AlMac’s CFL Week 7 Handicapping Preview (TOR/WPG)

AlMac’s CFL Week 7 Handicapping Preview
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Toronto/Winnipeg

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Spark Sport’s CFL Yards Per Point Model:

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Another back to back, home and home situation for the Argos and the Blue Bombers. The Friday Night-er sees the Argos coming into Winnipeg for the second half of their double header.

Last week the Bombers started off hot and took the lead early from Toronto, after that it was an easy task for Winnipeg to coast to an easy 38-20 victory over the Argos last week at BMO field.

It was a flat performance by the Argonauts and a flush performance by Toronto QB James Franklin. Franklin and Argo’s coach Marc Trestman seemed to be having some problems early on in last week’s game. Trestman runs a complicated offense, an offensive style that has alot of in-depth terminology and schemes. There is alot of nuts and bolts to a Trestman game plan and it seemed like; from very early on in this game – the Argos game plan was sort of ‘lost in translation’ so to speak when coming through the hands of quarterback James Franklin.

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With this back to back series, there comes a unique opportunity for the Argonauts, Marc Trestman and James Franklin to regroup, re-prepare, plan and adjust; to take another kick at the can here vs the Blue Bombers; this time on the road.

Winnipeg could be set up for a very big let down spot here. We have seen this team do it before after some commanding victories over the past few years and even as recently as just a few games ago. The Bombers had a rough second half in the second game of their back to back series vs BC earlier this season. The Bombers’ offense seemed to have switched off in the 2H of that game, so as is the story with every CFL week so far – consistency – or a lack there of, which may be the theme of the day for the Bombers in this second game of a back to back vs Toronto.

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As for the Argo’s – more than obviously for them, this is a huge opportunity to bounce back from a very poor home field performance in their Week 6 game vs the Bombers. This is a unique scenario because based on what the line was last week – you can tell that the market, as well as the odds makers are admitting to a massive mispricing given to the bettors last week with the Bombers only being a -2.5 favorite.

As a -2.5 favorite on the road, the general rule of thumb is that the odds makers are saying on a neutral field Winnipeg is about +5.5 pts better than Toronto, which is why the line would be -2.5 on the road. So with that mentality, and with those numbers. You would think that the Bombers would only be about a -8.5 point favorite at home vs the Argos their next game; when they are actually as high as a -10 point favorite. So the market is correcting itself on what it perceives was a bad showing from the Argos, and thus raising the measure of expectation for Winnipeg, but lowering the measure of expectation for Toronto. The only problem is that this is a classic, text book example of a let down spot for the Bombers coming into this one…

Think about it.

You just beat up on your opponent on their own field, you take care of business on the road – you come home to face the same opponent – this time, you have the home field advantage, even though last game you still beat up on them as the road team. This time around you’re thinking it’s going to be even easier. It’s almost human nature. There’s almost no real honest way to prepare yourself for this game, if you truly think you are already proven to be better than the team you just faced; in a second match up. This is the psychology of the let down spot in sports.

As for the numbers; The Bombers are a far more productive offensive team than the Argonauts. The Bombers average a full 5 yards per point less than Toronto. Matt Nichols who some critics were weary of after a few up and down starts this season – has completely set aside any talk of there being a quarterback controversy in Winnipeg. Nichols averaged a season-high 9.1 yards per attempt last week vs the Argos defense whom he carved up for the most part to say the least. As for Toronto, Franklin struggled vs the Bombers – failing to generate a TD and only managed just 165 yards of total offensive gains.

Assuming the obvious here – Winnipeg, more than likely out does their last performance vs Toronto in front of their home crowd this time around. I think especially more so on the defensive side of the football, which is a big problem for Toronto in that case. The Bombers average almost +1.5 more yards per play than the Argos on offense who’s Net YPP numbers have been atrocious so far this year. Toronto’s offense gains about 2 yards less than what they give up on defense per play, giving them a -2.13 NET YPP rating and a point spread rating of -10.65. The Bombers, on the other hand – out gain what they give up on defense – by just slightly under a single yard per play; giving Winnipeg a +0.79 NET YPP rating and a +3.95 point spread rating on the week.

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Matt Nichols proved to himself and BlueBomber fans in the last game vs Toronto; that he was able to look past the three interceptions he threw vs BC in their week 5 match-up. He bounced back, almost with perfection in week 6. The real test comes in this second of a back to back series. This will be a real test of consistency for the Bombers who have been an on and off again type team since the start of the season.

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As for the Argos, they are facing adversity for the first time since James Franklin became the starting QB. What was expected to be a spark for Marc Trestman’s offense seems to be taking more time than first anticipated by this coaching staff. Franklin is coming off just his sixth career start in the CFL, so even though he has been in the league since 2014. He hasn’t really had alot of starting time and because of the dynamic offensive schemes Marc Trestman runs – it has taken a little bit longer than first hoped for the 27yr old Texas native to get the hang of things behind center in the CFL.

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Making matters worse for the Argos; James Widler Jr. and Dexter McCluster were driven away from practice on Wednesday after suffering lower body injuries. Martese Jackson and Brandon Burks split first-team reps. for the remainder of the week – so add those factors into the already disheveled Toronto offensive situation.

As for their defensive situation – the Argos have missed linebacker Bear Woods all season long – this D is one of the worst in the league and can not wait for Woods to get a set of pads on and start running drills. At this point the Toronto D is running out of options and will have to take on the heavy fire that the Blue Bombers offense brings; and hope for an outcome different than the poor performance they had last week at the hands of this same team.

If the Bombers can muster up a even a little bit of consistency here – something they have lacked on the second half of back to backs so far this season – then they should fair pretty well against the Argos in this game. Nichols is getting a second crack at this Argo team, who has the second worst pass defense in the league (287 yards allowed per game) – just a week after he roughed them up for 245 yards and two TD’s. Normally this would be a stand-out zig zag scenario where the value would be on the losing team coming back on the second of a back to back – but because this Winnipeg team has already been through this situation with the BC Lions in week 5, you have to think the script will be flipped. All the pressure is on the Argos here to right the ship. They will be in dire straights and in need of a serious team re-evaluation if they are not able to put up some type a successful performance against the Bombers on Friday night.

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The Bombers are going to have to deal with whatever adjustments Marc Trestman throws at them. Trestman is a cerebral and tacticaly minded coach, he is also one of the better coaches in the CFL – but at this point it seems like coaching isn’t the problem with the Argos. Most of this team’s struggles have stemmed specifically from the performance of James Franklin. Franklin has thrown for more than 217 yards only once this season and is currently on the brink of allowing this team to go over the edge into a complete and total free fall. I just think that with the recency of Winnipeg’s bad 2H performance vs the Lions on back to backs – the Bombers are going to be focused and motivated on keeping the wind in their sails and repeating the dominate performance they showed last week. As for the Argos, even if Trestman is able to adjust his game plan to fit Franklin’s play style better, and even if the Argos are able to clean up their lack of execution on offense; Toronto’s D still can’t get off the field with consistency – and because of that, no offensive tinkering will be able to stop the bulldozer that the Bombers will be operating Friday night.

Take the Bombers.


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($50) – WPG Bluebombers -9.5 (-114),
($50) – WPG Bluebombers (Over 32.5) -125,
($25) – TOR Argonauts (Under 21.5) -120,
($50) – WPG Bluebombers (1H) -6 (-110)

($50) – WPG Bluebombers (HT/FT), CGY Stampeders (Parlay) +113


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