Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Picking Week 3 in the CFL

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The EAST is in the house!  It’s been nice watching this pseudo-resurgence from all the teams that weren’t given a chance by many this off-season.  I think it’s great for the league, but not so great for the way we’ve been picking these games.  Be cautious though.  Anyone with CFL experience will tell you that it is a LOOOOONG season and there’s far too much football left to start crowning champions. 

Obviously Montreal was the biggest surprise of the week, but their victory serves as a reminder that anyone can get beat on any given day.  The Alouettes didn’t do anything fancy, they just took the field as a family and did all the little things very well.  Defense and their Oline will always give Montreal a shot to win throughout the 2015 campaign.

 What wasn’t surprising was how solid the Hamilton TiCats looked in stomping out the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  Winning football games doesn’t sound complicated from a scientific standpoint.  If a team can win two out of the three phases of the game (offense, defense, special teams) then they’ll be victorious.  Right now Hamilton looks better than anyone, no matter what unit you’re looking at.  They score on O, they score on D, and they have the CFLs best special teams weapon in Speedy B.

Speaking of Brandon Banks, the TiCats are beginning to look for ways to extract every ounce of potential out of him that they can on Offense.  I’m a fan of it, however, only if Austin continues to do it the way that they did versus Winnipeg.  Bringing Banks closer to the formation, throwing blockers out in front of him, and letting him go sideline to sideline is a perfect way to use his skillset.  Realistically the Tabbies don’t need to use Banks in any other capacity.  Not when you have ‘Tuz finding every whole in opposing defenses and guys like Sinkfield, Tolliver, and Grant roaming around without DBs being able to touch them. 

 Moving into Week 3, picking games gets even harder, but as I stated above, that’s such a good problem to have for the CFL.  Let’s sort through all of the comparables and try and find some winners in throughout a very competitive set of games, starting on Thursday.

Ottawa at Edmonton

 This 2-0 start the Redblacks are on is legit.  One of the big reasons for their success (on offense at least) is the play calling of Jason Maas, who’s getting his first opportunity in that role.  What many haven’t been talking about is the job that former Montreal Alouette Great Brian Chiu has come in and done with Ottawa’s offensive line.  Ottawa’s guys up front are about to get a tough test in Edmonton with Sewell, Steele, and the defensive end combos that the Esks will throw at them.  If the Redblacks can handle the Eskimos defensive line, and block up their blitz package, they just might surprise the 0-1 Eskimos.  But use caution…That defense is loaded with opportunists in Edmonton.  Henry Burris will need to be on his game.  One or two bad throws, and Edmonton may jump out.  Ottawa can’t afford to fall behind in Commonwealth Stadium.

Another key to success for Ottawa is being able to pressure Matt Nichols.  Edmonton’s Offensive line struggled against Toronto and needs to improve on their week 1 performance.  Keith Shologan who quietly had a monster game pushing the pocket against BC, leads a good young defensive front into Edmonton that will need to get in Matt Nichols thinking quickly, and moving around.  Edmonton can help itself by getting a ground game working effectively, but Ottawa has played the run well in the first two weeks, so that won’t be an easy task.

If smiling Hank can continue to play the way he has been, Ottawa may just walk out of Edmonton 3-0.

Pick:  Ottawa

Montreal at Winnipeg

 All signs (for now) point to Drew Willy playing when Montreal squares off against the Bombers and that’s obviously good news for Bombers fans, because Winnipeg lives and dies with #5 at the QB spot.

Montreal may walk into the game on Friday planning on throwing a few blitzes at the Bomber offense, much like Hamilton did the week before, with resounding success.  Willy is going to have to get the ball out quickly, like he did in Saskatchewan, and hope that the Als can forge a run game in order to balance everything out.

For some reason, people don’t speak about Montreal’s defense and Noel Thorpe’s game planning ability as much as I feel they should.  There’s so much experience spread throughout that unit, that opposing offensive coordinators can’t really throw any looks at the Als that they haven’t seen before.

Offensively, for Montreal, they just have to continue to build on the things that they did during Rakeem Cato’s spectacular CFL debut.  The scheme that Turk Schonert went into week 2 with was perfect for his new QB.  This week, much like last week, the Als have to create success on 1st downs, and keep their young QB out of the 2nd & 7+ as much as possible.  Tyrell Sutton ran for 130 yards+ against Calgary thanks to Montreals guys in the trenches, and they also did a great job spreading the ball out amongst their veteran group of wide-outs. 

If the Alouettes can duplicate their offensive plan of last week, and play solid defense as they normally do, I`ll take my chance on the angry bird.

 Pick: Montreal

Toronto at Calgary (on Monday?)

 Calgary has looked very average thus far.  Realistically they shouldn’t have 3 &17’d their way out of Hamilton’s grasp, and hopefully week 2 woke them up because Toronto is on a different level right now in terms of confidence, and ability. 

