Today's Free Picks for
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Winnipeg -1½ -105 over Ottawa
7:30 PM EST. If one were to read the papers in the Manitoba capital, one would not be blamed if one thought that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers dropped their home opener after their second straight Grey Cup championship celebration. To a man, from coach Mike O’Shea down, the Bombers were not a happy group this week at practice, despite winning in Week 1.
It was not a pretty game. That we can confirm after watching Winnipeg squeak out a 19-17 win as a better than a touchdown favorite. That line actually opened with some outfits posting the Blue Bombers as 11½-point favorites. That was a bad line, as the market pounced and drove it all the way down to 6½ by kickoff. The market was rewarded handsomely with a cover that was never really in question. The Bombers were never going to cover double-digits and those that jumped on Winnipeg -6½ never likely felt good about that bet either. That brings us to Week 2, where we must be mindful of over and underreactions to Week 1.
It is with that in mind we turn to the opening line here in this Winnipeg/Ottawa rematch, which is set to take place in Ottawa. We trust that the 11½-points posted last week was a bad number, especially considering what happened on the field. The Redblacks nearly won out in every aspect of that game, except that final score. Ottawa had 140 more passing yards, as it torched the Winnipeg secondary for multiple big plays. On the defensive side, the Redblacks, locked up the Bombers' feared running attack for just 50 yards on 19 carries, while also limiting Zach Collaros to just 188 yards passing. When the oddsmakers posted the Blue Bombers as -7½-point favorites this week in Ottawa, the market pounced once more. We do not blame them. It looked like a really bad number. Again.
If you jumped in early and backed Ottawa at a number closer to its open than the one that is posted now, you have some options. You may ride it out with the “edge” you currently hold, or you may buy back some or all of the Blue Bombers for a nice middle. If you are jumping in today, as we are, there really is only one play here, Winnipeg. Bad number or not, we cannot ignore that this market has bet down the Redblacks through not one, but two key numbers (7 & 3). That is not insignificant. Perhaps Ottawa will win this game with ease, but we are not in the business of predicting the outcome of games. Hell, at this point, the Redblacks just might be favored by kick-off. As purveyors of value, that fact cannot be ignored.
The Blue Bombers had a lot on their plates last week. Not only was it their home opener, which comes with its own distractions, but they were also raising their Grey Cup banner. It was a glorified party with 30 000 of their closest friends in attendance and from our perch may have been treated as such. This week, the shoe is mostly on the other foot, as Ottawa now must deal with all the bull crap that comes with hosting the first home game of the season. Last week, the Redblacks treated that game as a business trip and were in no mood to party. If we are to believe what we are hearing from the Blue Bombers locker room, they will be taking that approach this week, as there were many holes in their bucket. Said Bombers' defensive coordinator Richie Hall, “They threw for (almost) 400 yards, but that’s not the DBs, that’s our defense. Each individual knows the mistakes they made.” Offensive coordinator Buck Pierce added, “Winning’s hard in this league. When you win and there’s lessons to be learned, that’s a great thing.”
We trust Redblacks’ coach and former Winnipeg offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice when he says his team was not in awe of the Blue Bombers, "We were never intimidated. Yeah, they were 19-1 at home, yeah, they were the Grey Cup champs. We didn't care about any of those other factors. We cared about us." That is about as close as one can get to quoting the legendary Dennis Green, “THEY WERE, WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE, AND WE LET'EM OFF THE HOOK!” It is nice that coach “LaPo” has his team’s back, but there is a reason that championship teams rise to the top, even when they are not at their best.
The Redblacks threw the kitchen sink at Winnipeg last week and caught the Bombers on a rare off night and they still could not win. Now, they’ve been reading and hearing all week just how great they were in that game and how they should have won. To that we say, "If 'it's' and 'buts' were candies and nuts," well, you know how it goes. In reality, is it fair to expect the Redblack to be just as focused and hungry here?
Were the Bombers lucky? We will leave that one to Hall, “Luck is when preparation and opportunity meet.” We trust that the Bombers are going to be much better prepared here in Week 2 with few distractions to keep them from covering this deflated number.
Winnipeg -1½ -105 (Risking 2.10 units - To Win: 2.00)