2016 CFL Season Preview: Part 3 of 4 – West Division

west_preview

It still irritates me that the Blue Bombers are in the West Division.

But that really has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

We’re here to discuss what should be a great race in the CFL’s West Division this year.  The Division’s bottom three teams last year, i.e. Winnipeg, B.C. and Saskatchewan, have all made moves that *should* make them more competitive, setting the stage for what could be an excellent playoff spot battle after Labour Day.

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2016 CFL Season Preview: Part 2 of 4 – East Division

east_preview

For many years, the CFL’s East Division was often referred to as the LEAST Division – especially by yours truly.

But the 2015 season proved to be a season where the word ‘parity’ was tossed around a lot. And for good reason.  Three of the East Division’s four teams finished with better records than three of the West Division’s five teams.  The REDBLACKS had 12 wins, while the Argos and Ti-Cats had 10 wins a piece.  In comparison, only Edmonton and Calgary managed to amass more than 10 wins in 2015.

Weird.  VERY weird.

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Week 5 Recap

ofer

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Owen.

Owen who?

0 and 5.

Needless to say, I QUIT.

(Figuratively speaking, of course.)

Not only did I go 1-3 this week, but my beloved Riders are a winless 0-5 and will likely be 0-7 after the next couple of games.It’s so frustrating to watch these Riders. The offence is playing quite well – yesterday aside – but the defence continues to absolutely SUCK.

I counted one Hamilton punt yesterday. One. Hamilton basically scored on nearly every offensive possession. And on three consecutive plays, the Ti Cats ran to the same side of the defence and three times they got big gains.

Yet the Riders were still in it going into the 4th quarter.

Then Kevin Glenn went down, the Riders couldn’t stop the Ti-Cats from marching down the field, and you knew the game was lost.

Is this as bad as 2011? ‘Cause it sure feels like this team has been Greg Marshall-ed.

And here’s a recap of this weekend’s games:

  • I have no idea what to make of these RODBLACKS.  One week they look like worldbeaters, and the next week they look like they’re a junior football team. Jon Cornhole broke his thumb, which means he won’t be able to suck his thumb when he’s having a temper tantrum.  It also means he’ll have to sit out for 6-8 weeks.  No doubt he will be pouting about how he won’t be the rushing king of the CFL this year, nor the Outstanding Canadian.  Boo freaking hoo.  The RODBLACKS finally got their passing game going, and now have a 3-2 record.  I don’t understand what’s happening in this league this year.
  • This game featured what may go down as the comeback of the year.  The Arblows were down 21-0, and yet they managed to not only erase that deficit but win the game.  The Next One (Trevor Harris) appears to be the real deal, which means the Arblows have an interesting situation on their hands: do you stick with The Next One or stay with The Current One (Ricky Ray)?  Or, do you trade one of them?  Hmmm…  (I can see Brendan Taman sitting in his office right now, figuring out which Canadian draft picks he should give away in a trade.)
  • This game was a sloppy mess as the rain poured and got sloppier as the mistakes piled up.  (Did I not say that there would be fumbles/mistakes galore?) When Free (Drew) Willy got hurt early in the second half and went down, so did the Bumblers’ hopes of winning that game.  As for the Schmoes, I still maintain that they’re not as good as their record indicates.  And MATTY ICE got benched in favour of James Franklin.  He’s really not that great of a QB.
  • Where do you even start with the Riders?  Sad Sack Collaros picked their defence apart, CJ Gable ran all ober the middle, and the Ti-Cats won the battle between the league’s best offence and the league’s best defence.  I feel badly for Kevin Glenn, who’d been playing so well up until yesterday.  You could tell something wasn’t quite right given the amount of passes he missed.  So who starts on Friday: Brett Smith or Tino Sunseri?  Oh wow.  I think I might skip watching that game…

Week 5 Previews

Over the last week or so – basically since the CFL released those penalty infographics and everyone went nuts, a lot has been written about the CFL’s prospects.  Some of these rants, like Jack Todd’s over-the-top column(that stole my flag reference) or this Rider fan’s open letter to the CFL, are heralding the new rules as the beginning of the end of the CFL.  Others, like Glen Suitor, think the CFL will be all the better after the transition,not unlike the NHL after it clamped down on clutching and grabbing (personally, I still prefer a bigger ice surface, World or Olympic-style).

While I’m not much of a fan of the new rules, I have to admit that they’re not as distracting as I first thought they would be.  However, for the casual CFL fan, they could be a big problem.

The issue is that NONE of the rules – not even the old ones – are being correctly applied on a consistent basis.  CFL Command Centre seems to make up new interpretations every week. Case in point: Last weekend, Rider DB Michael Carter was flagged for “illegal contact that became pass interference”.  First of all: what the h-e-double hockey sticks does that even mean?  Glen Suitor’s explanation that it became pass interference once the ball was thrown has some merit, but based on the replays, the ball was clearly thrown before the contact took place.  Second: the receiver started it.  Now this may sound rather childish, but the new illegal contact rule is supposed to cut both ways.  Third: the contact was minimal.  My concern when the new rules were announced is that even if a DB grazed a receiver, a flag would be thrown.  This play has not assuaged my fears.  For the most part, I do think the referees have been doing a somewhat decent job with the new rules, but in this instance, they got it completely wrong.  The fact that CFL Command Centre upheld the call was ludicrous.

