July 5, 2023

Brandon’s Blitz Picks: Will Elks or Ticats earn their first win?

Walter Tychnowicz/CFL.ca

Coming off a season-best 7-3 in Blitz Picks, we take our 24-16 record into Week 5 with a new batch of bold predictions.

There is a lot to sort out this week between Elks and Ticats looking for their first win, Trevor Harris and Jake Maier’s numbers, Ottawa’s defensive line and more.

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1) Will Hamilton or Edmonton earn their first victory of 2023 this week?

Neither. The Ticats have allowed 37.5 points per game and face a REDBLACKS offence that will be energized by the 2023 debut of pivot Jeremiah Masoli ($13,000). Meanwhile, the Elks and their league-worst defence must find a way to slow down a Roughriders passing game that’s second in the CFL with 289.0 passing yards per game.

2) Will Edmonton’s Nyles Morgan record more or less than 6.5 tackles this week against Saskatchewan?

More. Morgan averages nine stops per contest and with the amount of time the Elks defence stays on the field (a whopping 33:45 per game), the talented linebacker will have ample opportunities to meet and greet Trevor Harris ($15,000) and Friends.

3) Will Saskatchewan’s Trevor Harris throw more than 2.5 touchdowns this week against Edmonton?

We’re going to lean toward no for the simple reason Harris may not have to throw much against the Elks, who have allowed 164 yards per game on the ground, 51 yards more than eighth-place Hamilton. Harris will throw a major or two, but this week is set for RB Jamal Morrow ($11,400) to be an exceedingly popular fantasy play.

4) Will Calgary’s Jake Maier throw for more or less than 249.5 yards this week against Winnipeg?

The Blue Bombers allow 280 passing yards per game, so even with a depleted receiving corps, Maier ($15,000) should throw for more, albeit not by much. Winnipeg has allowed eight completions of better than 30 yards, and with Reggie Begelton ($14,200) coming off the six game IL and expected to get the bulk of targets in the wake of Malik Henry’s ($14,700) season-ending injury, Maier will look to stretch the passing game more frequently than normal in order to keep the Winnipeg defence from zeroing in on RB Dedrick Mills ($11,700).

5) Will Winnipeg’s Brady Oliveira rush for more or less than 79.5 yards against Calgary this week?

Oliveira leads all running backs in rushing attempts with 62 (Minas Panagiotakis/CFL.ca)

More. Oliveira ($15,000) leads the league with 327 rushing yards, and his 62 attempts are 16 more than second place Taquan Mizzell ($13,500) of BC. Winnipeg is sixth in time of possession, a number that’s un-Bombers-like, so if Oliveira can manage the workload, count on the running game to continue to take a more prominent role in the offence.

6) Will Ottawa record more than 3.5 sacks this week against Hamilton?

Less. The Tiger-Cats have struggled offensively yet have done a decent job of keeping their pivots upright (seven sacks allowed, fifth overall). The REDBLACKS are third with 12 sacks recorded but must keep in mind that Hamilton starter Matthew Shiltz ($8,800) is more mobile than advertised. Don’t be surprised if Shiltz catches Ottawa off-balance with a long run on Saturday.

7) Which Hamilton receiver (Tim White, Duke Williams) will have more yards this week?

We’ll give the edge to White ($15,000), who has been the more efficient pass catcher. White’s 96.6 efficiency rating is more than twice better than the 40.5 rate Williams ($13,900) has managed despite his stellar 18.6 yards per catch. White’s 16.1 YPC isn’t shabby at all, so bank on consistency rather than the threat of a big play.

8) Will BC’s Alexander Hollins record more than 74.5 receiving yards this week?

No. Keon Hatcher ($10,500) had 104 receiving yards in his 2023 debut, and with Dominique Rhymes ($15,000) coming off the IL with two majors on three catches in Monday’s loss to Toronto, Hollins (who had 68 yards in Week 4) is likely to fall down the pecking order, which means he’ll have to compete with Justin McInnis ($11,500) for the attention of Vernon Adams, Jr. ($12,500).

9) Will Montreal force more than 2.5 turnovers against BC?

Less. Vernon Adams, Jr. won’t be as snake-bitten as he was during his six-interception performance against Toronto on Monday. The Alouettes have forced 11 turnovers this season and while they’re a strong bet to add to that total on Sunday, don’t count on them benefiting from a bushel of Lions miscues.

10) Will a team return a kick (punt, kickoff return, missed field goal) return for a TD this week?

Well, the last time we asked, the answer was “no,” and we had a pair of punt returns go the distance. This week, we’ll say yes, with Winnipeg’s Janarion Grant ($6,300) the best play as he faces a Calgary return defence that has allowed a league-high four big play returns.

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