3DownNation CFL picks: four West Division teams looking to stay perfect

Photo courtesy: Dominick Gravel/Alouettes de Montreal

Do you long for a time before the Ottawa Redblacks existed? You know, when the CFL only had eight teams? If so, this is the perfect week for you as the Redblacks are on a bye.

Four teams in the West Division — B.C., Calgary, Saskatchewan, and Winnipeg — are looking to stay perfect, though that’ll be easier said than done. The CFL may have four winless teams but every game this year has been competitive with the exception of Edmonton’s loss to B.C. in Week 1.

Who should you be betting on and who should you be avoiding? Check out our picks below to help make your decisions for Week 3 of the CFL season.

3DownNation contributors Justin Dunk, John Hodge, JC Abbott, Ryan Ballantine, Santino Filoso, Joel Gasson, Jonathan Hudson, Mike Ludwig, Brendan McGuire, and Josh Smith have also returned with another year of weekly game picks — for better or for worse.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Thursday, June 23

Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Montreal Alouettes – 7:30 p.m. EDT

The Riders are looking to stay perfect following a 2-0 start to the season. Star receiver Duke Williams is back after missing Week 2 due to an ankle injury, though veteran centre Dan Clark is out for the foreseeable future due to a broken fibula. Trevor Harris will look to secure Montreal’s first win of the season, though he will be without reigning CFL all-star slotback Jake Wieneke in the lineup.

DUNK: The Riders should win which means because it’s the CFL they won’t. 

Straight-up: ALS. Against the spread: ALS.

HODGE: Saskatchewan is coming off a short week but Montreal is missing a ton of impact players. Either way, this game should be close.

Straight-up: RIDERS. Against the spread: ALS.

ABBOTT: Montreal is starting their less mobile quarterback against the best pass rush in the league. In the immortal words of Almondo Sewell: “When you hit Trevor, he folds.”

Straight-up: RIDERS. Against the spread: RIDERS.

BALLANTINE: Losing Adams and others to COVID-19 this week doesn’t make the Khari Jones’ seat any cooler.

Straight-up: RIDERS. Against the spread: RIDERS.

FILOSO: Trevor Harris makes a strong case for the starting job, but Saskatchewan is simply a better team.

Straight-up: RIDERS. Against the spread: ALS.

GASSON: The Riders have a short week and the Als have a full week. We’ll talk next week. 

Straight-up: ALS. Against the spread: ALS.

HUDSON: Harris better suits an offence that is missing its star running back, but it still won’t be enough to get Montreal a win.

Straight-up: RIDERS. Against the spread: RIDERS.

LUDWIG: Saskatchewan is clearly the better team.

Straight-up: RIDERS. Against the spread: RIDERS.

MCGUIRE: Saskatchewan will be slowed by loss of Dan Clark but still good enough to squeak this one.

Straight-up: RIDERS. Against the spread: ALS.

SMITH: Despite being in complete disarray, the Als have kept it close in both their games this year. The Riders will win but it won’t be easy.

Straight-up: RIDERS. Against the spread: ALS.

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Saskatchewan 8, Montreal 2

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Montreal 6, Saskatchewan 4

Photo: David Mahussier/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 24

Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 8:30 p.m. EDT

The Ticats are looking to avoid an 0-3 start after allowing Calgary to erase a 21-point halftime deficit to win in overtime last week. Dane Evans will have to take better care of the football after committing seven turnovers through two games, while Winnipeg is still looking to get its once-dominant run game clicking after two tough games against Ottawa.

DUNK: Until Dane Evans takes care of the football, picking against the Ticats is prudent. 

Straight-up: BOMBERS. Against the spread: TICATS.

HODGE: If Winnipeg couldn’t run the ball against Ottawa, how will they be able to run it against Hamilton?

Straight-up: TICATS. Against the spread: TICATS.

ABBOTT: Dane Evans has a bad case of turnover-itis and no defence has been better at forcing turnovers the last few years than Winnipeg.

Straight-up: BOMBERS. Against the spread: TICATS.

BALLANTINE: Hamilton will be super salty after giving away a massive lead last week to fall to 0-2. Winnipeg’s once-balanced attack has disappeared. 

Straight-up: TICATS. Against the spread: TICATS.

FILOSO: Something seems off with the Ticats and playing a team that always finds a way to win isn’t a recipe for having a “get right game.”

Straight-up: BOMBERS. Against the spread: BOMBERS.

GASSON: Winnipeg finds ways to win, Hamilton finds ways to lose. 

Straight-up: BOMBERS. Against the spread: TICATS.

HUDSON: The direction of Hamilton’s season could hinge on this game.

Straight-up: BOMBERS. Against the spread: BOMBERS.

LUDWIG: The play of both teams shows there’s no distant frontrunner this year, but Winnipeg still holds an edge.

Straight-up: BOMBERS. Against the spread: BOMBERS.

MCGUIRE: Hamilton is too fragile for me to pick them on the road against the best team in the league.

