Edmonton -7.5 at Winnipeg O/U 49.5
We have seen some deflation in the total here in this 2018 CFL season opener between the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers taking place on Thursday night. Note this game will be airing live on ESPN2 in the United States as are all Week 1 games in the CFL. This is a rematch of the West Division Semifinal from last year’s playoffs which Edmonton won and covered on this field by a score of 39-32. Edmonton should have a terrific offense yet again this season with veteran QB Mike Reilly at the controls and coming off a very strong 2017 season. RB C.J. Gable transformed this offense after the Eskimos acquired him midway through last season in a trade with Hamilton. After Gable’s addition to the team in early October last season, Edmonton scored 28+ points in every remaining game and went 6-1 SU and ATS in the process. They became a very well balanced offense that was difficult to stop and even with Brandon Zylstra leaving for the NFL, the Eskimos still possess plenty of talented receivers for Reilly to throw the ball to with this Edmonton passing attack.
Winnipeg took steps to improve their defense for this season after they gave up a lot of yards last season but this will be a tall order for them playing one of the best offenses in the CFL in their first game. The reason this total has seen some Under $$ is largely the absence of Winnipeg’s #1 QB Matt Nichols who suffered an injury in training camp which will keep him out of action for the first 4-6 weeks of the season. The Blue Bombers will be turning to rookie QB Chris Streveler (who played in College at Minnesota and later North Dakota State in the FCS ranks) in place of Nichols for this game and even though he is very green and inexperienced in the CFL making his first ever start here, he has impressed the Winnipeg coaching staff in practices and in preseason game action and they have emphatically spoken confidently about his dual threat ability which is always a plus for success in the CFL. He may not have as many struggles as some rookie QBs do making their first start simply because the Edmonton Eskimos lost a lot of key pieces on the defensive side of the football and I'm not entirely sure they will be as strong defensively this year. The Edmonton secondary is also a bit ravaged as Aaron Grymes won't play in this game due to a suspension and Johnny Adams one of their other starting defensive backs hasn't practiced all week and is doubtful for Thursday night’s game. This total opened at 53 and has fallen three points and is now sitting at 50. I think the value has now clearly shifted after the early knee jerk “rookie CFL QB making his first start” Under money came in. I think this game will feature more points than expected and it’s worth noting the Over was 7-1 in Edmonton’s last 8 road games of the 2017 season and the Over has cashed in three straight times between the Eskimos and Blue Bombers when they have played here in Winnipeg. I’ll recommend a play on the over in this Thursday night divisional battle to kick off the CFL season.