Today's Free Picks for
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Posted at 3:30 PM EST and are subject to change.
Ottawa/Winnipeg u49 -110
8:30 PM EST. What a difference a year makes, and no, we are not talking about the CFL’s labor dispute, nor are we talking about the league’s new rules which are designed to increase scoring. No, we are talking about the barrage of online sportsbook adverts that are on our television screens since the legalization of online sports wagering in Ontario. It’s the same in the United States, where state by state, everyone is lining up at the trough to get their piece of the money pie. Every network has a gambling “expert” on their website, highlight show, pregame, postgame, and/or intermission with a sponsored segment and those segments along with the onslaught of adverts mentioned above both have an influence on a brand new and unsuspecting segment of the market.
It’s with that in mind we are going to attack this total. Every CFL segment and article that has previewed the 2022 season has referenced the new rules designed to increase scoring. The most notable is the moving of the hash marks closer together so that there will be a more open field for players to make plays on the outside. Teams will also be allowed to begin their drives on the 40-yard line after giving up a successful field goal or rouge (single). No matter who you listen to, these two rules along with about a half a dozen others will open up an apparently stagnant game. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said, "It's about improving game flow. It's about limiting the number of two-and-outs.” Blue Bombers’ head coach Mike O'Shea quipped, "Offensively it should open up the playbook a little more and allow you to use the entire field. The hope is it generates more excitement.” More excitement = more points.
In the season opener last night, Montréal and Calgary exchanged points out of the gate at a feverish pace posting a total of 38 going into the half. Anyone that bet the under (48½ at close) was dead in the water with two quarters to play. For those that bet the over, it was easy pickings, as the increase in points promised by the league, pundits and pick sellers came to fruition. At least on the surface.
While all things are not equal, we took a look back at Week 1 of 2021 and compared those games to the opener last night. In the Montréal/Calgary game, one that was played with the new rules, there were a total of 109 offensive plays (Stamps-58, Als-51). In Calgary’s first game last season, one played under the old, boring, no fun, ho-hum system, there were a total of 110 offensive plays (Stamps-59, Argonauts-51). The three other games in Week 1 of 2021 combined for similar play totals of 111 (Elks/Redblacks), 104 (Roughriders/Lions) and 110 between the Tiger-Cats and these Blue Bombers. All but one of those games in Week 1 last season went under the posted total (Sask/BC). The Bombers and Tiger-Cats, a battle of the league's two premier offenses at the time, produced 27 points.
Just like last season, the Bombers will be celebrating a Grey Cup championship, and with that comes much pomp and circumstance. There are many other responsibilities one must attend to on a night like this and it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the Bombers’ minds are not 100% on the game. Outside of the team pictures, banner raising, and baby-kissing in the community, for many players, their families are in town for the first time in two years as travel restrictions are loosened. That means, tickets, merchandise, accommodations, and entertainment. Everything but football. It is because of these outside distractions that we are not backing the Blue Bombers tonight despite the steep line movement. There are just too many variables on their side and we see more opportunity in this total.
One cannot forecast if there will be fireworks tonight in the Manitoba capital, but we do know that this total opened at 42½, which the market saw as a very beatable number, as the inflated price you see posted now will attest to. Now throw in last night’s result to fuel this market even more and we definitely trust that we’re on the prudent play. The media has a massive influence on the market and that media is pimping high scoring games in the CFL right now. Last night’s game aside, we cannot forget that these teams, much like last season, had very little time to prepare with the preseason barely starting on time because of the labor dispute. That deal got done at the last minute and wiped out much of training camp. In some cases, those preseason games had to be moved. Most teams played two warm-up games in five days or less. These offenses do not figure to be well oiled just yet and the new rules throw in another wrinkle that the players and coaches will have to get used to. We trust all the value here is on the under and we must attack.
Ottawa/Winnipeg u49 -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)