Hamilton-Calgary Matchup is Highlight of Opening Week in CFL

David Schwab

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 5:00 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jun. 12, 2018 5:00 PM UTC

A new season of football north of the border begins Thursday with Week 1 of the Canadian Football League schedule. The nine teams play an 18-game schedule to set the stage for the Grey Cup playoffs.

CFL Betting Pick of the Week

Week 1 of the 2018 CFL season starts Thursday night, but the game of the week is Saturday’s inter-division clash between the East’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the West’s Calgary Stampeders at 7 p.m. ET at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. Calgary Stampeders (Saturday, 7 p.m. ET)Free Pick: Tiger-Cats +9Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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The Tiger-Cats are coming off a straight-up 6-12 campaign in 2017 that kept them out of the playoffs. The bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season was a SU 6-4 run in their final 10 games after starting 0-8. Hamilton was 2-6 against the spread in those first eight games before going a profitable 8-2 ATS in the final 10 games. The total went "over" in four of its last six games in 2017.

The big news for the Tiger-Cats heading into this season is the addition of Johnny Manziel at quarterback. Head coach June Jones, who held the same position in the NFL with Atlanta, remains committed to Jeremiah Masoli as his starter. However, another slow start by Hamilton would automatically dial up the pressure on Jones to turn to the former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns.

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Johnny Manziel's first CFL touchdown is in the books.

Catch more CFL preseason action on ESPN+: https://t.co/dnvwjtVbQC pic.twitter.com/O0xIrfratk

— ESPN (@espn) June 9, 2018
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Calgary has been the best team in the CFL on paper the past two seasons, but unexpected losses in the last two Grey Cup championships have the Stampeders still hungry for their first CFL title since 2014 when they beat Hamilton 20-16. After winning 15 regular-season games in 2016, their record slipped to 13-4-1 SU after losing their last three games. They failed to cover in their last six games, including the 27-24 loss to Toronto in the 2017 Grey Cup as seven-point favorites.

The Stampeders have been opened as +200 favorites to win the CFL title this season behind Bo Levi Mitchell as their starting quarterback. Last season, he was third in the league in passing yards with 4,700 while completing 64 percent of his 546 passing attempts. Calgary lost its top rusher from last season, Jerome Messam, but it remains rather deep at the running back position.

The Tiger-Cats are 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games against Calgary, and the total has stayed "under" in nine of the last 11 meetings overall. While I do not see Hamilton pulling off the SU upset on the road, I do think the Tiger-Cats will put up enough of a fight to cover with the nine points.

Other Week 1 GamesEdmonton (-7) vs. Winnipeg

When: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. Total line: 51.5
Analysis/pick: The Eskimos are the second-favorites to win the West and they are facing a Blue Bombers’ offense without Matt Nichols at quarterback. Lay the seven points and take Edmonton to cover.

Toronto (-1.5) vs. Saskatchewan

When: Friday, 9 p.m. Total line: 5
Analysis/pick: The defending champion Argonauts are looking for a fast start on the road. The Roughriders won 10 games last season and they appear to have the overall talent to compete with the big dogs in the West this time around. I like this game going "over" the 52-point total.

Montreal vs. British Columbia (-6.5)

When: Saturday, 10 p.m. Total line: 49
Analysis/pick: These teams posted a combined 10 SU wins last season behind two of the league's lowest-scoring offenses. The total has stayed "under" in 11 of the last 16 meetings at BC Place, and I like the "under" of 49 points for Saturday night’s contest as well.

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