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CFL Week 1: Edmonton Elks vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders, Preview, Odds, Injury Report, Predication.  Will the Elks Begin the 2024 Season on a Winning Note?

The Edmonton Elks will begin their 2024 Canadian Football League season against one of their divisional rivals in the form of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Both teams had faced their fair share of struggles in the last two seasons.  For some reason, the second half of the 2022 and 2023 seasons for the Saskatchewan Roughriders began and ended similarly.  Strong starts in the first half of each season, only to collapse week in and week out for the second half each season which resulted in back-to-back 6-12 records and missing the postseason.

For the Edmonton Elks, it has been a losing season after a repeat losing season since 2021.  Edmonton fans have been very patient to witness their respected football team become relevant again in the sporting landscape in the City of Champions.

The Edmonton Oilers have been the team that controls the sporting news in Edmonton.

And rightfully so.

The Oilers have had their fair share of struggles in the postseason in prior seasons exiting in the 2nd Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  They had a competitive team to win a Stanley Cup.  But that is what happens in the postseason.  It is and always will be can you win when it matters most?

Right now, the City of Edmonton is buzzing with Connor McDavid and company to bring home a Stanley Cup back to Edmonton since their last Stanley Cup during the 1989-1990 season led by Mark Messier.

Simply put, the Edmonton Elks could be in the conversation with the Edmonton Oilers as it was in its glory days from the late 1970s up to the 2015 season.  And the solution is simple.

Start winning.

On that note, with the Elks game was moved back to a 4 pm EST start. This was to accommodate the Edmonton Oilers Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday, June 8th, 2024 at an 8 pm EST start.

With Edmonton in a frenzy for their beloved Oilers, this was a good move in which now Edmonton fans can piggyback and come to Commonwealth Stadium for the home opener, then make the short LRT line trip to the Ice District to watch the Oilers face off against the Florida Panthers.  

Game Details

Date / Location:  Saturday, June 8th, 2024 / Commonwealth Stadium / Edmonton, Alberta

Kickoff Time:  4:00 pm EST

Channel:  TSN / TSN+ / CBS Sports Network

Weather Forecast:  8 Degrees Celsius.  It will feel like 4 Degrees Celsius.  Cloudy with showers.

Wind Gust:  33 kilometres per hour

Percentage of Precipitation:  70%


Spread:  Edmonton Elks – 1.5 (-118) / Saskatchewan Roughriders +1.5 (-104)

Money line:  Edmonton Elks – 130 / Saskatchewan Roughriders + 108

Over / Under:  Over 46.5 (- 110) / Under (46.5 (-110)

Via Fanduel Sportsbook

Injury Report:  Edmonton Elks

Unfortunately for the Edmonton Elks, they enter week 1 already limping to start the 2024 CFL season.  With OL Brett Boyko and OL Philip Grohovac currently out on the 1-game injury list. This depletes their depth at the offensive line that has gotten better in the last two seasons via the draft and free agency.

Staying on the offence, WR Kyran Moore will be a loss for a team desperately needing a win to start the 2024 season.  Moore is on a long-term injury in the form of a 6-game absence for the time being with a knee injury.

On the defence, DB / LB Louchiez Purifoy is considered “available” nursing an unknown illness.  However, LB / DB Jake Taylor is currently listed on the 6-game injury list due to a wrist injury.  The 2023 draft pick by the Edmonton Elks is a player where the sky is the limit for his talent.  He will be missed on the defence, along with his play on special teams. 

Injury Report:  Saskatchewan Roughriders

Edmonton Elks Depth Chart vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders

Saskatchewan Roughriders Depth Chart at Edmonton Elks

Players to Watch:  Edmonton Elks

McLeod Bethel–Thompson

Welcome back to the CFL McLeod Bethel–Thompson.  After a 1 – year absence from the CFL when he elected to play for the USFL for the New Orleans Breakers for the 2023 season, McLeod Bethel–Thompson made it official with his CFL return by signing with the Elks on January 7th, 2024.

Now representing the Green and Gold, McLeod Bethel–Thompson brings a lot of experience in the quarterback position.  The journeyman had made multiple stops in the NFL, Arena Football League, USFL, CFL, and the United Football League.

Not only does he bring a wealth of experience to the Edmonton Elks, but this only makes the depth at the quarterback position a whole lot better with Tre Ford as a 1A, along with the recent signing of Dakota Prukop who also has a resume of experience since joining the league in 2017.  Add in Jarret Doege, and there has been more stability at the quarterback position for the Edmonton Elks as this lacked in the last three seasons.

If Bethel – Thompson could find his groove instantly, the sky will be the limit once again as it was during the 2023 CFL season where statistically he was light out with 4,731 passing yards, and 23 touchdown passes.

