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!”

For more CFL news visit

On the future of football post-pandemic

Wednesday, 27 May 2020 17:20 EST

Strange times are these – particularly if you’re into sports on any level. Overnight an enterprise in which we’d typically invested a sizable fraction of our time and/or bankroll evaporated, leaving some to betting Madden sim games online and the seriously desperate to wager on marble racing. A revelation regarding sports may have occurred to some as well, i.e. maybe sports just aren’t that essential.

(Now don’t get NFLbets wrong here: Just because something is not essential does not mean that it’s useless; after all, the human spirit and aesthetic sense must also be nourished. The human species  would be a far sadder lot without folk song and literature and visual art, all as literally nonessential as NFL football.)

In researching for the Truly The GOATs sports history podcast, a few concepts became readily apparent to me:

•  Humans have played sports, or sports-like games, for thousands of years;

Seen any good Aztec ball games lately...?•  Complicated organized sports are created by cultures which can support them, i.e. citizens have enough leisure time and society can allow for time and/or specialization of players;

•   For much of the world, the golden age of sports is unquestionably the 20th century;

•   Not all cultures have organized sport; and

•   Teams, leagues and even entire sports die.

From a dispassionate historical perspective, then, the future of NFL football is short and bleak. Indeed, we may right now be seeing the final few seasons of the league – or we will someday. In fact, the coronavirus pandemic may simply be hastening the demise of a league and an entire sport which might otherwise have been dragged out for 20 years more.

Impossible, you say? Football is an indelible part of American culture? Too big to fail, you believe? Well, acceptance of cruel fate comes late, well later than the ennui-to-panic NFL fans, bettors and officials are feeling in month three of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warning signs already prevalent, obvious, ominous

More and more paleontologists are coming around to the idea that, before the planet-killing meteor struck planet Earth to wipe ’em out, most dinosaur species were already in precipitous decline: The extinction-level event merely completed with stark finality the process that had already begun. By analogy, we think of the NFL as the dinosaur, the Earth as the sport of football and the extinction-level event as … um, er, COVID-19 has clouded that particular bit of the metaphor.

Back to the present. Consider what NFL football looked like to the non-fan going into year 2020: Youth participation is down in schools in every state due to parental concerns about football’s long-term health effects. NCAA football is turning the corner on fairly distributing money to its players but far too slowly.

In the big league, meanwhile, it’s seemingly one scandal after another involving on-field cheating and doping, off-field crime and violence. Simultaneously, the American public has becoming evermore aware of the league’s (mostly) billionaire owners regularly fleecing the home city’s citizens to pay taxes to construct a shiny new privately-owned stadium – stadiums which host games which typically price out the average citizen.

The most recent example of this last phenomenon comes from good ol’ Los Angeles – you know, the city which had zero NFL teams for a generation and is reportedly now home to two…? The main selling point of Walmart baron/Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s plan to build a $1 billion-plus pleasure palace/home venue for the Rams and Chargers was that he’d be paying out of his own sizable coffers. The project is currently nearing $4 billion over budget, has been delayed once again “thanks” to COVID-19, with the difference certainly to be made up by the city government, with taxes to repay the unexpected expense.

And don’t get NFLbets started on the whole anthem-kneeling thing.

You can also throw away Super Bowl viewership numbers, too. Firstly, evidence suggests that these numbers peaked in 2015; second, 7 of the 9 top-rated Super Bowls – and the entire top-5 – in terms of audience included Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Neither of these awe-inspiring charismatic dudes is likely to play in another.

Precedent for the NFL’s extinction

PSFLIn 1905, meetings were held between colleges with America’s leading football programs (essentially the Ivy League schools plus a handful of others) in consideration of the question of whether football should be made illegal. You read that right: These deans, proto-ADs and such were debating whether playing the game should become a crime. Truth be told, had Teddy Roosevelt’s own son not been injured and thus inspired the POTUS himself to call for rules reforms, the 19 killed on football fields in ’05 could well have been enough to kill football before the forward pass came to full fruition.

NFLbets has suggested that, as macabre as it sounds, one on-field death in an NFL game, with tis millions of viewers weekly, would essentially guarantee the loss of up to half the audience overnight. This isn’t the 1970s, when Formula 1 drivers were killed at a rate of more than 1 per season: Today’s public is well more likely to turn off, as fatalities are no longer a norm in football or any regularly televised sport.

