Thursday, 17 September 2015

Picking Wk 13 in the CFL

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Better Late Than Never!!!
At least that's what I'm hoping you guys will buy into. 
I'm not sure what to think about this week in the CFL actually.  Aside from the Hamilton vs. Edmonton match-up, there doesn't seem to be a marquee game throughout the schedule.
But wait!!!  That's what is so great about the CFL game.  Just when you think that there isn't much happening, the surprises and upsets start rolling in.  And who am I to say a Rider game isn't going to be exciting?!? 
Thanks to our partners at CJ Evans Home Designs for making this all possible, and thanks to you guys for waiting patiently for our picks. 
Hope everyone enjoys their weekend, and all of the sports that make the fall season such an awesome time.
BC @ Calgary
Despite all the trouble that BC is having right now, particularly in the Defensive phase of the game, one always seemed to hold a glimmer of hope for the Lions because they had Travis Lulay.
WEELLP!!  Unfortunately for the Lions, their Franchise QB isn’t around to be their “Ace in the Hole” and what you have left is a Back-up signal caller trying to run a scheme that the players may be questioning, and a Defense that can seem to get stops (*Sound Familiar Ridernation).
Sure; it’s admirable that last week versus Ottawa whenever the RedBlacks made a run at the end zone early on, the Lions were holding them to Field Goals.  The problem was that their success was short lived and eventually the holes in the personnel or the scheme started an erosion that lead to Ottawa winning handily.
One of the many glaring stats that pundits can throw at the Lions is their inability to stop the run.  Teams are averaging 134 yards per game on the ground against BC, and that’s an area of concern going into any game, but especially versus Calgary.  The Stampeders look like they’re getting Jon Cornish back in time for the playoff push, which doesn’t bode well for the Leos, and they’re already a team that looks to ‘win the line of scrimmage with their guys upfront…Bad news all around. 
Dominating the Line of Scrimmage means clock and game control for the Calgary Stampeders.  Unless the BC Lions can get it together defensively, one can’t expect John Beck and the questionable Lions offense to carry the load against Rich Stublers crew of sturdy vets.
Take the Stamps unless you know something everyone else doesn’t…
Pick: Calgary
Edmonton @ Hamilton
I’m almost inclined to go with Edmonton here just because of the momentum that they must have coming off that Labour Day split with Calgary.  That win wasn’t just a win; that was the Eskimos reaching back, grabbing the monkey off their back, and slamming it on the turf a la John Bowman.  Maybe they’re not just the ‘Little Brother’ in Alberta?
Another factor I like for the Esks is obviously Mike Reilly being back at the helm.  Players will run through a wall for a QB that puts it on the line the way Reilly does.  That guys a stud man (*in my John Gruden voice).
The problem is that Hamilton is playing at such a high level, and it’s really two-fold when they’re at home in the “Coffee Grounds”. 
The Cats are playing with an attitude.  It’s not an arrogant swagger, it’s an insanely competitive, “we want to bury every opponent in our way” boldness that is spearheaded by their sideline-shoving minutely detailed Head Coach.  I don’t buy any of that formulated statement that Kent Austin released.  And guys that have played under Austin know what I’m talking about.  He’s not sorry for any of it.  That’s how he wants his team playing; with an aggressive edge that has the mentality of a school yard bully…Football Players Love That Sort of Mentality.  They want to impose their will on an opponent, and it only works when the attitude is backed up by an air-tight scheme.  The Tabbies know they can walk tall, because the BIG STICK that they’re carrying is made up of an Elite QB that has access to a great playbook, All-Star quality receivers, and an unwavering defensive system.
Go with Hamilton in the most attractive game of this week.  This should be a great one.
Pick: Hamilton
Winnipeg @ Montreal
This game is being played and televised on Sunday at 1pm Eastern Standard time...Wanna know who else is playing during that time?  THE NFL.   I’ve already mentally changed the channel.
It’s not the fault of the combatants that the CFL insists on competing with the NFL, but it is a shame that both these teams aren’t faring a lot better, because it would have made a case to keep those on the fence interested.  Unless you’re a hardcore CFL loyalist (which there are plenty of) you’ll be hard-pressed to get the average fan to choose the Crompton vs. Nichols billing over New England vs. Buffalo (and the other 9 NFL games that are on at that time slot).
For what it’s worth, one may lean towards Montreal here.  Sure Winnipeg and Matt Nichols just won the Banjo Bowl, but that game was really the battle of the basement-dwellers, as hard as that is for me to say, and masked the fact that Winnipeg has a long way to go yet.  Montreal may get an added spark with Jonathon Crompton at the helm.  One can be sure that after waiting and taking all those mental reps while being forced to watch from the sideline, the Alouettes pivot is anxious to get out there and sling the rock. 
Viewership may be scarce, but luckily the players know that they don’t control any of that and they’re blessed to be able to play a kids game for a living.  Every opportunity to hit the field is a privilege, and players always respect the game.
Choose the Angry Bird here as they fight to remain relevant in the suddenly crowded Eastern Division.
Pick: Montreal
Ottawa at Saskatchewan
In an effort to not give away the upcoming “Primer” that we do for every Saskatchewan game we won’t get too detailed in this.  I will caution everyone that this is a SOLID RedBlacks team that is coming into Mosaic on Saturday.  The alarming thing about the RedBlacks isn’t just how well Henry Burris is STILL playing at 41 years of age, or his lethal group of receivers, but how well they’re beginning to use Jeremiah Johnson.  He’s amassed 7 TDs in the last 3 games for crying out loud.
Johnson does a number of things well.  He can block for the QB, catches well, and is a very polished runner.  The RedBlacks are clearly gaining more confidence with him every game and if not held in check by guys like Brackenridge and Harris, the Riders could end up on the wrong side of this one.
Getting Kevin Glenn back is a welcome breath of fresh air for the Saskatchewan attack, and they’ll be put to task by a defense that sits 2nd overall in the CFL, and is extra stingy against the run.  What the Riders cannot afford to have happen, is to fall behind early, like the first match-up in Ottawa.  The last thing the Green and White wants is a QB that’s coming off a freshly rehabbed upper body injury having to air the ball out every snap.
I’m not saying that Ottawa is going to come in here and put a whooping on the Riders.  What I am saying is that people need to respect the RedBlacks and understand that this is a team that is playing together and with a lot of confidence.  I’ll be completely honest here, Mosaic Stadium is a tough place to play in, but being loud and boisterous isn’t good enough.  This game is going to take a monster effort from all 3 phases of the Roughriders in order to come out on top.
I’ll take the RedBlacks strictly out of the respect I know that the players have for that team.  The Riders made the first step towards winning by starting Glenn.  Hopefully they can rally around that and get the W in front of Ridernation.
Pick: Ottawa with the hope that I am very very wrong!

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