3DownNation CFL picks: new quarterbacks for (almost) everyone!

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Week 12 of the CFL season is officially upon us and the more things change, the more they, uh, change?

Calgary, Ottawa, and B.C. have new starting quarterbacks, while Saskatchewan and Hamilton are also facing uncertainty at the game’s most important position. This is only a nine-team league — having this much turnover halfway through the season is weird even by CFL standards.

Brendan McGuire remains at the top of our picks standings straight-up, while Joel Gasson has overtaken the lead atop our picks standings against the spread. Eight of our ten contributors are above .500 against the spread for the first time in several weeks, so clearly they’re starting to get a good feel for where to place their bets.

Thursday, August 25: Calgary Stampeders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 8:30 p.m. ET

Jake Maier is set to make his first start of the season after Bo Levi Mitchell was benched at halftime of last week’s win over Toronto. The Stampeders will have running back Ka’Deem Carey and receiver Malik Henry back in the lineup, while Winnipeg will be without slotback Greg Ellingson and star returner Janarion Grant. The Blue Bombers won the first two meetings between these teams — can they make it a clean sweep?

DUNK: The Stamps are fully behind Jake Maier starting at quarterback over Bo Levi Mitchell and Calgary has heard enough about Winnipeg’s dominance. 

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

HODGE: Calgary’s coming off a short week and Winnipeg’s coming off a bye. This isn’t an even fight.

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

ABBOTT: A refreshed Winnipeg will be a dangerous Winnipeg.

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

BALLANTINE: Calgary is banged up, starting a new QB, and didn’t come home between road games. There is no reason they should win, except this is the CFL and logic occasionally takes the week off. 

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

FILOSO: Losing Greg Ellingson hurts, but this game comes down to Winnipeg’s defence being better than Jake Maier. That said, the Bombers have done nothing the easy way this year.

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

GASSON: Bombers finally got a break, this one might not be close like the other two meetings. 

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

HUDSON: I don’t care who Calgary starts, they are simply too tired and banged up to beat a league-leading team coming off a bye.

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

LUDWIG: Winnipeg is Winnipeg, and in favourable circumstances no less.

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

MCGUIRE: This has probably been the greatest matchup since the pandemic. Coming off a bye week, I have to take Winnipeg by a whisker.

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

SMITH: The Stamps escaped by the skin of their teeth against the Argos. A fresh Winnipeg team must be salivating in anticipation.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Winnipeg 8, Calgary 2

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Winnipeg 5, Calgary 5

Friday, August 26: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts – 7:30 p.m. ET

Are you tired of watching these two teams play? You better not be because they play next week, too. The Ticats sit two points back of the first-place Argos despite losing last week’s game to Montreal on a last-second field goal. A.J. Ouellette was effective in place of an injured Andrew Harris, though the rest of the offence was anemic. The East Division is still unclear but this two-part edition of the Battle of Ontario should help bring the picture into focus.

DUNK: If the Ticats can finish, Hamilton wins. 

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

HODGE: I keep picking Hamilton and one of these weeks it’s bound to pay off.

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

ABBOTT: Despite their records saying the opposite, Hamilton continues to look better than Toronto.

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

BALLANTINE: Didn’t we just do this twice like a week ago? The chaos agent in me wants Hamilton to win as it would generate a three-way tie atop the East, but don’t think it happens. 

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

FILOSO: Both teams are trending the wrong way, but as they’ve repeatedly shown this season, Hamilton has no finish.

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

GASSON: *Insert shrug emoji.*

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

HUDSON: Hamilton deserves a better record and Toronto deserves a worse one. Regression to the mean?

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

LUDWIG: Tight, but still leaning Hamilton. It also keeps us on track for a three-way tie at 7-11, and who doesn’t want that?

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

MCGUIRE: What is this, the seventh straight game between these two? Who are the morons who make the schedule? Look for Matt Shiltz to play well and keep it close, but not close enough.

