Popular sports gambling website Bodog is back for another season of team-by-team regular season win prop bets. I prognosticated last year’s prop bets with some success, going 5-3 (I pushed on Hamilton’s line given the uncertainty about Zach Collaros’ recovery from ACL surgery).
Here are my picks for this year’s prop bet lines:
Losing studs like Adam Bighill and Alex Bazzie will take a bite out of the Lions’ defence, but adding Chris Williams to an already potent receiving corps should help B.C.’s offensive attack. I have concerns with how the Lions will replace future Canadian Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jovon Olafioye, though, now in his third season, Jonathon Jennings should have an easier time making quick decisions with the ball. Having only two dates with the Stampeders — one fewer than a year ago — should also help the Leos’ fortunes. I’ll pick B.C. to reach twelve wins.
Calgary Stampeders (12.5 wins)
The Stamps were by far and away the CFL’s best team a season ago and the club would have won the Grey Cup had it not been for a monumental collapse in the season’s final game. The biggest challenge for Calgary in 2017 won’t be winning a ton of games in the regular season, but not allowing complacency to set in prior to another playoff run. I don’t think the Stamps will match their 15-win total from a year ago, but a 13-5 record is well within reach for the league’s deepest team.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (8 wins)
The Bombers were the best buy in Bodog’s prop bets last season and I’d argue the same is true again in 2017. Though this year’s line isn’t as juicy as last year’s (6.5 wins), Winnipeg has 17 of 24 starters returning for the upcoming season under an almost identical coaching staff. This includes quarterback Matt Nichols who, while not among the league’s elite passers, posted an impressive 10-3 record as a starter down the stretch. I could see the Bombers regressing in 2017 if they’re bitten hard by the injury bug, but I wouldn’t bet on the club falling below .500.
Edmonton Eskimos (10 wins)
The Eskimos are an interesting outfit. On one hand, the additions of Forrest Hightower, Johnny Adams, and Arjen Colquhoun should help stabilize the secondary — the club’s weak-link from a season ago. On the other, it’s tough to overlook the loss of Derel Walker and the club’s uncertainty at weak-side linebacker. I’m predicting the Eskimos will finish with exactly ten wins, so I’m going to take a push on this line.
Saskatchewan Roughriders (7.5 wins)
The Riders appear to have uncovered some intriguing rookies in defensive ends Tobi Antigha and Davis ‘Jethro’ Tull, but the roster still has a number of short-comings. Featuring a patch-work secondary, no experience at strong-side linebacker, and arguably the league’s worst quarterbacking, the Riders will need a lot of things to go their way to be in the hunt for a playoff spot in the tough West Division. The green and white may be improved from a season ago, but I don’t see them getting to 8 wins.
Ottawa Redblacks (9.5 wins)
Losing Henry Burris is huge, but operating behind arguably the CFL’s best offensive line should help Trevor Harris with the transition to full-time starter. Diontae Spencer and Kenny Shaw should help make up for the losses of Chris Williams and Ernest Jackson, while Khalil Bass brings an upgrade to the linebacking corps. My concern with Ottawa is its secondary — even with the addition of A.J. Jefferson, losing Mitchell White, Forrest Hightower, and Abdul Kanneh in one off-season is a mighty blow. I’m picking the Redblacks to go .500.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8.5 wins)
This will sound cliché, but in Hamilton’s case it applies: the Ticats’ success is hugely contingent upon the health of the club’s starting quarterback. Zach Collaros needs to do a better job of avoiding hits this season, settling for dump-offs and throwaways when defenders start to swarm the pocket. If Collaros can learn to play a more conservative game, I like the Tabbies’ chances of finishing at or above .500 in 2017.
Montreal Alouettes (8.5 wins)
I love Darian Durant’s game, but I have a hard time getting over the mismanagement we’ve already seen from Kavis Reed’s new regime in Montreal. Releasing Bear Woods was a mistake, while the club’s continued commitment to a fast-aging defensive core (John Bowman, 34; Kyries Hebert, 36; Chip Cox, 33) is short-sighted. The additions of Jovon Olafioye and Brian Simmons should settle the offensive line, but I think the Alouettes will be on the outside looking in again come playoff time.
Toronto Argonauts (8.5 wins)
The Argos are the league’s biggest unknown heading into 2017. Adding Marc Trestman, a number of former Alouettes (S.J. Green, Bear Woods, and Alan-Michael Cash), and some returning NFLers (Marcus Ball and Cleyon Laing) means there are reasons for optimism in Argoland. The quarterback position is a big question, however, with 38-year-old Ricky Ray entrenched as the starter and the raw Cody Fajardo as his back-up. The left tackle spot is also in flux, which could prove disastrous given Ray’s history of injury. The Argos could be the league’s turnaround team of 2017, but for me there are simply too many question marks abound.