The quest for Grey Cup glory begins Friday as the 2012 CFL season kicks off in Hamilton with the Tiger-Cats hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Our CFL expert posted an impressive 17-8 ATS (68-percent) record with CFL picks in 2011 and we’ll feature all the weekly best bets right here!
QB Burris brings years of experience to a Hamilton squad that had failed to live up to expectations under the guidance of career underachiever Kevin Glenn
WEEK 1 CFL
SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS AT HAMILTON TIGER-CATS
CFL Odds by Pinnacle: Tiger-Cats -7, Over/Under 48.5
The Tiger-Cats will once again look to escape mediocrity with several off-season moves, the most significant being the acquisition of veteran pivot Henry Burris from the Calgary Stampeders. Sports handicapping sites have moved Hamilton’s Grey Cup odds from +350 as high at +479 while bettors contemplate Burris’ impact but the consensus seems positive.
At the ripe old age of 37, Burris looked anything but stale during preseason, picking apart Winnipeg’s first team defense going 16 for 22 with 180 yards through the air and 91 yards on the ground in the first-half alone. Although it is still early, it appears Burris has meshed well with standout receiver Chris Williams and he also has the likes of WRs Dave Stala, Bakari Grant and Andy Fantuz at his disposal. That lineup should send shivers down the spines of a Saskatchewan secondary that is lacking playmakers.
Fast Fact: Burris and the Stampeders offense last season ranked higher than Hamilton in passing yards (258), completion percentage (62.9) and yards per completion (7.8)
MAYOR OR MAY NOT
The addition of Odell Willis should improve the pass rush for the Green Riders but we question whether it will be enough. Willis tied last season for the league-lead with 13 sacks but that was thanks in part to a buzzing Blue Bomber secondary. Opposing QBs struggled to find open targets through coverage but this crop of Saskatchewan defensive backs cannot be considered an elite group.
On the offensive side, the Riders added protection for QB Darian Durant in the hope that Durant can return to 2010 form. He struggled with ball control last year but with Dominic Picard and Brendon LaBatte, Double-D should have more time to setup shop and make better decisions. Saskatchewan can’t afford another 2-7 SU road record (3-6 ATS) if it plans on returning to the postseason.
Patchworks moves can’t cover the defensive problems for a Saskatchewan defense that lost all three starting linebackers from 2011. Led by a true veteran, the Hamilton offense appears to have come together quickly and as the Ti-Cats look to hit the ground running, we’ve circled the “Over” as our first CFL prediction for 2012.
Pick: Take the Over
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