June 11, 2019

Weekly Predictor: Believing in the Bombers

The Canadian Press

Fans are fairly certain they know who will win in Week 1 in the Canadian Football League.

But in three-down football, too much confidence can be a dangerous thing.

The Stampeders and Eskimos are heavy favourites in Week 1, with more than 90 per cent of fans on their side.

The Lions, led by their new franchise quarterback Mike Reilly, are a slight favourite at home over the Blue Bombers, who many expect to contend for the West.

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Finally, in Thursday’s season-opener, which has has been moved up half an hour, the hometown Ticats are favoured to defeat their former quarterback in Zach Collaros.

Can the underdogs flip the script?

CFL Pick ‘Em is back for 2019, allowing fans to pick a winner and set their confidence level in every game this season. It’s free to play, and with weekly winners and a season-long prize of $5,000, there’s nothing to lose. *View rules regarding streaks and prizing.

Here are my picks for Week 1:

Saskatchewan at Hamilton
Thursday | 7:00 p.m. ET

Riders quarterback Zach Collaros is set to face his former team for the first time (The Canadian Press)

Both teams have a new head coach, both have the same quarterback as last year leading the way and now it’s a matter of taking the next step after decent seasons in 2018. Hamilton won on the strength of their offence. The Riders won with defence.

I’m interested to see how both these offences look with a new play caller in Hamilton as June Jones left just a few weeks before training camp. Meanwhile in Saskatchewan, it appears Zach Collaros has a little more room to improvise and also another year of experience in this system. Add a workhorse like William Powell to the mix and the Riders have to see a jump in offensive output.

The Riders’ defence will be of intrigue to see if they can match their historic numbers last season. They have a great test early and on the road.

PICK: HAMILTON (50% confidence)


Montreal at Edmonton
Friday | 9:00 p.m. ET

After a heated battle for the top job, Antonio Pipkin will start behind centre for the Als (Montreal Alouettes)

Massive changes for both teams! The Eskimos did their best to fill the hole left by Mike Reilly. I imagine Trevor Harris should be tremendously motivated to show he can replace Reilly as well as being motivated by last year’s Grey Cup loss.

Antonio Pipkin gets the ball for the Alouettes but I have to believe a quick change of head coach at the start of the season isn’t the best way to get focused for the first game of the season.

PICK: EDMONTON (90% confidence)


Ottawa at Calgary
Saturday | 7:00 p.m. ET

A new four-year deal will keep Bo Levi Mitchell in Calgary for the foreseeable future (The Canadian Press)

The REDBLACKS and Stampeders don’t look a lot like the teams that played in the Grey Cup last year.

A lot of key players are in different places. But at the biggest spot, the Stamps still have Bo Levi Mitchell.

Dominique Davis enters the season as the starter in Ottawa so we’ll see what he can produce for a team that saw its quarterback, running back, a top receiver and the offensive coordinator walk this off-season.

It’s going to be tough to keep pace with what the Stampeders can continue to produce with their leader.

PICK: STAMPEDERS (75% confidence)


Winnipeg at BC
Saturday | 10:00 p.m. ET

The Bombers have upgraded their offence around starter Matt Nichols in 2019 (The Canadian Press)

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are the team I think will be the West Division team in the Grey Cup. They didn’t have drastic changes, and added a piece here and there.

Meanwhile, the BC Lions are hoping Mike Reilly is the home run they’re hoping for to get the Lions back into a Grey Cup for the first time since 2011.

While the Lions have added some pieces and a great coach in DeVone Claybrooks to take over from Wally Buono, I’m going to stick to the more consistent roster of the two to start the season.

PICK: WINNIPEG (33% confidence)


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Week 1 lineup: