Week 20 in the CFL features a Friday night matchup between the BC Lions and Edmonton Elks. The Leos can secure a home playoff game with a victory, while the Elks are merely trying to end their season with a win in front of their fans.
Oddsmakers don't expect them to get it, with CFL betting lines opening with the Elks as 6.5-point home underdogs. That number shifted to +7 with the news that starting quarterback Taylor Cornelius would be sidelined due to a spleen injury.
Here are my best free Lions vs. Elks CFL betting picks and predictions for October 21.
Lions vs Elks best odds
Lions vs Elks picks and predictions
The Elks haven't won a home game since 2019, and last week's 28-23 loss to the Argos was just the first time they covered the spread at home this season. Needless to say, the Elks have been the worst team in the CFL, and while they showed improvement throughout the season, they're still near the bottom of the league in every category.
They will be even worse on offense without Cornelius, who has been very solid over the last month. Rookie Tre Ford will start in his place, and although Edmonton won in Week 5 when he started against Hamilton, he had just 159 passing yards in that contest.
The Lions have seen a sharp decline in their play since losing superstar QB Nathan Rourke to a foot injury in Week 5. However, they're still very much a playoff-caliber squad, and Vernon Adams Jr. has been a capable replacement at pivot with the team going 3-2 SU and ATS with him as a starter.
It's tough to expect much fight from a 4-13 team in this spot. With the Elks' season ending after the game, they will likely be mentally checked out and will (at least subconsciously) be giving less than 100% as they try to avoid injury. Add in an Edmonton lineup that could see fluctuation in head coach Chris Jones' final week of tinkering, and I'll lay the points with the visitors before the line creeps above that key number of 7.
My best bet: Lions -7 (-110 at bet365)
Lions vs Elks spread analysis
The Elks rank last in the CFL in scoring and points allowed, and their average scoring margin of minus-13.4 points per game is more than twice as bad as the Redblacks (minus-5.3 ppg), who are second-worst in the league in that category.
The Elks have gotten better over the course of the season, but they're still just 1-6 SU (3-4 ATS) in their last seven games after losing 28-23 at home to the Argos last week.
For Edmonton, improvement means going from getting blown out at home to losing close contests by falling apart in the fourth quarter. It will be tough for the Elks to stay motivated in their final game of a brutal season. This is especially the case after losing Cornelius to a spleen injury, but at least they can get another look at the young Ford.
After starting in Week 5, Ford suffered an injury in the following game and only returned to the roster a few weeks ago. He attempted one pass last week (when Cornelius was being evaluated for a head injury) and promptly threw an interception that led to a fourth-quarter comeback for the Argos.
The 2021 Hec Crighton winner (the Canadian version of the Heisman), Ford is a dynamic runner, but he still lacks experience and is very raw as a passer. He has completed just 18 of 33 passes for 219 yards this season while getting picked off three times. He'll find it tough to move the ball through the air against a strong BC secondary that has allowed the second-fewest passing yards per game in the league.
On offense, the Lions' attack has been far less explosive without Rourke, but Adams has done a good job despite missing two of his best receivers in Bryan Burnham and Lucky Whitehead. They held on for a 39-32 win against Winnipeg last week as they benefitted from the Bombers sitting reigning MOP Zach Collaros, as well as three starters from their offensive line.
Lions vs Elks Over/Under analysis
Adams threw for just 138 yards last week, but the Lions still dropped 40 points on Winnipeg thanks to some big plays from their defense and special teams. He's very capable of extending plays, but it will be tough for the Leos to attack vertically without Burnham and Whitehead.
That said, the Elks are terrible on the defensive side of the ball and rank dead-last in both yards allowed per pass (9.8) and yards allowed per rush (5.3). Even if the Lions can't attack downfield, they should be able to carve up the Elks in the intermediate areas of the field — especially with Edmonton's injuries at linebacker and in the secondary.
That said, the Elks might be able to run the ball against a Lions' stop unit that has been shredded on the ground at times this season. Edmonton running back Kevin Brown has been one of the best midseason acquisitions of the year across the league, and Ford is a dual-threat QB that ran a 4.45 40-yard dash in front of NFL scouts in the spring.
Lions vs Elks trend to know
The Over has gone 4-1 in Edmonton's last five games against teams with a winning record, while the Over has cashed in six of the Lions' last eight games versus teams with a losing record. Find more CFL betting trends for Lions vs. Elks.
Lions vs Elks game info
|Location:||The Brick Field House at Commonwealth Stadium, Vancouver, BC|
|Date:||Friday, October 21, 2022|
|Kickoff:||9:30 p.m. ET|
Lions vs Elks key injuries
Lions: Ben Hladik LB (Questionable), Philip Norman G (Questionable), Nathan Rourke QB (Doubtful), Lucky Whitehead WR (Questionable), Delvin Breaux Sr. DB (Questionable), Jalon Edwards-Cooper DB (Questionable), David Mackie FB (Questionable), Obum Gwachum DE (Questionable), Bryan Burnham WR (Out).
Elks: Taylor Cornelius QB (Out), Treston Decoud DB (Questionable), Duron Carter DB (Questionable), Tre Watson LB (Questionable), J-Min Pelley DT (Questionable), Aaron Grymes S, Tim Bonner DL, Nyles Morgan LB (Out), Tony Washington OT (Out), James Wilder Jr. RB (Out).
Find our latest CFL injury reports.