Friday, 31 July 2015


Much like the situation the Montreal Alouettes were faced with a few weeks back (when they were forced to put rookie QB Rakeem Cato at the helm of their O) the Saskatchewan Roughriders are looking at that exact scenario this week, and moving forward.  Fortunately, the Alouettes proved that a team can be successful in this situation if they manage the circumstance correctly.  On Offense, they need to put their new Quarterback into down and distance positions where he can be successful.  This means that the Riders have to consistently run the rock against the Esks.  Not only will a successful rushing attack set Smith up with manageable throwing downs and decisions, but it will also allow him to infuse some play action passes, where he can use his legs, as he has shown he's capable of.  The Rider screen game is going to have to be part of the equation as well.

Our GAMEDAY GOTTA HAVE IT puts the spotlight on Saskatchewans Guard-Centre-Guard combo of Best, Clark, and Labatte.  If the Riders are going to rush the ball and help out their young QB, they're going to have to impose their will on two of the CFLs best Defensive Tackles, Almondo Sewell and Eddie Steele.  The Roughriders Offensive Tackles (Fulton and Adcock) can handle the Edmontons D-Ends, but everything the Esks do defensively predicates on their D-Tackles pushing the pocket and wreaking havoc in the middle.  The last thing the Riders want to see is Brett Smith being rushed into bad decisions and forcing throws because he's under duress due to the middle of his pocket being crushed.  
Chris Best, Dan Clark, and Brendon Labatte keeping the Edmonton Eskimo Defensive Tackles from dictating the pace of this game...they GOTTA HAVE IT!!!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Week 6 Eskimos Primer

It just keeps getting worse.  KG done for an extended amount of time.  A short week of practise.  An Injured Reserve list that is becoming as long as the actual Active Roster.  And to top it all off, the boys get to travel to Edmonton, where winning is harder to do than breaking up with your high school sweetheart...There isn't much to look forward to Riderville.

Things would be so much easier if the guys on the 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders would just quit.  Fold things up fellas.  Call it a rebuild.

Apparently nobody would blame the guys.  I heard it 3 times yesterday in various forms, "If they lose again, it's time to tear it down and start all over.  There's to many injuries to compete this year."

The easiest thing to do now would be to quit...

Ironically; quitting is the only event that I can guarantee that will NOT happen in that Saskatchewan Roughrider locker room.

You can't ask a professional football player to quit.  Can't do it.  He'll look at you like you're speaking the language of an ancient Mayan civilization.  It's not even an option.  There's a list of things to do when you're back is against the wall, and nowhere on that list is the word "quit". 

Actually, now that I think of it, the leaders in the Roughrider locker room are probably looking for the quitters.  Those guys are easy to spot when the adversity gets dialed up because they become selfish.  The whole process will become about them.  The quitters will feel entitled.  They're the guys that won't be dressed on time for the 9am meetings.  They'll be the guys on film not finishing the drills but will be the 1st to turn around and complain about the rotation.  The players who've cashed it in will be the guys doing their own thing, and leaving their teammates hanging just to make a play.  It's hard not to think about "going for self" when you're on an 0-5 team, but that's the quickest way this team becomes 0-16.  The leaders can still make sure that everyone is bought in, but they have to identify the guys on the fence first. 

The Green and White have come too far.  Even though the season is still young, the players that have been in Saskatchewan since the end of May, after a long off-season of lifting and running, have sacrificed too much together.  

That's why quitting's not an option.  When one sits in his locker, right before kick-off they're going to look across the room and see guys exactly like them.  They'll be looking into the eyes of a man that is going through the same turmoil.  The guy to their left has had to deal with the same pain.  The guy to their right has to face the same uncertainty.  

The locker room is a 2nd home.  I know you're sick of me saying that, but there's no feeling like belonging to this type of family. Nobody worth their salt wants to let the family down now.  Not when it's this tough.  Not when the entire nation has has begun to extinguish their hope.  Not when the haters, who've been waiting on this situation, are beginning to smile.  

When one true to this game; one eats with the same ones they starve with.   

There's 13 weeks left in the 2015 CFL season.  Things don't seem like they could get much worse.  But don't expect anyone to go lightly into the next 2/3 of the year.  Right now the Saskatchewan Roughriders have something much more important to play for than wins and losses...

