CFL Thursday football: What bettors need to know

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Montreal Alouettes (-7, 52)

Dan Hawkins began his tenure as coach of the Montreal Alouettes by defeating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and spoiling the debut of their new stadium. The Blue Bombers (0-1) will be out for revenge when they visit Montreal (1-0) on Thursday. Hawkins relied heavily on quarterback Anthony Calvillo and receiver S.J. Green in his first CFL regular-season game, but the Blue Bombers got to Calvillo on numerous occasions and the veteran pivot finished the game with tape on his throwing hand.

Winnipeg held a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter last week but was unable to produce offense in the final 15 minutes en route to a 38-33 setback. Blue Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce threw an interception on his final play of the game but can build on his 258-yard performance as Winnipeg looks for a rare road victory. The Blue Bombers' defense averaged 29.5 points against per game last year.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, TSN

ABOUT THE BLUE BOMBERS (0-1): James Green has rejoined the team with fellow linebacker Rene Stephan out for a month with a hamstring injury. Green spent three campaigns with the Blue Bombers but was released after last season and spent the previous week helping the effort in his hometown of Calgary following devastating floods in the area. Defensive end Zach Anderson was promoted to the main roster and former Winnipeg defensive lineman Marquis Frazier was added to the practice roster with JT Gilmore suffering from a calf injury.

ABOUT THE ALOUETTES (1-0):
Rookie Tyron Carrier recorded Montreal’s first punt return for a touchdown in three years in the season opener. Carrier, who finished with 103 yards on six returns, gives the Alouettes a special teams threat they have lacked in recent seasons. Green finished with 119 yards, although no other Montreal receiver accounted for more than 37. The latter number could be a concern, considering how pass-heavy the Alouettes have been in recent seasons.

TRENDS:

* Blue Bombers are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 Thursday games.
* Alouettes are 5-0 ATS in their last five games in Week 2.
* Under is 5-2 in Blue Bombers last seven vs. East.
* Blue Bombers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Montreal was 7-2 at home last year while Winnipeg finished 2-7 on the road.

2. Pierce threw three interceptions in Week 1, including two in the first half that resulted in 10 points for the Alouettes.

3. These East Division foes will not face each other again until Oct. 14 in Montreal.


Toronto Argonauts at B.C. Lions (-6, 52.5)

The BC Lions opened this season like they finished the last one: with a loss to the Calgary Stampeders. The Lions (0-1) will attempt to put that season-opening setback behind them when they host the defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts (1-0) on Thursday. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay finished Week 1 with three touchdown passes on 283 passing yards and added 55 rushing yards, but BC could not overcome a 25-point first-half deficit en route to a 44-32 loss.

Toronto posted a 39-34 triumph over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to open its season after raising the banner for its Grey Cup victory. Quarterback Ricky Ray’s 368 passing yards and four touchdown tosses paced the Argonauts, who also received 112 rushing yards from Grey Cup Most Outstanding Player Chad Kackert. Toronto’s defense allowed just three points in the second half of Friday’s victory.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, TSN

ABOUT THE ARGONAUTS (1-0): Chad Owens, who set a professional football record for all-purpose yards last season with 3,863, amassed 235 combined yards in Week 1. Fellow slotback Jason Barnes caught two touchdown passes to go with 85 total yards and wide receiver Spencer Watt scored his fourth career touchdown, giving Toronto depth in its receiving corps. Kicker Swayze Waters is expected to miss at least two weeks with an injury suffered on Friday, leading the Argonauts to re-sign veteran Noel Prefontaine.

ABOUT THE LIONS (0-1):
Wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux led the team with 103 receiving yards, surpassing the 2,000-yard plateau in his career to start his third CFL season. Arceneaux, who last played for BC in 2010, spent three seasons trying to earn a spot on an NFL team, trying out with Minnesota, Washington and the New York Jets. Arceneaux’s return helped blunt the loss of CFL all-time receiving yards leader Geroy Simon, who was traded in the off-season. K Hugh O’Neill missed an extra point attempt in the first half of Week 1, but converted the next two and made a 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

TRENDS:

* Argonauts are 7-1 ATS in their last eight road games.
* Lions are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 home games.
* Over is 5-1 in Argonauts last six games overall.
* Under is 14-4 in the last 18 meetings.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Toronto, which finished 6-4 against West Division last year, was the only East Division team to secure a winning record versus the West.

2. The Lions were 8-1 at home last year en route to a league-best 13-5 regular-season record.

3. Kackert, who recorded 638 rushing yards on 100 attempts last year, has already surpassed his longest career regular-season run with a 57-yard touchdown dash on Friday.

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