Unlike all other major sports, which enjoy viewership and participation across large swathes of Earth, significant interest in gridiron football is limited to exactly two countries: America and Canada. This limited talent base plus the still-great interest in college football are the primary reasons why minor/rogue leagues have proven unsustainable, with the sole exception of the AFL. The AAFC, WFL, USFL, UFL, XFL, AAF and XFL 2.0 have all been crushed under the NFL steamroller.

The AFL was a beneficiary of right-place, right-time: When the rogue league was formed in 1960, the NFL included just 13 franchises, and just three – the Rams; the San Francisco 49ers, assimilated from the AAFC; and the just-born Dallas Cowboys – played home games west of St. Louis. At that time, the U.S. population was about 180 million, meaning the ratio of Americans to a single NFL team was 13.9 million to 1; the ratio in 2020 is down to 10.33 million to 1. The AFL was fortunate to have come along when the potential talent could be absorbed into a competitive pro-level team and when many big and/or burgeoning markets (e.g. Boston, Houston, Denver) were without a home team.

Well more concerning than even the ugly AAF trainwreck and the new XFL’s death by pandemic, however, is the impending doom facing the Canadian Football League. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie went before a Canadian House of Commons committee on May 7 to request bailout money for the league’s continued existence.

Acknowledging that “Our best-case scenario for this year is a drastically truncated season, and our most likely scenario is no season at all”, Ambrosie went on to admit the league was looking at $30 million in debt already and would need $120 million more to keep the league going in 2021 and beyond. Judging by Canadian media reportage, their federal government is none too keen on propping up a league which is weakest in the country’s three biggest markets of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Now one may argue that the problems the CFL must deal with post-pandemic are unique to that league. Interest is low in Toronto and Montreal because of the “big league” sports already in town, and the CFL draws most of its revenue from gate receipts rather than TV. Ironically, improvements in television technology surely also factor into declining attendance, particularly in the colder months of October and November.

But the financial woes are not the point. The CFL has roots going back to the origins of the game itself: The CFL’s top prize, the Grey Cup, has been awarded to Canada’s champion football team since 1909, and the Toronto Argonauts have a history spanning back to 1873, a time when rugby and gridiron football were barely distinguishable and Canada itself was just four years old. Yet none of this matters, as this national institution could be wiped out forever by July, its league officials, franchise owners, coaches and players as helpless as were those of the near-stillborn AAF.

Borrowed time must be repaid

Borrowed time, the NFL is living onThe NFL has been living – thriving, really – on borrowed time since CTE’s effects and their relationship with football playing were exposed to the American public. In totem with the anthem-kneeling controversy, the socially conscious NFL fan must indulge in some serious doublethink to enjoy the sport at all in the 2010s. How popular would NFL football have been by 2020 if not for the all-time outlier Tom Brady and the concomitant über-success of his New England Patriots, a.k.a. the Dynasty You Love to Hate?

And then there’s that tv audience, which will almost inevitably shrink from 2019 norms and never truly return. Call it the Fitness Club Principle: You know how, if you go to the gym every day, the act becomes habit? Then you miss one day in the regular schedule and voila: The subsequent day, justification to skip again is a lot easier, and even easier the day after that and the day after that, etc. Soon you find you’re still paying gym membership, but you haven’t actually attended in a couple of months. Once one loses the rhythm of habit, it’s much harder to pick things back up.

NFLbets bets The Fitness Club Principle is coming to most professional sports in America, and the NFL could well suffer the greatest. At this point in the pro sports blackout, only the most rabid fans are truly still hurting and – pure speculation here – it’s just not an absolute certainty that football played in an empty stadium and stripped of much of its ritualistic pageantry won’t draw the expected viewership.