Anyone who straps up the White and Green helmet this Friday is doing it for one thing...The guy to their left, and the guy to their right.  

Play for each other...And NEVER GIVE UP.
Cups up to the boys going 1-0 this week.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Picking Week 6 featuring Marcus Adams

Presented By
1-3 just isn't going to cut it!!!  The worst part of our Weeks 5 picks, presented by CJ Evans Home Designs, was that the one pick that we wanted to be wrong about (TiCats over Riders) was the only one we got right!!!
I don't feel too bad however, because many of the people I know are having the same struggles as I am when it comes to picking winners.  During one of the games this weekend our boy (and fellow Rider Alum) Matt Dominguez tweeted out, "Man...This Season...If I pick you to're going to LOSE! #CFLonTSN."  It's hard out here for everyone!
To tell you all the truth, it's refreshing that it's been so difficult to get things right, because it speaks volumes about the quality of the competition in the CFL at this point.  For the most part the finishes have been exciting, and the new rules are starting to have less of an impact on games than we all would like to think.  As a matter of fact, it's been blatantly obvious that teams are shooting themselves in the foot with penalties that existed long before the CFL bailed out it's refs with the changes in 2015.
One guy who IS getting CFL picks right this season is 2007 Grey Cup Champion Marcus "Chunky" Adams.  Chunk is still a fan favourite in Ridernation, and instead of me picking the Week 6 match-ups throughout the league; I figure we'll give you a different #ProPerspective. and go with Chunky who is currently leading our CFL Alumni Pick-em pool at 11-9. 
Chunky went 3-1 last week by taking Toronto, Edmonton, and Hamilton.  I'm not surprised by his success this year either.  Adams is currently working on breaking into the Pro Scouting ranks so he follows along closely to the CFL but specifically, it's impact players and the up-and-comers.  When I spoke with him about this weeks CFL action, his responses came with a nice mix of football knowledge and player viewpoint.  During his football career Chunk was known for his work ethic off the field.  The way he studied film always gave him the mental advantage over his opponent, because he knew what they were going to do before they even started the snap cadence.  Personally, he was a life saver for me 1/2 the time.  Adams was a terrific communicator on the field, and he'd always tip us off to what was about to happen by the way the offensive line would be lined up or what the opponents tendencies during certain down and distances were.  This ability to watch and diagnose film has stuck with Chunk in his post-football career nicely, and may be one of the reasons he transfers into the scouting ranks nicely.  Here's an example, Chunk was the first one to tell me to watch out for Toronto's group of new receivers...week 1 hadn't even kicked off yet.  TOs recievers are becoming household names.
So here is something to help your water cooler conversations, smoke breaks, and betting pools.  The Week 6 CFL picks featuring Grey Cup Champion, and all around good dude, Marcus "Chunky" Adams...
BC @ Winnipeg
Chunky likes the Winnipeg DBs and the way they're starting to come together, despite what the CFL stats might suggest.  Knowing Adams, this makes sense because throughout my time in the locker room with Chunky, he always sat there telling me not to worry about the stats of a team, and be more concerned with what their situational tendencies etc.  Chunk thinks that Richie Hall is close to getting the Bomber defenders on the right page, and hasn't been as inspired by what he sees in BC like the rest of us have.  When I asked him about Travis Lulay, he shrugged it off and stated, "it just looks like he's out there throwing the ball up for grabs."
Chunks Pick: Winnipeg
Montreal @ Calgary
Without a second of hesitation, Chunky emphatically picked Calgary.  Adams looked at this from a players standpoint, and thinks that Calgary is going to be driven to "Pay them back BIG TIME" after the Alouettes embarrassed them on national TV with a rookie QB.  I remember what it felt like seeing a team on the schedule that had dragged us at one point earlier in the season.  It makes the practise week a lot more intense knowing that you want to put one on a team that made you look bad previously.  Chunk likes the Montreal front 4, but let his experience do the talking on this pick.
Chunks pick: Calgary
Toronto @ Hamilton
In Adams' mind, Toronto is on a different level in terms of confidence, especially after that HUGE win in BC.  We already know that #51 is a big fan of the receiving core that the Argos have, but he also thinks that they've got something special in Brandon Whitaker.
"He's been a huge help for their young QB (Trevor Harris) in running the ball, picking up blitzes and catching out of the back-field."
Chunk also mentioned something very interesting.  He stated that the Toronto defense is catching on and going to be a strong point for them, "Usually it's the offense that starts slowly and needs to catch up with the D.  For them, it's the offense that has been on fire, and the D has had to catch up."
Chunks pick:  Toronto
Saskatchewan @ Edmonton
Here's the quote of the day.  After finding realizing that the Riders were playing IN Edmonton..."Oh man.  Edmonton.  Luc, me and you ain't never won more than 3 games there in our whole careers!"
At this point Chunk agrees with me in that Edmonton possess that best defensive line in the country, and thinks Almondo Sewell is the strongest player in the CFL, hands down.  When I reminded Chunk about the Eskimo's QB situation, Adams told me it's not as big of a deal as I may think because Jarious Jackson is really working wonders with the group now that Reilly has been down.  Chunk thinks that Jackson is really helping out the Edmonton Offensive Coordinator by laying out what the back-up QBs are good at, and what they may not be able to handle in terms of their skill sets.  Good coaching works wonders, and Chunk rally believes that former QB Jarious Jackson is working out well for the Eskimos.
At this point, the Evil Empire may be a bit much to handle for a team that's being hit with a string of unfortunate problems and events.
Chunks pick:  Edmonton
There you have it folks.  Hope this helps you.
Thanks so much to Marcus Adams for taking the time out of his visit with another Grey Cup Champ Jermese Jones in Winnipeg.  Chunk is currently headed back to Regina with his kids after a nice long visit with his family in the United States of 'Murrica.
Check Chunk out on Twitter at: @MarcusAdams_54
Here's another interesting tidbit for all of you visionaries out there.  One of our teammates at #ProPerspective (Chris Evans) has a great blog out, that really encompasses what it's like to be an entrepreneur as well as being involved in the Trades Industry in Saskatchewan.  It's always nice to be able to support the small business community, and we really have to stick together!  This is a great resource for you guys to lean on, and we hope you guys get something out of it! Thanks Chris