Straight-up: BOMBERS. Against the spread: BOMBERS.

SMITH: The Bombers have not looked sharp but they keep finding a way. The only thing the Ticats have found a way to do so far is give up points in the fourth quarter.

Straight-up: BOMBERS. Against the spread: BOMBERS.

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Winnipeg 8, Hamilton 2

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Winnipeg 5, Hamilton 5

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

Saturday, June 25

Edmonton Elks vs. Calgary Stampeders – 7:00 p.m. EDT

Edmonton looked better this past week than they did in their season-opener, though it would have been impossible for them to look any worse. In Calgary, we saw signs of vintage Bo Levi Mitchell last week when he followed a poor first half by throwing for 230 yards and two touchdowns to lead a big comeback over the Ticats. Is Bo back for good?

DUNK: Bo Levi Mitchell could be on one. 

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: ELKS.

HODGE: Calgary cruises to 3-0 over a team that has yet to find its footing (or should I say hoofing?)

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: STAMPS.

ABBOTT: Bo looked like his old self in the second half last week, but he could probably beat this Edmonton defence throwing left-handed.

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: ELKS.

BALLANTINE: The Elks are still doing a lot of roster shuffling, and that doesn’t do anything to help this team look any better.

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: STAMPS.

FILOSO: Calgary has a better roster AND better coaching. Easy to pick the winner but that spread is huge. 

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: ELKS.

GASSON: We’ll find out if Bo is back or not. 

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: STAMPS.

HUDSON: I’ll take Calgary but the Battle of Alberta is always close.

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: ELKS.

LUDWIG: Calgary is lucky to be 2-0 — enough so that I’m taking another unsound risk on Edmonton.

Straight-up: ELKS. Against the spread: ELKS.

MCGUIRE: Chris Jones has his defence on the right track but Dave Dickenson will have his crew up to the task.

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: STAMPS.

SMITH: Edmonton stinks and Calgary looks like they are a lot better than many of us thought.

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: STAMPS.

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Calgary 9, Edmonton 1

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Calgary 5, Edmonton 5

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/BC Lions

Saturday, June 25

Toronto Argonauts vs. B.C. Lions – 10:00 p.m. EDT

This game features the two biggest question marks in the CFL as the Argos and Lions have only played one game through two weeks of action. Toronto is coming off an ugly contest they should have lost with Montreal’s David Côté missing a 21-yard field goal late last week. The Lions are looking to carry the positive momentum over from Week 1 when they torched Edmonton in front of a raucous home crowd.

DUNK: The Argos aren’t ready for Nathan Rourke. 

Straight-up: LIONS. Against the spread: LIONS.

HODGE: I don’t see B.C. repeating their blowout win from Week 1 but I think they’ll take advantage of Toronto’s long travel time.

Straight-up: LIONS. Against the spread: LIONS.

ABBOTT: It would be impossible for B.C. to look as good as they did in Week 1, but Toronto just doesn’t scare me.

Straight-up: LIONS. Against the spread: LIONS.

BALLANTINE: This is the toughest game of the week to pick as Toronto should have lost last week, and B.C. has only played the Elks. 

Straight-up: ARGOS. Against the spread: ARGOS.

FILOSO: It’s hard to really know how good the Lions are but it’s not like the Argos were overly impressive in their fortunate win against Montreal. 

Straight-up: LIONS. Against the spread: ARGOS.

GASSON: An East Division team playing the late game in B.C.?

Straight-up: LIONS. Against the spread: LIONS.

HUDSON: East Division teams in B.C. always concern me, but so do teams coming off the bye.

Straight-up: ARGOS. Against the spread: ARGOS.

LUDWIG: The Lions aren’t winning by 44 points, but Toronto should be more than a 4.5-point underdog.

Straight-up: LIONS. Against the spread: LIONS.

MCGUIRE: I’m feeling great about B.C.’s mojo and still not sure about the Argos. Plus the late start doesn’t help Toronto’s chances.

Straight-up: LIONS. Against the spread: LIONS.

SMITH: A trip across the country and a 10 p.m. body clock game means I am taking a fresh Lions team looking to prove Week 1 was no fluke.

Straight-up: LIONS. Against the spread: LIONS.

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: B.C. 8, Toronto 2

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: B.C. 7, Toronto 3

Records to date (straight-up)

BALLANTINE — 7-1
DUNK — 7-1
FILOSO — 6-2
GASSON — 6-2
HODGE — 6-2
HUDSON — 6-2
LUDWIG — 6-2
MCGUIRE — 6-2
ABBOTT — 5-3
SMITH — 5-3

Records to date (against the spread)

BALLANTINE — 7-1
FILOSO — 7-1
GASSON — 6-2
HUDSON — 6-2
MCGUIRE — 5-3
ABBOTT — 4-4
DUNK — 4-4
HODGE — 4-4
LUDWIG — 3-5
SMITH — 3-5