are the Edmonton Eskimos, who can’t possibly be as bad as recent results might indicate. The Eskimos haven’t scored anything other than field goals in the last nine quarters of play, the culmination of 1-5 and 2-6 SU/ATS “runs”. QB Mike Reilly still has Dhaquille Williams, the league’s leader in receiving yards, receiving TDs, targets and receptions, but not much else as the “skill players” bit of the roster remains in tatters.

Well, then, is this the game when the Esks snap out of it? Who knows? Stay away.

Closing out CFL week 18 is BC Lions +10½ at Calgary Stampeders – thank the football gods for this one. The analysis here is short, sweet and simple. Last week, the Stampeders took thins easy against the hapless Montreal Alouettes, played for field position, were stung by three uncharacteristic interceptions thrown by Bo Levi Mitchell and still won with the result not in doubt.

With a win, the Stamps clinch home field throughout the playoffs and certainly won’t be playing half as passively as last week – nor are Mitchell & Co. likely to make half as many mistakes as against Montreal. Not to be forgotten is the Lions’ 1-6 (!) record SU/ATS on the road. NFLbets says the Stamps take care of business here and so should you: Take the Calgary Stampeders -10½ vs BC Lions.

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 18:
•  Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts, over 53 points.

NFLbets’ recommendation for CFL betting in week 18:
•nbsp; Calgary Stampeders -10½ vs BC Lions

CFL best bets record to date: 8-8.
CFL recommendations record to date: 8-8.
Overall record: 16-16.

About last week’s CFL picks … well, here’s a makeup call: Bet the Winnipeg Blue Bombers SU

Friday, 05 October 2018 14:18 EST

Doctor Who bet badly and say iYeesh, week 16 in the CFL wasn’t great for NFLbets. Our picks and recommendations went a weak 1-3; we salvaged the bankroll with what we presumed was a throwaway couple bets on Winnipeg Blue Bombers +5½ and SU at the Edmonton Eskimos. All apologies, but we couldn’t justify advising bettors to toss money at the Blue Bombers on a giggly whim.

Winnipeg’s very impressive win – lack of offense from Edmonton or no – made for sole upset of last week and nearly singlehandedly flipped the race for the CFL playoffs’ no. 5 and 6 seeds. After finishing off the Eskimos, the Blue Bombers rose to no. 3 in the West and no. 5 overall. BC Lions fell to last in the CFL West, ½-game behind Edmonton. (This is despite the Lions going f*#@&ing 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS at f%@$#!$ing home, but don’t get me started on the 2018 BC Lions…)

With four games to go on their schedule, the Bombers would appear to have and advantage over the Eskimos, if perhaps not BC Lions. The Bombers are running at relatively full strength – Nic Demski returns to the lineup after missing last week – while the Eskimos can’t seem to keep any WRs on the field. On the other hand, starting QB Travis Lulay and defensive captain Solomon Elimimian are returning for the Lions week after next.

The knock against the Bombers is their maddeningly inconsistency; you’d have to be crazy to bet on Winnipeg in 2018, except on the over. (More on this momentarily.) Both the Bombers and this week’s opposition Ottawa Redblacks are the embodiment of clichés such as “we don’t know which team will show up” and “playing down to the level of their competition.”

But here’s the thing: The 2018 Winnipeg Blue Bombers have done one thing with incredible consistency for most of the year: Score. Through 14 games, the Bombers have scored 30.5 points per game. They’ve played in games of 50 points or more 10 times, in games of 60+ five times. Even when giving up a ridiculous 32 points’ worth of defensive and special teams scoring to the Roughriders, the Bombers still managed to ring up 27 of their own.

Attempting to stop this offense is a Redblacks D allowing a scanty 19.1 ppg (we’re removed that bizarre 42-41 game against Toronto as an outlier) coming out of the bye week and playing at home. But neither of these factors may even matter. The truth is this Redblacks offense is completely undependable (and therefore doubly so for bettors). Statistically, this unit is the league’s most variable, having three times topped 40 points scored, but five times producing two touchdowns or less – and twice exactly zero.

And that inconsistency issue mentioned earlier? Here’s a summary of their game results for the year: Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Win, Loss, Win, Win, bye, Loss, Loss, Win, Win, bye.

