3DownNation CFL picks: can Ticats play kitty bar the crossover against Riders?

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Week 18 of the CFL season is officially upon us and the final touches to the playoff race are starting to fall into place.

The Blue Bombers are on the verge of clinching a playoff bye, Montreal can finally punch their ticket to the postseason with a win, and both Ottawa and Edmonton could be formally eliminated by the time the final whistle blows. However, the most interesting contest of the week pits Saskatchewan against Hamilton in a game that could swing the balance of power when it comes to any potential playoff crossover.

As for our own playoff race, this is Ryan Ballantine’s world and we’re all just living in it. 3Down’s Calgary contributor has taken solo control of the lead in both straight-up and against the spread picks, though others are hot on his tail.

Friday, October 7: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 7:30 p.m. EDT

With vastly different strengths of schedule down the stretch, this head-on clash with their chief crossover obstacle has suddenly become a must-win for the struggling Riders. Hamilton has the advantage of home field and a week of rest but will be without two of their starting receivers in Steven Dunbar Jr. and Papi White. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan will be starting the recently re-signed Shaq Cooper at running back after coming up well short against Winnipeg last week.

DUNK: Rested and ready Ticats team tears the Riders playoff hopes apart. 

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

HODGE: Saskatchewan’s not giving up on a home Grey Cup run just yet.

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

ABBOTT: Dane Evans is the better quarterback and he’ll be playing for a well-rested team at home.

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

BALLANTINE: Riders can’t afford to lose this if they want to keep their playoff dreams alive. 

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

FILOSO: In what is essentially a playoff game, give me the home team

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

GASSON: Going to East has not been kind to the Riders this year. 

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

HUDSON: At this point, I’m just going west over east.

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

LUDWIG: Saskatchewan gets all the talk, but Hamilton is still Hamilton.

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

MCGUIRE: Saskatchewan is on the upswing and we’re not sure about Hamilton.

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

SMITH: Last time Hamilton came off a bye, they dummied the Bombers. Maybe they won’t win by 17 but they should beat a bad Riders team. 

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Riders 5, Ticats 5

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Riders 5, Ticats 5

Saturday, October 8: B.C. Lions at Toronto Argonauts – 4:00 p.m. EDT

The Lions got back to their winning ways last week against the Redblacks, thanks to a brilliant first-half performance from inconsistent quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. The Argos had no such luck, mustering just two pitiful points in a loss to the Stampeders. Ultimately, it may be injuries that make the difference between the two, as the Lions’ offence while not have electric receiver Lucky Whitehead in the lineup and the Argos have lost Most Outstanding Defensive Player frontrunner Wynton McManis, as well as top pass rusher Shane Ray.

DUNK: BC is playing for critical home field in the ultra-competitive West Division. 

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

HODGE: Toronto has to bounce back from last week’s disaster, right?

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

ABBOTT: Toronto’s defensive injuries will hurt them worse than B.C.’s missing offensive weapons.

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

BALLANTINE: Toronto has been good defensively, despite the blowout loss to Calgary. Which Vernon Adams Jr shows up? 

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

FILOSO: Toronto always plays well at home and they have to be better this week, right? 

Straight-up: ARGOS Against the spread: ARGOS

GASSON: The ups and downs of the Lions continue. 

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

HUDSON: I think the Lions’ DBs can match what the Stamps did. 

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

LUDWIG: I’ve never been much of an Argos believer.

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

MCGUIRE: I keep picking against Toronto and it blows up in my face every time so I’m going to try something different this week.

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

SMITH: With the Jays playing at the same time, there might be more people on the field than in the stands. No home-field advantage means the better team wins.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Argos 5, Lions 5

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Argos 5, Lions 5

Saturday, October 8: Edmonton Elks at Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 7:00 p.m. EDT

The Elks are playing on the road, which means they might actually have a chance at victory, but this could be the last week where the top-seeded Bombers actually have something to play for. A victory and a Lions’ loss would give Winnipeg their second straight home West Final and the team has been making moves accordingly, shoring up a banged-up defensive backfield with the additions of Desmond Lawrence and Alden Darby. By contrast, the lowly Elks are facing playoff elimination without their top weapon Kenny Lawler, who is now done for the season after returning from injury for just a single game.

DUNK: Winnipeg wants to wrap up the West and focus on strategy for the playoffs. 

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

HODGE: Winnipeg is rolling to first place but this spread seems a little too wide.

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

ABBOTT: Winnipeg tends to play down to their opponents, making this a juicy spread.

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

BALLANTINE: Bombers put it away with a win, but the spread is just too big. 

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

FILOSO: Winnipeg takes care of business, but that’s an awfully big spread.

Straight-up: BOMBERS Against the spread: ELKS

GASSON: The Bombers will coast for much of it but find a way. 

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

HUDSON: Hard to know if Winnipeg shows up. But if they do…

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

LUDWIG: Next question.

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

MCGUIRE: I’m going to go a little crazy and have a little fun since Edmonton is playing on the road and has a shot.

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

SMITH: The Elks have been playing better lately so laying nearly two touchdowns is too much. Bombers still get the W though.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Bombers 9, Elks 1

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bombers 2, Elks 8

Monday, October 10: Ottawa Redblacks at Montreal Alouettes – 1:00 p.m. EDT

The CFL schedule maker picked a Thanksgiving day matchup that won’t overshadow the feast, though Ottawa already slaughtered their turkey when they fired head coach Paul LaPolice earlier this week. Special teams coordinator Bob Dyce has taken over in the interim and first-year quarterbacks coach Will Arndt will handle the playcalling against an Alouettes team on the verge of clinching a playoff spot and buoyed by the potential return of William Stanback.

DUNK: Bob Dyce infuses energy in his first game as interim head coach. 

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

HODGE: Ottawa gets a bump from the coaching change.

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

ABBOTT: The Redblacks will have a first-time play-caller whose career peaked in Alberta semi-pro ball. ‘Nuff said.

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

BALLANTINE: Alouettes will be pumped up as, paired with a Ticats loss, they can clinch a playoff spot. New coach, same result for Ottawa. 

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

FILOSO: Bob Dyce will have Ottawa fired up and looking to make a point.

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

GASSON: Montreal is the best team in the East right now* (*subject to change)

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

HUDSON: A first-round bye is in sight for Montreal. Meanwhile, Ottawa is playing for nothing but jobs.

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

LUDWIG: The little devil on my shoulder tried its best, but I resisted.

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

MCGUIRE: I want to take Ottawa but I’m only two behind Ballantine for the lead, so I’ve got to play it safe.

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

SMITH: New coach bump is real but Ottawa just doesn’t have the talent to hang with Montreal. Add in William Stanback’s return and this could get ugly.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Als 7, Redblacks 3

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Als 7, Redblacks 3

Records to date (straight-up)

BALLANTINE — 42-23
DUNK — 41-24
FILOSO — 41-24
LUDWIG — 41-24
MCGUIRE — 40-25
GASSON — 39-26
SMITH — 39-26
ABBOTT — 39-26
HUDSON — 38-27
HODGE — 38-27

Records to date (against the spread)

BALLANTINE — 38-27
FILOSO — 36-29
GASSON — 35-30
ABBOTT — 34-31
SMITH — 33-32
HODGE — 32-33
LUDWIG — 31-34
DUNK — 31-34
HUDSON — 29-36
MCGUIRE — 26-39