Handicapper Ian Cameron’s CFL best bets

Ian Cameron, a handicapper for Sportsmemo.com, analyzes his best bets for this weekend in the Canadian Football League:

Friday: Winnipeg-Montreal (Under 49.5)

Analysis: I have cashed back-to-back “under” winners involving the Montreal Alouettes, and I will keep riding this train until I lose at this point. Everything from top to bottom with the Montreal offense is a mess to start the season. Alouettes quarterback Troy Smith has to replace a legend and arguably the best CFL passer of all time in Anthony Calvillo, and Smith must do it behind an offensive line replacing two veterans. He also is trying to execute an offense that has a first-time play caller in Ryan Dinwiddie, who replaced an offensive coordinator fired in training camp. The system is a mess, the quarterback situation is a major question mark and the line is a major work in progress. The Alouettes scored eight points and notched only 187 total yards in Week 1 against Calgary, and while they improved with a 24-point output against the BC Lions last week, it’s worth noting they scored only two touchdowns, and one was on an interception return. Montreal moved the chains and got more first downs, but finding the end zone is still going to be a tough challenge.

Winnipeg’s offense looked strong in home victories over Toronto and Ottawa, scoring more than 30 points in each game, but the Blue Bombers have issues heading into Week 3. This will be quarterback Drew Willy’s first road start. The Blue Bombers also lost a key offensive lineman, with left guard Chris Greaves out because of injury, and they also might be without wide receiver Aaron Kelly, who was one of Willy’s favorite targets in the first two games. The Montreal defense has been excellent in the first two games, allowing a combined total of 38 points against Calgary and BC. Willy and the Blue Bombers will struggle a bit on offense this week, while also thinking of a run-first attack against Montreal, especially since new starting running back Nic Grigsby has played well. We see only a half-point adjustment from last week’s BC-Montreal total, despite the fact the Alouettes’ first two games have had just 37 and 33 total points.

Saturday: British Columbia (+6.5) over Saskatchewan

Analysis: This is your classic circle-the-wagons spot for the Lions, who are 0-2 and in desperate need of a win. BC should be in a bad mood for this one. The Lions were picked to be Grey Cup contenders, with Vancouver being the host city for this year’s championship in November, and BC is looking to run the streak of Grey Cup host cities winning the title to four consecutive years. It’s far too early to completely give up on the Lions.

Saskatchewan followed an easy Week 1 win against Hamilton with an ugly 48-15 blowout loss in Toronto last week, so you have two teams looking to bounce back. BC’s offense has been ugly, with quarterback Kevin Glenn throwing for two touchdowns with six interceptions in the first two games, and its line has had trouble holding up in pass protection and run blocking at the same time. Despite his struggles, Glenn is a veteran CFL quarterback who knows the game inside and out and still has the capabilities of turning things around and stepping up to play a great game. For years, Glenn seems to play his best football when everyone is counting him out, and we could see him rise to the occasion Saturday. I’m not convinced this is the same elite Saskatchewan defense from last season, and its offense never got untracked last week in Toronto. The Roughriders own the strongest home-field edge in the CFL by a wide margin, and it isn’t easy to bet against them, but BC has enough desperation and motivation to at least hang within the number and challenge to win this game outright.

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