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3rd and 1: Best Bets for Week 3 of the CFL Season

Dru Brown Ottawa Redblacks Dru Brown - The Canadian Press

What has two thumbs and likes picking CFL winners? ... This guy!

The author of 3rd and 1 stops typing. The clickety clack of furious fingers pounding the keyboard abruptly stops. He makes two fists, extends his rather toe-shaped first digits and points them inward and at 45 degrees towards his puffed-out chest with a smile.  3-for-3 last week and 5-for-5 on game spreads this season has me high-stepping into week 3.  Let’s go! 

Ottawa Redblacks at Montreal Alouettes

‘Don’t get all rooster-ish’ is what I’d say to the Redblacks ahead of Thursday night’s matchup in Montreal.  Ottawa has a winning record for the first time in three years after beating the Blue Bombers last week.  Winnipeg was the favourite to win the Grey Cup, until the Redblacks chopped them down as an 8.5 point underdog.  Can Ottawa do the same to the current Grey Cup favourites and defending champs?  The beauty part of betting spreads is that they don’t have to.  They just have to keep it within a touchdown.  I liked what I saw from Dru Brown in his Redblacks debut.  With a stacked group of receivers, and Ryquell Armstead at running back, the offence is talented enough to score.  The defence did a job on Zach Collaros last week.  I think they can slow down Cody Fajardo and company. 

THE PICK: Redblacks +6.5

BC Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers

I wrote las week that I’d be fading the Bombers until further notice.  Fade away.  This line opened as a pick’em and it’s moved in a favourable direction if you ask me.  Nothing we’ve seen from the Bombers suggests they should be giving points to a team that many experts believe to be the best in the league.  At the risk of providing the Bombers with some bulletin board material, they’ve looked (gulp) old.  For a team that lost some difference makers in the offseason, they’ve been further decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball after two games.  If Brady Oliveira is out again, I don’t see an easy fix for an offence that’s struggled to move the chains and been prone to turnovers.  One of these weeks, Winnipeg will remind us why they’ve been the class of the league for more than half a decade.  But, unless you refuse to believe that the Bombers could start 0-3, the points are very appealing.

THE PICK: Lions +2.5

Edmonton Elks at Toronto Argonauts

Revenge is a stinky cologne. I’m betting a couple of Elks will musk-up for their return to Toronto.  McLeod Bethel-Thompson is still searching for his first CFL win since leaving the Argos after the 2022 Grey Cup victory – a game in which he lost his job to Chad Kelly.  Revenge is a dish best served cold. For Kurleigh Gittens, his bowl of revenge had all of 2023 to marinate. After a career year with the Argos and Bethel-Thompson in 2022, Gittens JR was largely ignored by Kelly last season.  Now reunited with MacBeth in Edmonton, both players have probably had Saturday’s date circled on their calendars.  The Argos defence looked legit in week 1, but I’ll need to see a bigger body of work from Cameron Dukes before heaping praise on the Argos new pivot.

THE PICK: Elks +5.5

CFL Fantasy Best Bet: KURLEIGH GITTENS JR ($8.5K)

In addition to wanting to stick it to his old team, Kurleigh Gittens JR is being undervalued in CFL fantasy heading into week 3.  Why? There are lots of mouths to feed in Edmonton.  Eugene Lewis, Dillon Mitchell, Hergy Mayala to name a few, plus two games is hardly a big enough sample to feel confident in a player’s production pattern.  However, this isn’t two games with McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Gittens JR. Their chemistry is well established.  In 2022, Gittens JR became the number one option on an Argos team that had Markeith Ambles, Davaris Daniels, and Brandon Banks.  He was fifth in CFL catches, and sixth in receiving yards that year.  This year, he’s tied for first in the CFL with 16 catches, he’s 2nd in targets, and 9th in receiving yards through two games.  He has yet to score a touchdown this season which limits his ceiling somewhat, but there aren’t many players with a higher floor in fantasy.