We’re still not sold on Alouettes
July 03, 2018 3:00 AM
by Ian Cameron
This week’s best in the CFL.
Hamilton -6 at Saskatchewan (49): The Saskatchewan Roughriders were the unfortunate group that allowed themselves to be victimized in Week 3 by a team that had lost 13 straight football games both SU and ATS dating back to last season. Saskatchewan went down to defeat 23-17 at the hands of the dysfunctional Montreal Alouettes and most of it was due to some of the worst play out of the QB position a team will ever have in a single game.
Brandon Bridge had a brutal first half for the Riders throwing two costly INT’s and was replaced by David Watford in the second half. Watford did complete a TD pass but he was still inaccurate and inefficient throwing the ball. Saskatchewan QB’s Bridge and Watford combined to complete just 18-of-40 passes for a sub 50% completion rate.
Montreal’s offense struggled for a large part of the game but they were able to hit on a couple big plays – including a Drew Willy 79 yard TD pass to Chris Williams – which were the difference in the end to snap an ugly 13-game skid. This was a bad, bad loss at home for Saskatchewan and now questions about an offense lacking stability at QB along with a subpar offensive line are most assuredly at the forefront for this squad as they prepare on a short week of practice and prep for a red hot Hamilton Tiger-Cats squad coming into Regina for a Thursday night matchup to kickoff Week 4.
Hamilton has registered consecutive wins against good competition defeating Edmonton and Winnipeg. QB Jeremiah Masoli has notched consecutive 300-plus yard passing efforts and the defense has settled in rather nicely for the Ticats, holding the potent Eskimos and Bombers to a combined 38 points in their last two games. Hamilton are deserving road favorites in this game but it’s a question of whether there is value there to back them laying close to a full TD. Slight lean to HAMILTON.
Ottawa -6 at Montreal (48.5): Blip on the radar or sign of a turnaround? That is the key question begging to be asked regarding Montreal’s 13-game, losing-streak-snapping 23-17 road victory in Saskatchewan. I think I need to be further convinced. Give Montreal credit for the win but they basically had the game given to them by a Saskatchewan team that was lacking any sort of solid fundamental play on either side of the football, and QB play that kept turning the ball over and giving the Alouettes offense great and instant field position to work with.
The numbers for Drew Willy were still rather pedestrian going 8-for-15 before he got knocked out of the game due to injury. Jeff Matthews took over from that point and was solid but not spectacular. Montreal did have their best defensive performance of the season with Saskatchewan only gaining a grand total of 279 yards. Ottawa had a pitiful offensive effort against Calgary last week in a 24-14 loss to the Stampeders. QB Trevor Harris was under pressure and struggled with his accuracy down the field. Ottawa was plagued by numerous dropped passes as well. The Redblacks are 5-1 SU and ATS in the last six meetings between these divisional foes. Best Bet: OTTAWA
Edmonton -5 at Toronto (52.5): The Toronto Argonauts have hardly looked like defending Grey Cup champions in their first two games, starting the 2018 season winless at 0-2 SU and ATS. They were soundly beaten by Calgary a couple weeks ago after losing their season opener in Saskatchewan against a Roughriders team that since then have lost two straight games by a combined score of 63-34 against Ottawa and Montreal.
Toronto lost their starting QB Ricky Ray for the entire season in the loss to Calgary, which means it’s now James Franklin time as the former Missouri Tiger QB will now take over the reins for the Argos offense starting with this game against Edmonton. Toronto gets the benefit of coming off a bye week here and that has given head coach Marc Trestman and QB James Franklin plenty of time to get an offensive game plan installed for this team moving forward, and also allow Franklin to get plenty of reps in practice with the first team offense to get him ready for his new role as the No. 1 QB of this team in place of the injured veteran Ricky Ray.
On the other side, Edmonton bounced back from a home loss to Hamilton and overcame a slow start to rally past the BC Lions 41-22 last week. Edmonton games have gone Over the total in three straight to begin the season. OVER
BC Lions +3.5 at Winnipeg (53): The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, sitting at 1-2, will likely welcome a return home for the first time since they played Edmonton in Week 1 after being on the road for two consecutive games in the east, splitting the two games against Montreal and Hamilton. Winnipeg rookie QB Chris Streveler, who is playing in place of injured No. 1 QB Matt Nichols, has looked solid for the most part but finally encountered a few more growing pains in last week’s 31-17 loss to the Ticats. He was only 17-for-30 passing in the game and failed to have a TD pass.
It was probably his worst game of the season – not that he played terribly but it was a much more plodding and pedestrian effort from the Blue Bombers’ offensive attack last week in comparison to their opening two games. The defense is where there are some legitimate concerns for Winnipeg as that group has given up 31-plus points in two games outside of playing the lowly Montreal Alouettes. That will need to be shored up and maybe it can happen here against the BC Lions whose offense really hasn’t found any sort of consistency or rhythm, and neither has QB Jonathon Jennings. He has thrown for fewer than 200 passing yards per game, on average, in two games this season against Montreal and Edmonton.
The Lions started strong in the first half but the offense regressed as the game went on last week against the Eskimos. BC’s pass offense is ranked eighth in the CFL so far and this is a league where it is hard to win if you aren’t getting better production through the air than that.
Both teams are off a loss, which should make for a very competitive game as most of the recent meetings between the Lions and Blue Bombers have been. Each of the last six meetings has been decided by single digits and the Over is 5-1 in those games. OVER