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[OTHER] Jun 14, 2018

CFL Betting Preview: Eskimos at Blue Bombers

By Gracenote

CFL Betting Preview: Eskimos at Blue Bombers

Edmonton Eskimos at Winnipeg Blue Bombers (+6.5; 49.5)

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers host the Edmonton Eskimos to kick off the 2018 CFL season Thursday. The Blue Bombers notched 12 victories in 2017 - their highest win total in 15 years - before suffering a 39-32 setback to the Eskimos in the West Division semifinal and hope to exact a measure of revenge by downing Edmonton for the third consecutive time in the regular season.

Winnipeg returns most of its offensive core including quarterback Matt Nichols, who signed a contract extension in the offseason, but will start the new campaign without the veteran signal caller after he was placed on the six-game injured list with a knee injury. The Eskimos hope to live up to their billing as one of the league favourites after they were picked to win the Grey Cup in the inaugural CFL media poll. Edmonton won six consecutive games before falling to the Calgary Stampeders 32-28 in the West Division final last season and hope the dynamic duo of quarterback Mike Reilly and wide receiver Derel Walker can lead the club to its second Grey Cup appearance in four years.

ABOUT THE ESKIMOS (2017: 12-6): Reilly threw for 5,830 yards and 30 touchdowns while adding 12 rushing scores en route to earning the CFL's Most Outstanding Player award last season. The Eskimos will feature some fresh faces at wide receiver after Brandon Zylstra, who hauled in 100 passes for 1,687 yards and five touchdowns in 2017 went to the NFL and veteran Adarius Bowman signed with the Blue Bombers in the offseason.

ABOUT THE BLUE BOMBERS (2017: 12-6): Winnipeg coach Mike O'Shea announced that rookie quarterback Chris Streveler will be the Week 1 starter after beating out backup quarterback Alex Ross with Nichols shelved for the next 4-to-6 weeks. The Blue Bombers turned some heads when they parted ways with defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie, who was the first overall pick of the 2017 CFL Draft, while defensive back Brian Walker was also released in the final round of cuts.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Winnipeg RB Andrew Harris led the league with 1,035 rushing yards in 2017.

2. Edmonton has won 10 or more games in four straight seasons.

3. Streveler is set to become the first rookie quarterback to start a Week 1 game since Anthony Calvillo in 1994.
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