Thursday, 3 September 2015

Picking Wk 11 in the CFL

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GET YOUR POPCORN READY CFL FANS…This is going to be good.  
Perhaps the best slate of CFL action this year is upon us for the Labour Day Weekend, and all of the games have Divisional Implications.  The CFLs Week 11 adds to the perfect experience for all Football purists seeing as we’re already being treated to the kick-off of this years NCAA season AND the CIS campaign.
Let’s not waste too much time with the small talk.  I’m jacked up!!!  Blue Jays are rolling, Fantasy Football Drafts dominate my calendar, there’s a new Direction in Riderville being led by Jeremy O’Day, and THE MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS are about to hit the ground running.  WHAT A WEEKEND!
Hope this helps your Office Pools and Pick-Ems…Enjoy the weekend everyone!

BC @ Montreal

Being the washed up former Pro that I am today, I remember that that there is two phases to the Montreal Sports Scene specifically as it relates to the CFL.  There is the summertime Old Montreal Patio Period’ where everyone hangs out, drinking beers on the plethora of bar and restaurant decks (or La Terrasse) on the weekends; and then there’s the ‘Cool Down transition to Hockey Period’ that starts pretty much the day after August ends.  
Oddly enough, the crowd energy and atmosphere at McGill Stadium (note that I didn’t say attendance) during Alouettegames seems to follow right along with that downtown Montreal vibe.  During the hot summer, playing in Montreal is right up there with the more difficult stadiums to win at.  When the transition to haackey begins, McGill stadium becomes a much more visitor friendly environment.  It’s an unexplained phenomena of the Canadian Football League.
That being said, it’s Labour Day Weekend in Montreal, and before the conversion to full our HABS mode begins there is one last party to be had hosted by the Angry Birds.  One last final hurrah before they break out the hockey sticks in La Belle Province.  The Als defense FINALLY looked like its old self last week against the premier team in their conference and it’ll be tough for BC who’s coming off another Bye Week and travelling all the way across the country in order to compete.
Fans may be in for another close game between these two squads that have a ton to play for.  I’ll take the home team as they start moving all their patio furniture back inside the restaurants.
Pick: Montreal
Toronto @ Hamilton
It’s great for the league that Hamilton got knocked down a peg by losing to Montreal at the coffee grounds.  I’m not sure how many people actually had the Alouettes picked, however it was good for them, BAD for the Argos. 
One of the things Kent Austin is great at doing is preparing a team to bounce back after a loss.  The problem right now seems that he’s going to be short-handed going into Toronto’s game especially at the Oline position.  Veteran Pete Dyakowski is rumored to be hurting, but more importantly, Ryan Bomben, who missed the majority of their last game against Montreal, may be down, and that would wreak havoc on the TiCats ability to protect the QB AND utilize their packages that they implement.
Bomben is not only their starting RG, but when Hamilton utilizes their bigger packages, Bomben is the one who bumps out to play the TE spot while #55 Tim O’Neil fills in at Guard.  Having Bomben out or playing through abnormal pain essentially effects two phases of the Hamilton TiCat O.
Keep in mind we haven’t mentioned the loss of Eric Norwood, and upstart Safety Mike Daly amongst others.
This may be a perfect time for Toronto to pounce on the Tabbies and steal one in the Steel City.  If you recall the last time these two teams bumped heads, the game turned on the Argos after an inexplicable Special Teams gaffe and the Argos couldn’t recover.  If that sequence of events doesn’t happen, the game may have gone far differently.
This is one of the more exciting games for me, and I expect it to be a 12 round heavyweight fight.  Last man standing mentality here…
Pick: Toronto 
Edmonton @ Calgary
It seems as though over the past few years, the winner of this game is always the team that dominates the line of scrimmage; and lately that team has been Calgary.  Especially last year.  At times it was tough to watch as Calgary pushed the Edmonton Defensive front around seemingly at will.
As one looks at the 2015 Battle of Alberta, it’s clear that Calgary’s Oline isn’t the wrecking crew that it was in years past, however the measuring stick for that is through the roof and the Stamps are still a force to be wreckoned with upfront DESPITE being hit with massive injuries upfront. Pierre Lavertu has been playing pretty well since being inserted and you have to think that Calgarys OGs Bergman and Erdos are leading the way vocally for the group.
One of the advantages that Calgary has in this match-up other than the potential to win the LOS, is that they’ve gotten a chance to see the Esks rookie Phenom, James Franklin, and Rich Stubler has probably taken his strengths and weaknesses to task when devising a scheme for Calgary.
All season long we’ve talked about the need for Edmonton to prove that they can be taken seriously as a legitimate contender for the Western Division.  If they see themselves as having Grey Cup potential, they have to prove it against Western opponents consistently.  They’ve got to steal at least one of these games.  For now, they may have to wait until they get back home.
Pick: Calgary
Winnipeg @ Saskatchewan 
Obviously I am a little biased based on experience but there is absolutely nothing like playing in the Labour Day Classic in Mosaic Stadium.  The atmosphere on Sunday is going to be something that the players take with them throughout the duration of their careers.  Never mind the fact that there is already a new energy surrounding the team with the transactions that the club made.  Even the Riders new Interim Head Coach, Bob Dyce, may have an extra giddy-up in his step seeing as he’s from Manitoba!  
Realistically the exhilaration and excitement regarding all that has happened in Saskatchewan this week has clouded the fact that the Riders NEED A WIN and their loss last week to Ottawa means that this is a must-win, if the squad has any hope to clinging to their miniscule playoff chances.  Thankfully it’s the Winnipeg Blue Bombers that the organization shares this early September tradition with and not a team like the Stamps.  Winnipeg seems to have more problems on their plate than the Riders do at this exact moment, which is a strange occurrence.
For now, the wave of EUPHORIA caused by the recent moves made by Saskatchewan President Craig Reynolds should be enough to will the Green and White to victory.  Players have already made note of the differences in practise and the locker room now that the Elephant in the Room has been removed. 
Momentum for this game always starts on Saturday during the Riders Fan Appreciation day.  Although the day is a tad draining for the guys, it really gives one some perspective on what an honour and privilege it is to play for the Roughriders fan base.  It’s definitely a great start to the weekend.  Once Sunday finally rolls around, the players and coaches will have forgotten all about the Mountain that they have to climb, and the unfortunate events of the past.  As the players get ready to run out of that green helmet to the fireworks and production of their “Bring EmOut” theme song, they’ll be ready to absolutely fly.  It won’t be easy, but expect tradition to hold true here…It’s damn near impossible to beat the Riders on Labour Day.
Pick: Saskatchewan

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