Eskimos Visit Calgary Stampeders In CFL Odds Battle
By: Willie Bee
Thursday, September 1, 2011
The CFL's Labour Day Weekend slate ends Monday afternoon in Calgary where the Stampeders host the Edmonton Eskimos in the first of back-to-back's between the two top squads in the West Division.
Early odds for the contest have the Stampeders big 9-point favorites with 47½ for the total.
Calgary (6-2 straight up, 5-3 against the spread) should come into this game with plenty of rest and flying high off a 38-31 win at home over Montreal last Saturday. The Stampeders spotted the Alouettes a 10-1 lead in the first quarter before rallying in the victory, their fourth straight since a loss to these Eskimos.
Henry Burris connected on 26 of his 42 aerials for 422 yards and three scores, and broke a 31-31 tie late in the final quarter with a 6-yard touchdown scramble. Two of his TD passes were hauled in by Johnny Forzani.
Burris, who topped the 40,000-yard mark for his career in the win, is just two yards behind Montreal's Anthony Calvillo in passing yards this season with 2,462. The 12-year veteran out of Temple has a 13:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and is rekindling memories of a remarkable 2008 campaign.
The win kept the Stampeders a game ahead of Edmonton (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS) in the West Division with the defeat dropping the Alouettes two games behind Winnipeg in the East.
Edmonton stumbles into this matchup off a bye week that was preceded by three consecutive defeats following a 5-0 start to the 2011 campaign. Scoring has been the Eskimos' biggest bugaboo in the losing skid, totaling just 21 points in the three defeats, the most recent an embarrassing 36-1 showing at home against the BC Lions in Week 8.
Monday's tilt is the second meeting between the clubs this year with the Eskimos winning 24-19 as 3-point CFL odds underdogs in Week 4. That victory snapped a 6-game losing streak for Edmonton in this series.
Calgary will have to find a way to pressure Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray in this contest. The Stampeders only got to Ray one time in that first meeting.
Fred Stamps, who hauled in five of Ray's 12 completions for 161 yards and two scores in that win, won't present a problem for Calgary in this one. The slotback is expected to miss another couple of weeks with an abdominal injury.
Edmonton will also be without a key member of the offensive line as center Aaron Fiacconi (shoulder) is out for the rest of the season. The Eskimos recently added former 1st-round pick Dylan Steenbergen in a trade from Montreal to offset Fiacconi's absence, and they expect to have Gord Hinse back for this game as well.
Calgary is listing linebacker Daren Stone (biceps) as questionable for Monday's game. The Stampeders are also still without kicker Rob Maver (quad), though Rene Paredes has filled in nicely for him since Maver went out in the season opener. Paredes booted three field goals in last week's win, the last from 46 yards out.
The 9-point spread seems a little high on first glance when you look at two teams separated by just a game in the standings. But there's very little to like about the Eskimos in this one with an offensive line being reworked and their top receiver Stamps out of action.
The clubs played in this same scheduling spot last season with the Stampeders rolling to a 52-5 victory, and followed that up with a 36-20 win in Edmonton the next week.
By the way, the new 2012 calendars are out featuring the Calgary Outriders cheer/dance gals. Click here for a look at that, and never again say we don't have all your bases covered at Don Best. There must not be a single tattoo parlour in Calgary, either that or, well, back to football.
Kickoff this week from McMahon Stadium is 4:30 p.m. (ET) with TSN providing coverage as usual. The clubs will have very little time off before reconvening Friday (Sept. 9) at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium for Week 11 CFL action.