Our advice

Maybe the graveyard spiral of the CFL is getting to us, but such stark reality in the face is impossible to ignore. We’re playing the 20s pragmatically vis-à-vis football and thus we’re only counting on the NFL continuing for about five more years. For 2020, we’ll be attempting to learn how to adjust our traditional NFL betting ways for a new reality of fan-less stadia and diluted homefield advantage – and let’s just hope Super Bowl LV isn’t our last chance to dig on NFL football…

–written by Os Davis




A look at the 2020 Grey Cup odds after (most of) CFL free agency

Wednesday, 26 February 2020 18:05 EST

Another comparison between the NFL and CFL: Whoa, CFL free agency season is quick. Within about 10 days of opening, nearly all key acquisitions have been made and, though we still await combine and draft, plus another influx of cut NFL players, betting the CFL in 2020 is already clearer than the NFL – at least as far as NFLbets is concerned.

To the CFL bettor, the odds table on the “To Win the 2020 Grey Cup” at My Bookie (and any site taking CFL bets, really) is quite the outlier compared with recent years, namely in that the New England Patriots-like Calgary Stampeders are not the New England Patriots-like odds-on favorite to win the CFL Championship. Instead, the numbers break down like so.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats: +300. After going 15-3 and completely dominating the league all year, the Ticats got manhandled by Winnipeg in the 2019 Grey Cup. In free agency, Hamilton lost top-notch LT Ryker Matthews but, if possible, might have improved on defense with the return of LB Larry Dean and high hopes for a comeback out of Quadarius Ford. All things considered, 3/1 may be the best value you can get on the Ticats in 2020.

Saskatchewan Roughriders: +400
Winnipeg Blue Bombers: +500
Calgary Stampeders: +500
. The three West Division teams that bookmakers like the best in 2020 were all notably quiet this offseason: The Riders, oldest team in the league, re-signed nearly all their veteran FAs except Namaan Roosevelt; the defending champion Blue Bombers did likewise, losing now-backup QB Matt Nichols but little else; and the Stamps are presumably going the route of (you guessed it) the New England Patriots and looking for players to fill niche spots.

Edmonton Eskimos: +800
Montreal Alouettes: +800
. This pair of odds NFLbets doesn’t get at all. The Eskimos had arguably the worst offseason of the CFL teams, losing the most FAs overall including Monshadrik “Money” Hunter and the aforementioned Larry Dean.

Meanwhile, the Alouettes may have had the most tumultuous offseason of all: The Als bid adieu to DB Chris Ackie, who went to Toronto; DB Patrick Levels and WR Devrier Posey to Hamilton; RB William Stanback to Las Vegas Raiders; and WR Quan Bray to, presumably a federal penitentiary after getting busted alongside Cleveland Browns OL who was busted along with famous Rams draft bust Greg Robinson for trying to tote 157 pounds of marijuana across the border.

So maybe … a breakeven free agency for the Alouettes…? Nevertheless, Montreal has not lost Coach of the Year Khari Jones or breakout QB Vernon Adams Jr. Montreal at 8/1 is hardly an outrageous bet already, but those odds might get a bit better yet. The Eskimos NFLbets wouldn’t touch with an 8/1-foot pole.

BC Lions: +800. Fair enough, the Lions went out and binge-shopped again this offseason and last year’s mad-money expenditure got BC an early end to the season. However, QB Mike Reilly certainly digs on the addition of Ryker Matthews and the pieces seem to all be in place, so 8/1 certainly isn’t outrageous.

Ottawa Redblacks: +1200. CFL fans know to be wary of the Redblacks since the second year of their existence in 2015 and the prospects with Paul LaPolice coming over from the OC job in Winnipeg are none too shabby. But after hitting the reset button last year to trigger the rebuilding process and taking on former Stampeders backup QB Nick Arbuckle as the starter signals that change might come a little more slowly than the team’s first rise to CFL supremacy.

Toronto Argonauts: +1400. The Argos would likely need a well more impressive offseason than simply signing Matt Nichols, plus 3rd or 4th WRs Juwan Brascacin and Devaris Daniels from Calgary and Edmonton, respectively – particularly when the already below-average defensive lost nearly 120 tackles between Addul Kenneh and Kevin Fogg plus the additional departure of Quadarius Ford. We see this 14/1 bet as a waste of good betting money.

–written by Os Davis

CFL free agency is (mostly) done; early Grey Cup 2019 odds – and NFLbets' picks – are here!