The one result with which the skeptic may argue the case against the Bombers was that of week 10: Ottawa 44 at Winnipeg 21, a game which fired up anti-Matt Nichols sentiment in Bomberville and sent the team on a four-game skid. (To be fair, the three subsequent losses came in games against Calgary and Saskatchewan, pretty clearly the CFL’s best teams in 2018.)

Since coming out of the bye, however, the Bombers look reborn in going for 30 or more points in two consecutive weeks. They’ve given up just one turnover combined in the two games, threw in some razzle-dazzle against the Alouettes and essentially played perfect play in all three aspects against the Eskimos.

After last week, we’re convinced. NFLbets is blowing aside the skepticism and probably overcompensating for the bad karma amassed last week. We’re playing this one a bit unorthodoxly (for us, anyway) and making these bets our only CFL bets, and playing them at 1½x. Our pick of the week says to take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win SU at +110. To really play it safe, cover Winnipeg +1½ as well.

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 17:
•  Winnipeg Blue Bombers SU at Ottawa Redblacks.

NFLbets’ recommendation for CFL betting in week 17:
•nbsp; Winnipage Blue Bombers +1½ at Ottawa Redblacks

CFL best bets record to date: 7-8.
CFL recommendations record to date: 7-8.
Overall record: 14-16.

CFL Betting: Best bets and picks for week 16

Thursday, 27 September 2018 16:33 EST

Week 16 CFL betting picksThe race down the 2018 CFL season homestretch may not be quite as grueling as in recent years. With six weeks remaining (five games for most teams), the playoff picture is already shaping up.

In the West, Calgary's 2.5 games up on the Roughriders, who are currently a full game better than the Edmonton Eskimos. The Eskimos own the tiebreaker between the two for that all-important round one playoff home game, but the Riders can all but seal the deal by beating the Esks in week 17 in Regina.

Edmonton in turn is one win ahead of BC Lions, wo still face the other three West teams in four games that close the season. Which leaves this final spot contested between the Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, one-half game behind.

In the East, it's simple: the Ottawa Redblacks look poised to back into another division title, as they're 2 games up on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Hamilton is meanwhile up 2.5 and 3 games up on the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes, respectively; these two are playing out the string.

In week 15, then, NFLbets is looking for the separation to take hold. The Stamps’ magic number to make the playoffs is 2 with BC Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, so they could have the West division title down to tiebreakers by Sunday. The Bombers don’t mathematically need the win, but sure could use it psychologically – and so could NFLbets, mired in 50/50 results and juuuuuuuuust barely turning a profit on CFL betting since week 8.

So what is there to cheer us up in Canada this week?

Toronto Argonauts +13½ at Calgary Stampeders. Putting it simply, McLeod Bethel-Thompson began the season as Toronto’s third-string quarterback and as of late has resembled a third-string quarterback. But NFLbets can’t just hang everything on the QB: The Argos haven’t won since mid-August on their current four-game losing streak, have given up an average of 33 points in their 0-4 ATS/SU run, and are just 3-9 ATS this season with two of these ATS wins coming as home underdogs. Enough?

The Stampeders are definitely two touchdowns better, especially at home. We’ll give a recommendation to take the Calgary Stampeders -13½ vs Toronto as well as to take the under on an O/U of 53 points.

BC Lions +7 at Hamilton Tiger-Cats. After spending much of this season playing the BC Truther, yours truly is softening the dogma a bit on ol’ Wally Buono’s team. Two weeks ago, BC finally notched its first SU win that wasn’t earned at a night game in Vancouver – at the Montreal Alouettes, but hey.

In terms of CFL betting, the double-overtime squeaker against the Ticats last week brought BC Lions up to a respectable 6-6 ATS for the year, after starting 2-4 and then going to 3-6. With the plug-and-play addition of RB Terrell Sutton, BC is on the upswing while Hamilton can coast to the playoffs. Take BC Lions +7 at Hamilton.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers +6½ at Edmonton Eskimos. For our reputation’s sake, NFLbets is advising NFL bettors to stay away from this one. For amusement’s sake, we’ll personally throw a few Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred unit of currency) at the Bombers +6½ because getting the win while actually also helping the arch-rival Riders’ cause would be sooooooooooooooo Winnipeg – and so would chocking away a lead in the fourth quarter.