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Offsides the PodCast...Episode 5

We're close ladies and gentlemen, very close...Now, what I'm actually referring to is us having the ability to add some intro music into this Offsides podcast, and also having that annoying delay (while we patch in Coach Etch) removed totally!  We've even purchased a whole new PodCast Editing and Production program!
Here's the problem...I haven't had any time to play around with it as yet and I figured I could just go into it and get it right on my first try.  #EpicFail
So this will be the last time that you guys will have to put up with the silent delay associated with getting Coach Etch patched in, and we'll finally have some intro music for episode 6.
#IveAlreadyGotTheTracksPicked #BearWithUsForOneMoreEpisode

Todays episode starts off with some GOOD NEWS FOR RIDERNATION, brought to you in a very Coach Etch sort of way.  I'll tell you what, it's fair to say that some of the Rider coaching staff, and maybe even a couple of the front office guys may see things the same way as our co-host.  Out of all the great points he makes (pertaining to the Riders in relation to the rest of the CFL) the most important point for me was that, "Winnipeg is NOT better than SK." #SighOfRelief #Rivalry

We also discussed "moral victories" and how coaches and fans perspective are very different when it comes to that topic.  As a matter of fact, that discussion led us to a debate over whether injuries can still be an excuse for losing, after 5 weeks, and also what Coach Etch likes (or dislikes) about Corey Chamblin's defensive philosophies as they've played out so far.

We finalized things the way we always do at ProPerspective, by analyzing our picks  for the 6th week of the CFL.  I've enjoyed some of your reactions to those picks, including the guy who pulled me aside on Sunday, and told me that he lost 5 bucks picking the same teams as Etch did last week.  Luckily he thought it was funny!

All-in-all, it was a good show and we had a lot of fun doing it; plenty of football and philosophy.  Just the way many of you like it.  Can't wait to improve for next week, and FINALLY get some music in this deal!!!

You guys are going to enjoy the positive outlook that Coach Etch has on the Riders.  His view actually surprised me a little bit.  It was very player-friendly, and had a locker room feel to it.

The link is embedded below.  You can also click on the top to go to PodBean and download it.

