In hindsight, picking three underdogs in Week 2 wasn’t the best move and there are three big underdogs in Week 3 that I think I’m going to avoid this week.
The first game of the week sees the off-season favourite against a team that’s hot out of the gate with Winnipeg hosting Edmonton.
The Bombers were picked by many to take the next step, while many were unsure how Edmonton would look with the amount of change going into the season. Well, the Eskimos definitely have proven after two weeks they spent their money in all the right places. Trevor Harris has looked every bit of the quarterback that took the Ottawa REDBLACKS to the Grey Cup last season.
The Montreal Alouettes had an extra week to lick their wounds from their opening loss in Edmonton and now they’ll be in tough on the road against another 2-0 team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Montreal is looking for Vernon Adams Jr. to take the reins at quarterback with Antonio Pipkin out. The Tiger-Cats have to re-focus after winning with ease in Toronto by 50 last week.
DeVone Claybrooks returns to Calgary as the head coach of the BC Lions this week. While it’ll be a meaningful return to Calgary for Claybrooks, who saw tremendous success as the defensive coordinator with the Stamps, Saturday’s return is way more meaningful because Claybrooks’ Lions have started 0-2.
The Stamps defensive line has taken significant losses and Calgary has had a week to work things out following an opening week loss. The last time the Stampeders started the season 0-2 was 10 years ago so as unlikely as it is the Stamps drop their first two games, it appears with injuries they’re already limping into Week 3.
Finally, Canada Day should be a fun night in Saskatchewan. The Roughriders home opener sees the home side trying to avoid an 0-3 start. The Riders come in after back to back close games on the road and with optimism formed thanks to Cody Fajardo‘s first career start in a 44-41 loss to Ottawa.
It also is Corey Chamblin’s first game back in Saskatchewan as a head coach since he was fired by the Riders in 2015. But like Claybrooks returning to Calgary, Chamblin has far bigger things to worry about after dropping the Argonauts debut 64-14.
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Here are my picks for Week 3:
Edmonton at Winnipeg
Thursday | 8:30 p.m. ET
Can Harris and the Esks offence continue their success this week against the Bombers? (Walter Tychnowicz/CFL.ca)
After two impressive home wins to start the season, the Eskimos take their show on the road against the Bombers. Winnipeg is coming off a bye week after opening the season with a 10-point road win in Vancouver.
It’s always interesting to see how teams come off bye weeks this early in the season. We saw Toronto look like they were a week behind to physically match Hamilton. I’m a little concerned, despite playing once, you may see a little time for Winnipeg to match the Eskimos.
The Eskimos defensive line was outstanding against BC and now go up against an offensive line that did see change this off-season. I could see that matchup favouring Edmonton and when you dominate up front, you can take over a game.
PICK: EDMONTON (33% confidence)
Montreal at Hamilton
Friday | 7:30 p.m. ET
Masoli and the Tiger-Cats aim to build on their big win in Toronto last week (Geoff Robins/CFL.ca)
Jeremiah Masoli and the Tiger-Cats were back to their high-flying offensive show after being held in check in the first week of the season. And now they take on the Alouettes, who allowed Trevor Harris to throw for over 400-yards in Week 1.
Vernon Adams Jr. gets the start now for Montreal and Khari Jones is starting to send some messages with roster moves early in the season and after the Week 2 bye. The Alouettes need to control the game on the ground to keep things close and with Adams’ ability to scramble, they could test the Tiger-Cats ability to contain the quarterback.
But it’s hard to ignore how much this matchup favours Hamilton.
PICK: HAMILTON (90% confidence)
BC at Calgary
Saturday | 7:00 p.m. ET
Can Mike Reilly and the Lions get their first win of the season this week? (The Canadian Press)
Two teams that want to show a response from losses the last time out. BC may be a little more urgent to get a win after starting 0-2 and both of those against West Division opponents. Going 0-3 in the division to start the season will be hard to come back from.
Mike Reilly shaved the beard in a clear sign the Lions are looking to find a refreshed feeling any way they can. Reilly was beat up by the Eskimos defensive line and maybe some good news for BC is the defensive line in Calgary is beat up. If Reilly gets more time, the closer this one could be.
Bo Levi Mitchell and the offence in Calgary knows they left a lot of points out on the field after the defence forced four interceptions in a Week 1 loss to Ottawa. Calgary rarely loses two in a row and it’s even more rare to see them lose two in a row at home.
PICK: CALGARY (85% confidence)
Toronto at Saskatchewan
Monday | 7:00 p.m. ET
Will Corey Chamblin be able to steady the ship against the Riders? (The Canadian Press)
The Roughriders have some hope on offence after Cody Fajardo impressed in a 44-41 loss to Ottawa. Fajardo looks to improve in his second start and the Riders showed off the ability to go with the hot hand at running back as William Powell took a back seat to Marcus Thigpen. The big surprise was seeing the Riders defence give up 44 points.
The big difference so far for the Riders defence without Chris Jones calling the shots has been turnovers. A big ZERO in the first two games. The Riders won’t win many games if they don’t start winning the turnover ratio.
Of course, the Riders take on a team that just gave up 64 points. It’ll be a tough way to follow up that big loss for the Toronto Argonauts to go into Saskatchewan with a loud and intense crowd. James Franklin needs to get a lot better at getting the ball to his plethora of weapons on offence. And with head coach Corey Chamblin being the defensive coordinator, his side of the ball has to show more of the aggression Chamblin defences have shown in the past.