Week 1 CFL odds have hit the streets and the BC Lions are ready to begin defending their title when the season kicks off Friday night. Sports betting shops were reluctant to make BC the favorite when CFL futures went mainstream but they have slipped into first place during the past two weeks and our Canadian Football League handicapper breaks down their chances along with an in-depth look at the Stampeders, Eskimos and Roughriders in this CFL online wagering preview
The Lions won 12 of 13 games straight-up to capture the 99th Grey Cup in 2011, cashing tickets at a 10-2-1 rate with online betting shops to finish as the league’s most profitable team
Fresh off of their Grey Cup victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Lions have shown no sign of slowing down in 2012 and Pinnacle sportsbook has moved the line more than a hundred points since June 15 to make BC the clear cut Grey Cup favorite.
BRITISH COLUMBIA LIONS
2011 Record: 13-7 SU/ATS and 7-12-1 O/U
Grey Cup Odds: +400 (Open) and +302 (Current)
Season Win Total: 12.5 Under -130
The Lions kept the majority of their championship roster intact during the off-season but they did lose LB Solomon Elimimian to the Minnesota Vikings and all-time sacks leader Brent Johnson to retirement. With a defense that can control the game and an offense that can explode at any given moment, the only real question mark surrounding the Lions is the departure of CFL head coaching legend Wally Buono, who will focus his attention on the GM duties this year.
Newly appointed rookie head coach Mike Benevides takes over a Lions team that is stacked but it remains to be seen how the players will respond to losing Buono on the sidelines. QB Travis Lulay has emerged as the premiere QB in the CFL and should only improve in the coming years. With just the right mix of veteran leadership and younger up and coming talent the Lions are the team to beat in the West.
2011 Record: 11-8 SU, 10-8-1 ATS and 10-9 O/U
Grey Cup Odds: +450 (Open) and +522 (Current)
Season Win Total: 11.5 Over -115
As with most teams in this QB-driven league, the fate of the Stamps’ season could weigh heavily on the play of QB Drew Tate. Tate took over late last season for long-time veteran Henry Burris (Tiger-Cats) and showed flashes of greatness but struggled late in the year and found himself back on the bench.
Coach Hufnagel gave Tate a vote of confidence by trading Burris but with his new found responsibility, it remains to be seen whether Tate will sink or swim. There will be no shortage of highly skilled targets at his disposal including Romby Bryant (51 receptions, 632 yards, 5 TD) and last year’s leading receiver Nik Lewis (93 receptions, 1209 yards, 5 TD) and if Tate’s development continues we see the Stamps moving up to 2nd place.
Calgary wideout Nik Lewis has posted seven-straight 1,000-yard seasons with 44 touchdowns
2011 Record: 12-8 SU, 10-10 ATS and 8-11-1 O/U
Grey Cup Odds: +900 (Open) and +1005 (Current)
Season Win Total: 7.5 Under -130
Edmonton’s active off-season saw a major changing of the guard when long time Eskimo QB Rick Ray was traded to the Toronto Argonauts. Steven Jyles now has the reigns and will get an opportunity to establish himself as a true starting QB.
The Esks will be Jyles’ fourth team in four years and each of his three previous campaigns he has failed to cement his role as “the guy”. While Jyles has demonstrated he can produce good stats as a fill-in for most of his time in the CFL, he has failed to produce in the category that is most important: Wins
GM Tillman also added plenty of offensive talent with the likes of former Roughriders Hugh Charles and Cary Koch, former Bomber Greg Carr and Canadian receiver Matt Carter. With addition comes subtraction, though, and the loss of standout RB Jerome Messam to the NFL will hurt the team’s offensive punch.
Chemistry could be an issue for Edmonton but upon his arrival last season, HC Kavis Reed had a nice impact overall. We like the Eskimos to challenge Calgary for the No. 2 spot n the West but with the high rate of turnover, a third place finish is most likely for the Green and Gold.
2011 Record: 5-13 SU, 6-12 ATS and 4-14 O/U
Grey Cup Odds: +900 (Open) and +1356 (Current)
Season Win Total: 6 Over -130
Riders GM Brendan Taman will have total control over his team for the first time in his career as he tries to restore the Green Riders to their former glory. Taman is notorious for stocking up on big names and veterans to build his teams and these Riders appear to be heading down that same road. Taman’s offseason additions include the likes of sack master Odell Willis, centre Dominic Picard and coveted free agent guard Brendon Labatte.
Taman’s recent one-year contract extension suggests he is expected to win sooner rather than later but much of Saskatchewan’s success will depend on which version of QB Darian Durant decides to show up. Durant had a mostly forgettable 2011 campaign which saw his production drop compared to 2010. Durant dealt with a bad case of “the turnovers” last year but with Labatte and Picard blocking up front, should find more time to make decisions.
The defensive side of the ball is a grey area for the Riders and the loss of Jerrell Freeman to the NFL leaves them with zero returning starting linebackers. In fact, the wholes defense could be considered suspect.
There is no doubt that Taman has added considerable talent to this year’s squad but how fast the team can come together is unknown and it leads us to believe the Riders will play to a last place finish.
Our CFL Picks were 17-8 ATS (68-percent) in 2011 and we’ll be posting regular Best Bets from Week 1 through to the Grey Cup. Follow EveryEdge on Twitter for all the action and don’t miss our CFL Eastern Preview in the football betting archives!
ATS: Against the Spread