Javon Leake

The running back and return specialist had an extraordinary season with the Toronto Argonauts in 2023 were contributed to the Boatmen with 1,216 punt return years and 4 touchdowns. 

The special team’s department had been an area of concern for quite some time in the City of Champions.  And addressing this need has now been addressed in the form of Javon Leake.  

Staying on that note, what Javon Leake will bring the game in and game out is stability with good field position.  Edmonton fans will be having a fan favourite in the form of Javon Leake in which opening field position will no longer be a problem with starting with the long field for an offensive series.

His work ethic is only a bonus for the Elks offence when you have a short field to play with regularly.  And Javon Leake will do just that.

Players to Watch:  Saskatchewan Roughriders

A.J. Ouellette

Someone’s loss is another one’s gain.  This was the case during the 2024 CFL Free Agency where stud running back A.J. Ouellette departed Toronto and made his way to the Canadian Prairies in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Not only was A.J. Ouellette a fan favourite in Toronto, but he is a fan favourite to all fans of the CFL.  A.J. Oullette brings a swagger and electricity to a team.  Toronto fans know all too well that his work ethic and positive attitude resonates and rub off on other players. He also built a cult following post Labour Day in Toronto with the Thor Hammer. If this keeps up, and it should, it would be like the Pittsburgh Steelers great Franco Harris when he had the fanbase of Franco’s Italian Army.

The rock band KISS has a Kiss Army, why not the Thor Army with A.J. Ouellette. 

The triple back will be a problem for the Edmonton front seven.  And if there is any area of concern with Edmonton fans, it’s about how effective will the pass rush be this year mainly from the defensive line.  For a team that is desperately trying to avoid a disastrous start and or season for that matter, A.J. Ouellette is a player that can be a game-changer, and or a game-ender against an opposition.

Trevor Harris

Trevor Harris would love nothing more than to play injury-free football as much as possible in 2024.  More importantly, he wants to prove that he is the signal caller for the province of Saskatchewan.

When he is at his best, he is as good as anyone in the CFL in the quarterback conversation.  This will be a mental relief if he can be productive and stay healthy simultaneously.  

If Trevor Harris does find his groove, he will make it a long night for the Edmonton defence.


Trying to stop the run will be difficult for Edmonton if this game slips away too early.  If Edmonton can halt the running game at key moments with A.J. Ouellette at the helm, they have a good chance to open the 2024 CFL season on a high note.

Adding in that they are depleted with their current injury report, and there are a lot of fans that will feel pessimistic about any possible victory vs. Saskatchewan.

There are still weapons on the offense that can keep this game close, and or a victory for the Elks.  If they can have a balanced attack with RB Kevin Brown controlling the clock, along with McLeod Bethel-Thompson hitting key targets at key moments with WR Eugene Lewis, WR Kurleigh Gittens Jr, and WR Dillon Mitchell to name a few, it could be a good night in Edmonton.

Final Score

Edmonton Elks:  26

Saskatchewan Roughriders:  24

Expect a hard-nosed grind-out football game in this one.  Both teams will have made some mental errors in this game that will be costly at times as the game is in progress.  Some might say that this game could be a result of a lot of turnovers and that is true.  But this does feel like a game in which what team will make the most of their opportunities minus a lot of turnovers.

Keys for an Edmonton Victory

Don’t take too many chances that might cost you the game.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  It’s fine to take chances at times during the game.  But the Elks cannot be too aggressive on a 3rd down gamble of 2 or more yards to want to have a drive continue inside the 40-yard line.  The Elks have got to take all the points they can in this game even if it is a few field goals more than touchdowns in this game to obtain a victory. If they are going to take chances, do not do it too early in the game that will cost you points.

The offensive line has got to be in sync.  Eliminate as many penalties as possible that will alter the production on the offence in which it will be a 1-2 punt situation if they are deep in a hole with a 1st and 20 play due to penalties.

The defensive backfield.  The big challenge going into this season was how good the defensive line would be in applying the pass rush.  If the secondary can cause problems for Trevor Harris in the form of a coverage sack, and or make him force the ball too soon, this will give the defense the edge in containing the passing game.  They have to make it as difficult as possible.   

Atler Up Edmonton!  It’s a new season.  Let’s make a push for the playoffs.

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author avatar
Dino Sepe Reporter
Dino Sepe has been an avid sports fan since he was nine years old. He has read multiple books regarding sports history from various eras, the origins of the game, great dynasties, great coaches, and great players. Dino's experience in writing was obtained at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario through the Theater Performance program. As an avid football fan following the NFL, CFL, NCAA, and USports Football, Dino has been writing about the Canadian Football League in various capacities since 2019. In December 2021, Dino joined the CFL News Hub team. Dino is proud to be part of the CFL News Hub contributing team and looks forward to covering the Edmonton Elks going into the future.
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