The Battle of Alberta will be on at McMahon Stadium on Saturday night in CFL betting action on the NFL Network, as the Calgary Stampeders look to end the undefeated run of the Edmonton Eskimos in a 7:00 ET kickoff.
Many thought that the first season for Head Coach Kavis Reed was going to be a rough one for the Eskimos, especially off of a disappointing 2010 campaign that ended without a playoff berth. However, the Esks are out of the block like a house of fire, putting up the best holistic numbers of any team in the league, including the mighty defending champion Montreal Alouettes. QB Ricky Ray looks like he has found the Fountain of Youth and looks like the man that has threatened the 6,000 passing yard barrier in this career and should have won at least one Grey Cup in the mid-2000′s. He’s got a fantastic receiving corps with Adarius Bowman, Fred Stamps, and Jason Barnes, and all three are good for at least 200 yards thus far on the campaign. Defensively, Edmonton ranks No. 3 in the CFL as well, and this unit is coming off of a monstrous outing against the BC Lions in which it allowed just 17 points. There is no team in the league that has a better scoring differential than do the Eskimos, who have nearly double the points of their competition.
Meanwhile, the Stampeders are merely hoping to continue their dominance of the Eskimos. Last year, they won their two games against their provincial rivals by margins of 47 and 41 points, the biggest whooping in a two game series that any team handed out. Now though, it really isn’t clear whether Calgary has the best team in Alberta or not, though it is still being treated by the CFL oddsmakers as it if is. QB Henry Burris isn’t even completing 60 percent of his passes on the campaign, and the team has as many turnovers as it does touchdowns. The offense has really only had one good half of ball, and it is clear that there aren’t even any options behind Burris that might be able to spark the club… unless there is some confidence for some reason in CFL journeyman, Michael Bishop, who has only been with the team for two weeks. Even worse might be the defense, which many teams struggled just to reach 20 points against last season. Against three of the worst offensive teams in the land, the Stamps have averaged allowing a very pedestrian 25.0 points per game allowed.
Still, we’ve got some confidence that the sight of Edmonton on the other side of the field is going to be enough to spark something out of the Stampeders. They’re just too strong on paper to struggle with a team that doesn’t look nearly as good on paper as its record indicates. Even though the Eskies are hot, we’re still going to back Calgary -3.5 for our CFL picks.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.