Canadian Football Picks: CFL Betting Tips & Strategies

David Schwab

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 3:37 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 22, 2013 3:37 PM UTC

We are still over three months away from the start of another NFL season, but our neighbors to the north in the CFL kick things off the last week of June with an 18-game regular season schedule.

Tips for Wagering on the Canadian Football League

After the Regular season, we'll have the start of the Grey Cup Playoffs in mid-November.

Before placing your CFL picks, let Sportsbook Review help you shop for the best CFL Betting Lines.

CFL vs. NFL Rules

The CFL offers a great opportunity to get an early start on this year’s pro football season by wagering on the games as long as you are up to speed with some of the subtle and not so subtle differences between the two leagues.

The first big difference is the size of the field. The CFL plays on a 110 yard field that is also over 10 yards wider than an NFL field. The end zone is 10 yards longer than the NFL so there is plenty of room for quarterbacks to throw the ball all over the place. 

The CFL has an extra player on both sides of the ball so that means instead of the traditional tight end position that is used in the NFL, Canadian football has two players known as slotbacks. This basically equates an extra person in the lineup that can be used to run or catch the ball. 

The final big difference between the two leagues is that in the CFL you only have three plays to try and get a first down as opposed to four in the NFL. You would think that this rule would contribute to lower scoring games with teams constantly taking turns punting the ball back and forth to one another on a longer field. The exact opposite happens to be the case as Canadian teams tend to rely heavily on moving the ball through the air as it is much harder to cover receivers with all that empty space out there. 

Stay on top of the betting odds for both leagues here!

Betting Strategies for the CFL

Taking into consideration the rule differences, it is easy to see why the total line for CFL games, on an average, is often 10 or more points higher than a typical NFL matchup. Looking back at last season’s CFL betting trends, the total went OVER in 53.3 percent of the games despite total lines of 50 points or more for almost every contest. This is especially true through the first half of the regular season while the weather is still very warm in Canada. You should focus your handicapping efforts on looking for opportunities to play the OVER right up until the start of the NFL regular season in early September. 

If you want to focus on playing the sides in the CFL, keep in mind that there are only eight teams in the league; four in the East Division and four in the West Division, so they all know each other very well. Another key factor is that each team must maintain a certain number of Canadian born players on their rosters which also contributes heavily to the relative parity that exists in the CFL. Teams are unable to stockpile a heavy dose of imported talent from the US, so the entire playing field remains fairly even over the course of all eight ball clubs. 

The one point of difference to this parity that has stood the test of time over the years in the CFL is home field advantage. Last season, the home team won 62.4 percent of the time straight-up and 54 percent of the time against the spread, while the favorites won just below 60 percent of their games SU and only covered the spread 42.7 percent of the time. Wagering on the home team ATS is a great betting strategy to employ once you have had a chance to get a look at all eight teams in action.

In 2012, Edmonton was 7-11 SU but it had the best overall record ATS at 10-8. This did not really provide any kind of edge, but at home the Eskimos did go a profitable 6-3 ATS. A good example of the parity that does exist in the CFL is last season’s Toronto Argonauts. They finished the 2012 regular season 9-9 both SU and ATS but went on to win the Grey Cup with a three-game run in the playoffs. The top team in the regular season was the defending champion British Columbia Tiger-Cats, who won the West Division at 13-5 SU, but lost to Calgary in the West Division Finals as 6.5-point favorites.

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