3DownNation CFL picks: can Saskatchewan Roughriders improve to 3-0?

Photo courtesy: Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards/Saskatchewan Roughriders

Week 3 of the 2024 CFL regular season is here, which means it’s time for a fresh slate of picks from our panel of contributors.

There are wide spreads in Montreal and Toronto as they host up-and-coming teams, while Winnipeg and Saskatchewan are short home favourites against a couple of tough opponents.

3DownNation contributor Santino Filoso is off to a red-hot start to the season, picking 7-1 straight-up through two weeks. Our standings against the spread are much more of a logjam with five contributors tied at 5-3.

Without further ado, here are our picks for Week 3 in the CFL.

Photo courtesy: Montreal Alouettes

Thursday, June 20: Ottawa Redblacks at Montreal Alouettes — 7:30 p.m. EDT

Ottawa is above .500 for the first time since Aug. 20, 2021 after upsetting Winnipeg last week. Dru Brown played well in his Redblacks debut as the young quarterback will look to spoil the party in La Belle Province when the Alouettes raise their Grey Cup banner and look to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2011. Cody Fajardo has already thrown four touchdown passes in 2024 — only 10 fewer than all last season.

 

ABBOTT: Montreal are the clear top dogs in the East Division, but Ottawa has improved enough to challenge.

Straight-up: Montreal. Against the spread: Ottawa.

BALLANTINE: This week will help tell us if Ottawa is good or if Winnipeg suddenly got very bad.

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

DURRELL: Montreal is arguably the best team in the CFL but I don’t think they’re built to blow opponents out. I think the Redblacks keep this one close.

Straight-up: Montreal. Against the spread: Ottawa.

FILOSO: Bob Dyce’s squad continues to serve notice that things will be different in 2024.

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

GASSON: This torrid streak the Als are on dating back to last season will end eventually — but not yet.

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

GRANT: Every instinct I have is telling me Ottawa will keep this game close, but I can’t back that up with what I’ve seen on the field. My eyes like the Alouettes in a blowout, but my Spidey senses are tingling.

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

HERRERA-VERGARA: The Redblacks played a great game against Winnipeg and I see them keeping things close until the end. However, Montreal should prevail in a great finish.

Straight-up: Montreal. Against the spread: Ottawa.

HODGE: The Alouettes use their ball control offence and shutdown defence to win a close one.

Straight-up: Montreal. Against the spread: Ottawa.

HOSKINS: This will be a closer game than the point spread indicates. Ottawa’s on the way up but the Alouettes have the more seasoned team.

Straight-up: Montreal. Against the spread: Ottawa.

KLEIN: Ottawa is much improved from last year, but this Montreal defence is a totally different animal.

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

MCGUIRE: I’ve been waiting for the Alouettes to stub their toe since last October but Ottawa didn’t show me enough to convince me they’ll be the ones to do it.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Montreal 10, Ottawa 1.

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Ottawa 6, Montreal 5.

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Friday, June 21: B.C. Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers — 8:30 p.m. EDT

The Lions partied like it was their birthday last week, forcing three turnovers to knock off the Calgary Stampeders for their first win of the season in front of 50 Cent and Owen Wilson. Last week was a nightmare for Winnipeg as they not only fell to 0-2 but lost two more starters to the six-game injured list. The Blue Bombers will have to win this game to avoid falling to 0-3 for the first time since 2012.

 

ABBOTT: Neither team has started the season how they wanted and both have significant holes. This comes down to V.A. being at the top of his game, while Zach Collaros is at the bottom of his.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

BALLANTINE: Given what has transpired so far this season, I’m not sure why the spread is this close.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

DURRELL: Winnipeg is too talented to not figure out their struggles but I don’t think it’ll happen this week.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

FILOSO: I struggle to see the Blue Bombers starting 0-3, yet I find it impossible to take them in this game.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

GASSON: I’ll take the team with the better offence.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

GRANT: Winnipeg will eventually pull it together, but the Lions are playing much better football right now. In fact, just about everyone is.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

HERRERA-VERGARA: The Lions haven’t forgotten the West Final last year and have a healthier lineup. I don’t see the Blue Bombers being able to keep up for 60 minutes.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

HODGE: It’s impossible to take Winnipeg until they start showing signs of life on offence and special teams.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

HOSKINS: The Blue Bombers can’t continue to be as bad as they have been but the Lions are still better.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

KLEIN: Both teams have shown flaws, but Winnipeg’s flaws feel bigger right now. These two may still meet in November but the Bombers have a long way to go before then.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

MCGUIRE: B.C.’s motto all offseason was “beat Winnipeg.” The Bombers are struggling with their identity and, though it will come, I have no reason to think it’ll happen this week.

Straight-up: B.C. Against the spread: B.C.

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: B.C. 11, Winnipeg 0.

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: B.C. 11, Winnipeg 0.

