CFL Playoff Betting Preview: Lions Small Favourites Over Stampeders With Rourke Back In Action

After a gruelling 21-week regular season, the Canadian Football League playoffs will get underway Sunday with the divisional semifinals.

In the East, the Montreal Alouettes will host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the early game at 1 p.m. ET, and in the West, the Calgary Stampeders will visit the BC Lions at 4:30 p.m. ET.

The winner of the Eastern Semi-Final will then travel to Toronto on Nov. 13 to take on the division-winning Argonauts, while the victors of the Western Semi-Final will earn a date with the back-to-back Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers in Winnipeg.

The 109th Grey Cup will be played at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan on Nov. 20.

Here’s a look at the latest Grey Cup outright odds courtesy of BetRivers:

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers -106
  • Toronto Argonauts +400
  • BC Lions +400
  • Montreal Alouettes +1050
  • Calgary Stampeders +1050
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats +1500

All odds in this article courtesy of BetRivers.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Montreal Alouettes (-3, 48.5 over/under)

Previous matchups:

  • Week 8: Hamilton 24, Montreal 17 (Tiger-Cats covered as 2.5-point favourites)
  • Week 11: Montreal 29, Hamilton 28 (Alouettes covered as a 1-point underdog)
  • Week 16: Montreal 23, Hamilton 16 (Alouettes covered as 2.5-point favourites)

Weather: Forecasts are calling for sunny skies on Sunday afternoon with a high of 19 C. The wind could be a factor with expected gusts up to 45 km/h.

About the Tiger-Cats (8-10 straight up, 7-11 against the spread, 10-8 o/u): The Tiger-Cats finished the regular season with four straight wins (3-1 ATS during that span) to claw their way into the final playoff spot and salvage a disappointing regular season.

This game will be decided on the ground, as Hamilton boasts the best rushing defence (allowing 83.5 yards per game) in the CFL, while Montreal’s rushing attack has been bolstered for the playoff run by the return of William Stanback (more on that below).

Offensively, Hamilton will be relying on receiver Tim White to have another big game against Montreal. White hauled in 17 catches for 250 yards in his last two games against the Alouettes and will surely be the favourite target of quarterback Dane Evans in this crucial playoff matchup.

It’s very common to see playoff games come down to the wire, and oddsmakers are expecting a close game as indicated by the three points they’re giving the Alouettes.

Hamilton’s rookie kicker Seth Small is second only to BC’s Sean Whyte in field goal percentage (90%) and has a CFL-long make of 58 yards this season. If the game comes down to a final field goal attempt, the Tiger-Cats will feel good about their chances.

About the Alouettes (9-9 SU, 10-7-1 ATS, 10-8 o/u): After a 2-6 start to the regular season, the Alouettes went 7-3 down the stretch to secure the second seed in the East Division.

A major reason for Montreal’s resurgence in the second half was the stellar play of receiver Eugene Lewis, who is a nominee alongside Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award this year. Lewis hauled in 91 receptions for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns, and is the second straight Montreal player to be a finalist for the award as Stanback was the named the East’s top player last year.

Speaking of Stanback, he’ll be part of a three-headed monster deployed out of the Montreal backfield alongside Canadian Jeshrun Antwi and Walter Fletcher. The 2019 CFL rushing yards leader returned for the team’s final four regular season games after suffering a devastating ankle injury early in the season. He managed just 31 carries for 142 yards (4.4 yards per carry) over that span as the team eased him back into action. His usage should be much higher given the magnitude of the game on Sunday.

Betting trends:

  • The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
  • The under is 4-0 in Montreal’s last four games.
  • Hamilton is 1-5 ATS in its last six games against East Division opponents.

Montreal vs Hamilton

Under 49.5 Total Points


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Calgary Stampeders @ BC Lions (-2.5, 50.5 o/u)

Previous matchups:

  • Week 10: BC 41, Calgary 40 (Lions covered as 1.5-point underdogs)
  • Week 15: BC 31, Calgary 29 (Lions covered as 7-point underdogs)
  • Week 16: Calgary 25, BC 11 (Stampeders covered as 1.5-point favourites)

Weather: The retractable roof at BC place will likely be closed due to anticipated cold and rainy conditions on Sunday. It would’ve been a whole different weather story if the game was in Calgary’s outdoor stadium this weekend.

About the Stampeders (12-6 SU, 9-8-1 ATS, 11-7 o/u): With their win over BC in Week 16, the Stampeders clinched a playoff berth for the 17th straight season.

This season represented a changing of the guard at quarterback for the Stampeders, as Jake Maier officially supplanted veteran Bo Levi Mitchell as the starter in Week 11. Maier threw for 2,389 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning him a two-year contract extension with the team.

Maier will have plenty of support in the backfield, as the CFL’s leading rusher, Ka’Deem Carey, will be fresh after sitting out a meaningless regular-season finale for Calgary last week. Calgary entered the final week of the regular season with 25 more rushing yards per game than BC while averaging an impressive six yards per carry.

Two of the three previous meetings between these two teams this season were decided by two points or less.

About the Lions (12-6 SU, 11-7 ATS, 8-9-1 o/u): The Lions will be making their first playoff appearance since 2018 and will be hosting their first playoff game since 2016.

The health of breakout quarterback Nathan Rourke is the major question mark heading into this matchup.

BC was 8-1 when Rourke suffered a Lisfranc sprain to his right foot that required surgery, and despite missing half of the season, he still finished second in the league in touchdown passes (25) and sixth in passing yards (3,349).

Rourke returned for BC’s regular-season finale and completed seven of his 11 pass attempts for 68 yards in limited action. He didn’t throw a touchdown or an interception, but he did fumble after getting sacked in the first quarter.

Rourke certainly passed the eye test in his return to action, and another week of full practice should help him get his timing back with his receivers. Expect Calgary’s defence to bring some serious pressure early in the game to test his mobility.

The Lions have a slight edge on special teams in this matchup, as kicker Sean Whyte leads the league with a .923 field goal percentage and Stefan Flintoft has the longest punt of the year (89 yards) and one of the best league averages (47.5 yards).

Betting trends:

  • Calgary is 5-0 in its last five games at BC Place.
  • The Stampeders are 5-0 ATS in their last five road games.
  • The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.

Calgary Stampeders

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