3DownNation CFL picks: holy crap, there’s football

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

Holy crap, there’s football.

The CFL is finally back following the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve spent enough time waiting, so let’s get right into the game picks of our 3DownNation contributors.

Thursday, August 5
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 8:30 p.m. EST
Betting Line: Ticats -3.5

The 2021 CFL season opens with a rematch of the 2019 Grey Cup, which saw the Blue Bombers upset the heavily-favoured Ticats by a score of 33-12. Andrew Harris and Darvin Adams are out for Winnipeg due to injury, while DeVier Posey, Bralon Addison, Chris Van Zeyl, and Ted Laurent will be out for Hamilton.

DUNK: It’s simple: the Bombers are better in the trenches right now. BOMBERS

HODGE: With two young tackles in the starting lineup, I’m not confident the Ticats will be able to block Jackson Jeffcoat and Willie Jefferson. BOMBERS

ABBOTT: Hamilton feels like the better team here, but I can’t pick them in good conscience until I know if either Trevon Tate or Kay Okafor is capable of blocking Willie Jefferson. BOMBERS

BALLANTINE: Hamilton proves that revenge is a dish best-served cold, beating Winnipeg in a regular season game. That is certainly more fulfilling than a championship, right? TICATS

FILOSO: Normally a full house and banner ceremony would do the trick, but no Andrew Harris or Darvin Adams means Hamilton spoils the party. TICATS 

GASSON: The Ticats will be the best regular season team but that O-line is pretty beat up right now. BOMBERS

HUDSON: Harris misses his game day appointment and, without LaPolice there to cover the absence, Hamilton is too much in this Grey Cup rematch. TICATS

LUDWIG: This is an opportunity for Winnipeg to make a big statement, but it’s not likely. There are some injuries for both teams, but Hamilton still holds the advantage. TICATS

MCGUIRE: Hamilton has the superior roster. No defending Grey Cup champion has won on banner night since 2015. TICATS

SMITH: Can’t go undefeated if you lose the first game. TICATS


Friday, August 6
B.C. Lions at Saskatchewan Roughriders, 9:30 p.m. EST
Betting Line: Riders -4.5

The Saskatchewan Roughriders open their season at home, where the team narrowly lost to Winnipeg in the 2019 West Final. B.C. has a brand new coaching staff that’s been tasked with ensuring Michael Reilly remains upright, while the Riders are hoping their injuries along the offensive line don’t slow down reigning West Division MOP Cody Fajardo.

DUNK: If Michael Reilly plays, the Lions win. LIONS

HODGE: A young B.C. front-seven isn’t the best team to take advantage of Saskatchewan’s issues along the offensive line. RIDERS

ABBOTT: There will be enough question marks on this field for the Riddler to wear the turf as a suit, but I think the Riders’ injury situation lends itself to an upset. LIONS

BALLANTINE: If it was any other western team and I’d be picking them to win, but I think the Lions are pretty bad. RIDERS

FILOSO: The Rick Campbell era in B.C. starts with a big win on the road. LIONS

GASSON: This might come down to defence, in which case I’ll take the home team. RIDERS

HUDSON: A movable object in Saskatchewan’s O-line meets a stoppable force in B.C.’s D-line. Home field the difference. RIDERS

LUDWIG: Jason Maas vs. protege Jordan Maksymic is a great sub-plot. Similar weapons for the two, Sask gets the nod through a better D-line and Mosaic energy. RIDERS

MCGUIRE: Mike Reilly will be better in his second season as Leos signal-caller but not better enough to win opening night in Regina. RIDERS

SMITH: Cody Fajardo gets a lot of love, but so did Jonathon Jennings after one great season. Give me the wily veteran Michael Reilly over the banged up Riders. LIONS


Saturday, August 7
Toronto Argonauts at Calgary Stampeders, 6:00 p.m. ET
Betting Line: Stamps -5

The new-look Argos are heading to Calgary where they’ll look to hit the ground running with a roster featuring a large contingent of CFL free agent signings and NFL castoffs. The Stamps will look for two-time league MOP Bo Levi Mitchell to lead them into another successful year despite the off-season departure of a number of top players.

DUNK: Slim and trim Bo Levi Mitchell. STAMPS

HODGE: Call me crazy, but I don’t like Calgary’s receiving corps and I love Toronto’s pass-rush. ARGOS

ABBOTT: The Argos have a team full of flashy new additions that will drive headlines all season. That rarely results in early team chemistry. STAMPS

BALLANTINE: Toronto suffers from a lack of preseason games. Hughes gets to Bo twice, but that isn’t enough. STAMPS

FILOSO: Calgary reloads, Toronto rebuilds. STAMPS

GASSON: Calgary at home. STAMPS.

HUDSON: The 6ix-peders visit their old neighbourhood, but are seeing ghosts of years past. With lots of player turnover, take the consistent coaching staff for the win. STAMPS

LUDWIG: Weirdly, I need Calgary to demonstrate they’re the same old Stampeders. Early bold take! ARGOS

MCGUIRE: The Argos will be a dumpster fire all year long and overmatched on opening weekend. STAMPS

SMITH: Toronto looks great on paper, Calgary looks great on the field. STAMPS


Saturday, August 7
Ottawa Redblacks at Edmonton Elks, 9:00 p.m. ET
Betting Line: Elks -5

Offensive gurus Paul LaPolice and Jaime Elizondo have taken over as the new head coaches of CFL clubs that are headed in opposite directions. The Elks have generated plenty of hype for their offensive firepower, while the Redblacks have had people questioning whether or not they’ll win a game at all.

DUNK: Easy money. Antler up. ELKS

HODGE: Easiest pick of the week. This game shouldn’t be close. ELKS

ABBOTT: Super season ’88 might be a fond memory by the time the year is over. ELKS

BALLANTINE: Edmonton is an average squad with a bad name. Ottawa is worse on both counts. ELKS

FILOSO: Ottawa East upsets Ottawa West. REDBLACKS 

GASSON: Ottawa has too much to figure out still. ELKS

HUDSON: Take the organization that has been eager to get back on the field and sell their new name. ELKS

LUDWIG: There’s no such thing as a lock in the CFL, but if Edmonton loses there should be immediate concern. ELKS

MCGUIRE: Matt Nichols will succeed after time to adjust to new surroundings. Trevor Harris has already had time to adjust to new surroundings. ELKS

SMITH: Can’t go winless if you win the first game. ELKS

ELKS — 9

2019 Records

Smith: 68-18
Hodge: 64-22
Ballantine: 62-24
Gasson: 60-26
Dunk: 54-32
Filoso: 53-33