We went 1-3 last week but I’m totally fine with the way we missed on the Saskatchewan, and Montreal results.
In Montreal’s case, it’s tough to win with a 3rd string QB, a rookie for that matter. What many people don’t realize is that 3rdstring QBs don’t get any Game Plan reps during the practise week. Their job is to mainly run the practise squad Offence that simulates the other teams O. The Als probably had to strip the game plan down to the basics for Brandon Bridge, who I think is going to be a stud in this league once he gets his accuracy up.
Winnipeg surprised, everyone including me, with their victory over the Green and White. Granted the Riders struggled to finish plays defensively, and that killed them in the long run, but I was really impressed with the way their Oline held up against the Rider pass rush. One of the Bombers big questions going into that game was that right side of their Oline that features Sukh Chung and the 2nd year Right Tackle Jace Daniels. For the most part, both looked solid. Furthermore, Marcel Bellefeuillewas on point with the offensive scheme that he came into week 1 with, and I felt that he called the final 3 minutes of the 4thquarter tremendously.
So here we are in Week 2, and once again we’ll take a crack at helping you guys win your office lunch bets, fantasy games and pick-em pools. Let’s get to it…
Hamilton @ Winnipeg
After watching Winnipeg capitalize on poor tackling and a rash of injuries in Saskatchewan, this game doesn’t seem as easy to pick now that week 1 is in the books. Hamilton will be entering its second hostile environment in as many weeks, but just like last Saturday, Coach Austin will have his team ready to go.
If Winnipeg wants to have success in their home debut, it’s an absolute must that they get more pressure on the QB than they did in week 1. The Bombers can’t let Zach Collaros sit in the pocket and make comfortable throws to his big receivers. The Blue Bomber secondary is still relatively young, and they’ll need some help. The new CFL coverage rules for DBs prevent defenders from being physical with receivers, and it’s tough to apply the rule changes to a group of receivers that are all over 6ft tall, and can get up and catch the jump ball.
Hopefully Winnipeg can continue to build on their impressive performance in week 1. Establishing the run game will be crucial for the Bombers again this week because the Ticats excel in defending against 2nd and 6+ situations. Unlike the Blue and Gold secondary, the Ticats boast an experienced group of DBs led by Craig Butler that love playing in Orlondo Steinauers defense.
I’m going with the Ticats amongst the noisy crowd at Investors Group Field. Their offensive potential, despite their key injuries, mixed with their ability to alter field position via defense and special teams (we didn’t even get to Brandon Banks) are going to be fun to watch all year.
Calgary @ Montreal
Now I know that in the beginning of this piece I said that Brandon Bridge is going to be a stud, and I believe that. The problem is that he’s about to be up against, arguably, the best secondary in the CFL featuring Keon Raymond, Jamar Wall, Buddy Jackson, and Brandon Smith. Under the direction of Rich Stubler, that’s a tough secondary for Darian Durant to get at, never mind a rookie cutting his teeth in the 2nd week of the season.
Everything for the Alouettes is going to depend on their 1st down production. They have the offensive line to get it done on the ground and they’re going to have to put Brandon Bridge into manageable 2nd down situations. From there it will be on the OC to give Bridge the ability to use his athletic skill set. They may have a shot to compete if everything goes well on 1st down.
My big thing with Calgary last year was trying to convince everyone around me that #3 Jeff Fuller was special; but the problem was he got hurt again and missed the entire year. Now that Fuller back, none of the catches that he made on Friday were a surprise to anyone that has seen him play, and if he remains healthy, the combo of him and Eric Rogers have a chance to be unreal.
Lastly, Montreal’s Defence is up against the wall here. Not only will they have to stop Calgary, but in order for the ALs to win the game, the defense is also going to have to find a way to contribute on the score board. It’s doable, and there’s nothing teams like more than shocking the world, but I’m still going with the Stamps.
