Edmonton Eskimos at Montreal Alouettes (Pick ’em)
Thursday, August 13: 7:35 PM ET
For me, this game is a toss-up. Both teams are coming off tight, 26-23 road losses and should be raring to get back in the win column. Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette is reporting that John Bowman will likely start for the Alouettes after missing multiple practices early in the week, a huge boost for Montreal’s pass rush. Chris O’Leary of the Edmonton Journal, meanwhile, reported on Monday that back-up Eskimo quarterback James Franklin saw an increased workload in practice this week, suggesting that starter Matt Nichols’ leash may be shortened after a disappointing outing in Vancouver last Thursday. Though I see Montreal winning this game at least four times out of ten, I’m taking the Eskimos in what I expect to be a very close contest.
Pick straight-up: Edmonton
Pick against the spread: Edmonton
Toronto Argonauts (-6) at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Friday, August 14: 8:00 PM ET
The Bombers enter week eight with second-year pivot Robert Marve set to make his first career start in the absence of an injured Drew Willy. Marve’s high-risk, run-and-gun style of play will be put to the test against an Argonaut defence that currently sits third in the CFL in takeways at 1.83 per game. Both teams will be without stand-out wide receivers in this contest as Winnipeg’s Darvin Adams and Toronto’s Kevin Elliott landed on injured reserve earlier this week. Hoping to carry over their pass rushing success from last week, the Bombers will welcome defensive linemen Bryant Turner and Greg Peach back into the fold following stints on the six-game injured list. Though I’m not willing to eat the six points, I’m taking the double blue in a close game.
Pick straight-up: Toronto
Pick against the spread: Winnipeg
BC Lions at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (-8.5)
Saturday, August 15: 7:05 PM ET
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are 9-0 all-time at Tim Hortons Field and, much in the same way that I’ve decided not to pick Saskatchewan until they win, I won’t be picking against Hamilton at home until they lose. I expect Ted Laurent and the rest of the Ti-Cats’ dominant defence to shut down M.O.P. candidate Andrew Harris en route to a lopsided victory. Though I believe Hamilton’s offence to be somewhat overrated, the number of takeaways Orlondo Steinauer’s defence has been able to produce this season has allowed Zach Collaros and company to enjoy excellent field position on a regular basis. BC’s head coach Jeff Tedford would be wise to bring a set of earplugs to Hamilton — that steam whistle is awfully loud.
Pick straight-up: Hamilton
Pick against the spread: Hamilton
Ottawa RedBlacks at Calgary Stampeders (-7.5)
Sunday, August 15: 10:05 PM ET
The Ottawa RedBlacks are starting to re-earn my trust after letting me down in week three versus the Eskimos. Henry Burris has finally started putting some decent outings together, while the emergence of cornerback Brandon McDonald and defensive end Aston Whiteside has rounded out a formidable Ottawa defensive unit. With that being said, I can’t pick against John Hufnagel coming off the bye week. Coach ‘Huf’ is 8-0 in his head coaching career following the bye, a trend I’m expecting to see continue come Saturday. Though I’m unwilling to eat 7.5 points, I’m taking the Stampeders in a tight contest.
Pick straight-up: Calgary
Pick against the spread: Ottawa
Season record straight-up: 15-13
Season record against the spread: 15-12-1
John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk