Both teams are coming off ugly performances where they surrendered more than 50 points and while that isn't shocking for a historically bad Edmonton stop-unit, it is extremely unusual for a Saskatchewan squad that prides itself on its defensive play.
Oddsmakers expect the Riders to bounce back with a much better performance at home with CFL betting lines opening with them as 9.5-point favorites. Here are my best free Elks vs. Roughriders CFL picks and predictions for September 16.
Elks vs Roughriders best odds
Elks vs Roughriders picks and predictions
When the Riders opened as 9.5-point favourites, my initial thought was that this was too big of a spread for a Saskatchewan offense that has struggled for much of the year.
However, with the line shortening to just a touchdown, I believe there is value on a Riders team that was hindered by the flu last week and had looked much more explosive since getting back key pieces at wide receiver like Shaq Evans and Kyran Moore.
The Elks have surprisingly been competent on offense over the last few games but now they head to Mosaic which is always a tough venue to move the ball.
Meanwhile, their defense is still the worst in the league against both the run and the pass which makes it tough for them to not get blown out.
My best bet: Roughriders -7 (+100 at DraftKings)
Elks at Roughriders betting preview
The Elks are coming off a 58-26 loss to the Stamps on Saturday and have gone 1-6 SU (2-5 ATS) in their last seven games. They've already lost to the Riders by double-digits twice this season, at Commonwealth Stadium in Weeks 2 and 10.
However, they've played better on the road where they have gone 5-1 ATS in their last six. They also kept things close in a 29-24 defeat at Mosaic last November, easily covering the spread as 11.5-point pups.
The Roughriders are fresh off a 54-20 beatdown at the hands of Winnipeg. However, the Bombers are the best team in the league and are always extremely tough at home in the Banjo Bowl while the Riders were dealing with a roster decimated by a stomach bug.
‘It looked like a triage in there’: Riders ravaged by stomach flu in Banjo Bowl blowout: For fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the team’s 54-20 drubbing at the hands of the rival Winnipeg Blue Bombers during Saturday’s Banjo Bowl… https://t.co/rqN6MpJU8b via @TheJCAbbott pic.twitter.com/RuRV3VwRuj— CFL Headlines (@CFL_Headlines) September 11, 2022
The Riders had looked impressive in a close 20-18 loss at home against Winnipeg the previous week where their offense looked like it had finally turned the corner by rolling up 390 yards.
Saskatchewan's offensive line is still a concern but should be able to get the job done against a historically bad Elks defense.
The Elks have allowed a league-worst 34.1 points per game (nearly a touchdown more than second-worst Hamilton), while also ranking last in yards allowed per carry (5.3), yards allowed per pass (9.5), and sacks (21).
Edmonton's special teams' coverage units are also horrible which is bad news against the Riders who have one of the league's best kick returners in Mario Alford.
The Riders have the much better stop-unit, especially up front where they get after opposing quarterbacks (league-high 36 sacks) and stuff the run (4.5 yards allowed per carry).
Saskatchewan defensive tackle Anthony Lanier will miss his fourth week in a row. Lanier is the CFL leader in QB pressures and his ability to push the pocket has become even more valuable after the Riders cut Garrett Marino last week.
Saskatchewan's defense lives and dies with its pass rush and if they don't get as much pressure up the middle, they might not have their usual success.
The Edmonton attack was supposed to fall apart when superstar wide receiver Kenny Lawler joined Emmanuel Arceneaux and James Wilder on the IR a few weeks ago. Instead, it has improved with Derel Walker recapturing his early-career All-Star form while newcomers Kevin Brown and Dillon Mitchell have also emerged as weapons.
Quarterback Taylor Cornelius has also made strides as a decision maker. In his last two games, he's completed 69.2% of his passes for 549 yards and four touchdowns against one interception.
Unfortunately, the Elks' improvements on offense haven't been able to make up for a defense that sits at the bottom of the league in virtually every category.
Elks vs Roughriders game info
• Location: Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field, Regina, SK
• Date: Saturday, September 16, 2022
• Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
• TV: TSN
Elks vs Roughriders key injuries
Elks: Nyles Morgan LB (Questionable), Christian Rector DT (Questionable), Kenny Lawler WR (Out), Emmanuel Arceneaux WR (Out), James Wilder Jr. RB (Out), Aaron Grymes S (Out), Tre Watson LB (Out).
Roughriders: Dan Clark C (Out), Anthony Lanier DT (Out), Duke Williams WR (Doubtful), Larry Dean LB (Probable), Terran Vaughn OT (Out), Nelson Lokombo DB (Questionable), Godfrey Onyeka S (Out), Demarcus Christmas DT (Probable), Jamal Morrow RB (Out).
Find our latest CFL injury reports.
Elks vs Roughriders weather
Elks vs Roughriders betting trend to know
The Over is 6-2 in Edmonton's last eight road games. Find more CFL betting trends for Elks vs. Roughriders.