Friday, 22 February 2019 17:53 EST

Among the numerous ways in which the CFL varies from its NFL counterpart is the ability to piece together a team in free agency and turn that team into a playoff contender – even a Grey Cup contender – in the season immediately following. This is due essentially entirely to the size of the league: Not only can veteran free agents reunite which former teammates and coaches, the odds on any CFL team getting into the playoffs is -200!

And thus, with much of the preseason gone, this is a particularly profitable time to do some betting on the Grey Cup. Early odds in the proposition bet “2019 Grey Cup – Odds to Win” look like so:

Grey Cup 2019 logoCalgary Stampeders +400
Ottawa Redblacks +450
Saskatchewan Roughriders +450
Winnipeg Blue Bombers +450
BC Lions +750
Hamilton Tiger-Cats +900
Edmonton Eskimos +1000
Montreal Alouettes +1200
Toronto Argonauts +1200

Now this list is clearly designed to play off most football fans’ and casual bettors’ tendencies to believe that next season’s results will, despite all but the most dramatic of offseason moves, will more or less replicate the previous season’s.

To wit: Ottawa, Saskatchewan and Montreal are all getting well too short the odds. The Redblacks lost nearly every key potential free agent they had and essentially traded down from Trevor Harris, statistically at least among the CFL’s top-3 QBs for Jon Jennings, a dude who with BC Lions has become synonymous with “mercurial.” Chris Jones left at least four posts (VP, GM, head coach, defensive coordinator) after dicing and scrambling the roster for three years. And the Alouettes did shockingly little this offseason, but why would you when the great Johnny Manziel is leading you?

NFLbets isn’t necessarily buying Calgary at 4/1, either. Make all the comparisons you want between the 2010s Stampeders and New England Patriots, but the truth is the Stamps lost 10 of their 23 defensive players listed on their roster, including eight starters and three who were signed by NFL teams. To coach this side of the ball will be Brent Monson. Monson was Stampeders linebackers coach for five years, has never been a coordinator and is the team’s third DC in three years.

Probably the best bet is to take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at +450, so we’ll advise that. The Bombers chose to mostly stay pat, and so last season’s top-scoring offense at just under 30½ points per game returns its staring QB plus virtually all their offense. And surely, they’ve got to get over the hump one of these years…

Nevertheless, NFLbets likes the odds on two longer shots: We’re saying risk and few Moneys and take BC Lions at +750 and take the Toronto Argonauts at a ridiculous +1200. Game-changer and former Grey Cup champion QB Mike Reilly jumped to BC this offseason and an entire core of wide receivers (Greg Ellingson, DeVaris Daniels, Ricky Collins and Kenny Shaw). And even though they’re fixing to trade away all-time great BC Lion Solomon Elimimian, we’re thinking new blood might not hurt in BC, particularly young new blood. All this plus a promised all-new player-friendly coaching staff headed by DeVone Claybrooks? O yes, BC should go far.

Over in the East, Toronto ended up making some pretty impressive acquisitions. No one really know who might be helming the offense, but if anyone competent is put in at QB, new signee Derel Walker will isn’t become the odds-on favourite to lead the CFL in receiving yards. Also aboard the Argo for 2019 are RB Chris Rainey, RB Tyrell Sutton, WR Mercer Timmis, LB Ian Wild, DB Kevin Fogg, and returning hero and general badass DL Shawn Lemon. Certainly not as impressive as BC’s list, but probably enough to win what will again be a weak-looking East.

The 106th Grey Cup on (American) Thanksgiving Sunday: Last call for CFL betting in 2018!

Friday, 23 November 2018 09:52 EST

Betting on Grey Cup 2018Despite NFLbets’ so-so record and low earnings on Canadian football betting this year, we’re going to miss the CFL over the next six months badly. Regardless of how much fun the NFL in 2018 is, as the sports world’s talking heads so gushingly exhort to us, the CFL is always a breath of fresh air away from the stolid and conservative American game. This Thanksgiving weekend, NFLbets is thankful for another great season of CFL football – and that we came out ahead.

In any case, this weekend isn’t about looking back but rather looking forward to the 106th Grey Cup, a rematch of the 104th: It’s the Calgary Stampeders versus the Ottawa Redblacks, essentially the top two franchises, organizations/teams in the league in the 2010s.

