Here’s the lineup for Week 7 in the Canadian Football League.
Edmonton at Montreal: The Alouettes are mired in an obscene 1-15 SU, 2-14 ATS slide over their last 16 regular season games dating back to last season, and yesterday they pulled the trigger on a massive trade that symbolizes the depths of hell this franchise is in right now. The hands down worst team in the CFL shook the foundation of their organization up in a big way by aquiring Johnny Manziel in a trade with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
As part of the deal, they also picked up a pair of offensive linemen from the Ticats while sending DE Jamaal Westerman, WR Chris Williams and a pair of first round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 the other way. The Alouettes parted with a lot and paid a lot to get Manziel in an act of desperation. The Alouettes are a mess on and off the field right now. Montreal is 1-4 SU and their offense is the worst in the CFL by far as the Alouettes have managed just 69 points in five games.
They have already had three different QB’s take snaps for them in games this season – Drew Willy, Jeff Mathews and Matt Shiltz, and none of them appear to be capable of being CFL starting QB’s right now. It isn’t much better off the field with ticket sales and interest in the Alouettes dwindling with every loss. This was a trade the Alouettes made in order to try and revitalize a disgruntled and fading fan base as much as it was a trade to attempt to stabilize the QB position and the overall team. It’s an unknown as to whether or not Manziel will start on Thursday night in this game against Edmonton but he will be going to Montreal to play and start as soon as possible.
Montreal also made another deal getting veteran WR Adarius Bowman from Winnipeg, although Bowman has struggled this season and continues to be plagued by dropped passes. Montreal’s offense has been bad but now faces the uphill climb of bringing in a new QB, new WR, a pair of new offensive linemen and trying to make it all work prior to this Thursday night game. Edmonton is coming off a bye week as they did not play in Week 6 following a home win against Toronto a couple weeks ago.
The Eskimos have exchanged wins and losses this season and enter this game at 3-2 but are just 1-4 ATS in their first five games. The Edmonton offense under QB Mike Reilly has moved the ball but often failed to finish drives with TD’s and the defense has been an ongoing sore spot since the beginning of the season. Add in the element of Edmonton being the most penalized team in the CFL so far and you have the recipe of a decent team but one that needs to shore up all phases of the game and their level of discipline in order to improve and become a true contender. MONTREAL
Toronto at Winnipeg: The Blue Bombers dominated from start to finish in a 38-20 win against the Toronto Argonauts in last week’s meeting between the two teams in Toronto and now the Bombers and Argos will face off again for the second time in as many weeks in the return match in Winnipeg. The Argos offense under former Missouri Tigers QB James Franklin is clearly experiencing growing pains and is still a work in progress. Franklin is just 1-2 as a starter since taking over for Ricky Ray with 2 TD’s to go with 3 INT’s.
A glaring and disturbing trend for Toronto is the degree of dominance their opponents have had against them recently as the Argos are in the midst of a streak of five straight games in which they have been outgained by 24 yards or more and a combined total of 718 yards during that span. The defense struggled to get stops against Winnipeg last week and continues to deal with mounting injuries and attrition as DL Frank Beltre, LB’s Taylor Reed and Bear Woods and DB’s Johnny Sears and Matt Black, who were expected to be key contributors to the Toronto defense, have all missed time with various ailments this season. Winnipeg let a big 17-0 lead slip away in BC two weeks ago but they responded positively after that tough loss with a very thorough performance on both sides of the football.
The defense smothered the Toronto offense while QB Matt Nichols had 2 TD passes and the team racked up 429 total yards and a nice pass/run balance of 245 through the air and 184 on the ground. Winnipeg is now 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings against Toronto and the Over is 5-0 in those games. WINNIPEG
Ottawa at Hamilton: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are one of many CFL teams unable to string consistency together from game-to-game. Hamilton lost their season opener to Calgary, won a pair of impressive games in a row against Edmonton and Winnipeg and then followed that up by suffering B2B losses to Saskatchewan. Hamilton’s offense started the season strong but QB Jeremiah Masoli has taken a step back in the last two games as the Ticats got shut down by the very tough Saskatchewan defense.
Hamilton traded Manziel to Montreal this past weekend and that has the potential to really ease the mind of Masoli moving forward and could lead him to being much more relaxed knowing the top QB spot is firmly his for the foreseeable future as the team prepares to face their first divisional foe of the season on Saturday hosting the Ottawa Redblacks. The two additions to the team in the Manziel trade are good ones. Jamaal Westerman at DE provides the Ticats with a vaunted pass rusher to help get more pressure on opposing QB’s and WR Chris Williams gives the team more speed at wide out, which is a component head coach June Jones likes to have in his offense.
Ottawa got a much needed win in gut-it-out fashion coming from behind to beat the BC Lions last week at home. The Redblacks’ only two losses this season have come against Calgary but they have also lacked a complete 60 minute performance outside of their home blowout win against Saskatchewan. QB Trevor Harris and the offense have yet to put together two good performances in a row and their only road win this season came against the worst team in the league.
Hamilton is off two straight losses but they have played their entire schedule so far exclusively against West division opponents, which I think will have them toughened up for this game as they finally step down in class and play teams inside their own division, the weaker division top to bottom. I like the situation here for Hamilton and the price is short enough where I will make the Ticats my Week 7 best bet recommendation. Best Bet: HAMILTON -4
Calgary at Saskatchewan Roughriders: The Calgary Stampeders finally didn’t cover a pointspread for the first time this season in their 25-8 win against Montreal last week.
That was only because they were laying an obscene -20 in that game, the largest pointspread in CFL history, but it was a very businesslike type of win for the best team in the CFL as their defense was again suffocating, making it five straight games to begin the season in which the Stamps have allowed 14 points or less in a game.
Calgary is not only 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS this season but they are also 5-0 to the Under thanks to that dominant defense. Calgary will go on the road here to face Saskatchewan but traveling has been no issue for them either. Calgary defeated Ottawa and Toronto in their two previous road games this season by a combined 68-10, going 2-0 SU and ATS in the process. Saskatchewan has righted the ship to a certain extent notching two straight wins against Hamilton to improve to 3-2, and QB Brandon Bridge made significant progress as a starter in the CFL with his solid performance in last week’s victory, but things are about to get much more difficult for Bridge as he tries to navigate this Riders offense against the best defense in the CFL.
Saskatchewan’s defense has shown they are pretty darn good too, as they have surrendered 20 points or less in three of their five games and that Saskatchewan defense certainly has it in them to keep their team in games, which they have already shown so far this season. SASKATCHEWAN