Saskatchewan (1-0) at Ottawa (0-0)
When: Thursday, June 21st 2018
Where: TD Place Stadium, Ottawa
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: ESPN+
Opening Odds: Ottawa -3/51
The Ottawa Redblacks find themselves all alone in first place in the CFL’s East Division, and they haven’t even played a game yet. That’s because the other three teams all lost in Week 1 – each by at least eight points. They will be the last team to take the field in 2018 when they host the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday night at TD Place Stadium. The Redblacks finished 8-9-1 last season and were eliminated in the postseason by Saskatchewan 31-20. Quarterback Trevor Harris threw for 457 yards for Ottawa in that game with two touchdowns, but it took him 60 attempts to do so and he was picked off twice. Ottawa also lost to the visiting Roughriders 18-17 in Week 15 of the regular season but won 33-32 in Saskatchewan two weeks later.
The Roughriders did play last week and came away with a 30-26 victory over visiting Toronto last Friday 27-19 as 3-point underdogs. The Saskatchewan defense held the Argos to just five points through three quarters and 265 yards overall. Charleston Hughes made a splash in his Roughriders debut with three sacks, while Nick Williams returned a fourth-quarter interception 65 yards for a TD and a 24-12 lead. QB Zach Collaros had a solid game, completing 18-of-25 for 203 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Another new addition, running back Jerome Messam, had 72 yards rushing on 21 carries and caught two passes. Saskatchewan will be back home next week to take on Montreal on June 30th.
The Redblacks entered the 2017 season as defending Grey Cup champions after upsetting the Calgary Stampeders in the title game. Ottawa made several changes to the roster and coaching staff in the offseason, hiring former Alouettes defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe to the same role after Ottawa forced a league-low 22 turnovers last year. Harris, who signed a one-year extension in December, returns after leading the CFL in passer efficiency and tied for No. 1 with 30 TD passes in 2017. He is expected to play on Thursday after getting injured in the preseason opener. Veteran receivers Brad Sinopoli, Greg Ellingson and Diontae Spencer all are back, and the Redblacks could start four Canadian offensive linemen in the opener. Ottawa will play their road opener in Calgary next week.
The Redblacks had an impressive preseason and are chomping at the bit to get the season underway. They have a better offense than what Saskatchewan saw last week and the Ottawa defense will be improved and more aggressive than 2017. I’ll lay the small home favorite.
Pick: Redblacks -1.5
- Roughriders are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games in June.
- Roughriders are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win.
- Roughriders are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS win.
- Roughriders are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in Week 2.
- Redblacks are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games in June.
- Redblacks are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Thursday games.
- Redblacks are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games.
- Under is 6-0 in Roughriders last 6 road games.
- Under is 4-0 in Roughriders last 4 Thursday games.
- Under is 10-1 in Roughriders last 11 games overall.
- Under is 5-1 in Roughriders last 6 games following a straight up win.
- Under is 4-1 in Roughriders last 5 games in June.
- Under is 4-1 in Roughriders last 5 games following a ATS win.
- Over is 4-1 in Roughriders last 5 games in Week 2.
- Under is 5-1 in Redblacks last 6 Thursday games.
- Under is 4-1-1 in Redblacks last 6 home games.
- Under is 12-4-1 in Redblacks last 17 games overall.
- Under is 3-1-1 in Redblacks last 5 vs. a team with a winning record.