3DownNation CFL picks: will the Riders crush the Elks’ playoff fantasy?

Photo: Paul Swanson/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Week 15 of the CFL season is officially upon us and you can sense the contenders starting to pull away.

The Bombers have long since staked their claim to “best team in the league” status, but Calgary is looking to officially make themselves number two during this week’s shortened three-game slate. Meanwhile, Edmonton could officially be eliminated from playoff contention and Hamilton could dig themselves a hole they’ll never recover from if either team loses.

Fairing much better than the majority of CFL teams, Brendan McGuire sits atop our straight-up picks leaderboard, but just six games separate worst from first. The margin is eight games when it comes to against-the-spread action, where Santino Filoso maintains a slim lead.

Friday, September 16: Edmonton Elks at Saskatchewan Roughriders – 9:30 p.m. EDT

It’s do-or-die time for the Edmonton Elks, as the team could be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss this week. They’ll have rookie Canadian quarterback Tre Ford back in the lineup to try and avoid that fate but it is Taylor Cornelius who still draws the start after signing a two-year contract extension this week. On the other side, the Riders should be a much better team after being ravaged by stomach flu last week, though quarterback Cody Fajardo should be fairly exhausted after becoming a father early Wednesday morning.

DUNK: The Riders are highly motivated to end Chris Jones’ playoff hopes. 

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

HODGE: The Elks are headed to the slaughter.

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

ABBOTT: I don’t trust the guy who saw Taylor Cornelius and thought, “I’m good with two more years of this.”

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

BALLANTINE: If only to keep the playoff dream alive for one more week. 

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

FILOSO: Elks officially miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

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

GASSON: The Riders may have turned a corner last week, even if it didn’t look like it.

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

HUDSON: When a coach is asking if players “want to be here,” he’s lost the team for the season.

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

LUDWIG: Writing about the Elks merits hazard pay, honestly.

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

MCGUIRE: I’ve been waiting all season for the Elks to show a Chris Jones-statement game and I’m still waiting. Not confident we’ll see it this week, either.

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

SMITH: The Elks get put out of their misery.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Riders 9, Elks 1

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Riders 9, Elks 1

Saturday, September 17: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 4:30 p.m. EDT

The Bombers have continued their reign of terror over the CFL unabated and looked their best while beating the snot — and several other bodily fluids — out of the Riders last week. Hamilton has been an entirely different story, easily becoming the CFL’s most disappointing team. Starting quarterback Dane Evans is expected to be back under centre after missing the team’s last game with a shoulder injury but his presence has occasionally hindered the team.

DUNK: Hamilton does not benefit from having Dane Evans back behind centre. 

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

HODGE: Winnipeg is rolling and that won’t change anytime soon.

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

ABBOTT: Is a healthy Dane Evans even much of an upgrade?

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

BALLANTINE: There continues to be zero reasons not to pick the Bombers.

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

FILOSO: The question every week isn’t if Winnipeg will win, it’s by how much. 

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

GASSON: Did the Bombers find another gear last week?

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

HUDSON: I’m not a sucker.

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

LUDWIG: Easy call.

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

MCGUIRE: Taking Winnipeg. This is not a broken record.

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

SMITH: This spread could be 17.5 and I still wouldn’t take the Ticats.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Bombers 10, Ticats 0

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bombers 10, Ticats 0

Saturday, September 17: B.C. Lions at Calgary Stampeders – 7:00 p.m. EDT

The last time these two teams met, the result was a thrilling 41-40 B.C. victory with a photo finish. A lot has changed since then, namely the two quarterbacks. Calgary appears to have found another level offensively after replacing Bo Levi Mitchell with Jake Maier, while the return of Ka’Deem Carey has brought things up a notch. Meanwhile, B.C. has floundered since losing Nathan Rourke to injury and will be starting Vernon Adams Jr. for the first time on Saturday after acquiring him via trade from Montreal two weeks ago.

DUNK: Calgary has revenge on the mind and Vernon Adams Jr. ain’t Nathan Rourke.

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

HODGE: Calgary is playing their best football of the season.

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

ABBOTT: The Lions will show improvement with Vernon Adams Jr. but I expect no glorious comeback this time around.

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

BALLANTINE: No Nathan Rourke to bail out the Lions this time. 

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

FILOSO: I’m a Vernon Adams believer, but I don’t think he’s had enough time to settle in yet.

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

GASSON: I can’t believe in B.C. until they prove something on offence without Nathan Rourke.

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

HUDSON: I pick by my ranking strength and Calgary just pulled into second.

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

LUDWIG: A few Lions’ injuries make me less happy about predicting a close game.

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

MCGUIRE: Calgary has the QB they want under centre while B.C. does not.

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

SMITH: Rourke clearly covered up a lot of flaws the Lions have.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Stamps 10, Lions 0

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Stamps 8, Lions 2

Records to date (straight-up)

MCGUIRE — 38-17
DUNK — 36-19
FILOSO — 36-19
LUDWIG — 36-19
BALLANTINE — 35-20
GASSON — 34-21
SMITH — 34-21
ABBOTT — 33-22
HUDSON — 33-22
HODGE — 32-23

Records to date (against the spread)

FILOSO — 32-23
BALLANTINE — 31-24
GASSON — 31-24
SMITH — 30-25
ABBOTT — 29-26
LUDWIG — 28-27
DUNK — 27-28
HODGE — 27-28
MCGUIRE — 25-30
HUDSON — 24-31