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.
PICK’EM BY THE NUMBERS IN 2018
Saskatchewan at Hamilton
Thursday, June 13 | 7:30 p.m. ET
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
After both missing out on playoff football in 2018, the Als and Esks doubled down with votes of confidence for their respective leadership groups.
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
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
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.