Montreal Alouettes at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (-9.5)
Thursday, August 27: 7:35 PM ET
This pick is the biggest no-brainer of the season thus far. The Ti-Cats are now 10-0 at Tim Hortons Field dating back to last season and are coming off of an impressive 49-20 dismantling of the Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium. Hamilton has dominated its recent opponents in all three phases of the game and has shown no signs of slowing down. The Alouettes, meanwhile, are a mess. Owner Bob Wetenhall made the inexplicable decision to fire head coach Tom Higgins just one day after he coached the Larks to their first victory at BC Place in fifteen years. Many Alouette players have since spoken in support of Higgins, an indication of the extent to which Montreal’s dressing room isn’t right. I’ll take the Ti-Cats and eat the 9.5 points.
Pick straight-up: Hamilton
Pick against the spread: Hamilton
Toronto Argonauts at Edmonton Eskimos (-4)
Friday, August 28: 9:05 PM ET
This is by far the toughest pick of the week. The Eskimos announced on Monday that James Franklin will make his first career start versus the double blue and, though it’s tough to imagine Franklin struggling more than incumbent back-up Matt Nichols, the rookie pivot’s unpredictable play makes this game very difficult to pick. As much as Edmonton’s defence was embarrassed in last week’s loss to the Ti-Cats, it’s still one of the most dominant units in the league, particularly at Commonwealth Stadium. On the flip side, Toronto’s Vidal Hazelton is beginning to establish himself as one of the CFL’s top short-side wide receivers. When in doubt, I default to the following rules when making my picks: take the home team straight-up and the underdog against the spread. That’s exactly what I’m going to do here.
Pick straight-up: Edmonton
Pick against the spread: Toronto
Calgary Stampeders (-6.5) at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Saturday, August 29: 6:05 PM ET
The Bombers almost beat the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium six weeks ago, dropping a tight 26-25 contest on the back of one of the worst special teams performances in recent CFL history. Since then, the Stamps have seen their running game begin to gel despite the loss of Jon Cornish and a half-dozen offensive linemen, while the Bombers have been forced to hand the ball to sophomore pivot Robert Marve in lieu of an injured Drew Willy. Though I don’t expect this game to be a blowout, I’ll take the Stampeders by a touchdown.
Pick straight-up: Calgary
Pick against the spread: Calgary
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Ottawa RedBlacks (-3)
Sunday, August 30: 4:05 PM ET
The ‘Riders put together a relatively impressive performance at home against the Stampeders last week, falling by a final score of 34-31. As much as I’m tempted to take the green and white against a cold Ottawa team, I’m not going against my promise from week four: I’m picking against Saskatchewan until they win a game. I’ll take the RedBlacks by a field goal or less.
Pick straight-up: Ottawa
Pick against the spread: Saskatchewan
Season record straight-up: 22-14
Season record against the spread: 19-16-1
John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk