How to understand the Expert Picks for the CFL?

What are Expert Picks?

Expert picks are what our team of dedicated sports analysts advice to bet based on a combination of statistics, experience/history, and gut instinct. Not just one of the three but all three. These picks aren’t simply based on “who will win” but who are worth betting based on their odds and line movement.

CFL Betting Terminology

ATS (Against the Spread): refers to a team beating the points handicap it is given in the “point spread.” 

A minus number like -7.5 indicates the team is a favourite and must win by more than 7.5 points to “beat the spread”. This is because 7.5 is subtracted from their final score.

  • If the Calgary Stampeders win 38-30 over the Edmonton Eskimos, 7.5 points will be subtracted from their score, which means they would still win 30.5-30. But any score lower than 38 like 37 would mean they will lose with the points handicap: 29.5-30. 

Conversely, a plus number like +7.5 indicates the team is an underdog and can lose by no more than 7.5 points to beat the spread. This is because 7.5 is added to their final score.

  • If the Toronto Argonauts lose to the Ottawa Redblacks 28-35, 7.5 points will be added to their score, which means they would win 35.5-35. But if they score any less than 28 like 27, it wouldn’t add up to beat the Redblacks. If the Argonauts win outright, they still beat the spread. 

In the event of a whole number spread, a “push” can happen. This is when the team wins or loses by exactly the same amount as the spread. 

  • If the spread is -3 for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and +3 for the BC Lions and the Bombers win 33-30 (exactly 3 points), it means neither team beat the spread.

A push results in your money being returned with no win or loss. Think of it as the equivalent of a “tie” in events where tie is not an option.

S/U (Straight-up): refers to a team winning regardless of how many points. This is also referred to as the “money line.” 

A minus number like -200 means the team is a favourite and by American odds, this means a bet of $200 will return $100 in profit. 

Alternatively, a plus number like +200 means the team is an underdog and this means $200 will be the return in profit for a $100 bet. 

*Note: American odds are based on a $100 bet as a standard. It might be easier to calculate your return by converting the odds to either decimal (1.50) or fraction (1/2).

You have the option of changing the format for sportsbooks.

Understanding the Odds

Based on Odds: This is implied probability as a translation of how much of a chance a team has to win the game. The probability is calculated based on these simple formulas for each format:

American Odds (Minus): 

Odds / (Odds + 100) x 100 = implied probability 

e.g. if the Saskatchewan Roughriders are -200 to win:

200 / (200 + 100) x 100 = 66.67% is their chance of winning “based on odds”

American Odds (Plus): 

100 / (Odds +100) x 100 = implied probability

e.g. if the Montreal Alouettes are +200 to win:

100 / (200 + 100) x 100 = 33.33% is their chance of winning “based on odds”

Decimal Odds:

(1 / odds) x 100 = implied probability

e.g. if the Calgary Stampeders are 1.25 to win:

(1 / 1.25) x 100 = 80% is their chance of winning “based on odds”

Fractional Odds:

Denominator / (denominator + numerator) x 100 = implied probability

e.g. if the Edmonton Eskimos are 2/5 to win:

5 / (5 + 2) x 100 = 71.43% is their chance of winning “based on odds”

Based on History: this is based on their record in their last ten games (or fewer if they haven’t faced ten times yet). This is simpler to calculate and is more straightforward:

Wins / Games x 100 = implied probability

e.g. if the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have won 3 games versus the Toronto Argonauts in their last ten:

3 / 10 x 100 = 30% is their chance of winning “based on history”

Take these odds and probabilities with a grain of salt as each game, past, present or future is entirely different.

Other Betting Tips/Information

S/U vs ATS Record: these are the two most common stats you will see in our expert picks section. Usually, the S/U and ATS records are similar with a slight discrepancy by one or two wins. However, there are some exceptions to the rule:

S/U > ATS 

  • If the team has a better S/U record than an ATS record, it means they are winning games, but not beating the spread. It means they are underachieving as a favourite from a betting standpoint and should likely be avoided as a point spread bet. Stick to money line bets for these teams.

ATS > S/U

  • If the team has a better ATS record than a S/U record, it means they may be losing games but are beating the spread. It means they are overachieving as an underdog team from a betting standpoint and should be kept an eye on. They are solid teams to bet on the point spread and maybe the money line.

Over/Under (Team Totals): this is another popular betting format where you pick whether the oddsmaker’s predicted total (combined score between both teams) will go over or under. 

e.g. with over/under of +43.5, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeat the Ottawa Redblacks 27-20. Adding their two scores together: 27 +20 = 47. This means the “over” +43.5 is the correct bet. Alternatively, if the Hamilton Tiger-Cats edged the Toronto Argonauts 22-20, 22 + 20 = 42. This total went “under” +43.5.

Home vs Road Games: just like in any pro sport, “home field advantage” means a lot in the CFL. This is why you will notice our expert picks refer to “at home” or “on the road” in many of our stats. 

Where a team plays greatly affects their performance.

e.g. a team like the Argonauts is 11-6-1 ATS overall but they are only 5-4 ATS at home versus 6-2-1 

Be sure to review their stats performing at home versus the road to notice if the discrepancy is worth paying attention to.

See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you:

 

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