Edmonton (0-0) at Winnipeg (0-0)
When: Thursday, June 14th 2018
Where: Investors Group Field, Winnipeg
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: ESPN 2
Opening Odds: Edmonton -6/53
The 2018 Canadian Football League season opens with a rematch of last year’s Western semifinal matchup between the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers from Investors Group Field – broadcast live on ESPN2. The Blue Bombers took both regular season matchups from Edmonton in 2017, but fell short at home in the playoff game 39-32. This game was setting up to be really intriguing until a major injury to Winnipeg has made this a 7-point spread in favor of the road team. The Bombers lost star quarterback Matt Nichols to a knee injury in practice on June 6th and he will be out for the next 4-6 weeks. So, who steps in? The immediate answer is rookie Chris Streveler out of South Dakota, who will make his first career start Thursday night. Streveler saw action in both of the Bombers two pre-season games, going a combined 13-of-19 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He will become the first rookie quarterback to start a CFL season opener just a year after playing NCAA football since Anthony Calvillo did it for the Las Vegas Posse (1994). Winnipeg has a lot of optimism coming into 2018 after back-to-back double-digit winning seasons and a playoff berth. They have added some major free agents in receivers Adarius Bowman (Edmonton), Nic Demski (Saskatchewan) and linebacker Adam Bighill. Last season Bighill spent time in the NFL, but is a four-time CFL all-star and in 2015 was named the CFL’s top Defensive Player.
Edmonton finished 12-6 last season and after beating Winnipeg in the semis, fell four points short at rival Calgary in the Western finals. This is a year where they will have a little extra motivation to make it all the way, as this year’s Grey Cup will be in Edmonton in late November. The Eskimos definitely have the talent to get there and it starts with the league’s most outstanding quarterback in Mike Reilly. He is just the sixth quarterback to record back-to-back 5,000 passing-yard seasons in CFL history, but will be missing two of his key receivers. Gone are Bowman, as we mentioned above, and Brandon Zylstra (Minnesota Vikings), but Reilly is a good enough QB to make stars out of receivers. Part of the reason Riley has put up huge numbers is that he has a terrific offensive line that allowed a league-low 29 sacks in 2017. The Eskimos are notorious slow starters to the season, going 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games in June, but won seven games in a row straight-up to start the 2017 season.
Despite the loss of Nichols, this Winnipeg team has been getting stronger each season and the excitement is growing around town. The Blue Bombers are also a very good spread team, covering 15 of their last 21 overall and won and covered both regular season matchups with the Eskimos last year. I think seven points is a gift here.
Pick: Blue Bombers +7
- Eskimos are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 road games.
- Eskimos are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Eskimos are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 vs. West.
- Eskimos are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games in Week 1.
- Eskimos are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games in June.
- Blue Bombers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games.
- Blue Bombers are 15-6 ATS in their last 21 games overall.
- Blue Bombers are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 vs. West.
- Blue Bombers are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games in June.
- Over is 7-1 in Eskimos last 8 road games.
- Under is 4-1 in Eskimos last 5 games in June.
- Over is 5-2 in Eskimos last 7 games overall.
- Under is 5-2 in Eskimos last 7 Thursday games.
- Under is 7-3 in Eskimos last 10 games in Week 1.
- Over is 4-0 in Blue Bombers last 4 Thursday games.
- Over is 12-4 in Blue Bombers last 16 vs. West.
- Over is 22-9 in Blue Bombers last 31 games overall.
- Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Winnipeg.
- Eskimos are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings in Winnipeg.