3DownNation CFL picks: can the Bombers pull off a prairie sweep of the Riders?

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

Week 17 of the CFL season is officially upon us and not a single team is out of the playoff hunt.

Winnipeg bought the fast pass weeks ago, while Toronto, B.C., and Calgary all punched their tickets last week, leaving just two spots available for the postseason ride. All five remaining teams have a shot to join them but there can be no mistakes. For many, a loss this week could be fatal.

The hunt for supremacy is just as heated on our leaderboard, as Brendan McGuire, Justin Dunk, Santino Filoso, and Ryan Ballantine sit in a four-way tie atop our straight-up picks standings. Against the spread, the top of the podium is split three ways, with Ballantine, Filoso, and Joel Gasson all in contention.

Friday, September 30: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 8:00 p.m. EDT

The mood in Winnipeg is still a little sour after their upset loss to Hamilton two weeks ago but a palate cleanser against arch-rival Saskatchewan could be just what the team needs. Though the margins have been tight, the Bombers have controlled the prairie rivalry the last few years. The return of Riders’ centre Dan Clark from a broken leg and the absence of star pass rusher Jackson Jeffcoat will work against Winnipeg but Sask will also be without rookie running back Frankie Hickson, leaving the rushing duties to Canadian Kienan LaFrance.

DUNK: In recent seasons, Winnipeg beats Saskatchewan handily at home and that trend keeps going with both teams off bye weeks. 

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

HODGE: Winnipeg has Saskatchewan’s number.

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

ABBOTT: Call this one the Dust Bowl because there will be some sweeping on the prairies.

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

BALLANTINE: Expect Winnipeg to be super pissed about getting blown out before a bye week and exorcise those demons on a sub-par Saskatchewan team.

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

FILOSO: Coming off a 17-point loss, Winnipeg sweeps the season series and locks in a home playoff game.

Straight-up: BOMBERS. Against the spread: BOMBERS

GASSON: I have absolutely no good reason for this but I’m going for it. 

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

HUDSON: I’m not sure Winnipeg needs Jeffcoat to beat Saskatchewan’s offensive line.

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

LUDWIG: An upset wouldn’t be crazy here, but I’m trying not to pick for reasons other than “most likely to win”.

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

MCGUIRE: Dan Clark is back and the green machine is refreshed from a bye week. Hmmm… NA!

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

SMITH: Winnipeg will get the win but Saskatchewan will keep it close.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Bombers 9, Riders 1

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bombers 6, Riders 4

Friday, September 30: Ottawa Redblacks at B.C. Lions – 10:30 p.m. EDT

A shellacking by Toronto last week has the executioner’s axe hanging over Paul LaPolice’s head and a road trip to Vancouver on a short week is unlikely to help. Ottawa’s only saving grace could be the inconsistent play of new B.C. quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who was unable to complete last week’s loss due to poor performance. Add to that the loss of receiver Bryan Burnham to a fractured wrist and the visitors could have an outside shot.

DUNK: Ottawa has talent to compete but lack energy under Paul LaPolice. 

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

HODGE: Ottawa’s broken and it’s too late to put the pieces back together again.

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

ABBOTT: Not even Vernon Adams Jr. can stink worse than Ottawa.

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

BALLANTINE: It’s a 10:30 p.m. EST kickoff for the Redblacks, who were already going to need some upset juice. 

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

FILOSO: Ottawa hasn’t won in B.C. since 2017. That trend continues

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

GASSON: A bad Eastern team playing late in B.C. 

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

HUDSON: I’m resisting my gut, which says Ottawa will handle Adams.

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

LUDWIG: Ottawa’s troubles are greater than B.C.’s.

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

MCGUIRE: I can’t bet on Ottawa in any way, shape or form. They disappoint me each time I try.

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

SMITH: B.C. is up and down while Ottawa is just down.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Lions 10, Redblacks 0

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Lions 8, Redblacks 2

Saturday, October 1: Montreal Alouettes at Edmonton Elks – 4:00 p.m. EDT

Edmonton’s upset of Saskatchewan two weeks ago has kept their playoff hopes alive by a thread but Commonwealth Stadium continues to be the place where those dreams go to die. The Elks still have not won at home since 2019 but the return of Danny Maciocia and Trevor Harris should add a little energy to a lifeless building. So too will the likely return of star receiver Kenny Lawler, who will have more time to catch passes with defensive end Nick Usher scheduled to miss the game for Montreal.

DUNK: The Elks have fresh legs with Chris Jones’ roster churning. Edmonton finally ends the long home losing streak. 

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

HODGE: Montreal is still shooting for first in the East Division.

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

ABBOTT: It defies all logic, but I have a feeling…

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

BALLANTINE: Elks can’t win at home. 

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

FILOSO: Maciocia’s return to Edmonton is a victorious one, and Montreal keeps pace with the Argos for top spot in the East

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

GASSON: Feels like the streak ends. 

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

HUDSON: Edmonton’s season is over but they are desperate for a home win. 

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

LUDWIG: I’m very tempted to ignore my new safe pick strategy in favour of the maximum-chaos scenario that is Edmonton edging out Saskatchewan for a crossover spot.

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

MCGUIRE: Don’t blame the name change for dwindling attendance at Commonwealth, blame the fair-weather fans who have abandoned their team in its time of need. They deserve no credit when things turn around. 

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

SMITH: Trevor Harris is due a down game.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Elks 6, Als 4

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Elks 7, Als 3

Saturday, October 1: Toronto Argonauts at Calgary Stampeders – 7:00 p.m. EDT

Any clash between Calgary and Toronto in the Dinwiddie era resembles an inter-squad scrimmage between the Stampeders A and B squad. However, the original model now has a distinctly new direction, signing quarterback Jake Maier to a two-year extension and spending much of this week dispelling trade rumours around long-time face of the franchise Bo Levi Mitchell. With lockdown left tackle Derek Dennis now out for the year, Calgary will also have to battle some adversity on the offensive line — something the Argos know too well as the league’s most injured team.

DUNK: The Stamps of the west win a tight one over the East version. 

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

HODGE: Calgary by a field goal.

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

ABBOTT: These teams are near clones but Calgary has a distinct edge in three areas: coaching, quarterbacking, and Carey.

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

BALLANTINE: Calgary has only lost to Winnipeg and B.C. That trend continues. 

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

FILOSO: Minus the early season egg they laid in Vancouver, Toronto tends to play well on the road. 

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

GASSON: I like Jake more than I like McLeod.

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

HUDSON: This is the first game in a while with real implications for the future. East versus West and a big new quarterback contract. 

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

LUDWIG: Maier is a top-three quarterback in the league in his second season.

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

MCGUIRE: Stamps have looked beatable at home and McBeth looks ready for his Kodak moment.

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

SMITH: Calgary has to win to keep pace with the Lions while the Argos are already planning what to do with their semi-final weekend off.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Stamps 8, Argos 2

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Stamps 3, Argos 7

Records to date (straight-up)

MCGUIRE — 38-23
DUNK — 38-23
FILOSO — 38-23
BALLANTINE — 38-23
LUDWIG — 37-24
GASSON — 37-24
SMITH — 36-25
ABBOTT — 36-25
HUDSON — 35-26
HODGE — 34-27

Records to date (against the spread)

FILOSO — 34-27
BALLANTINE — 34-27
GASSON — 34-27
SMITH — 32-29
ABBOTT — 32-29
LUDWIG — 30-31
DUNK — 29-32
HODGE — 29-32
HUDSON — 26-35
MCGUIRE — 25-36