Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:30 PM EST.
9:00 PM EST. The CFL's quarterback carousel made a stop in the Alberta capital this offseason, as Trevor Harris takes over for the departed Mike Reilly, who left for the B.C. Lions. Harris wasn't the only offensive star that the Eskimos pinched from the Redblacks because wide receiver Greg Ellingson will also be joining his favorite pivot in The Chuck. Ellingson made news this morning when it was reported that the league fined him for a November incident where he was charged with failing to provide a breath sample into a roadside screening device. Just add that news to the many distractions that also come with a team's home opener.
The offense isn't the only unit that will have a new look for the Eskies, as the defensive side has seen an overhaul after struggling mightily last season. The pressure will be on new defensive coordinator Phillip Lolley, who was with Edmonton as a linebackers coach in 2015. He spent 2016 with the Roughriders and 2017 with Hamilton before sitting out 2018 after not being resigned by the Tiger-Cats. A Week 1 date with the lowly Alouettes might seem like the perfect starting point, but rarely is it that easy.
It seems like a lifetime ago that Montreal was the beast of the East and the class of this league. This market has a short memory and so the pedigree that was built up over that long reign has been lost after five losing seasons, including a 5-13 campaign in 2018. The Als have a new bench boss this season, as former Most Outstanding Player Khari Jones takes over for that pear-shaped loser Mike Sherman, who was given his walking papers just last week. It might look bad to fire your coach days before the season's first game, but ridding themselves of his horrible coaching should be a major improvement. As should dropping former quarterback and loose cannon Johnny Manziel like a sack of rotten potatoes. Johnny Football was nothing more than a distraction and doesn't have the head on is shoulders needed to be a decent, functioning member of society, nevermind having the maturity necessary to play professional football in a foreign country. With Manziel out of the way, Antonio Pipkin has the reigns as the team's starter. To help Pipkin, the Als signed running back Jeremiah Johnson and wide receiver DeVier Posey, who will join Eugene Lewis and B. J. Cunningham. Lewis led the team with 827 yards on 44 catches, while Cunningham had 58 for 631 yards. The duo combined for seven touchdowns.
The Als did their best to shore up their defense in free agency, first by taking care of defensive end John Bowman who re-signed after posting 32 tackles and five sacks last season. Joining Bowman in Montreal are defensive backs Patrick Levels and Taylor Loffler and linebacker Bo Lokombo. Defensive back Tommie Campbell, who summed up the Manziel situation best by saying, "I've never been a part of nothing like that." He also added that this unit has bought in and, "We have a chip on our shoulders because everybody is counting us out”.
With significant changes for both of these teams, we have a hard time justifying this inflated price in favor of the Eskimos. This number is based on market perception and last years results, but that is not fair to either side. Trying to cover better than a touchdown with a brand new offense and defense is not a position we find very appealing. What if the Als are better than advertised? Is it unreasonable to ask them to win this game outright? The Roughriders were a five-point pooch with Zach Collaros as the quarterback and despite losing him on the first series, Saskatchewan still had multiple chances to not only cover but win that game against the highly touted Tabbies. If we rip up this ticket, so be it, but all of the value lies with the Alouettes and we'll gladly scoop up the ridiculous pile of points being offered here.
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Montreal +8½ -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)