Saskatchewan Roughriders -6½ at Montreal Alouettes. No joy in this game at all: NFLbets is expecting to see yet more of Johnny Manziel’s obvious futility at trying to remember how to play football. In his ostensible comeback bid (now) with the Alouettes, Manziel’s run up five interceptions versus zero passing TDs, one rushing TD and one concussion. Hang on a second, maybe this will be fun.

The only thing keeping NFLbets from betting the business license on the Riders in this one is suspicion: Why in the name of Angelo Mosca is this line so low? Ah, well. Take the Saskatchewan Roughriders -6½ at Montreal.

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 16:
•  Toronto Argonauts at Calgary Stampeders, under 53 points
; and
•  BC Lions +7 at Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

NFLbets’ recommendation for CFL betting in week 16:
•  Calgary Stampeders -13½ vs Toronto Argonauts;
•  Saskatchewan Roughriders -6½ at Montreal Alouettes.

CFL best bets record to date: 7-6.
CFL recommendations record to date: 6-7.
Overall record: 13-13.

CFL betting: Leave some of that bankroll for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, eh

Saturday, 15 September 2018 13:16 EST

NFLbets has been digging on betting CFL games this year, even if currently mired in a ho-hum, treading-water, barely over .500 stretch. With just three games on the schedule, the chances to wager are few and far between. Hell, on the Rouge, White & Blue CFL Podcast this week, Os Davis joined his co-hosts in recommending taking the Montreal Alouettes +3, which coincidentally was almost equal to the total number of yards passing Als QB Antonio Pipkin managed.

One game, however, is ripe for the wagering – and winning. We’re talking Ottawa Redblacks +5 at the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The over/under is 50½, making for yet another stay-away line on CFL betting this week.

But Riders versus RedBlacks? If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed how soul-crushingly destructive the Saskatchewan defense has been lately.

Sure, last week's defensive/special teams output – 32 points, 5 interceptions, 3 sacks – was insane, but ever since the Riders kicked off their current four-game winning streak with a 40-27 demolition of the then-undefeated Calgary Stampeders in week 11, they've been killing it. In these four games, the Riders DST has averaged 22 points, 2 interceptions, 2.5 sacks and 1 fumble recovery. They’re outscoring teams by just over 7 points per game, yet the offense is averaging just 11 points per game in that stretch!

Naturally, NFLbets is aware of regression to the mean, all good things coming to an end, etc.; “merely” but winning these four games have the Riders racked up the 2018 CFL’s second-longest winning streak. Such a torrid pace by the defense and kicker Brett Lautner (he’s 35 of 38 on field goal attempts in 2018, and he’s on a 22-for-23 run) won’t continue forever.

However … if you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed how limp the Redblacks have looked in all three football dimensions. Since taking down the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a decisive 21-15 win in week 7, it’s been all downhill: The Redblacks D managed to blow a two-TD fourth-quarter lead, losing to the Toronto Argonauts despite scoring 41; they took Johnny Canadian Football out of the Alouettes game in week 9 and still barely got by possibly the CFL’s worst team; the last three games have seen the Redblacks lose by an average score of 15 points per to three teams – including those Alouettes – with losing records.

The hardest part for Riders head coach Chris Jones this weekend? Keeping his players out of the night clubs on Saturday night. On the other hand, NFLbets can’t help thinking that even hungover the Riders wouldn’t be laying more than 2½ in this game…NFLbets' pick of the week in CFL betting: Take the Saskatchewan Roughriders -5 vs Ottawa, and enjoy what might be one rapacious feast.

Best bets record to date: 6-4.
Picks-of-the-week record to date: 5-6.
Overall record: 11-10.

CFL Betting: Best bets and picks for week 13

Friday, 07 September 2018 15:17 EST

NFLbets will talk best bets and recommendations for CFL betting in week 13 shortly, but shameless self-promotion first. If you’d like to hear the first draft comments on these bets, along with likely more reasoned commentary by Os Davis’ co-hosts Joe Pritchard and Dr. Rouge, please check out the latest episode of the Rouge, White & Blue CFL Podcast below.