British Columbia @ Ottawa
Welcome back Travis Lulay!!! The CFL missed the ginger pivot, and the Lions are a totally different team with him at the helm; everything is back to normal again in British Columbia. Nobody has really been talking about the BC Lions as a playoff contender, and as a former pro, locker rooms tend to galvanize behind the “all we got is us” feeling that being cast aside creates. Nobody really knows what to expect from Jeff Tedford and the offensive scheme they will employ, but the ingredients for success are still present in the Vancouver on the defensive side of the ball. You all know the reputations of guys like Bighill, Elimimian, and Phillips, but be on the lookout for 2nd year pro Alex Bazzie out of Marshall. The sophomore Defensive Endmay be primed for a break-out year, and he and his teammates have had to sit around and wait for their turn to kick off the season.
As much as one can appreciate the fledgling Redblacks and their quest to improve on last season’s inaugural record, they’re in tough against a Lions franchise that has a lot to prove to themselves, and doubters, this year.
Toronto @ Sask
Literally every worst case scenario, minus an Olineman loss, happened on Saturday to Saskatchewan. The loss of Doubles this year has me sick to my stomach, but with KG in town, the anxiety within Ridernation has been alleviated a touch. Glenn has a couple of things going for him right now. He’s been in this situation before (obviously) but more importantly, this is a far better group of starters than the ones he had in BC. One could argue that it’s also a better group than the guys he worked withwhile he was in Calgary. As long as the talent around Glenn can stay healthy, especially upfront, he’ll be able to excel here moving forward.
It’s the defense for the Saskatchewan Roughriders that is the main concern right now. Hopefully the prognosis on SheaEmery isn’t anything long term because we’ve spoken all through the month of June about his importance to the success of Coach Chamblin’s defence. There are huge shoes to fill waiting on whomever the Riders choose to deploy at middle linebacker this week, and the Toronto Argonauts aren’t going to be coming into Sunday feeling sorry for anyone.
The nice thing about picking this game is that there’s some confidence moving forward in terms of the offence, without Doubles. They put 26 up last week, which is good enough to win, and protected the QB well. In order to exhibit the same explosive potential on O this week, they’ll need another sterling performance from the Oline. Toronto's Dline is a solid unit that uses their athleticism well and don't mind the physical aspects of pass rushing. This week solid one-on-one fundamentals will be required because players like Tristan Okpalaugo and their interior rotation of Cummings, Robertson, and Laing are all capable of winning heads-up battles consistently. I’m really excited to see how Levy Adcock and X do against Okpalaugo, and think that Saskatchewan's guard-centre-guard combo are well suited for the defensive tackles that the Argos will throw out there.
Defensively, if the Riders have anything going for them, it’s their attitude. Surrounding that inexperienced LB group is a core group of vets that have been in this position before.
Last year when #4 went down, they understood what it was going to take on their behalf. The defense has been asked to step up before, and they’ll be asked to step up again this year. This is a group that really believes that it`s all about their performance, and it doesn`t matter what the other team wants to do. That`s specifically refreshing knowing that Trevor Harris and the Argo offense will be playing in Sundays game with a ton of confidence.
It goes a long way for the guys in Green and White to have the inherent belief that as long as they do what they are capable of, they`ll be fine. It would have been tough to watch the Winnipeg game at first. The players recognize that there were a ton of plays left on the field that would have altered the course of that contest. They`ll get a chance to correct the fundamental mistakes that were made, and they`ll have a better showing on Sunday. One would expect the vets in that group to rally around the inexperience in the LB group and get them on the right page. Communication this week is imperative if the Riders want to have any success. Guys need to be talking pre-snap, and detailing things out on the sidelines. This is the perfect time for the veteran leaders on the defensive side of the ball to step up. They have a lot of championship experience, and the adversity that they`re dealing with now is something that shouldn`t shake their confidence.
Hope you like the picks, would love to hear what some of you are thinking headed into Week 2 of the CFL schedule.