BC Lions at Calgary Stampeders (-3, 51.5)
The BC Lions finished last season with a league-best 13-5 record and looked poised to repeat as Grey Cup champions, only to drop a 34-29 decision to the Calgary Stampeders in the West Division final. The Lions will have a chance to avenge that loss as they open their season with a visit to Calgary on Friday. The Stampeders suffered a 35-22 setback to the Toronto Argonauts in the Grey Cup final and enter their sixth campaign with coach John Hufnagel, who sports a 59-30-1 regular-season record.
The Lions defeated Calgary twice in the regular season last year, but the Stampeders won 41-21 at home in the last meeting before the West final. That victory marked the return of injured Calgary quarterback Drew Tate, but veteran Kevin Glenn would start both the West final and the Grey Cup. A healthy Tate is expected to guide the Stampeders in 2013, while BC signed quarterback Travis Lulay to a two-year extension after he recorded his first season with a passer rating over 100 (100.7) in his fourth year with the squad.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, TSN
ABOUT THE LIONS: Defence was key for BC last year, as the team finished with 354 points allowed - 55 fewer than any other team in the league. Linebacker Adam Bighill registered 104 tackles, nine sacks and four interceptions while defensive end Keron Williams led the league with 12 sacks. Veteran Paul McCallum recorded a league-high 187 kicking points last year. The Lions traded slotback Geroy Simon, the league’s all-time receiving leader, to Saskatchewan for wide receiver Justin Harper and a third-round pick in 2014.
ABOUT THE STAMPEDERS: Jon Cornish led the league in rushing last year with 1,457 yards - a record for a non-import player - and won the award for Most Outstanding Canadian. Calgary’s offence should run smoothly with Tate and Cornish in the backfield, while its defence - led by linebacker Charleston Hughes (11 sacks) - remains largely intact. The Stampeders added defensive tackle Kevin Huntley to their practice roster less than a week after he was cut by the Toronto Argonauts. Huntley played against the Stampeders in last year’s Grey Cup final.
* Lions are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games.
* Under is 14-2 in Lions’ last 16 road games.
* Lions are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Calgary.
1. The Lions were 5-4 away from BC Place last year. Calgary finished 7-2 at home.
2. Despite widespread flooding in Calgary last week, McMahon Stadium escaped damage and will be ready to host Friday’s contest.
3. The Lions defeated the Stampeders 29-27 in preseason action.