And here’s the expounded upon text version of NFLbets’ picks for CFL week 13…

Ottawa RedBlacks +1 (down from 1½ or 2) at BC Lions, over/under 52. From the purely pragmatic bettor’s perspective, the BC Lions have all the environmental pieces falling into place: They’re coming off a bye week and playing at their home sweet West Coast home at night while the RedBlacks are a bad 3-7 ATS this far in 2018 – of course, at +1, this game is essentially a “pick ’em” anyway.

The smart money says bet BC Lions to win SU and/or minus the point if you’re thinking about hedging against the one-point squeaker, figuring that old hand Wally Buono can craft a good game plan, particularly as the Redblacks eked our a mere four-point win in week 4 in the Canadian capitol.

But nope. NFLbets isn’t touching that with a 3.048-meter pole. And the over/under? Forget that, too: Ottawa has scored 21 points in eight of 10 games, sure, but they’ve won SU/lost ATS with 24 and lost SU/won ATS with 44. O, and they scored 11 last week. Who can tell what this team will score?

The whole thing is so absurd, yours truly went with a tie result. The pick: Stay away from this one

Hamilton Tiger-Cats cheerleadersHamilton Tiger-Cats -5(up from 5½) at Toronto Argonauts, over/under 53 points. When this same Tiger-Cats offense turned it on in the second half last week, the Argos were badly exposed on defense. On the other side of the ball, one-time CFL Cinderela QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson has turned back into a pumpkin.

The Ticats may finally have put it all together – at least on offense. WR Jalen Saunders is likely gone for the season’s remainder after what appeared to be a pretty serious knee injury last week, but geez, Luke Tasker and Brandon Banks combined for 17 catches, 278 yards and 3 touchdowns in Toronto last week. So, yeah, this one could get ugly. Take the Hamilton Tiger-Cats -5 at Toronto

Saskatchewan Roughriders +3½ at Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Roughriders may be the hottest team in the CFL right now, but the truth is – and NFLbets cannot get past this very simple fact: No team other than the Calgary Stampeders have manged to string together more than three wins in a row. We’re betting on the trend working against the Riders this week, in time to punish Johnny Canadian Football and the Alouettes for their loss; incidentally, the Bombers are 4-1 SU and ATS. NFlbets will take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers -3½ vs Saskatchewan.

Calgary Stampeders -3 at Edmonton Eskimos. After a hard-hitting grind-it-out meeting between these two teams last week which had the Stamps winning SU with a last-second field-goal but losing ATS. The line for Edmonton’s home turn has been adjusted accordingly.

Last week’s seriously smashmouth action leaves both teams shorthanded at wide receiver for week 13, with Derel Walker out for the home team, and Kamar Jorden not suiting up for Calgary. Neither side can afford to lose anyone at the WR spots right now, regardless, but you’ve gotta figure the loss of Walker – one of the CFL’s top-5 receivers for a good four years running – hurts Edmonton more than the already relatively low-watt Stamps offense suffers.

Still, can either team afford another week of similar play to last? We’d guess that the Stamps brain trust is not at all interested in seeing Bo Levi Mitchell get knocked out of the game for a second straight week, so might just air it out. Or both sides might rapidly crash the line with the RB like it’s 1899. Very difficult to tell. We hate to be boring here, but the safe money stays away from this one,too.

Look at it this way: Between CFL week 13 and NFL week 1 – which you should never, ever bet – your bankroll will be well plump…

NFLbets’ best bet for CFL betting in week 13:
•  Hamilton Tiger-Cats -5 at Toronto

NFLbets’ recommendation for CFL betting in week 13:
•  Winnipeg Blue Bombers =3½ at Saskatchewan Roughriders

Best bets record to date: 5-4.
Picks-of-the-week record to date: 5-5.
Overall record: 10-9.

CFL Betting: Best bets and picks for week 12

Friday, 31 August 2018 15:53 EST

CFL Labour Day Classic bettingAs it’s Labor Day weekend in the U.S., it’s Labour Day weekend in Canada. And up there, Labour Day means CFL football! And for football bettors south of the border, who are otherwise bereft of proper betting, Labor Day weekend means another good opportunity for betting on CFL football. Think of it as getting reps for NFL season.

