Today's Free Picks for
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Hamilton -1½ over Calgary -110
6:30 PM EST. Despite reaching two straight Grey Cup championships, there is little love for these Tiger-Cats in this market. A 30-13 Week 1 loss in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders could be the catalyst for one to take up the side of the Stampeders here, but so, too, could the injuries to Hamilton’s offensive line, which have been well-publicized this week. The crew that dressed for the opener in front of quarterback Dane Evans gave up eight sacks and were on the field for five turnovers. It doesn’t matter who you are in this league, you are not going to win if you cannot hold on to the rock and keep your pivot upright. Further, the Tabbies' offensive line woes in Week 1 led to a nearly non-existent running attack that led to an insurmountable 17 2nd and long situations. When you are constantly swimming upstream on second down in this league, you are going to have a bad time, as defenses can pin their ears back and come full force just as Saskatchewan did. That’s when bad things happen.
Hamilton lost the turnover battle in Week 1 5-1 for a brutal -4 differential. The further we peel the onion on just how bad the Ti-Cats were in Week 1, the more impressive it is that they lost by just 17. One only needs to look at the Edmonton/BC game to see how bad it can get when you turn the ball over at will, as the Elks lost by 44. We’re not ones to sugarcoat a better than two touchdown defeat, but we will point out that the Tabbies weren’t as bad as they have been made out to be, especially on defense.
Bend, but don’t break might be a cliche when it comes to playing defensive football, but the Tiger-Cats displayed that trait in Saskatchewan. The Hamilton defense snuffed out the Sasky run game with quarterback Cody Fajardo leading his team in rushing. While the Tiger-Cats did not get any sacks, they did pressure Fajardo into taking off more than he would have otherwise. Roughriders lead running back Jamal Morrow gained just 14 yards on nine carries. Nobody is talking about that, instead, they are focused on the impotence of the Hamilton offense. Let us not forget that halfway through the fourth quarter, Hamilton was down by just two points and was in a position to win the game. That despite all of the Tabbies' offensive struggles. One figures that the Ti-Cats will be sharper on that side of the ball here in Week 1.
Enter the Stampeders, who will stubbornly continue with Frankenstein’s monster at quarterback. Bo Levi Mitchell and his bum shoulder and bum leg left Calgary’s Week 1 win over Montreal, but lucky for us, dude practiced all week and will get the start here. Why does this move make us smile? Well, Mitchell is arguably the second-best quarterback on his team and he does not give the Stampeders the best chance to win. Now, you won’t read or hear that anywhere else, as the talking heads and local papers are pumped that Bo Levi will be back behind center. We hate to rain on someone’s health parade, but that excitement is misplaced.
While nobody is going to say it, we will. The Stampeders won in spite of Bo Levi in Week 1 and not because of him. Mitchell went just 21-for-34 for 199 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Dude should shout out the Calgary defense for bailing him out. By all rights, the Alouettes should have walked out of McMahon Stadium with the W, but life's not fair. A Calgary win, however, has the market under the impression that the Stamps are a “well-oiled machine.” We use that phrase specifically because we read it again and again in others’ breakdown of this game. Y’all, we watched that game last week and the Stampeders are the furthest thing from a “well-oiled machine.” They are a clunky old jalopy with an engine that is leaking oil and running on fumes. The days of the Stampeders being the class of this league are over. It’s been three years since they won the division and four since they hoisted a Grey Cup. Four years feels like 14 at this point, no? As long as the market continues to treat them like royalty, we are going to fade these Stampeders into oblivion.
Hamilton -1½ -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)