Slam Dunk picks: underdogs in ideal spots

Every team that has a worse record than their opponent is an underdog in Week 9.

That’s commonplace in most sports, but the CFL – except for Calgary at the top and Montreal the bottom – keeps the pack together, which means value to be had for bettors.

The teams getting points are in ideal spots, the Lions must win to have a chance at claiming the regular season series with Edmonton alive, the Ticats play better on the road and the Alouettes can’t be any worse than a week ago.

Let’s dial up the dogs.

Edmonton Eskimos (5-2) at B.C. Lions (2-4)
Thursday, August 9, 10 p.m. EST

Travis Lulay has the Lions feeling the West coast vibes.

Ever since Lulay has taken over the starting quarterback duties in B.C., remarkably less than one year after suffering an ACL injury, the Lions have played with a renewed energy.

Under Jon Jennings, the Leos beat a poor Montreal team and were blown out by Edmonton and Winnipeg. Lulay led a comeback, nearly did the same a week later and the veteran signal caller put together the best performance any QB has had year to date when trying to move the ball against a stingy Stampeders defence.

Line: Eskimos favoured by 3.5 points
Pick: B.C.
Bet: $23 spread returns $20

Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-4) at Winnipeg Blue Bombers (4-3)
Friday, August 10, 8:30 p.m. EST

Winnipeg was without Matt Nichols in the first meeting of the season, Chris Streveler was at the controls during a 14-point win by Hamilton. Even though the Bombers have won two games in a row and are coming off a bye, Nichols’ presence alone isn’t worth 10.5 points on the line as the Ticats were 4.5-point favourites in Week 3.

Jeremiah Masoli diced the Bombers secondary, known for giving cushions, for 369 yards and Hamilton has added burner Chris Williams to the mix who seems due for an impactful play or game. Take Williams, Brandon Banks, Luke Tasker, Jalen Saunders and Terrence Toliver to beat Winnipeg’s cover men.

Line: Bombers favoured by 6 points
Pick: Hamilton
Bet: $22 spread returns $20 and $10 money line returns $30

Montreal Alouettes (1-6) at Ottawa Redblacks (4-3)
Saturday, August 11, 8 p.m. EST

Johnny Manziel likely can’t have a poorer showing than in his CFL debut, but facing Noel Thorpe’s defence presents a much different look than Jerry Glanville’s who has schemed up a strong defence during his first year in the CFL. Thorpe has been in the league for years and he’s adept at confusing inexperienced three-down pivots, that’s a stiff challenge for Manziel.

Head coach Mike Sherman admitted the Als were terrible in Johnny Football’s debut and the birds must be markedly better around the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner to have a legitimate shot – dare it to be said – of being victorious. Montreal’s defensive personnel was put in tough situations time and time again because of all the turnovers in allowing 50 points to Hamilton. Manziel must produce more than three points if the Alouettes have a prayer.

Trevor Harris was stellar in Montreal during Week 3, throwing for 342 yards and three touchdowns, but Ottawa won by just 10 points. Jeff Mathews played quarterback for the Als that game and surely Manziel is an upgrade, especially after all the assets Montreal traded.

Line: Redblacks favoured by 14 points
Pick: Montreal
Bet: $11 spread returns $10

Season record against the spread: 12-10-1

Money line: 2-2

Teasers: 2-1

Over/under: 0-1

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