February 27, 2019

Total Pick’em: Early-bird contest and the road ahead

Arthur Ward/CFL.ca Photo

Total Pick’Em is back for its fifth season, and Canada-based fans who sign up ahead of the early-bird deadline (Apr. 2) are eligible to enter the CFL Pick’Em Early Bird Contest —  where they could win a dream vacation.


With Week 1 just over 100 days away, let’s break down the season-opening matchups and take a look at early trends.


  • Home teams won 60.5% of games, with away teams winning 39.5%.
  • Of all total predictions, Pick’Em players scored 65.4% correct.
  • Calgary (85,899) was the most-picked team, and rewarded Pick’Em players with a 79.0% correct-pick rate. The Stamps were also favoured in 13 matchups, winning 81.3% of those.
  • Toronto was the poorest selection for Pick’Em players, with just a 25.1% correct-pick rate.
  • Edmonton (54.7%) and Hamilton (49.6%) were the two most difficult picks for players, with their correct-pick rates hovering around 50%.

Saskatchewan at Hamilton

Thursday, June 13 | 7:30 p.m. ET


Explosive Riders return man Kyran Moore will be looking to build on a strong rookie season, while Hamilton QB Jeremiah Masoli is now the clear-cut top QB in the East.

The opening game of the 2019 season features two teams with serious designs on a Grey Cup; both teams will look much the same on offence as last year, with Saskatchewan’s free-agency capture of stud running back William Powell the lone flashy change.

Both the Tabbies and Riders lost significant defensive pieces in the off-season, but each also managed to add a game-breaker; Ja’Gared Davis will bring a new dimension to Hamilton’s pass rush, while Micah Johnson is no joke on the interior of Saskatchewan’s fearsome D-line.


Montreal at Edmonton

Friday, June 14 | 9 p.m. ET


Receiver B.J. Cunningham is now just one of many offensive weapons in Montreal, while QB Trevor Harris brought a number of familiar faces from Ottawa to his new locker room in Edmonton.

After both missing out on playoff football in 2018, the Als and Esks doubled down with votes of confidence for their respective leadership groups.

That loyalty paid off in free agency, where both Montreal (S Taylor Loffler, REC DeVier Posey, RB Jeremiah Johnson) and Edmonton (Harris, REC Greg Ellingson, LB Larry Dean) made large splashes.

Neither team will have their respective starting quarterback from 2018 at the helm, as Mike Reilly departed Edmonton for BC and Johnny Manziel was released by the Alouettes.

That fresh slate, the sense that a new day is dawning, could be a positive  — especially for the Als, who have not made the playoffs since 2014.


Ottawa at Calgary

Saturday, June 15 | 7 p.m. ET


Receiver Brad Sinopoli will now have to be go-to target at all times in Ottawa, while quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has talked about cementing his legacy since lifting the Grey Cup last November.

Both of last year’s Grey Cup combatants lost some big-time pieces this winter, and it will be vastly different REDBLACKS and Stampeders squads that take the field on June 15 at McMahon Stadium.

While the panic button was hit by fans in Ottawa shortly after free agency opened, with Trevor Harris, Greg Ellingson and William Powell all gone in the span of a few hours, there is a sense of prevailing calm around Calgary.

GM John Hufnagel, HC Dave Dickenson and QB Bo Levi Mitchell remain, and that seems to be good enough reason for most pick’em players to put their faith in the western juggernaut that is Calgary — even with their major off-season losses.


Winnipeg at BC

Saturday, June 15 | 10 p.m. ET


Andrew Harris is still the best dual-threat running back in the league, while new Lion Mike Reilly led the league in passing yards last season. Premium talent on display in Week 1? Check.

While Winnipeg didn’t land the premium receiver it was seeking in free agency, make no mistake: This is still at its core the same Bombers team that made last year’s West Final, and the addition of Willie Jefferson on the defence should not be discounted.

On the other side of the matchup — as evidenced by the team’s $2.9-million commitment to Mike Reilly — BC is officially all-in; the enigmatic Duron Carter and strong national Lemar Durant bolster a good group of returning receivers, while the defence looks solid.

Though they’ve had very different off-seasons to-date, both Winnipeg and the Lions will have their sights firmly set on deep playoff runs in 2019.