3DownNation CFL picks: are the Riders building to a Banjo Bowl upset?

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Week 14 of the CFL season is officially upon us and you can hear the banjo music drifting across the prairies.

A pair of historic rivalry rematches highlight the week, but none is more exciting than Troy Westwood’s twisted brainchild. After falling to the league-leading Bombers by just two points in the Labour Day Classic, could the “banjo-pickin’ inbreds” also known as the Saskatchewan Roughriders have an upset up their sleeve?

In our own friendly competition, Brendan McGuire’s lead in straight-up picks has dropped to just two games. Meanwhile, Santino Filoso has pulled in front against the spread, breaking a three-way tie from a week ago.

Friday, September 9: B.C. Lions at Montreal Alouettes – 7:30 p.m. ET

The B.C. Lions have made some significant changes coming off the bye week, acquiring quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. from these same Alouettes and adding kick returner Terry Williams. Another former Montreal quarterback, Antonio Pipkin, will draw the start this week as VA adjusts to a new system and Montreal will be looking to make his life hell after a stunning upset loss to Ottawa last week.

DUNK: It’s a long trip but the Lions are a way better football team. 

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

HODGE: I’ll take the points all day if Antonio Pipkin is under centre for B.C.

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

ABBOTT: Oh Nathan Rourke, how I long for thee…

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

BALLANTINE: Adams won’t be ready to command the offence until a critical home and home versus Calgary, which is why Pipkin is starting. Als take advantage.

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

FILOSO: No offence to Pipkin, but he’s no Rourke or O’Connor or Adams or…

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

GASSON: Long trip for BC with Pipkin at QB. Yikes. 

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

HUDSON: I should pick Montreal due to the QB challenges in B.C. but I’m going to go with the better roster this time.

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

LUDWIG: Before the season, we said Rourke only had to be decent for B.C. to be good. The same applies to Pipkin.

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

MCGUIRE:  The Alouette offence underwhelmed last week but it’s hard to imagine them underwhelming enough to lose at home to Antonio Pipkin.

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

SMITH: Quarterback aside, the Lions have a much better roster.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Als 6, Lions 4

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Als 6, Lions 4

Saturday, September 10: Toronto Argonauts at Ottawa Redblacks – 2:00 p.m. ET

With Wynton McManis dominating on defence and an improved offence thanks in part to Canadian receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr., the Argos have firmly established themselves as the class of the East. However, the once-hapless Redblacks are suddenly riding a two-game winning streak with Nick Arbuckle at the helm and have added NFL cut Brandin Dandridge to their back-end. Suddenly, this looks like a must-watch game.

DUNK: Stay hot Ottawa.

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

HODGE: I’ll take Ottawa until they lose.

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

ABBOTT: Ottawa looks like a changed football team with Nick Arbuckle at quarterback, while the Argos are due for a downturn after beating up on Hamilton.

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

BALLANTINE: Two wins for the Redblacks is where this streak ends. 

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

FILOSO: Eventually Ottawa has to win at home, right?

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

GASSON: The Argos are probably the team in the East. 

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

HUDSON: I joked that the Argos had earned the playoff bye in the East with their first win. A victory here might just lock them in.

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

LUDWIG: I can’t believe that I, one of the stubbornest Arbuckle defenders out there, haven’t fully believed in Ottawa the last couple of weeks. Time to ride the wave.

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

MCGUIRE: Toronto has the better team but Ottawa has proven to be a puzzle for McLeod Bethel-Thompson. It will be even harder to solve going against the crowd noise this week. 

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

SMITH: Argos are due for a letdown after pummelling their arch-rival.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Redblacks 7, Argos 3

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Redblacks 7, Argos 3

Saturday, September 10: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 5:00 p.m. ET

Another sell-out crowd awaits this Banjo Bowl rematch, as the Riders came within two points of knocking off Winnipeg last week. It was stupid penalties that cost the home side the game — namely from injured receiver Duke Williams — and the team got rid of another liability by releasing controversial defensive tackle Garrett Marino. That is certainly welcome news if you are a Bombers fan, considering his cheap shot on M.O.P. frontrunner Zach Collaros in the Labour Day Classic.

DUNK: Bombers blitz Riders in Banjo Bowl.

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

HODGE: If the Riders couldn’t win the Labour Day Classic, they won’t win the Banjo Bowl.

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

ABBOTT: After a tough game last week, the Riders are going to get blindsided so bad they’ll think Garrett Marino did it.

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

BALLANTINE: Bombers win, but that’s too many points for a team that has scratched and clawed to victory all year. 

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

FILOSO: Can’t explain why, just a gut feeling.

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

GASSON: This one is always tough for Saskatchewan. 

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

HUDSON: When teams can create pressure without being fancy or taking risks, they generally win.

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

LUDWIG: Boring pick of the better team at home.

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

MCGUIRE: I like Saskatchewan’s chances better now that the thundercloud of Garrett Marino is no longer hanging over their heads. They’re still not good enough to beat the CFL’s best dynasty of the 21st century at home. 

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

SMITH: This has blowout written all over it.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Bombers 9, Riders 1

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bombers 6, Riders 4

Saturday, September 10: Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Elks – 8:00 p.m. ET

Quarterback Jake Maier and the Stampeders had a slow start in the Labour Day Classic but ultimately mustered a victory. That might say more about the Elks than it does them, as star receiver Kenny Lawler is still out of the lineup. Edmonton hasn’t won at Commonwealth Stadium since before the pandemic and a rivalry win would be a great way to break the 13-game home slide.

DUNK: The Stamps played C ball and beat the Elks on Labour Day. It could get ugly in Edmonton. 

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

HODGE: Edmonton loses a fourteenth straight home game. Yikes.

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

ABBOTT: Taylor Cornelius stuns the Stamps and adds much-needed spice to this rivalry.

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

BALLANTINE: Maier got on track in the second half last week. No reason that train gets derailed. 

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

FILOSO: Calgary gains ground on B.C. and keeps their hopes of a home playoff date alive.

Straight-up: STAMPS. Against the spread: ELKS

GASSON: Why not? 

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

HUDSON: Calgary isn’t as good as most give them credit for but they still should be better than Elks, even in a back-to-back on the road.

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

LUDWIG: It hurts me. 0-4 against Calgary, really?

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

MCGUIRE: Taylor Cornelius showed signs of solving the Calgary pass coverage late in Monday’s Labour Day Classic. I’ve always predicted the home losing streak would end with a bang and it ends this weekend at 1,064 days. 

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

SMITH: I think we get a similar outcome as a week ago.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Stamps 7, Elks 3

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Stamps 5, Elks 5

Records to date (straight-up)

MCGUIRE — 36-15
DUNK — 34-17
FILOSO — 34-17
LUDWIG — 34-17
SMITH — 32-19
ABBOTT — 31-20
BALLANTINE — 31-20
GASSON — 31-20
HUDSON — 30-21
HODGE — 29-22

Records to date (against the spread)

FILOSO — 31-20
GASSON — 29-22
SMITH — 29-22
BALLANTINE — 28-23
ABBOTT — 27-24
LUDWIG — 26-25
DUNK — 25-26
HODGE — 24-27
MCGUIRE — 24-27
HUDSON — 21-30