The playoff brackets are almost set, but there’s still the huge matter of a first-round bye to be gotten in the West Division.
While the Hamilton Tiger Cats, Montreal Alouettes and Edmonton Eskimos are the only teams who should have absolutely no desire to be competitive in this round, there’s a lot to be said about momentum, as previous games at this stage of the season have shown us.
So, for Week 21, we may not be paying attention to win-loss records, but context is very, very important.
Here’s how you win money when the competitiveness of games are somewhat in question.
Edmonton Eskimos @ Saskatchewan Roughriders (-8): -110
Saturday 2nd November 3PM
Okay, so – the Eskimos are taking on the Alouettes in the Division Semi-Finals on November 10th. They have been relatively lucky with injury breaks to this point. They will not be wanting to tempt fate, nor will they want to hand Montreal more tape to assess before a game that actually matters.
Even if Edmonton play their starters in skill positions, they’ll be using a diluted playbook that not everyone will be familiar with – and certainly not anything nobody has seen before. Those plays are kept for situations like November 10.
Saskatchewan’s desire to romp the Eskimos might be called into question of course, but they’re playing to have a week off, and no professional athlete could have bigger motivation than the sofa at this time of year.
The Roughriders will be riding rough for one more week, so they can ditch their sleds in the first week of next month.
Back the Roughriders (-8) with CanPlay!
Toronto Argonauts (+12) @ Hamilton Tiger Cats: -110
Saturday 2nd November 6PM
Hamilton’s second string might well put up 13 against a team like Toronto. But the biggest issue for taking Hamilton on the spread here is one thing:
Toronto won their last game, and that feeling to round out a season is a particularly nice one. Unlike Saskatchewan and Calgary, Hamilton don’t need to put up big numbers, so even if they managed to get a touchdown ahead, there’s more chance that they would run the ball out of the I-formation than there is of them piling it on.
Psychology is a funny thing in sport and a once-deflated Argonauts unit all of a sudden starts to believe they could finish this season on a high – landing back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Winning three of your last four games sounds like a nice winter break to me.
Calgary Stampeders (-7) @ BC Lions: -115
Saturday 2nd November 9PM
This one is the best-crafted line, for a couple of reasons.
Primarily, this is a competitive game for the Stampeders, but the long trip into British Columbia combined with the BC Lions looking semi-functional in recent times lends to a touchdown being the correct call.
But we need to pick a position on this spread, and I feel like, at a score between them, Calgary are more likely to want to cement their position than the Lions are to try and steal a victory.
Had this game taken place a month ago, I’d be thinking very differently, but the Lions are just off a bye following consecutive losses.
Their season is over and they have completely checked out.