Betting on the Grey Cup features not nearly as many proposition bet offerings as during the Super Bowl, but plenty of interesting proposition bets exist. NFLbets is factoring in these variables in picking wagers for this one. Keys to the game, as they say, are the following in our estimation.

• In two meetings this season, the Stampeders swept the Redblacks by a combined score of 51-7. In those games, Ottawa QB Trevor Harris was held to 4.5 yards per pass attempt while Calgary crushed the turnover battle by a margin of 10-3. True enough, these games were waaaaaaaaay back in June and July, weeks 3 and 5, but Harris did have all his primary “skill players” in the offense, including the Redblacks’ three blue chip WRs Diontae Spencer, Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli.

• Last week’s West Division final saw the return of a Calgary defense whose first half represented a record setting pace but stumbled through November in allowing 26 points in a row to BC Lions, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg in games down the stretch. The Bombers who’d run up 29 on the Stamps in October were nowhere in evidence last week, as the Calgary D didn’t allow a single play to advance over 27 yards, much less into the end zone.

• Thanks to this defense, serious ball control by the offense has allowed the Stampeders to cover their most serious weakness going into this game: Namely, the shredded receiving corps. In his nearly totally unexpected return to the field after an injury three weeks ago, Eric Rogers showcased both his own skill set and the secret to success of the Calgary passing game. While the CFL headlines were splashed with exclamations describing Rogers’s three TDs – and justifiably so; heck, he outscored Winnipeg single-handedly (so to speak) – but the key stat was really his six total catches for just 61 yards. The Stamps’ longest play from scrimmage went just 29 yards and the offense took just 48 snaps, yet had the ball for nearly 32½ minutes of possession time. This team plays slo-o-o-o-o-w when needs must, like when prospective NFL QB Bo Levi Mitchell has maybe three viable WRs.

• Outside of Ottawa, the RedBlacks are 5-4 SU and 6-3 ATS in 2018.

• RedBlacks DB John Rose will play, as his appeal regarding a league-mandated suspension for this game due to his shoving of a referee in the East Divisional final is pending. Rose was the Redblacks’ second-high in tackles in the 2016 Grey Cup game, but NFLbets wonders if he won’t feel the pressure to be on his absolutely best behavior…

• Finally, the all-important weather report. As of Friday, temperatures for kickoff are expected to be in the 20s Fahrenheit, with a mere 10% of precipitation. The Stamps will certainly be pleased to hear of the latter, as a couple of weather-induced freak plays cost them the 105th Grey Cup against the Toronto Argonauts.

Throwing it all into the NFLbets mega-calculator, i.e. editor/lead writer Os Davis’s cerebellum, we’re liking the following bets and props.

Calgary Stampeders -4½ vs Ottawa Redblacks, over/under 53½ points

These two lines would put the final score at Calgary, 29-24 or 29-25, which feels just about dead on. (Guess the oddsmakers are pros, eh?) The Stampeders were proven quite vulnerable in the season’s second half, but in every loss this year, the opposition scored at least 27. NFLbets isn’t at all sure where four to five true scoring opportunities will come from for Ottawa, particularly if the Stamps control the clock, playing an old-school field-position battle as last week (and the first seven games of the regular season, to be honest). We’ll take the Calgary Stampeders -4½ vs Ottawa in the Grey Cup; we’re calling this our Best Bet for the Grey Cup. Additionally, we’ll cover the under on an O/U of 53½.

As is our usual wont, NFLbets will base the remainder of our wagers at least in part on this result, with perhaps a bit of hedging. All in baby! (Almost.)

Margin of victory

The more sensible, i.e. top halves, of the odds in the “Grey Cup: Margin of Victory” proposition bet look something like the following.

Calgary Stampeders win by 1-6 points: 3/1
Stampeders, 7-12: 17/4
Stampeders, 13-18: 6/1
Stampeders, 19-24: 9/1

Ottawa Redblacks win by 1-6 points: 4/1
Redblacks, 7-12: 15/2
Redblacks, 13-18: 14/1
Redblacks, 19-24: 22/1

A tricky one here, as NFLbets’ two most believable scenarios, Stamps by 1-6 or by 7-12, both bring some great value. Since we’ve already got money on Calgary -4½, we’ll recommend that bettors take the Stampeders to win by 7-12 points at 4/1. NFLbets will also be hedging a few Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred form of currency) on the Redblacks by 1-6 points at 4/1 so as not to go home empty-handed with an Ottawa upset.