Talk soon!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Mailbag Monday

Hello everyone. Due to an unreal scheduling conflict and a couple of urgent personal matters we weren't able to get our Monday Mailbag Column up to you this week.

I really apologize for this inconvenience, and in order to make up for this, we'll extend our Podcast tomorrow a bit and discuss the most popular question being asked as of late...Where do the Riders go from here?

We'll have that episode up to you tomorrow morning, so stay tuned. 

Again. I'm really sorry for not being able to get the Monday Mailbag up, and will work hard to never have this happen again. Unfortunately a couple of things today were out of my control.

As for the Green and White...
Stay the course! 
The team needs your support now, more than ever! 

Talk soon,
Luc Mullinder

Sunday, 26 July 2015


It's gonna be gritty!!!

The more I've had time to sit and think about this game, the more excited I get.  
The CFLs best run D versus the CFLs best rushing attack, one of the most electrifying returners to grace the Canadian game, and a Rider team with its back against the wall. 

Fans of our game are being treated to a great scenario to close out Week 5.

All is not lost in Ridernation. Especially in the West with all the injuries and drama that hit during Friday and Saturday. But it's time for the Riders to come out and kick someone's ass...plain and simple. Defense, Offense, and Special teams. It's the perfect day at Mosaic Stadium to put it all together.

Our GAMEDAY GOTTA HAVE IT focuses on Saskatchewans Punter Ray Early.  
If the Riders do choose to kick it to Brandon Banks on 3rd down, they'll need Early to not only boom it long, but get the ball high, in order to give guys like Dylan Ainsworth the time to get downfield and get a helmet on the ball. Line drive punts will kill the Riders because it will give Banks far too much room to run, and create behind his Punt Return unit that is coached terrifically by Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Reinebold. 
Early (The Green and White's rookie punter) has a huge leg, but today will require his accuracy.  Brandon Banks has to be confined to a sideline if he does get opportunities.  Ideally, Early forces Brandon Banks into decisions like letting it roll out, versus picking it up and taking his chances.  One thing that is guaranteed is kicks to the middle of the field will be troublesome and demand too much of our Punt Cover team...
Banks is a problem, but he can be coralled with great kick height and location. 
Ray Early...GOTTA HAVE IT!!!


