Best Bets, CFL week 4: Break out that bankroll; it’s finally BC Lions time!
So this week we’re probably better off calling this column “Best *Bet* of the Week” because CFLpass sees little more than “pick ’ems” in two games – both Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders at Saskatchewan Roughriders both have the visitors installed at 3½-point favourites with the action wavering the lines not a whit – and we’ll be damned if we bet on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats even against the mind-bogglingly bad Montreal Alouettes when the team hasn’t started a season 4-0 since the 1980s.
That leaves us with one game that looks appealing for the CFL betting; luckily, this one’s none too tough.
BC Lions -7 at Toronto Argonauts
In weeks 2-4, five of the 11 CFL games had double-digit point spreads affixed, thrice in favour of the away team. Perhaps the only reason BC Lions isn’t giving 10 or even more is the team’s traditionally (very) weak performance outside of Vancouver. Since 2017, BC has gone just 5-15 in away games, including last week’s loss at Calgary.
Of course, the 2018 Lions were radically different than the ’19 team, and ’18 also saw significant roster turnover from the year prior for BC. And in football betting, one must always remember to take historical precedent with grains of salt, particularly the further back those trends go. On the other other hand, this will mark BC’s third consecutive away game, a chore for any team, Coast-based or no.
And BC’s aforementioned radical roster overhaul? Well, that’s been the problem for the Lions from the go in 2019. Well over half the starters were not starters for BC in ’18, and the coaching staff is loaded with newbies as well. Head coach DeVone Claybrooks is in his debut season in the position, while five other coaches have zero experience in their spot in the CFL – ST coordinator Taylor Altilio, DL coach Chris Ellis, DBs coach Ryan Phillips, RBs coach Nik Lewis and QBs coach Drew Tate – and of these five, only Ellis has done his current job anywhere before.
Regardless, with the talent this team boasts from shiny new acquisition/franchise QB Mike Reilly on down, few would’ve picked BC to start the season 0-3 SU (1-2 ATS). Too often already, however, the on-field lack of chemistry and on-sideline lack of experience have handed BC Lions ugly losses. If one had to put a positive spin on things, it may be noted that the Lions D is taking longer to lose its way week to week: In week 1, the BC D never felt like it left the locker room in a decisive 33-23 Bombers win; in week 2, the medium-watt Eskimos offense was held in check for a quarter or so; and last week … well, what can you say about last week?
In an absolutely incredible collapse, all three areas of the BC game were utterly schooled by the Calgary Stampeders in the game’s final three minutes – beginning directly after Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell went down. Backup QB Nick Arbuckle went 9-for-9, Calgary’s special teams recovered an onside kick, and Reilly took two snaps, the second ending with a fumble.
This disaster of a three minutes belied the BC we saw in the first 57 minutes of play, which was the BC we’ve been expected since assemblage of this fantasy team began in the offseason. Reilly went 36 of 41 (87.8%!) on pass attempts against Claybrooks’s former charges to go with 2 TDs against zero interceptions. Seven players caught passes, and John White finally got the running game going. Gee, this offense really *can* move the ball…
The point: CFLpass believes that the first 57 minutes of last week’s match were far more representative of this team than the closing three.
On the other side are the home Toronto Argonauts, who in two games thus far may charitably be described as one dumpster fire of a train wreck. The Argos have managed just 21 points in those games, losing by 50 and 25, and have not yet played 00:01 of game time with a lead. The offense has produced just three players of longer than 21 yards, and one was a desperation-time heave by backup QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson against Saskatchewan last week.
So, yeah. The Argonauts don’t really want to play anyone right now in front of a well-empty stadium, but low on the list of preferred choices would likely be an offensive machine that’s just now roaring into life. This looks like one of the bigger gimmes of the 2019 CFL season: Take BC Lions -7 at Toronto. This shit is *TOO* easy…