AlMac’s CFL Week 7 Handicapping Preview: (EDM@MTL)

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Odds Shark Computer Model Pick:

Spark Sport’s CFL Yards Per Point Model:

Spark Sport’s CFL Net Yards Per Play Model:

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The Montreal Alouettes are coming off a quick turn around and a very busy week after they made a hail marry blockbuster deal to acquire former NFL QB and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Al’s gave up two 1st rd draft picks along with defensive end Jamaal Westerman and wide receiver Chris Williams – two of the only real above average talents on this – currently – less than desirable Montreal team.

This is a big time gamble for the Alouettes, who were clearly sick of being the laughing stock of the CFL. How quickly the tide shifts and how quickly the Al’s have made themselves the talk of the CFL – in just a matter of days.

When it’s all said and done – this is a move that; with hopes for both sides – will revitalizes the Montreal Alouettes as a team and more importantly (to Johnny) revitalize Manziel’s football career in general.

This trade was a last resort pull of the chord by Montreal management to try and squeeze any of remnants of competition this team had left. Simply put, this deal had to be done. It was coming to a point where this Montreal offense was becoming un-watchable.

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Now, with a quick turn around you had to have known that there was a very little chance Manziel was going to start vs Edmonton on Thursday – the Al’s may be dumb, but they aren’t that dumb. Montreal will more than likely hold off on Johnny Football until the Week 8 Friday Night showdown vs his old team. the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

The Al’s also acquired Adarius Bowman from the Winnipeg Bluebombers in a separate – more bizarre trade. Bowman has regressed since his CFL All-Star days. None the less – the Al’s had to give Manziel something to work with. Even if Bowman was their only option – he is another player coming to Montreal in attempt to revitalize his career.

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Now – Looking back to last week; Montreal DID in-fact cover the spread vs Calgary. So, lets give them a bit of credit – they went up against the best team in the league and covered the measure of expectation – even though it was a mind boggling number – it is still a spread which you know someone on the Al’s team – or at least the Al’s coaching staff saw and knew they were being sold out by the betting market.

As bad as the Alouettes are – like I said last week – this is still professional football. 20pts is too much in these situations. It’s really hard to completely write off any team in this league – even if it’s the worst team vs the best team.

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This is the one thing that has been a constant after 6 weeks of CFL football. The only thing that is consistent – is the overall lack of consistency from the majority of the teams in this league. Once again, after another week we can say – we know the Stamps are the best team, and we know the Al’s are – more than likely still – the worst team in the league. Besides that, everything is up in the air, especially with all these back to back match ups. It’s hard to get a real idea of what is the cream of the crop and who are the pretenders.

We’ve had a lot of let down spots, a lot of good bounce back games for some teams. A few teams have laid eggs – the Ti-Cats for instance laid an egg and dropped two in a row vs Saskatchewan. The Redblacks had a good bounce back performance vs the Lions after an abysmal 2H the week before in BC.

So it’s been really hard to know: who is actually good…

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The Eskimos are a perfect example of this – they have had red zone problems all season, they have had penalty problems all season, they are injured on the defensive side of the football – so they have had some issues on D as the season has gone on.

If you ask me, the under really makes sense here in this game. Edmonton will be motivated to have a defensive showing vs – without argument, the most impoverished offense in the league right now. Especially coming off a bye week – they will be focused on defense and ready to execute and fix those problems that they have had prior to their bye.

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Mike Benevides, the Eski’s defensive coordinator is a veteran – he is their assistant head coach as well as their DC, you know he is going to have this team ready and refreshed and focused on their game plan.

Edmonton has an above average coaching staff – Benevides being a former head coach himself – you can expect this team will have straightened out any kinks in their armor during their off week.

Yes – Edmonton is a 3-2 team but they are 1-4 ATS which is a clear showing of performing below the measure of expectation – this is a team that will be aiming to make a statement and get things back on track. However, it could be far too much road chalk for Edmonton to handle.

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The Al’s may have a slight boost when it comes to home field advantage – simply because of this “butts in the seats” factor that Manziel is going to bring to this team. Montreal needed eye balls watching their games – which was a huge factor in making this trade. Hopefully those buts and eye balls show up to the stadium on Thursday night.

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When the dust settles – Matt Shiltz will probably start at QB for the Al’s, they won’t want to rush Manziel into the starting role just yet. But expect him to take a couple of snaps and for the Al’s to run a dual threat scheme at some point in this game.

Mind you – we don’t really know how Montreal is going to play based on these changes, so a lot of these numbers may be meaningless. However, they do give a good indication of where the Al’s were at prior to this trade – and we can simply assume how much of an upgrade or downgrade this may be in comparison to the spread and power rating these models are giving them.

Comparing the two teams based on Yards Per Point Montreal is only 1 yard less productive on offense than the Eskis who sit at 19 yards per point, averaging 25 pts per game on 492 avg yards per game. In comparison – the Al’s Have 20 yards per point with just 13.8 pts per game on 280.6 avg yards per game. So when comparing the two teams – you can see a slight flaw in this Edmonton team who was supposed to be apart of the upper echelon of talent in the CFL this season – red zone troubles, flags and injuries have been an issue for this team so far and they will need to clean that up if they hope to improve their 1-4 ATS record going in this game.

Now as far as power rating is concerned, there seems to be a mis-pricing here – even without Manziel playing, there seems to be a bit of a market over reaction once again against the Al’s who have an abysmal ATS record going back to last season. However, there may be some value backing the Alouettes here.

As far as yards per play, the Eskis only gain on offense more than they give up on defense a net +0.21 yards per play. Compared to the Al’s who have been beat up many times so far this season. They only give up a net -0.6 yards per play. Pretty surprising considering the amount of assumed separation between these two teams talent wise. This stat, and a host of others that I am presenting here – are all reasons why I think I have to back the Alouettes +9 in this match-up.

I especially like the 1H spread because I feel like Montreal will have that extra motivation that they haven’t had as a team in many months, if not years. Edmonton might be caught off guard, I can see the Eski’s needing to take some time to be able to counter the initial spark that the Al’s will have going from the opening kick off of the game.

Presented by Intertops


($50) – MTL Alouettes +9 (-110),
($50) – MTL Alouettes (1H) +5 (-110),
($50) – MTL Alouettes Over 18.5 (-138)
($50) – MTL Alouettes/EDM Eskimos (Under 48) -110

You can follow @AlMacSportsTO and @SparkSportsBets on Twitter.



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