The playoffs are here in the CFL and on Sunday, the divisional semifinals will be held. The first game will be held in Canada’s capital city as the defending Grey Cup champion Ottawa RedBlacks host the Saskatchewan Roughriders, while the second game features the Edmonton Eskimos hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Calgary Stampeders await the winner of Edmonton/Winnipeg, and Toronto will meet the winner of Ottawa/Saskatchewan. While it makes sense for the Stampeders to be off on a bye this week (they are 13-4-1), it is a little odd to see the Argos also getting a week off. Toronto finished the year just 9-9 but that’s how things have been in the East Division. Not a single team finished with a record above .500, which shows just how unbalanced the league has been this year. The general consensus among experts is that the winner of the West Division playoffs will go on to have an easy time of things in the Grey Cup.
Saskatchewan Roughriders @ Ottawa RedBlacks
Odds: RedBlacks -2
The 10-8 Roughriders finished fourth in the West while the RedBlacks finished second in the East at 8-9-1, and the two have split their last 10 meetings SU, including both this year with the away team winning by one point each time. The RedBlacks are 7-3 ATS in these games, with six of them going over the posted total. The RedBlack started the season slowly, going 1-6-1 in their first eight games, but they managed to win their last three regular-season games, including a 33-32 win in Saskatchewan in Week 17. These two are pretty even in terms of the numbers, as the Roughriders were third in points scored and the RedBlacks were fifth; on the other side of the ball, the Roughriders were second in points allowed and the RedBlacks were third. This is a game that could come down to a break or two here or there, and the Roughriders were slightly better at taking care of the ball as they had 26 turnovers to 34 for the RedBlacks. However, the Roughriders’ situation is worrying as they rotated down the stretch, and that won’t fly in the playoffs.
The RedBlacks are at hoe in this one but that hasn’t made a big different for them this season. They are 3-5-1 when playing in front of their own audience compared to 5-4 on the road. As for the Roughriders, the Mean Green are both 5-4 at home and on the road.
Pick: RedBlacks -2
Edmonton Eskimos @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Odds: Eskimos -1.5
The Eskimos and the Blue Bombers were both 12-6 on the season, but the Blue Bombers got the second spot in the East because of their two wins over Edmonton in head-to-head play. The Eskimos are 7-3 SU and 5-4-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings with the Blue Bombers, with six of the games going over the posted total. However, the Blue Bombers have won three of the last four and their last two meetings at home with Edmonton have resulted in wins.
The two teams mostly mirror each other as Winnipeg scored 554 points this year while allowing 492. The Eskimos scored 510 points while giving up 495.
You won’t find a team that was more streaky in the regular season than the Eskimos, who won their first seven games, then lost six in a row, then won their last five. The Blue Bombers were up and down when it came to the stretch run, dropping three of five, but overall they were more consistent all season. The Blue bombers were first in points scored this season and the Eskimos were fourth; when it comes to points allowed, the Blue Bombers were fifth, just three points ahead of the Eskimos, who also had three more turnovers on the season. This is going to be a close and very exciting game, and like the East semifinal, it could only come down to a play or two. Take the more consistent Blue Bombers at home.
The Blue Bombers are a healthy 6-3 at home this season, although they were also 6-3 on the road this year too. As for the Eskimos, they have the same number as they were 6-3 both at home and on the road.
Pick: Blue Bombers -1.5
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