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Week 5 TiCats Primer

The Roughriders and TiCats square off to close Week 5 in the CFL, and normally a battle between two last place teams wouldn’t garner as much excitement, but there’s a lot to look forward to here on Sunday.
Statistically, the TiCat defense is at the top of the league.  Hamilton yields a CFL low of 308 yards per game to their competition and boasts the CFLs best run-D, holding teams at 68 yards per game.  
Now those are impressive stats to fans and media that will be pouring over numbers trying to find advantages on either side, however all those numbers are to the Green and White is an opportunity.
When a player is given their game plan packages at the beginning of the practise week, the opponents stats are always included as part of it.  In the case of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the CFLs #1 offense, one of the first thoughts may have been, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” #TysonSaidItBest
It is going to be interesting to see how Orlondo Steinauer schemes the Rider O.  Making Saskatchewan one-dimensional has been impossible thus far, and because the Riders have had to rely so much on its offense through the first 4 games, this is shaping up to be the match-up of the week. 
Both of these teams are so close, talent-wise, that it may be the kicking game that determines the W.  The battle over this 1/3 of the game will be humongous.  Obviously, both sides want to make the field as long as possible for their opposition, but when teams are struggling it’s the special teams units that need to step up and provide the sparks needed to create a fire.  Everyone and their mama knows how lethal Brandon Banks is.  The Hamilton returner is one of the only players in the league that has the ability to score on any part of the field, but DO NOT overlook Saskatchewan’s shifty rookie Nic Demski.  The Riders 1st round pick is every bit as explosive as Banks and is capable of making the same decisive cuts.  Once he gets some more experience under his belt, the University of Manitoba product is going to be a beast.
One of the primary questions, going into to Sunday, is how the Green and White plan on slowing down the TiCat attack.  Hamilton is a distant 2nd to Saskatchewan in offensive production, moving at a clip of 388 yards per game.  Their problem is that only about 68 of those yards get accomplished on the ground and that may be something Tabbies experiment with early, now that CJ Gable’s getting back into the lineup.  
The word “pressure” has been thrown around whenever people mention the Riders Defense during 2015.  They’re going to have to be careful this week, because as was the case in week 4, Hamilton has a QB that can make plays with his legs.  The Green and White need to get off the field in 2nd and 6+ situations this week, and keeping Collaros contained and in the pocket is going to be a priority. The Hamilton pivot made some critical errors last week in Montreal, and the more that Saskatchewan can keep him from playing to his strengths, the more likely they are to finally getting some turnovers that they’ve been lacking and have contributed to keeping them out of the win column.
So as one can see, there are many factors and battles that are going to take place on Sunday, and much has been made of both teams needing the victory.  While all the drama that comes with being 0-4 in this province goes on, it’s still important to note how crucial it is that this team remains focused on “the now” and going 1-0 this week.  
Having said that, it is impossible to be completely oblivious to everything that is trying to penetrate the locker room, and even having veterans with experience in this process can’t keep the feelings that are associated with being winless completely at bay.
Here’s what can be done however…
This team and its leaders need to understand that winning the game on Sunday isn’t going to require anything more than players focusing on their individual jobs (alignment, assignment, and execution) and doing those jobs better than they’ve ever done them before.  Nothing more.  Players cannot sit and dwell on all the extras that they bring to the table at this point.  One of my old coaches used to tell me all the time, “Hey man, make sure the leaves in your own yard are clean before you go do someone else’s.”
Everyone in the business of sport wants to make plays, but the minute the guys in the Green and White start pressing, overthinking, and trying to do too much, they’ll open up an opportunity that Hamilton will be able to capitalize on.  There’s been examples of overcompensating all year throughout the CFL.  
A defensive lineman can’t let the fact that he’s close to a sack, lead to a late hit on the QB that gives the Cats 1st down, when they wouldn’t have made it on their own.  
A Receiver or RB can’t let 1-2 yards extra yards after a big run be the reason for costly fumble and turnover.  Trying to make a block that isn’t there cannot be the reason that a spectacular kick return gets nullified, and DBs can’t overplay their zone assignments in order to position themselves for a pick. 
The Riders will make things terribly hard on themselves if the guys begin to overthink the game in order to make plays.  It seems like such a hard task considering it’s been the absence of playmaking that has led to this 0-4 start…But that’s the key...That’s why the overall focus has to be 1-0 and the individual focus needs to be on specific tasks.  
This is a very winnable game for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Players need to compete, fight, and do what is asked of them within the structure of the scheme.  Everyone has a role to be carried out, and in the end, the W will be a team accomplishment, regardless of the individual accolades.  Being at one’s best on Sunday involves knowing what needs to be done, as opposed to knowing what would be a good headline.
Be yourself, everyone else is taken.
Cups up to the boys going 1-0 against the Hamilton TiCats.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Through Experienced Eyes...

Cgy @ Ott
Wnp @ Edm
Ham @ Sask

It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve last updated you guys on our how our CFL Alumni group has been picking the games this season, so I figured we’d get that done before Calgary and Ottawa get rolling tonight. 
We’ve got a 3-way tie at the top with Chunky, Luca Congi, and McCullough all batting .500, with Neal Hughes, who went 0-4 last week, bringing up the rear.  Marc Parenteau isn’t far behind Hughes at 3-13 but there’s plenty of weeks left in the season so the $200 is still anyone’s to win. 

This week is interesting.  Calgary seems to have everyone in our group convinced that they’re picking up their pace, except one of our leaders (Luca Congi) and one of our basement dwellers (Marc Parenteau).

Parenteau, a two-time Grey Cup champ, feels like Ottawa is finally starting to get comfortable in their offensive system.  He likes their playmakers on both sides of the ball and feels that their defense gives them a chance to surprise the Stamps.  He (Parenteau) also makes a great point that flying all the way across the country, and the humidity in Ottawa, vs, the dryer Alberta climate, may be a factor in fatigue especially late in the game.  Ottawa needs all the advantages they can get, and this may be one of them.  Nobody knows how critical one’s respiratory system is during long drives and games than a former offensive lineman.

