Free CFL Picks for Playoffs from Expert Canadian Football Handicapper
The 18-game CFL regular season has given way to the postseason and the quest for the 2017 Grey Cup Championship. Toronto in the East and Calgary in the West earned a first-round bye by winning each division title. This Sunday in a pair of division semifinal matchups, the other four playoff teams will look to take that next step towards winning this year's title.
Out in the West Division, two of the most explosive offenses north of border clash with Edmonton going on the road to face Winnipeg as a three-point favorite with the total set at 55.5 points. This should be a great game between two evenly-matched division rivals but a bit too close to call as far as betting on a side or a total.
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I have turned my attention to Sunday's early game in a 1 p.m. kickoff at TD Place Stadium between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Ottawa RedBlacks for my free CFL play of the week. The RedBlacks are listed as slight one-point home favorites in this crossover matchup with the betting line for the total set at 51.
CFL Division Semifinal Free Pick: Saskatchewan Roughriders at Ottawa RedBlacks
The Roughriders finished fourth in the West Division at 10-8 both straight up and against the spread to qualify as a crossover team for the postseason to draw Ottawa as the second-best team in the East. Saskatchewan ended up 5-4 ATS in nine games on the road this season after covering in three of its last four road games. The total stayed 'under' in all four of those games. The total has now stayed under in seven of its last eight games overall.
Going back to mid-September road win against Hamilton, the Roughriders have gone 5-2 SU behind a defense that has only allowed an average of 19.4 points over those eight games. They were second in the CFL in points allowed (23.4) over the course of the entire season. This will be Saskatchewan's first trip to the playoffs in the last four seasons, and most of this year's success can be attributed to the elevated play on this side of the ball. On the other side of the ball, Kevin Glenn led an offense that averaged 28.3 points per game. He was sixth in the CFL in passing with 4,038 total yards while tossing 25 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.
Ottawa should be well rested for this matchup coming off a Week 20 bye. The defending Grey Cup Champs finished the regular season at 8-9-1 SU and they were one of the best betting teams in the CFL at 12-6 ATS. The RedBlacks did go a costly 2-5 ATS when closing as favorites and they were 4-5 ATS at TD Place. The total went 'over' in their last three games overall, but it did stay under or end as a 'push' in four of their last five games played at home.
Trevor Harris took the majority of snaps this season at quarterback, and he was fourth in the league in passing yards (4,679) while tying for the lead in passing touchdowns with 30. He did injure his hand in a season-ending win against Hamilton, but he remains listed as probable for Sunday afternoon. Ottawa averaged 27.5 points a game while allowing 25.1 PPG on defense. Running back William Powell was second in the CFL in rushing yards (1,035) to add some solid balance to the RedBlacks' offensive attack.
The road team won both games in the regular season series by a single point with Ottawa covering ATS in both contests. Saskatchewan grinded-out an 18-17 victory at Ottawa on Sept. 29 as a 2.5-point road favorite with the total staying well under the closing 50.5-point betting line. Ottawa was on the winning end of a 33-32 victory two weeks later as a 3.5-point road underdog with the total closing at 52 points. The road team has now won four of the last five meetings SU with Ottawa holding the slight 3-2 edge ATS.
This season's rubber match should be another closely contested battle that ends up being a three-point game either way. With Saskatchewan's defense playing at a high level, this matchup also sets up a great opportunity to cash in a winning ticket on the under given the current 51-point betting line.
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