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A general view of the interior of McMahon Stadium as we look at our top Lions vs. Stampeders picks
A general view of the interior of McMahon Stadium during kick-off to begin the 107th Grey Cup Championship Game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMahon Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images via AFP.

The 2023 CFL season starts Thursday night and the B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders will each begin the campaign with a different starting quarterback from Week 1 of last season. Read on for our top Lions-Stampeders picks and predictions based on the best CFL odds.

Former B.C. Lions Canadian QB Nathan Rourke is preparing for NFL training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Bo Levi Mitchell is ready for his first season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after 10 mostly brilliant campaigns with the Calgary Stampeders. Thus, Canadian football fans will see Vernon Adams Jr. match up against Jake Maier in the CFL's 2023 season opener on Thursday.

The Lions and Stamps each finished 12-6 and second and third, respectively, in the CFL's West Division in 2022. B.C. beat Calgary 30-16 in the Western semifinal before falling 28-20 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the division final. Both teams are considered mid-tier contenders by the Grey Cup odds for 2023. Maier will be an interesting early-season contender to watch in the CFL Most Outstanding Player odds.

Here are our best Lions-Stampeders picks and predictions (odds via our best sports betting apps; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Lions vs. Stampeders pick

Vernon Adams Jr. Under 259.5 passing yards (-110 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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The CFL is as tough as any league to read early in the season. But backing the Under on a lofty Week 1 passing line for Adams jumps out as the safest play on the board for Thursday.

Adams passed for 1,504 yards over eight games with the Lions to end the 2022 season after being acquired from the Montreal Alouettes to help fill the shoes of an injured Rourke. The uninspiring per-game average of 188 yards prompted the Lions to add veteran quarterbacks Dominique Davis and Dane Evans this offseason.

The leash will be short for Adams early this campaign, and Lions head coach Rick Campbell may opt to get an extended look at all three of his options in Week 1.

The Lions beat the Stampeders in their final preseason game, with Adams tossing three touchdown passes and for 213 yards in one half of action. It's fairly safe to expect better from the Stamps' defense in their home opener.

Adams topped this passing line in just two games last season, and longtime Lions receiver Bryan Burnham retired over the winter.

Lions vs. Stampeders odds

Lions+2.5 (-110)+2.5 (+100)+2.5 (-110)
Stampeders-2.5 (-110)-2.5 (-120)-2.5 (-110)

Lions vs. Stampeders odds analysis

All three of our best sports betting sites offering betting lines on the CFL's season opener dropped the spread to 2.5 points as of Thursday afternoon after opening at a consensus line of 3.5 in favor of the host Stampeders. B.C. has drawn 56% of the betting action. 

The Week 1 passing line for Adams seems to be an overreaction to his performance in the preseason finale. The Stampeders knew this much more meaningful rematch lay ahead, and they'll be able to make the necessary defensive adjustments to contain Adams.

The narrowing spread is suggestive of a tight game which could lend itself more to a run-heavy attack from both sides and keep the Lions' passing game a little more grounded than initially expected.

Lions vs. Stampeders game info

  • Date: Thursday, June 8. 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS, TSN
  • Location: McMahon Stadium, Calgary, AB
  • Weather: 86 degrees F, 20% chance of precipitation, 13-mph winds

Here are our best sports betting apps:

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