Race to 10 points

Some of the (relative) troubles the Stampeders had in the second half of the 2018 season are reflected in the first-half scoring: Though in the last three games, the Stamps “won” first halves by a combined 51-12, that socre drops to just 147-134. And it’s certainly no coincidence that as Calgary got off to a 7-0 start, they outscored opponents in the first half six of those seven times.

In all 2018 games, the Stampeders would have won the “Race to 10 Points” prop 12 times in 21 games; however, just once did an East Division team beat Calgary to 10 points: the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in week 1.

As for the Redblacks, as NFLbets has noted virtually all season, they’ve certainly been among the most maddening for football bettors in 2018 – though the Tiger-Cats are right up there, too. They’re currently on a four-game win streak, but with three Ws coming against Hamilton. Far too mercurial for most bettors, the Redblacks won a game this year with nothing but field goals and lost a game in which they scored 41. Too mercurial to predict on this one, so we’ll consider them reactive to the Stamps’ game plan.

The conclusion: If you believe that the Stamps’ first-half defense of the season’s first half has returned (based on, admittedly a small sample size of three games including two against the league’s 6th and 9th best teams), like NFLbets, you’ll take the Stampeders to score 10 points first at 8/13; not fantastic odds, but it says here that low payout beats no payout.

Highest scoring half

Your choices in the “Grey Cup 2018: Highest Scoring Half” proposition bet:

First half: 8/11
Second half: 21/20
A “tie”: 25/1

The smart money suggests the first half is the best bet here, but NFLbets already has Moneys on one under-even odds bet. Bookmakers are probably figuring that, with both sides having recently played in the Grey Cup (with rosters still fairly representative of their respective Cup-playing teams), the feeling-out process that usually colors the opening 15 minutes of a championship football game will be non-existent.

The odd thing about these odds is that recently, games with either side have seen lots more points scored in the second half. Going back to week 19, second halves of Ottawa games “win” by an average “score” of 31-24; for Calgary games, it’s a big 41-21 differential. In the two meetings between the clubs early in the season, each half “won” one game.

We’re going with the odds and against the common wisdom of conservative game plans. The Stampeders may be playing their offensive schemes tight and close to the chest, but NFLbets reckons for both sides, it’ll be the defenses coming out swinging in the first half. We’re advising to take the second half as the higher scoring at 21/20 or so.

And as we bid adieu to the 2018 CFL season, we wish all bettors good luck in this final game. Damn are we going to miss this league ... #IsItJuneYet?

NFLbets’ CFL best bets record to date: 10-9.
CFL recommendations record to date: 14-11.
Overall record: 24-20.

NFLbets *will* win betting on CFL Divisional Playoff games, but how much…?

Thursday, 15 November 2018 10:32 EST

CAD won on CFL bettingNFLbets is in a nicely enviable position for the divisional championship round of the CFL playoffs this year. Thanks to some futures betting, we’re looking at automatic wins this week (or at least extensions to next week’s Grey Cup) Nevertheless, too much winning is never enough, as they say, so we’ll be looking to bag a win-win-win-win situation by throwing down a few more Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred form of currency) on Sunday.

East Final: Hamilton Tiger-Cats +3½ at Ottawa Redblacks, over/under 54 points

For many, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have been one of the biggest disappointments of the 2018 CFL season – and they’re certainly the biggest among this year’s playoff teams. After having bottomed out midway through the 2017 season, the Ticats chased an 0-8 start with a 6-4 finish and were optimistic heading into ’18. Things looked so good for Hamilton after a good offseason that NFLbets happily covered them at 6/1 in the “To Win 2018 Grey Cup” prop bet.

That wager is still alive and, combined with Hamilton’s 48-8 immolation of the BC Lions in last week’s semifinal should leave NFLbets and other Ticats backers a lot more confident than we are – but it’s tough to back a team as wishy-washy in results as this Hamilton team.

