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CFL: Defending champs finally open home slate

CFL: Defending champs finally open home slate


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CFL: Defending champs finally open home slate

CFL: Defending champs finally open home slate


2010-07-22

The Montreal Alouettes have spent the first three weeks of the 2010 CFL season on the road, winning twice. Thursday night will be their first chance to commemorate their Grey Cup title of last November with their fans. Strangely, oddsmakers at Sportsbook.com don’t seem to be treating that motivation as an important factor, as Montreal is only a 7-point favorite over a 1-2 Hamilton team that it has beaten in 12 of the last 13 head-to-head meetings.

It truly is an unusual line considering how well the Alouettes play at Percival Molson Stadium, where they were undefeated last season before going on to win the Grey Cup with a nailbiter victory over the Roughriders. The Alouettes wanted their first three games to be on the road to allow time to finish their stadium's expansion from 20,000 to 25,000 seats, with a new deck on the south side and permanent bleachers in the east end zone. They delay was precautionary, as nearly all the work has been done for a month and they were able to play a pre-season game in the refurbished venue.

Perhaps the factor that is keeping Thursday night’s line down is how badly Montreal is being gashed defensively in the early season. Through three games, the Alouettes have allowed 29.7 points per game, second most in the CFL, and 453.3 yards per game, worst in the league. They also are just 1-2 against the spread, with the only cover coming against winless Edmonton. Last week’s defensive effort in the 16-12 win at British Columbia was encouraging though, as the Montreal defense yielded just seven yards rushing and 260 overall.

Hamilton has squared off twice with Winnipeg in the early going, splitting two 20-point plus decisions. Last week at home, the Ti-Cats broke out with a season high 435 yards of offense en route to a 28-7 decision. Hamilton is currently ranked 3rd defensively in both points and yards allowed.

Montreal has had little trouble scoring points on Hamilton in recent head-to-head play. In fact, you have to go back to November ’05 for the last matchup in which the Alouettes failed to reach the 20-point mark. In that 13-game span, they have averaged 33.8 PPG while going 12-1 SU & 6-7 ATS. Ironically, eight of the 13 games have gone under the total despite Montreal’s offensive prowess. That would seem to coincide with this significant StatFox Trend in play for the contest:

• HAMILTON is 21-6 UNDER (+14.4 Units) versus very good offensive teams - scoring 32 or more points/game since 1996. The average score was HAMILTON 19.8, OPPONENT 29.6 - (Rating = 2*)

Kickoff for the Thursday contest is set for 7:30 PM ET. The StatFox Power Line estimates that the pointspread should be Montreal by 11.

Maybe the most puzzling thought when you consider Montreal’s success against Hamilton, its dominance at home, and its improving defense is that the line for this game opened at Montreal -8.5, and has since been bet down to the 7-point mark. We’ll see if bettors are on to something or if the Alouettes were just waiting to get back home.

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