The 2013 CFL season kicks off Thursday night in Winnipeg as the Blue Bombers showcase their stunning new home at Investors Group Field
Montreal has the honor of being the first regular season opponent at the new digs and each of these teams is looking forward to a fresh start following a turbulent off-season. Winnipeg fell from Grey Cup grace in 2011 to a 6-12 SU record in 2012 and will look to erase the bad memories with a new coach, new home and healthy quarterback under center.
For the Alouettes, one of the most significant moves was Mark Trestman’s relocation south of the border to take over head coaching duties with the Chicago Bears. Trestman was 59-31 SU (.655) during the regular season and captured back-to-back Grey Cup titles in 2009-10 so this is obviously a big loss for the team and it remains to be seen just how big an impact it will have on future Hall Of Fame QB Anthony Calvillo’s offense. The new bench boss is Dan Hawkins.
The latest CFL odds for this game favor the Alouettes -4 and the Over/Under odds, which opened at 53, are down to 51 or 51.5 on news of a possible thunder shower with winds gusting up to 25 mph (40 kms).
BACK TO BUCK
Other than a shuffle to the quarterback depth chart, Winnipeg fields a squad that saw little change during the off-season. Back at the wheel is the oft- injured QB Buck Pierce who finds even less experience behind him in 2013 after the departure of Joey Elliott (Lions) and Alex Brink (free agent). Supporting Pierce is fourth-year QB Justin Goltz and Max Hall, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals (NFL).
O-Co Gary Crowton has full control of the offense this year, something he couldn’t claim under former HC Paul LaPolice who was relieved of his coaching duties midway through the 2012 campaign. Crowton will try to ignite an offense that is heavy with talent but was light in results last season. The Bombers had the least productive offense in the CFL and if they are to be successful in 2013 that will need to change.
The Bombers relied heavily on rookies and roster hopefuls during two preseason games and failed to score a single touchdown. Who knows, Burke may end up being touted as one of the shrewdest poker players this side of Saskatchewan but until Winnipeg shows that it can move the ball effectively with veteran playmakers in the lineup, we are left expecting a continuation of the same old story from 2012 for the Blue and Gold.
Montreal is adjusting to a new playbook but Calvillo’s experience and calming veteran presence cannot be underestimated in this situation. Arland Bruce III adds to an arsenal that is already deep with talent and with a relatively healthy roster, we look for the Alouettes to spoil the party in Winnipeg.
Pick: Take the Als
CFL Picks, last week: 0-0
Season record: 0-0
ATS: Against the Spread