The Stamps need to feed Jon Cornish the ball a whole lot more than they did during their debacle in week 2.  He touched the ball 12 times for 59 yards.  Cornish should be in the 20-25 touch area every game if he’s healthy.  Now saying that, it’s up to the Oline to move the line of scrimmage, so those guys are going to have to get back to the physical dominance that they’re known for.

Bo Levi Mitchell has to step it up as well, being the leader of that team.  If there’s one lesson that this year’s start has taught anyone, it’s that one cannot just turn it on whenever they want.  If the Stamps are going to repeat, they’re going to have to go into every game ready to “Start fast, and Finish strong.”

Right now they’re only the cream of the crop in the West because the rest of the teams here have had byes or haven’t hit stride as yet.

This one will be a quick pick, and I’m basing it on experience.  When teams that know they’re good, start off slowly, the leadership in the room gets after everyone; and demands more from themselves.  The Stampeders have that leadership, from the coaching staff on down.  Now that they’ve had a chance to watch themselves against two opponents and really give themselves a mirror-check, I think they’ll start performing as they expect.

 Pick:  Calgary

Saskatchewan at BC

 Playing against BC, in BC, is always fun, but the road trip that the Green and White make to Vancouver during Week 3, is nothing but business.  This is a very winnable game for the Riders, and it starts up front as always.  The Roughrider Oline is by far the best in the league right now.  BC didn’t show the ability to get to the QB against the Ottawa hoggies, so if the Chris Best and Co. adhere to their techniques and are assignment sound, KG should have a chance to make solid throws again this week. 

All of Ridernation was up in arms about the way the Argos won here at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday. The Rider fans, and media alike, are still questioning the defensive play-calling of Coach Chamblin, especially the series in the 4th quarter with 1 minute left on the clock.  I stated in my post-game comments on this blog that experience may have a lot to do with the way the Riders are calling their plays early on this season.  It’s tough to call a ton of aggressive blitzes and movements with so many young guys in pivotal spots.  Unfortunately there’s no excuses in this business, and I hope you guys don’t take my reasoning for a justification, rather simply as a realistic look at one of their issues.  Coach Chamblin and Greg Quick are definitely going to have to figure out how to deploy a more aggressive look with the tools they have, because teams cannot be let off the hook, the way Toronto was in double overtime.

The Lions are a team with a ton of potential, and they showed in spurts against the RedBlacks, just not enough to get the job done.  They struggled to get Andrew Harris going consistently, and looked as though they were fighting to find an aerial identity.  They’ll get it right, and will have to avoid brutal calls like the decision to run out of the shotgun on 3rd and 1 or 2, but it may not all come together immediately.  The biggest discrepancy in the Lions roster is the fact that they just lost their emotional and physical leader in Ryan Phillips.  That is going to be HUGE against an offense that wants to go to the air just as much as they want to pound the rock.  If the Riders can figure out a way to pressure the QB, then I can see them jumping on their chartered flight to the YQR with a W.  Right now this seems like the perfect time to get back on track against a Lions attack, and head coach that will take some time to figure out how they want to get things done.

Pick: Saskatchewan, without Green Glasses on.

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When one is able to pour their values into the things they're passionate about, the end result will be success, and more importantly, quality.  It's a quality that CJ Evan Home Designs, and great professional sports teams share.




  1. Luc,

    This is beyond a doubt, the best breakdown of weekly CFL games on the web. Sound reasoning and going in depth as to both teams strengths and weaknesses.

    I do agree on your Rider pick (without green glasses on), but and this is a huge BUT..............after Doubles was injured last year, we finished the season 2-6. We then lost the western semi-final, both of our pre-season games this year and have started out the regular season 0-2. That is a combined record of 2-11, the worst in the CFL over that stretch!!! Even Ottawa has won 3 games!!!!

    Perhaps TSN having the Riders dead last in their Power Rankings this week isn't far off. Let's face it, our defense is not good. We can talk about this guy being out, Richie Hall leaving, Chamblin serving as 'DC' and head coach, personnel, etc. In this 'new CFL', if you don't have a consistent pass rush and mix in some linebacker blitzes, I honestly think the offense can almost do anything they want. The completion percentages for QB's are crazy outrageous right now around the league. It is maybe time for Corey to not be so set in his ways like a certain offensive coordinator was the last two years and CHANGE your philosophy and/or your personnel. They talk about certain guys as being the best at their positions. The one guy who is an absolute stud that most teams stay away from is Tristan Jackson. Brackenridge is also a play maker, but we are sorely lacking play makers at the linebacker position in my opinion. Lots of them on offense, not many on defense.

    Aaron Anderson

  2. The loss of Shea Emery did hurt, but I like the energy and desire of rookie Jake Doughty. Hope he has a great game Friday. He can also watch Bighill and Eliminiam to see how the best linebackers in the CFL do their thang.

  3. Definitely think our offence *Riders* is good and has huge potential and is on the right track. Kevin Glenn is doing great so far, better then I expected. Defence needs work. Season is still young!