Photo: Reuben Polansky/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 22: Edmonton Elks at Toronto Argonauts — 7:00 p.m. EDT

Toronto has gone 6-0 coming off bye weeks over the past two seasons, which is bad news for the winless Elks. Edmonton suffered late collapses in both of their season-opening games and are now heading out on the road for the first time this year with rumours swirling that head coach and general manager Chris Jones could be on the hot seat. If he hopes to keep his job, beating the Argonauts at home would be a good start.

 

ABBOTT: If Edmonton can’t win at home in an empty stadium, they sure won’t do it in an empty stadium on the road.

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

BALLANTINE: Why can’t the Elks just be good so I can go back to hating them instead of pitying them?

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

DURRELL: I think McLeod Bethel-Thompson will be motivated and will keep this one within striking distance most of the way — however, Toronto will pull away late.

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

FILOSO: The Argonauts are always good at home and that defensive line will make it a long day for MBT.

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

GASSON: Chris Jones has had much better success on the road and I think MBT will want to prove something against his old squad.

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

GRANT: McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. will help keep things close against their old team, but it’s hard to imagine the Elks suddenly figuring out how to win.

Straight-up: Toronto. Against the spread: Edmonton.

HERRERA-VERGARA: The Elks have improved, but I see them falling short against the Argos. However, they will be in it until the end.

Straight-up: Toronto. Against the spread: Edmonton.

HODGE: Coming off the bye, the Argonauts will dissect Edmonton’s defence for a blowout.

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

HOSKINS: The Elks will keep it close in the first half and then find a new way to lose a close one.

Straight-up: Toronto. Against the spread: Edmonton.

KLEIN: The Elks have played really well for 75 percent of the season — it’s just those pesky fourth quarters that are getting in their way. I don’t think they win here but I do think it stays close.

Straight-up: Toronto. Against the spread: Edmonton.

MCGUIRE: The Elks have too much talent to keep bottoming out like this and McLeod Bethel-Thompson will be motivated against his old team. I’m taking the upset.

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

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Toronto 9, Edmonton 2.

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Edmonton 6, Toronto 5.

Photo: Matt Smith/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 23: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Saskatchewan Roughriders — 7:00 p.m. EDT

These clubs met last week at Tim Hortons Field in Steeltown with the home team coughing up a 10-point fourth-quarter lead as the Riders won 33-30 with a walk-off field goal from Brett Lauther. Tim White had two costly drops for the Tabbies, while Kian Schaffer-Baker had a standout performance for Saskatchewan with 109 yards and two touchdowns. The silver lining for Hamilton in the loss was the play of Bo Levi Mitchell, who threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns.

 

ABBOTT: It’s high time that Corey Mace’s team was taught a lesson in discipline. Unfortunately, it will come in front of their home fans.

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

BALLANTINE: It took a virtual miracle for the Riders to win last week and again Hamilton was plagued by drops. Somebody get the stickum!

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

DURRELL: Saskatchewan has escaped with two wins to start the Corey Mace era in Regina. The football gods have a funny way of ensuring everything levels out.

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

FILOSO: This is a coin flip game. Give me the home team.

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

GASSON: I don’t think Corey Mace will let his defence get shredded two weeks in a row.

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

GRANT: Hamilton has looked better than the Riders for most of their first two games, yet they’re 0-2 to Saskatchewan’s 2-0. Some teams just don’t know how to win.

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

HERRERA-VERGARA: Hamilton lost their shot at winning a game against the Riders last week. I see this game being dominated by the Riders.

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

HODGE: As they often do, it feels like this home-and-home will end up in a split.

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

HOSKINS: The Riders will continue to capitalize on big swings in games.

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

KLEIN: I have to think the Riders learned something from how well they moved the ball in Week 2. They’ll build off of that in their home opener in Week 3.

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

MCGUIRE: This is the game of the week and a total coin flip. I can’t pick against a home team that just beat the same opponent on the road.

Straight-up: Saskatchewan. Against the spread: Hamilton.

TOTALS STRAIGHT-UP: Saskatchewan 7, Hamilton 4.

TOTALS AGAINST THE SPREAD: Saskatchewan 6, Hamilton 5.

Records to date (straight-up)

FILOSO — 7-1
GRANT — 6-2
KLEIN — 6-2
DURRELL — 5-3
GASSON — 5-3
HERRERA-VERGARA — 5-3
ABBOTT — 4-4
HOSKINS — 4-4
BALLANTINE — 3-5
HODGE — 3-5
MCGUIRE — 3-5

Records to date (against the spread)

DURRELL — 5-3
FILOSO — 5-3
GRANT — 5-3
KLEIN — 5-3
MCGUIRE — 5-3
ABBOTT — 4-4
HERRERA-VERGARA — 4-4
HODGE — 4-4
HOSKINS — 4-4
GASSON — 3-5
BALLANTINE — 2-6