For those not in the know, a super-brief primer. Labour Day weekend CFL games are highlighted by three ages-old now-interdivisional rivalries playing it out once again: The Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs the Saskatchewan Roughriders; the Calgary Stampeders vs the Edmonton Eskimos; and the Toronto Argonauts vs the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. As natural geographic rivals, the Ottawa RedBlacks and Montreal Alouettes may also play on Labour Day, but can we really call this a tradition when these franchises in their current incarnations are just four and 22 years old, respectively?

History aside, all three traditional games are crucial for the teams involved: The heating-up Riders look to leapfrog not only the Bombers but also the Eskimos in the West. The currently second-place Esks have the unenviable task of having to take on the Stampeders, who are looking to wrap up homefield advantage for the West finals early. As for Toronto and Hamilton, well, one of them must finish second in the East this season…

NFLbets’ picks for the Labour Day weekend CFL games are as follows.


Montreal Alouettes -15½ at Ottawa RedBlacks; over/under 52½ points. Earlier this week the ’spread was 16½, editor Os Davis appeared on the WoodCookieCast in his guise as an Alouettes fan and picked RedBlacks 38, Montreal 11. The sole detraction to betting the Ottawa minus the points here is that the currently smooth-running RedBlacks simply don’t get the ball into the end zone, as dogged this offense the first third of the season. The safer bet here is to take the under on an O/U of 52½ points.


Winnipeg Blue Bombers +3½ at Saskatchewan Roughriders, over/under 54½ points. Duron Who? The Riders may become the first team to win the Grey Cup with a single bona fide WR on the roster, because the Green-and-Whites’ defense has been just wreaking havoc the past few weeks. If the Stamps’ line couldn’t hold off the Riders’ pass rush, how will Winnipag’s? Take the Saskatchewan Roughriders -3½ vs Winnipeg.


Edmonton Eskimos +7 at Calgary Stampeders, over/under 54 points. Typically, “game notes”-type columns at a league’s official site are full of trivial historic curiosities, but whoa are there a couple of doozies for this game.

• [Stamps QB] Bo Levi Mitchell is 4-0 in Labour Day Classic games, while [Eskimos QB] Mike Reilly is 0-3.

• Edmonton has not had a lead in the Labour Day Game since 2012. In the last five games, Calgary has built at least a 12-point lead in each game.

Nothing indicates that anything will make this Labour Day any different. The Esks are thin at receiver still thanks to various injury bugs, and fairly imperatively needed a win that they did not get last week.

Meanwhile, NFLbets swears Calgary is still smarting from the beatdown the Stamps administered two weeks back. Take the Calgary Stampeders -7 vs Edmonton.


Toronto Argonauts +7½ at Hamilton Tiger-Cats, over/under 51½ points. All things being equal, the rational choice between two stumbling teams would be to pick Hamilton, the home team coming off a shocking win. But very little has been rational about these Tiger-Cats in all of 2018.

Over the past four weeks, Hamilton has gone 2-1. Against Winnipeg, the Ticats somehow limited the Bombers offense to *270 total yards* and lost, 29-23. Two weeks later, that same D nearly let one slip away in the second half despite a 467-yard performance by QB Jeremiah Masoli.

So, not being able to make heads or tails of the Ticats, we’ll advise CFL bettors to take the Toronto Argonauts +7½ at Hamilton -- after all, that’s a lot a points for a team who’s just 1-3 at home ATS this season to be giving...

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 12:
•  Montreal Alouettes at Ottawa RedBlacks under 52½ points
; and
•  Saskatchewan Roughriders -3½ vs Winnipeg.
Best bets record to date: 3-5.

NFLbets’ recommendations for CFL betting in week 11:
•  Calgary Stampeders -7 vs Edmonton
; and
•  Toronto Argonauts +7½ at Hamilton.
Picks-of-the-week record to date: 5-2.
Overall record: 8-7.

