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Posted at 12:30 PM EST and are subject to change.
9:30 PM EST. With last night's 49-6 win by Calgary, the last five games played in the CFL have gone over the closing total. The total has also gone over in both of Saskatchewan’s last two games. On the surface, the league is getting exactly what it asked for when it changed the rules in the offseason to promote more scoring. However, if you are watching these games, you know that it is not necessarily the offenses that are shining in the first quarter of the season.
To that point, we are going to start with Ottawa, a team that most in this market will concede has deserved a better fate. You’ll find no shortage of pundits and pick sellers plugging the plight of the Redblacks in advance of this game, with many suggesting one should scoop up those points and head to the betting window. Instead, we are going to focus on an Ottawa defense that allowed 19 points in each of its two games with the defending Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers and did the heavy lifting in the Redblacks' 34-31 loss to the Lions last Thursday.
We’ll dive right into that Week 4 affair, as it is freshest in the minds of the market and it will provide those looking for fodder as to why this game tonight is primed to go over. First, Ottawa posted 31 points, a season-high. Pretty impressive, right? Well, it is, unless you consider the defense did most of the leg work to put the Redblacks offense in a position to finally score some points. Once you factor in that the Reblacks posted eight garbage points at the end of the game, after the Lions took their foot off the gas on the final drive, those 31 points are even less impressive. Let us not forget that the Redblack offense posed just 29 combined points in two games against Winnipeg.
An offensive juggernaut this is not. While the Redblacks put up big yards against the Bombers, they could not finish drives and make Winnipeg pay for its porous secondary. Against the Leos, Ottawa was outgained by 256 yards, had fewer first downs, and lost the time of possession. The only relevant statistic the Redblacks took the crown was turnover ratio, which was 3-0 in their favor. If you are +3 in turnovers in a game, you are supposed to win that game. The market perceives the Redblacks to be hard-luck and better than their record. Maybe they are. Or maybe they just stink.
Saskatchewan’s strength is its defense and it’s not close. Its weakness is its inability on both sides of the ball to play with the discipline of a middle school flag football team. The Roughies are by far the most penalized team in the CFL, and both the offense and defense are guilty of the many, many, many infractions committed each week. In Week 4, Sasky put up 41 points despite 16 penalties that resulted in -155 yards. The Alouettes did their best to match with 11-for-105 on their end while adding five turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions, and a turnover on downs). If you want to know why the Roughies were able to put up some points, don’t look at quarterback Cody Fajardo and company.
Fajardo still looks a mess after the loss of center Dan Clark and star wideout Shaq Evans. Clark was the captain of that offensive ship. His loss cannot be overstated until Saskatchewan finds someone to fill his big shoes. In Week 3, the ‘Riders were penalized for 106 yards on 11 infractions while scoring just 13 points. Week 2 was worse with 14 penalties for -134 against the Elks and Week 1 set the tone for the season going 9-for-85. To summarize, Saskatchewan lacks discipline.
Like turnovers, one cannot predict how many penalties will be called in a game. It’s all “in-game variance,” those calls that are subjective and which outcomes cannot be predicted. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t. We’re not going to go over the dozen or so bad breaks last night that caused that Calgary/Edmonton game, which was played in a damn monsoon, to go over the total. If you stuck around long enough to watch, you know. All we’ll say is that the books got away with putting up a bad number, especially considering the forecasted storm was pegged to strike days in advance.
In case you were wondering, it’s expected to be sunny and 29 degrees celsius in Regina, perfect conditions for Friday night in July. The ruckus Roughies supporters are famous for forcing visiting offenses into taking more penalties than they normally would on the road, there is a recipe here for a start-and-stop game that is flag-heavy. It’s Friday Night Football, which will be seen live on ESPNEWS, which is on most U.S. cable providers. That’s a big deal, and the stripes have to get their facetime.
A total posted in this range after the high scores of late is going to look like low-hanging fruit. Believe us, we are frustrated after ripping up the last couple of tickets, and we are always re-assessing our approach. We’ll see what next week brings if we rip up this ticket with ease, but we are going to trust that the true value here is in the under despite this being the lowest total on the board in Week 4.
Ottawa/Saskatchewan u47 -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)