As NFLbets has pointed out previously, the Ticats’ longest ATS run – a three-game losing streak – was snapped by the playoff win. Though 4-2 ATS following a SU run, Hamilton may simply have too many injuries to overcome a RedBlacks team that handled them fairly easily in weeks 20 and 21. Bralon Addison, who before the week 21 game against Montreal had caught one pass all year, enjoyed a breakout game against BC, going for 124 yards on five catches.

But how much can Bralon Addison and Luke Tasker, the last man standing from the Ticats’ top four WRs at season’s beginning, help the inconsistent Jeremiah Masoli crank out their average 405.6 yards per game? Ottawa’s offense has been the second-most productive all season at 387.1 ypg, they’re missing no top “skill players” and they’ve got homefield advantage plus the bye week behind them. That’s a lot of plusses to go against a sub-.500 team. Take the Ottawa Radblacks -3½ vs Hamilton.

West Final: Winnipeg Blue Bombers +5 at Calgary Stampeders, over/under 52½ points

This point spread feels very dependent on traditional measures and very light on the actual reality of how these teams are playing football right now. Those following the CFL know that Winnipeg is on a 6-1 SU/ATS run, haven't lost a meaningful game since the bye week and the return of Weston Dressler; that was in mid-September.

Also of note: The money line (ML) on the Bombers in this one is +180 to +200.

Meanwhile, the perpetual threat of the 2010s CFL, the Calgary Stampeders stumbled their way to the finish line: Over the second half of the season, the Stamps went just 5-4 SU (3-6 ATS). This stifled 5½ seasons of a 65-14-2 SU record, an incredible .814 winning percentage representing an average season of about 14-3-1. Something is amiss in Stampederville, but the lines steadily play to the same old narrative.

The truth is that injuries to Calgary’s WR corps have left Markeith Ambles and Chris Matthews as the top two pass-catchers; Ambles started his season in week 16, Matthews in week 18. DeVaris Daniels probably won't return for this game. And thus against Winnipeg, Calgary would like to slow the game down.

Unfortunately for the division champs, the league’s top-scoring offense is all present and accounted for at “skill” positions and OL alike. And while Calgary brings the CFL’s no. 1 defense against the run – they’re allowing under 87 yards per game – Winnipeg can answer with Canadian football’s premier pass-catching back in Andrew Harris. Not quite the crutch for the offense he was in 2017, Harris went for just about 3.25 receptions per game for 451 yards in ’18. In the 29-21 week 20 win over the Stamps, however, Harris was good for 130 total yards, including 86 yards rushing and five catches for 44.

Not only should Winnipeg have the ability to score early and often, they’ll certainly have the impetus to do so as well. LB Adam Bighill (likely to win Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year) will be playing hurt if he goes at all after getting knocked out of last week’s win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. As of Wednesday afternoon, LB Jovan Santos-Knox is questionable and seems unlikely to play.

Can the Stampeders win this game? Absolutely. QB Bo Levi Mitchell, head coach (and former DC) Dave Dickinson and a few others have been in this situation enough times to induce heavy déjà vu.

Calgary has hosted four of the past five West Division Finals, and the Stamps are 3-1 SU/ATS in those games. Also factoring – or, rather non-factoring – is the weather. Four days out, the forecast has the temperature for Sunday in the 30s Fahrenheit but no precipitation expected, which will reduce the unexpected random events. (Ask the average Stamps’ fan who witnessed the last two Grey Cups to tell you about weather as a randomizer.)

But we’re thinking that even if the Stamps do win straight up, that line may be too high. We can well imagine the Bombers covering in a 3-point, game-winning field goal victimization. (Ask the average Bombers’ fan about heartbreaking finishes and trampled dreams.) With money already on the Stamps and the Bombers to win the Grey Cup, NFLbets can afford to hedge a little here on what appears to be the better side: Take the Winnipeg Blue Bombers +5 at Calgary.

NFLbets’ recommendations for CFL semi-final playoff betting :
•  Ottawa RedBlacks -3½ vs Hamilton; and
•  Winnipeg Blue Bombers +5 at Calgary.

CFL best bets record to date: 10-9.
CFL recommendations record to date: 13-10.
Overall record: 23-19.

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.