Looking at the 2nd game of the CFL double header tonight, the fellas are almost unanimous in thinking that BC will get it done.  The only one who doesn’t agree is fan favourite Marcus Adams who really likes Toronto’s receivers and the way they match-up against that young BC secondary.  I shot Chunky a text or two last night and he’s also a big fan of Toronto’s defense, so we’ll keep an eye on new-comer AJ Jefferson and the way Toronto’s DC (Casey Creehan) employs his troops against Travis Lulay and the developing BC Lions.

Winnipeg and Edmonton looks to be a fun game to watch, and our troops are split 6-4 in favour of the Eskimos.  Edmonton is such a tough building to win in and our former pros surely had that in their minds when considering this match-up.  What made it hard is the fact that Edmonton has played Ottawa in the last two weeks, and nobody really knows which Eskimo team is going to show up. 

Week 5 in the CFL closes in Riderville on Sunday evening, and it’s a good one.  Both teams are coming off losses in very winnable situations, and now need a win in order to keep pace with the other teams in their conference.  All of the guys in our pick ‘em competition are former Roughriders, and a couple of guys spoke about how hard it is to pick against their former team.  When you throw in the home field advantage of playing in Ridernation, and what that feels like as a player, it’s hard to imagine the Riders ever losing. 

We’ve got ourselves another 6-4 split here with Mike McCullough, myself, Dominguez, and Chunky all leaning towards Hamilton, while the rest of the guys go Green. 

Former Guard, and 2007 Grey Cup Champ Mike Abou puts things literally for us in this week to week business: 

“If it’s truly about going 1-0 this week, and the past doesn’t matter, then I’m going Saskatchewan because they’re more talented as a team.”

It’s tough to argue with that statement.  We’ll see on Sunday.  I can’t wait.

 Feel free to weigh in here…


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Picking Week 5 in the CFL

Presented By
Thank the Gods that the past week finally fell in our favour!  We Went into last week’s picks feeling very confident that things were going to start getting back on track, and ended up getting results that we’ve been expecting since we started this “pick em” column.
Week 4 results: 3-1…Finally.  
Unfortunately, last week was also the week that I chose the Lions over the Riders, despite being called a traitor, and a turncoat, among other things.  It’s tough going against what the heart wants to pick, especially when one has close friends on the team that’s being picked against.  It actually felt like I was turning my back on my boys when they needed all the support they can get.  I’ve never wanted to be more wrong in my life, but if I don’t try and analyze things honestly, this site loses all the credibility that we’re working really hard to earn.
As we move on to week 5, it looks as though this could be a great week of CFL ball.  There are no easy calls in this round of action, and one or two plays may be the difference between a Win and a Loss.  Let’s not waste time with standing on ceremony here.  We’ll jump right into picking Week 5 of the CFL…
Calgary @ Ottawa
Put your hands up if you predicted that the Ottawa RedBlacks would have the best pass defence in the CFL at any point during the 2015 season?!?  Oh yeah, while you’re at it…Throw the other hand up if you thought they’d be ranked 2nd in Yards per Game allowed?  Well if you’re standing there with both hands up, I’d like to salute you, because you clearly saw something the NOBODY else did.  Playing solid D will give any team a chance, and it’s been nice to see Ottawa out there competing.
The RedBlacks have already tied their record from last season so from here on out it’s all about continuing to build and improve to the point where they can compete for a championship.  One of the players that is facilitating Ottawa’s decent start is Saskatchewan’s own Zack Evans.  The former Regina Thunder standout is putting together quite a year thus far, and Ottawa will need him, and the rest of that Defensive line, to come up big on Friday.  The Stampeders are finally starting to show spurts of the team that everyone expected to see at the beginning of this year.  Much has been made of the Offensive Line woes in Calgary, but this will be the 2nd consecutive week that this new group gets to play together, and they’ll be looking to set the physical tone that Calgary has become known for under Jon Hufnagel.
Ottawa has to stop the run.  The Redblacks cannot allow the Stampeders to dictate the pace of play.  They have to turn Calgary into a one-dimensional passing team and force Bo Levi-Mitchell to make all the right decisions.  The Stampeders pivot seems to be off at times this year, and with the RedBlacks secondary communicating better than last year, they may jump on an INT or two.  We’ve all seen the way turnovers are affecting the CFL right now, Ottawa may be able to get in there and hang around, but it’s tough to see them beating the defending Grey Cup Champs quite yet.
Pick:  Calgary
Toronto @ BC
BC looks legit.  During the Lions last two games, Travis Lulay has begun looking like the QB he was in 2011, which is scary if you’re any CFL team that’s not BC.  Many are going to think it’s hard to measure the Leos after two wins against a Saskatchewan team, derailed by injury, but it’s the way that the Lions won those games that serves as the important notice.  A come from behind win after being stuck 11 in the 4th Qtr, and a hard fought back-to-back victory in the most hostile building in the league are victories that underline the Lions character and determination.
Toronto is loaded, with youth, and talent on both fronts.  Big, tall aggressive receivers, with leadership from vets like Chad Owens, and a QB that's making sound decisions with the football. 
Even though the Argo defensive line is struggling with some discipline issues, they've got all the potential in the world; especially on the interior.  TO's impressive LB tandem of Greenwood and Jones is going to be the Eastern version of Bighill and Elimimian this year.  They round out a defensive group that will look to take Andrew Harris out of the equation in Vancouver.
Both of these teams have a shot to win their divisions in 2015, but with inexperience in certain spots there's going to be some bumps along the road, especially in the first half of the year.
I'm going with momentum here, and taking the Lions in a close game at home.

