Week 7 CFL picks: Can Durant fuel a Roughriders bounceback?

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant. (Mark Taylor/CP)

Through six weeks of the schedule, scoring is up across the Canadian Football League compared to the last two seasons.

On average, 52.3 points per game are being scored that’s more than 2015 (49.2) and well above 2014 (45.5). The bump in points could partially be attributed to a collective 102.9 pass efficiency rating across the league. Quarterbacks are throwing the ball more than ever and it’s leading to shootouts and late-game comebacks.

Long story short: Those rallies make it even more difficult to pick winners, but that’s what we’re here to do.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-2) @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-4)

Hamilton travels to Winnipeg off a bye week, where the Ticats are a perfect 3-0 at Investors Group Field.

There seems to be a trend where the visiting team has more wins than the Bombers at their new stadium. Which is why Andrew Harris said it’s a “must-win” home game in order to get the blue and gold faithful back on the Winnipeg football club’s side.

Matt Nichols carved up Edmonton’s secondary for 304 yards last week, but that’s what every quarterback is doing to the Eskimos defence so far this season. Winnipeg’s starting pivot will be without Darvin Adams and Weston Dressler against an aggressive, attacking Orlondo Steinauer defence. With those two veteran receivers down, Clarence Denmark—making his season debut—and Kris Adams—making his CFL debut—will step in. That will make it tough for Nichols to duplicate his performance from a week ago.

Line: Ticats -3.5

Pick: Hamilton

BC Lions (3-2) @ Montreal Alouettes (2-3)

After a devastating overtime loss, BC makes the cross-country trip to Montreal. Traditionally that trek has taken a toll on the Lions, who have had issues playing up to their normal abilities in Quebec. That said, BC’s offence looks explosive of late and the defence is capable of playing at a higher level than what was shown in Cowtown.

The Lions know they let one get away against the Stampeders in Week 6, and that thought alone could be enough to overcome the long flight and fuel them to a win in Montreal.

Line: Lions -2.5

Pick: BC

Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-4) @ Calgary Stampeders (3-1-1)

Chris Jones’s group got beat down in Montreal and have to turn around for a date with the West Division–leading Stamps at McMahon Stadium.

The Riders are a wounded bunch, especially along the offensive line. But when Darian Durant plays, the Riders raise their level. And it sounds likely that he’ll be behind centre in Calgary—Saskatchewan’s No. 1 quarterback has missed two games with a severely sprained left ankle.

Jones will not let his team be blown out two weeks in a row, so put on a watermelon helmet and take the points.

Line: Stampeders -11

Pick: Saskatchewan

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Edmonton Eskimos (2-3) @ Ottawa Redblacks (3-2)

Both teams were heavy—10 or more points—favourites in Week 6 and suffered outright losses.

Edmonton’s defensive front got pushed around by Winnipeg, which is surprising because it’s a veteran group led by Almondo Sewell and Odell Willis. Also, the Eskimos gave up 590 yards—543 of those yards came through the air—and 45 points in a Week 1 loss to Ottawa. Expect Sewell and Willis to crank up the pressure in the nation’s capital with revenge on the mind.

The defending Grey Cup champions were favoured by 6.5 points in the first meeting between the Eskimos and Redblacks this season. That means over the course of six weeks Edmonton has seen the line change by more than 10 points. There’s not that much difference between the teams right now.

Line: Redblacks -4

Pick: Edmonton

Overall record against the spread: 13-11

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