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

SMITH: This might be the worst game of the season.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Hamilton 6, Toronto 4

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Hamilton 7, Toronto 3

Friday, August 26: Saskatchewan Roughriders at B.C. Lions – 10:30 p.m. ET

This is the second half of a home-and-home between these two teams, though a potential season-ending injury to Nathan Rourke has completely changed its complexion. Orleans, Ont. native Michael O’Connor will make his first start as a member of the Lions, while Cody Fajardo is looking to refind his confidence after a poor outing last week. Running back Jamal Morrow and receiver Duke Williams will be out for the Riders, though receiver Kyran Moore is expected to be back from injury.

DUNK: Michael O’Connor has the arm talent and weapons around him, but he must display the ability to lead. 

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

HODGE: Rourke made life easier for the rest of B.C.’s roster. Now it’s their turn to rally around their new quarterback.

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

ABBOTT: The dropoff from Rourke to O’Connor will expose B.C.’s offensive line, but their defence won’t give the Riders a sniff.

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

BALLANTINE: Saskatchewan’s defensive line makes life miserable for O’Connor as the Riders win ugly.

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

FILOSO: B.C.’s other Canadian QB steals the spotlight.

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

GASSON: B.C.’s underrated defence will step up. The Riders’ offence will be itself. 

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

HUDSON: This would’ve been about the Lions losing Rourke if the Riders weren’t also having quarterback problems.

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

LUDWIG: For the moment, B.C. gets the benefit of the doubt.

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

MCGUIRE: The Leos have their backup quarterback and they are still favoured. A sad state of affairs for Saskatchewan.

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

SMITH: With Rourke this would have been easy. Without?

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

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

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: B.C. 6, Saskatchewan 4

Saturday, August 27: Ottawa Redblacks at Edmonton Elks – 7:00 p.m. EDT

Nick Arbuckle is set to make his first start as a member of the Ottawa Redblacks following a middling performance from Caleb Evans in last week’s loss. Tensions are high in the nation’s capital with many fans demanding change if the team can’t start winning games. The Elks still haven’t won a game at home since October 2019. Could this be the week they finally get a victory at Commonwealth Stadium?

DUNK: Ottawa is desperate, pair that with Nick Arbuckle starting and looking for revenge…

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

HODGE: Nick Arbuckle has a chance to stick it to Chris Jones. Can he do it?

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

ABBOTT: 1,051 straight days without a victory at Commonwealth is a long time. Almost as long as Ottawa’s been the laughing stock of the CFL.

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

BALLANTINE: Cant believe Josh thinks the Hamilton-Toronto game will be worse than this. 

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

FILOSO: It doesn’t matter who is under centre, Ottawa’s offence has systemic issues.

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

GASSON: I honestly can’t believe Paul LaPolice is still coaching this week. 

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

HUDSON: This pick is wrong but that’s fun.

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

LUDWIG: Nick Arbuckle revenge tour? Manifesting it, but we shall see.

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

MCGUIRE: 1,051 days after the streak began, Edmonton finally wins their first-ever home game as the Elks! Watch for this to be a thumping led by that Edmonton defence.

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

SMITH: My drug of choice this year has been picking the Redblacks. I am not ready to wean myself off that just yet.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Edmonton 7, Ottawa 3

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Edmonton 5, Ottawa 5

Records to date (straight-up)

MCGUIRE — 33-10
LUDWIG — 31-12
DUNK — 29-14
FILOSO — 29-14
ABBOTT — 28-15
SMITH — 28-15
GASSON — 27-16
BALLANTINE — 26-17
HODGE — 26-17
HUDSON — 25-18

Records to date (against the spread)

GASSON — 27-16
FILOSO — 26-17
SMITH — 26-17
ABBOTT — 24-19
BALLANTINE — 24-19
LUDWIG — 24-19
HODGE — 22-21
MCGUIRE — 22-21
DUNK — 21-22
HUDSON — 19-24