CFL comes out Week 1 with dogs barking
June 27, 2017 3:00 AM
by Ian Cameron
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ian Cameron’s CFL roundups will take a bye next week, returning for the July 11 edition of GamingToday.
Week 1 of the Canadian Football League season is in the books and the main theme from a betting perspective that I took away is last year’s results were overrated and overvalued in the betting markets.
Underdogs swept the board with a perfect 4-0 ATS mark with two of those underdogs winning outright (Edmonton and Toronto) and the other two dogs (Ottawa and Saskatchewan) were neck and neck with their opponent as the Redblacks (+5.5 to +6 was the closing line) tied the Calgary Stampeders 31-31 and the Roughriders (+7 closing line) lost by a single point 17-16 to the Montreal Alouettes.
All four underdogs covered the number in Week 1 and had a regular season SU record last season that was worse than their opponent’s. That speaks volumes about the fact you can be fairly bad in one season in the CFL and yet that doesn’t always translate to the very beginning of the next year.
The most impressive performance from a team in Week 1 in my opinion came from the Toronto Argonauts in a rather remarkable 32-15 dominating win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It was remarkable because this was a totally rebuilt Argos roster with a ton of new and young faces on both sides of the football and was being taken over by a new GM and entirely brand new coaching staff. Yet the Argos took the field for their first game of their new regime and looked like a well-oiled machine in a thorough dismantling of the Ti-cats.
Toronto outgained Hamilton by a whopping margin of 545-258 in total yards and took advantage of an injury decimated Ticats secondary in the passing game led by veteran QB Ricky Ray and a receiving corps that showed potential. On the flip side, the constant pressure applied by the Argos defensively registering 5 sacks on beleaguered Hamilton QB Zach Collaros was relentless as they rarely gave Collaros a single opportunity to have a clean pocket and step up to make throws down the field.
Toronto’s surprising first win in their first game will lead many to believe if this team is ready to be good right away but the Argos will be in for a stiffer challenge on Friday hosting the BC Lions who were expected to be a Grey Cup contender entering the campaign but will be looking to bounce back from a tough last second loss 30-27 at home to Edmonton.
Their game ended in a tie but the other CFL squad that impressed me the most in Week 1 was the Ottawa Redblacks. Ottawa came into the season as defending Grey Cup champions and many thought this team defensively could take a step backward due to significant personnel changes and also whether or not QB Trevor Harris was ready to thrive in a No. 1 QB role for the first time in his career. Up until a late 4th quarter fumble that changed the complexion of the game, Ottawa’s retooled defense had bottled up the juggernaut Calgary Stampeders offense but Calgary got a pair of late TD’s to tie the game and force OT where nothing was decided and the game ended in a 31-31 tie.
Ottawa was able to totally stop the run which is key against Calgary who enjoys using RB Jerome Messam, a big bodied and physical runner, to gradually wear down opposing defenses late in games. That forced Calgary into a more one dimensional attack through the air and it is one that even last year’s CFL most Outstanding Player in Bo Levi Mitchell struggled with for most of the game. You could have made a case that was Mitchell’s worst game in two years.
Meanwhile, Ottawa QB Trevor Harris played a very solid game against a formidable Calgary defense that led many statistical categories a season ago. He threw for 300 passing yards and 3 TD’s in Friday night’s OT tie. From an overall talent perspective, it’s hard to despite that Ottawa isn’t the best team in the East Division and they went a long way toward showing they might still be the team to beat in the East here in the 2017 season.
A new season always brings change and Week 1 of the CFL season was no different. Many of the better teams from last season stumbled against weaker squads from a season ago. However, with each new season, hope springs eternal and the trend of teams being horrible one season to very good the next has been prevalent in the CFL.
From a betting perspective, it bears watching and paying close attention in the weeks to come if some of the league’s worst teams from last season can sustain the “new hope” they put on display in the first week of the 2017 campaign.