2016 Week 4 Picks

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I can’t decide if BC QB Jonathon Jennings is telling a secret or if he’s getting a great big bear hug.  What do you think?

In my mind, Jennings is whispering, “Remember: Week 4 starts on WEDNESDAY this week!”

Ah, yes.  The wacky summer CFL schedule.  Once fall comes around, the CFL usually falls into is regular schedule of Friday, Saturday and Sunday games.  But during the summer, we usually get a weird week or two.

In the past, those weeks have usually been due to the Argos’ inability to get decent dates at Rogers Centre.  But now the Argos have moved and yet this is still apparently happening.

I really thought we were done with this silliness.

But who am I kidding?  This is the CFL!  One problem solved only means that another one is about to make an appearance.

So here are this week’s games:

week 4

Interestingly, home teams have only won THREE out of the twelve games played thus far this season.  The winning percentage by visiting teams early in 2016 is being called “unprecedented” by the league.

Here’s another unprecedented statistic: so far in 2016, teams have averaged only 166 rushing yards per game, which is the “lowest rushing total per game in CFL history”. Nearly 80% of yards gained by the league’s offences have come through the air.

So taking these statistics into account, let’s look at this week’s games.

OTTAWA AT TORONTO

I’m developing an irrational hatred for the REDBLACKS.

Maybe it’s because Henry Burris is associated with them.

Maybe it’s because this is only their third league in the season and they’ve already been to the Grey Cup.

Or maybe it’s because they’re getting a lot of press and I’m sick and tired of hearing about them.  You’d swear they were 16-2 or something.

Honestly, I think it’s a combination of all of those things.

There’s no question that the REDBLACKS’ offence is rolling over opposing defences right now.  WR Chris Williams is having a career year.  QB Trevor Harris is establishing himself as the REDBLACKS’ #1 QB.  (And yes, I used the #1 on purpose to allude to and troll Henry Burris.)

But the REDBLACKS’ defence isn’t in quite the same echelon as its offence.  Right now, the REDBLACKS’ defence is in the middle of the pack: not stellar, not horrible, but middling.  Luckily the firepower of its offence can offset its mediocre play.

K Chris Milo missed two field goals last week, including one that he knocked off the post. (I wish the CFL kept track of those, as I’m sure he’d have the lead among active kickers.) Had he made either of those field goals, the REDBLACKS would be 3-0 and not 2-0-1.

The Argos remain a bit of a mystery.  They looked rather pedestrian in their home opener, rolled over the Riders, and then stalled the Lions’ winning streak in Vancouver.  Neither their offence nor their defence has been all that remarkable, but they’re making plays when it matters: a timely interception here, a much-needed big play on offence here.

The Argos’ MVP thus far has been the Bombers’ goat from last season, Lirim Hajrullahu. He made 6 of 7 field goals last week at BC Place.  While that’s great for Lirim, it’s concerning that the Argos’ offence couldn’t complete drives.

While the match up on paper favours the REDBLACKS, the fact that they have no rushing game and they’re the visitors clinches it for me.

PREDICTION: Ottawa by 5

EDMONTON AT WINNIPEG

I would love nothing more than for the Bombers to win and knock that smile off Eskimos GM Ed Hervey’s face.

You know Ed’s been grinning from ear to ear after beating the Riders.  Especially after news broke that he refused to pay his staff for the last two weeks of their contracts and the Riders picked up the tab.

And Ed knows his Eskimos were lucky.  The Riders’ had that game in the bag and then gave it right back.

The Bombers were lucky last week, too.

See: Ryan Smith’s TD catch from last week, which we’ll watch again because I still think there’s an optical illusion there somewhere.

(It really is unfortunate, though, that Rod Black had to be the commentator for this catch.  I specifically chose a clip where you can’t hear him.)

There’s no doubt that the Bombers heaved a sigh of relief after sending their friend Owen packing with last week’s win in Hamilton.  The knives were out in Winnipeg, and you had the feeling that fans would be looking for changes.  Personally, I think the Bombers’ offence has potential and that its defence has under-performed thus far.  The Bombers’ defence let the Tiger-Cats back into a game they had no business being in given their six turnovers, and if not for yet another turnover, the Bombers might have lost.

You can tell that the Eskimo are still trying to find their way given the departure of Chris Jones.  Their defence doesn’t have the same shut down power as it had last year, while its offence, based on last week’s performance, is rounding into form.

Sorry, Bombers fans, but I don’t think you’re going to be happy on Thursday night.  Besides, Edmonton is visiting and doesn’t have much of a running game.  (Notice a trend??)

PREDICTION: Edmonton by 7

HAMILTON AT MONTREAL

Yes.  Not having to watch this game.

This is the ‘no one cares’ game of the week.

At least it is to me.

The Alouettes are already in ‘season-saving’ mode.  You know your team’s in trouble when it’s already putting all of its merchandise on sale a mere three weeks into the season.

The Alouettes’ offence has taken a severe hit over the last couple of weeks, with WR SJ Green placed on the next season list, RB Tyrell Sutton and WR Kenny Stafford both going on the 6 game injured list, and WR Duron Carter creating all kinds of distraction by appealing his suspension.

(BTW, CFL appeals take weeks, and are generally always successful, so expect Carter to play this week and every week thereafter.)

But the Alouettes’ saving grace, just as last season, is its defence.  The question is whether Kevin Glenn can manage to put up enough points and give his defence enough of a breather to win.

Every team across the league must be looking at the Tiger-Cats and going, “WTH?”

After completely dominating the Argos in Week 1, the Ti-Cats have kind of fallen apart.

But the saviour is coming back.

Eventually.

Now Hamilton is my Achilles’ heel.  They ALWAYS screw me over every time I pick them. And I expect no different this week, which is why I’m going against all odds and picking the Alouettes.

In other words, this is probably the week that Hamilton will get it together.

PREDICTION: Montreal by 2

BC AT SASKATCHEWAN

I wish I could’ve summoned the strength to stay away last week, if only to see the Lions’ Wally bubble burst.

It really was getting insufferable there.

Lions QB Jonathon Jennings will look to get back in Wally’s good graces this week after being pulled in the game against the Argos.

BC has the league’s toughest defence, so this will be a good test for the Riders.

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Look at Jonesy’s face.  That is a DETERMINED face.

Jonesy is right.  And look – he got a haircut!

ANYWAY, the Riders face another tough test with the Lions coming to town.  I’d like to think they learned from their mistakes, i.e. defensive breakdowns, practiced 3rd and 1 scenarios all week long, and reminded themselves everyday that they came within inches of beating the defending Grey Cup champs last week.

Besides, you know who knows all about devastating losses?  That guy above.  It’ll be up to Darian to lead the team on to the field on Saturday night and help his teammates move on from last week.

The Lions’ offence certainly hasn’t put up a lot of points through the first three weeks, but its defence has been stellar.  While the Lions do have a number of weapons on offence, IMHO, none have the game-changing ability that say Derrell Walker or Adarius Bowman of the Eskimos do.

As such, I think the key match up is the Rider offence versus the Lions’ defence.

Through two games, Darian Durant has looked like the elite QB I knew he was all along. He’s been making good decisions, minus that one near-interception on the first possession of the Argos game, and has distributed the ball well.  He’ll need to rely on his receivers to make plays again this week, and for the love of all things Green and White, I hope he’s practiced his QB sneak.

I think this will be a close game, but that the Riders will prevail and get their first win of the season.

PREDICTION: Saskatchewan by 4

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