Five weeks of CFL action are in the books and our plays here at EOG.com continue to do well. We were ‘officially’ 1-1 last week to take our record to 15-2. Although the focus of the sports betting world is now squarely on the NFL and their preseason activities we’ll keep looking for profits in the CFL. Here’s some of the things we learned in Week 5:
THE EDMONTON ESKIMOS ARE UNDEFEATED:
The Edmonton Eskimos are not only for real we’re not going to be surprised to see them in the Grey Cup picture. Edmonton is the only undefeated team remaining in the CFL and last week they demonstrated that they can overcome adversity. The Eskimos were on the ropes last week as they fell behind in a game for the first time but mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback to nip the Toronto Argonauts 26-25. We’d had this game pegged as a potential letdown spot with matchups against the East Division’s surprise team the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Grey Cup champ Montreal Alouettes on deck. Toronto got the money but Edmonton showed considerable character in scrapping their way to a victory. As we said last week we’re not surprised that this team is very tough mentally given the class of their new head coach Kavis Reed. Reed not only has the Esks’ playing great football in all phases of the game but is rebuilding the culture of the tradition proud Edmonton franchise. GM Eric Tilman and first year head coach Kavis Reed deserve the bulk of the credit for facilitate the return of what longtime Edmonton fans call ‘The Eskimo Way’.
Reed has the sort of gravitas that commands respect—the Georgetown, South Carolina native played his college football at Furman before entering pro football in Canada. He had his career cut short due to a career ending neck injury in 1999 and has been involved in coaching ever since. As we noted last week he’s a dead ringer for Ving Rhames’s Marcellus Wallace in ‘Pulp Fiction’ he doesn’t look like a guy you want to cross. We can’t say enough good things about Reed—in our opinion through this point of the year he’s done the best coaching job in any North American sport.
That’s the sort of ethos that bring a team together and that makes it easy for fans to support the Eskimos. Having a great quarterback in Ricky Ray and best receiver in the CFL in Fred Stamps doesn’t hurt to be sure, but they’ve now got a winning attitude from the top down and teammates around them that have bought in to it. We’ll be looking for opportunities to back the Eskimos all season long. We are concerned somewhat that they may be ‘overpriced’–and particularly if they pile up some more wins—but this team is the real deal.
HAMILTON ON THE UPSWING AS MONTREAL CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE
Winning week after week isn’t easy at any level of professional football. For whatever reason, the CFL’s teams seem to be especially streaky even at the elite level. This makes the opening season run of the Edmonton Eskimos even more impressive and that sort of consistency gives us reason to think they could be a championship level team. Meanwhile, the Montreal Alouettes lost their second straight game to drop to 3-2 and into a second place tie with the team that beat them in Week 5, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Ti-Cats are putting it together in all phases of the game right now with quarterback Kevin Glenn leading the offense and arguably the best linebacking corps in the CFL pacing the defense. We’re not worried about Montreal’s offense and even the great Anthony Calvillo has demonstrated a tendency toward ‘streaky’ play but their defense—and particularly the pass coverage—is a serious problem.
BC LIONS STILL WINLESS, BUT…
We talked about the BC Lions last week—and the story is still the same this week. The Lions dropped to 0-5 on the season and are 1-4 against the spread. Despite these less than impressive numbers we’re going to look for opportunities to play on them in the next few weeks. BC dropped yet another fairly close game on the road, losing to Calgary by 5 points.. Only one of the Lions’ five losses came by double digits with three setbacks by less than a touchdown. The offense led by improving young quarterback Travis Lulay has kept the team in games but he’s been done in by the CFL’s worst scoring defense. This could be the week that BC breaks through for their first win of the year—they’ll host struggling Saskatchewan (1-4 SU/ATS) and the Roughriders have a defense equally as porous as the Lions (they’ve allowed 1 fewer point) but without the same offensive potency. Not excited about laying points with BC but they definitely offer more upside than the Riders.
EDMONTON VS. WINNIPEG HIGHLIGHTS WEEK 6:
Great matchup on Friday night between the CFL’s two biggest surprises—5-0 Edmonton heads to Winnipeg to take on the 4-1 Blue Bombers. The Bombers have the league’s best scoring defense while the Eskimos are insanely balanced with the #2 scoring offense and #2 scoring defense. Unfortunately, the NFL Network will be showing the late game on Friday night between Saskatchewan and British Columbia instead of this contest which ‘on paper’ could be the most compelling matchup of the season so far.
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