Pick: BC

Winnipeg at Edmonton
Edmonton threw 3 INT’s in the nation’s capital and barely got out of there with a W.  Two wins…Both against the RedBlacks.  Nothing to throw a party over.  They’re going to have to step it up in Week 5.  Winnipeg on the other hand made some uncommon mistakes on Special Teams that gave Calgary enough time to get their act together.  The Bombers are close, but close isn’t good enough for a team that is going to be in a dogfight for a playoff position.  
This is going to be a tough game to call, but a great game to watch.  One could make an argument for both squads.  The emergence of Shakir Bell and continued development of KendialLawrence is something that Edmonton needs to keep pushing.  Paris Cotton and Darvin Adams fall into that same category when one looks at Winnipeg.  Both defenses have had their moments in the sun, however they`ve also shown the potential to falter at inopportune times.
The difference in this game may be at the Quarterback position, where Drew Willy has played exceptionally well, and Matt Nichols has been inconsistent while adjusting to his role as the starting QB.  
With a vastly improved Offensive Line and Defenses struggling to find ways to pressure the QB, Drew Willy may be the deciding factor in a game where both teams are evenly matched.
Pick: Winnipeg

Hamilton @ Saskatchewan

I don't know where guys like Gary Lawless get their brutal info, but these made up scenarios that "experts" are coming up with are STUPID, and highlight the fact that anyone with a suit jacket can get on TV and create a rumour.  
This team, and their Head Coach can't let the external pressure affect the way they do business.  They have to fight to keep the focus on FOOTBALL.  The fact is that they need a win, and if they're going to get it they'll have to put together a solid performance in all three phases of the game on Sunday.  The TiCat defense is a great test for the Saskatchewan O because they're solid against the run and are capable of creating turnovers.  Offensively they will benefit from CJ Gable returning and, like Toronto, they bring in a tall and talented group of WRs into Mosaic Stadium.  The CFL has really opened the game up for receivers that have a high football IQ and can get to soft spots in zone schemes, and the TiCats have one of the best in Andy Fantuz.  #83 is Hamiltons safety net and the Riders need to key in on him whenever the TiCats are in a 2nd and 5+ situation.  Guys like Tolliver, Sinkfield and Bakari Grant are big play threats but Fantuz is the key to their whole deal.  The Riders have to account for him at all times. 
THIS GAME IS ALL MENTAL for the Green and White.  I'll go and expand on that during the "TiCat/Rider Primer" that we put out the day before every game, but eventually it comes down to pride and ACCOUNTABILITY.  There is leadership in that locker room and they've been through this situation before.  Those guys need to take the reigns here, and steer all the inexperience through this rough patch.  There's a reason Kent Austin has been in 3 Grey Cups as a Head Coach.  Nobody gets a team MENTALLY prepared like Austin does, and if the Riders don't have their minds right and aren't zero'd in on Alignment, Assignment, and Execution, they'll get run over.
This is a very winnable game for Saskatchewan.  They're so close.  Talent-wise they match-up perfectly.  The question is going to be...Can they overcome the mental aspects of the task at hand? 

Pick: Hamilton