3DownNation CFL picks: which backups will state their case for the future?

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

There is absolutely nothing at stake in the final week of the CFL regular season — at least for this year.

Six of the eight teams in action are expected to start a different quarterback than in their previous game, with little-known prospects like Chad Kelly and Davis Alexander poised to take the spotlight for the first time. Add in Saskatchewan’s Mason Fine and Ottawa’s Caleb Evans both making a final audition for next season and a meaningless Week 21 could have major ramifications for the future of the league.

There is no such thing as a meaningless week in our picks race, as just five games separate worst from first in our straight-up selection. 3Down‘s intrepid leader Justin Dunk has battled into a three-way tie with Ryan Ballantine and Santino Filoso on that side of the bracket, while Ballantine holds sole control of the against-the-spread crown.

Friday, October 28: B.C. Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers – 8:30 p.m. EDT

The game to watch in an otherwise meaningless week, Friday will mark the return of Canadian quarterback sensation Nathan Rourke — if only for a quarter. The Lions are planning to knock the injury rust off their homegrown superstar heading into the playoffs, but he won’t be alone. Each side will be welcoming back one star receiver and one stud defensive end from the injured list; Lucky Whitehead and Obum Gwacham for B.C. and Greg Ellingson and Jackson Jeffcoat for Winnipeg.

DUNK: Winnipeg’s winning culture helps lift the men in blue to a win. 

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

HODGE: Winnipeg is playing plenty of starters — the question is how long they’ll play.

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

ABBOTT: Rourke needs just three total touchdowns to tie Collaros in combined scoring despite only playing nine games. Tell me again who the M.O.P is.

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

BALLANTINE: Bombers need to make sure they can still flip the switch following five weeks without meaningful football. 

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

FILOSO: Flip a coin

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

GASSON: Bombers will play their guys enough to lock it down. 

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

HUDSON: Winnipeg needs to win heading into the bye versus a possible playoff opponent.

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

LUDWIG: Will B.C. be inspired by the Return of the (Lion) King?

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

MCGUIRE: It will take time for Rourke to get cranked up again and the game means nothing for either team. Homefield breaks the tie.

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

SMITH: Winnipeg will want to show the Lions why the West still runs through them.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Bombers 7, Lions 3

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bombers 5, Lions 5

Saturday, October 29: Montreal Alouettes at Toronto Argonauts – 2:00 p.m. EDT

The Alouettes are expected to rest a number of marquee players for their finale with the likes of Eugene Lewis and Almondo Sewell taking the week off practice, but the biggest changes for both clubs will be at quarterback. Dominique Davis and Davis Alexander will each take a half in relief of Trevor Harris, while famous nephew Chad Kelly will make his debut as a starter for Toronto — giving fans their first real taste of the promised quarterback of the future.

DUNK: Chad Kelly, let’s see what you got. 

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

HODGE: Chad Kelly has to be better than Dominique Davis, right?

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

ABBOTT: Chad Kelly’s nickname is “Swag.” Here’s hoping his debut as the starter is only half that lame…

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

BALLANTINE: Both teams going vanilla here, but I like Montreal’s chances to send a partial message. 

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

FILOSO: Chad Kelly > Dom Davis

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

GASSON: Guess I’ll go with the home team. 

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

HUDSON: Montreal gains nothing from giving Toronto good tape.

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

LUDWIG: Expect the Argos D to have a night with Harris resting.

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

MCGUIRE: Nothing game where the home team breaks the tie.

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

SMITH: This could be the most boring game of the weekend.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Argos 9, Als 1

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Argos 8, Als 2

Saturday, October 29: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa Redblacks – 5:00 p.m. EDT

Only in the CFL could a 7-10 football team enter the final week of the regular season with a playoff spot already clinched, but the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have taken care of business with five wins in their last six games. The Ottawa Redblacks are not so lucky and appear to be injury-ravaged heading into what could be the final game of the brief Bob Dyce era. It will be up to Caleb Evans to prevent the team from going winless at home in 2022.

DUNK: Ottawa could’ve easily won last week. Redblacks do it for Bob Dyce.

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

HODGE: Ottawa wins it for Bob Dyce.

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

ABBOTT: Never, ever, ever trust Caleb Evans.

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

BALLANTINE: Hamilton is prepping for the playoffs while the Redblacks are looking to impress for next year. 

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

FILOSO: Ottawa is playing for jobs while Hamilton is looking ahead to their playoff date in Montreal

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

GASSON: I picked Ottawa to win this last week. They’ll want the home win. 

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

HUDSON: Hamilton is the hot team. You are no longer hot if you lose to Ottawa.

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

LUDWIG: Last week was super close and only Ottawa should be fielding a (relatively) full lineup.

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

MCGUIRE: Ottawa will make the decision tough on management to remove Bob Dyce as head coach.

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

SMITH: More meaningful for Ottawa but I just don’t think they have the talent.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Redblacks 7, Ticats 3

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Redblacks 7, Ticats 3

Saturday, October 29: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Calgary Stampeders  – 8:00 p.m. EDT

Bo Levi Mitchell is expected to get the start for the Stamps in what is likely his final game in red and white at McMahon Stadium and Roughriders management may well have a rooting interest in seeing him succeed. Saskatchewan has nothing left to play for but pride, though Charleston Hughes may get a chance to say goodbye by sacking his most storied former teammate.

DUNK: If last week was any indication, the Riders have thrown in the towel. 

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

HODGE: Bo Levi Mitchell beats up on his future team.

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

ABBOTT: I’d love the hours of offseason content that would come with Mason Fine beating Bo Levi Mitchell, but the Riders have no fight left.

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

BALLANTINE: A lot of chips on a lot of shoulders from guys thinking they are being dismissed. 

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

FILOSO: I could go with trusting Bo, but what it really boils down to is that Saskatchewan can’t stop Calgary’s run game, regardless of who’s carrying the ball

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

GASSON: A nothing game that sparks if Bo goes. Otherwise, snooze. 

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

HUDSON: Calgary is better.

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

LUDWIG: Of all the lacklustre games this week, this might be the peak.

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

MCGUIRE: This is torture! End this Riders season already.

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

SMITH: The Riders packed it in weeks ago.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Stamps 10, Riders 0

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Stamps 10, Riders 0

Records to date (straight-up)

BALLANTINE — 49-28
FILOSO — 49-28
DUNK — 49-28
GASSON — 47-30
LUDWIG — 47-30
SMITH — 47-30
HODGE — 47-30
HUDSON — 46-31
MCGUIRE — 44-33
ABBOTT — 44-33

Records to date (against the spread)

BALLANTINE — 45-32
FILOSO — 44-33
GASSON — 42-35
ABBOTT — 42-35
SMITH — 42-35
LUDWIG — 40-37
DUNK — 38-39
HODGE — 38-39
HUDSON — 34-43
MCGUIRE — 30-47