The CFL season is over in earnest, bar the seedings now.
Three teams have been eliminated while the six who will contest the postseason are firmly in place – but only Hamilton have secured their bye to the divisional final.
What you may find is teams not quite going gung-ho. But it’s easier to do that on offence than it is on D.
For that reason, teams with integral defensive philosophies tend to prevail in these situations.
If in doubt, keep them out, as the saying goes.
Welcome to the penultimate week of the Canadian Football League.
Hamilton Tiger Cats (-2.5) @ Montreal Alouettes: -110
26th October, 1PM
It’s not far-fetched to say that the Alouettes are lucky to be in the same postseason as your Hamiltons and Calgarys of the world, but that’s the way the CFL rolls.
While home-field advantage is often worth a few points in regular season, especially given the frequency and relative infrequency of bye weeks, when it comes to dead rubbers at this point of the season, you can scratch those points as the crowd are a non-factor.
Hamilton will roll into town, with their league-best offence who will certainly try out some novelty plays from their playbook, in the hope of disguising their true strategy before the playoffs kick in – and this Montreal team, who have given up 30 more points than any other postseason-ready team won’t be able to keep up.
Montreal are benefitting from a soft division and will most likely protect their key cogs as much as Hamilton will do here. There’s no #1 divisional seed to play for here – this comes down to contempt coming from familiarity rather than anything else.
Calgary Stampeders (-2.5) @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers: -115
25th October, 8:35PM
This is the polar opposite to the above.
In one sense, even if Winnipeg win this, they’re not likely to leapfrog either side above them. A win here would do very little for their Grey Cup aspirations. It makes little difference and they may realise that.
However, surrendering to a postseason rival isn’t ideal this close to the postseason, especially at home. Coach O’Shea has a big decision to make – he can either try to boost morale in what is the Blue Bombers’ final game of the CFL regular season, or he can try to hide the playcalls, take the loss, and be in better physical shape come the big games.
I suspect he’ll do the latter, and with Calgary needing to win their final two games to guarantee the #1 seed, they won’t be taking their foot off the gas.
Saskatchewan Roughriders (-1.5) @ Edmonton Eskimos: -110
26th October, 7PM
This one is pretty simple. One team has a lot to play for and the other doesn’t.
While you could easily point that, and the line does, that Edmonton are just off a bye and need the match practice, while facing a team in the Roughriders who have now played four games in a row without a break, including three on the road, I don’t think they can match a hungry team who need a win.
The Roughriders’ season started poorly but they’re one of the form teams in the entire league and that momentum is what can help them live with the more polished Calgary and Hamilton units.
Therefore, this is a must-win for them, even if they don’t truly believe they will be jumping ahead of the Stampeders, who entertain the lowly BC Lions next week.
Prepare for the playoffs with our CFL previews!