CFL Betting: Best bets and picks for week 11

Thursday, 23 August 2018 17:45 EST

Bullwinkle wins the CFL gameAfter two weeks’ worth of CFL betting columns, all NFLbets has managed thus far is to go 4-4 in combined “best bets” and “picks of the week.” At least we’ve made back some of the vig: Thanks to the +125 on a Toronto Argonauts money-line (ML) bet last week, we’re down just M65 (where M represents Moneys, the favored currency of NFLbets) for the 2018 CFL season.

NFLbets knows that’s a bit of a disappointment, particularly since we were on a 16-0 run for the year prior to beginning these columns – as far as you know.

As the halfway point passes, week 11 presents four games of all sorts of challenges. NFLbets considers the slate for week 11 as we attempt to earn back our money out there.

Edmonton Eskimos +3½ at Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Hamilton is tops in passing yards allowed per game and last in rushing yards allowed per game. C.J. Gable returns for the Eskimos after practice-squad player Shaquille Cooper went for 148 total yards and a TD in his first-ever CFL game as his team ran up 40. Of course, that was against the utterly hapless (hapmore?) Montreal Alouettes.

Hamilton topped Edmonton SU and ATS in week 2, 38-21, but are just 1-4 SU/ATS in their last five, in all four losses scoring 23 points or fewer. Until the Montreal game, the Eskimos offense hasn’t exactly been deep of depth chart (hence Cooper’s callup last week) recently, either; nevertheless, NFLbets thinks the Eskimos win this one outright, simply outscoring the puzzlingly self-destructive Tiger-Cats. Take the Edmonton Eskimos -3½  at Hamilton and take them to win SU at +145.

Toronto Argonauts -5½ at Montreal Alouettes. Johnny Manziel’s not playing for the Alouettes in week 11, thus making this game slightly more difficult for football bettors – but not that much more. After all, Antonio Pipkin is the starter for the Als, for an offense that went 3-of-15 on second downs last week. The Mighty Pipkin has one somewhat legitimate receiver – B.J. Cunningham – to throw to, and RB Tyrell Sutton may not go this week. And the defense … have you heard what Shaquille Cooper did to them last week? Just imagine what James Wilder Jr. might do (CFL daily fantasy players note). Take the Toronto Argonauts -5½ at Montreal.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers +8½ at Calgary Stampeders. Two teams whose bubbles burst last week: The high-risk defense of Winnipeg was torched for 44 points by Trevor Harris and the Ottawa RedBlacks fleet of WRs. Calgary gave up 40 (including one TD each from the Riders’ D and special teams) on the way to their first loss of the season. We’re willing to call that one a fluke and reckon the Stampeders win SU, but 8½ points is a lot to cover against a side recent-historically fond of the late-game comeback. We’re staying away from this one.

Saskatchewan Roughriders +2½ at BC Lions. A must-win: The Riders gain another game in the playoff hunt and are looking to surpass Winnipeg in the standings before long; BC cannot lose and fall two games behind the Riders. BC is trending down, while Saskatchewan is looking up after last week’s win.

But then there’s that late-night West Coast factor. NFLbets has been truthing about this BC Lions side for a while now and was a bit obsessed about the Lions’ inability to win under any other conditions – they’re 3-0 as such this season, 0-5 in all other games. So we went back to the 2017 results and noted that … these essentially same BC Lions (though currently without former CFL Most Outstanding Player Solomon Elimimian) were just 2-5 in Vancouver night games.

Our conclusion: BC Lions are set to regress to the mean. Also, the Riders are a better football team right now. Take the Saskatchewan Roughriders +2½ at BC and take the Riders +120 to win SU.

NFLbets’ best bets for CFL betting in week 11:
•  Edmonton Eskimos +3½ at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
•  Toronto Argonauts -5½ at Montreal Alouettes; and
•  Saskatchewan Roughriders +2½ at BC Lions.

NFLbets’ recommendations for CFL betting in week 11:
•  Edmonton Eskimos win SU at Hamilton at +145
; and
•  Saskatchewan Roughriders win SU at BC Lions at +120.

And check out this podcast. You’re still here? Great – yours truly can get in a shameless plug for the Rouge, White & Blue CFL Podcast, the American show about Canadian football. Download the latest episode directly below, or at iTunes and all those other podcast-download places online.