Suffice it to say that the quality of the officiating in the CFL has a long way to go before it gets to the level it needs to be.

Here are this week’s games:

Week 5

And here’s a preview of this week’s games:

  • This game is likely going to be the second shellacking the RODBLACKS will take this year.  The first?  By the Schmoes.  I still can’t believe MATTY ICE beat them that handily two weeks ago.  Anyway, Jon Cornhole appears to be getting his game back after a slow start, but the Stumps still have a ways to go before they even begin to resemble the team that basically steamrolled its way to the Grey Cup last year.  The RODBLACKS pretty much gave away last week’s game, so they’ll have to play their absolute best (which ain’t all that great) in order to be able to even try to keep up with the likes of the Stumps.  Prediction: Stumps by 18
  • The Arblows had last week off, but that likely won’t matter a lot because almost anytime an Eastern Division team travels west, they lose.  Even the mighty mighty Alouettes of the Anthony Calvillo era couldn’t win in BC (although there was that one time where they actually did, but Murray Clark – whom I just realized is no longer a CFL referee [interesting] – whistled the play dead.  That was a problem).  The Next One (Trevor Harris) may be good, but I don’t think he can overcome the time difference.  The Lions did not play all that well last week, but they managed to eke out a win on the road.  Playing at home on dry turf should be a piece of cake compared to last week’s soggy mess that was Taylor Field.  Prediction: Lions by 5
  • Oh, Bumblers.  How I enjoyed watching you bumble your way to a loss last week.  This game is going to come down to which team makes the least amount of mistakes.  Or which team takes the most advantage of the other team’s mistakes.  And given how these teams have played over the last couple of weeks, there will be LOTS of mistakes.  I think MATTY ICE will throw 2 interceptions, and the Bumblers will fumble once and Free (Drew) Willy will throw one interception. Prediction: Schmoes by 3
  • About this week’s game, which we’re attending, my Mama says: “Maybe we’ll actually see the Riders win a game this year!”  Yes, Mama, that would be nice! Coach Chamblin has been surprisingly quiet, especially given last week’s theatrics.  Seems that a loss took a bit of the wind out of his sails.  The Riders continue to be ravaged by injuries, although the Kitty Cats haven’t exactly had it all that easy on the injury front, either.  Hamilton is a bit of an unknown quantity this year; I thought they’d be stronger out of the gate, but they’ve definitely stumbled.  I also thought that Hamilton won a lot at Taylor Field.  I was clearly very wrong.  The Riders’ record against the Kitty Cats as of late has been pretty good, and for some unknown reason, I expect that to continue on Sunday. Prediction: Riders by 8

Week 4 Recap

everyone

So I was driving on Friday, making my way down the Trans-Canada, about 11 hours into a 12 hour trip and I was only partly listening to the Rider game, but from what I heard, it was so bad that all I could do was laugh.

When I got to our destination, I watched the rest of the gong show.

Needless to say, the game was sooooooo disappointing.

Where is the leadership on this team? Where is the pride? Where is the frustration? I’d love to hear the players express some anger. Instead, they seem to be so passive – almost like they’re resigned to losing.

It’s gonna be a long, looooooong, loooooooooooooooooooooooooong season…

The good news?  I was a ‎perfect 4-4 with my picks this week. It only took my 4 weeks to figure things out.  Here’s a quick recap:

  • ‎I NAILED this prediction right down to the point spread.   GO ME. Anyway, Hamilton did what it usually does – it failed to win a winnable game. Did you really expect anything less?
  • Coulda, woulda, shoulda – the RODBLACKS had this one within reach, but ill-timed fumbles and other negative plays allowed MATTY ICE and his 3 interceptions to look far better than was deserved.
  • Le Grand Orange repeatedly ran over the Riders. What did I say in my preview?? Oh, that’s right: “So let’s put it this way: if the Lions start running the ball, the Riders are going to have even more problems.”  Enough said.
  • If you at all wondered why we call those Blue and Gold the “Bumblers,” this game showed you why as a blocked punt returned for a TD, an interception, and a strategic error on a return basically handed the Stumps another win. FUN FACTS: The Stumps have won their 3 games by a combined 7 points.  In comparison, the Wretched Riders have lost their 4 games by a combined 12 points.

Week 4 Preview

Dear CFL:

If you have to create infographics of penalties, you obviously:

a) think you have a problem; and

b) want to make it clear that you’re not the source of the problem.

Needless to say, we all have yelled ‘C’MON REF!‘ at some point early on in this season.

Personally, I have been rather frustrated with the amount of penalty flags I see each and every game.

And I’m faaaaaaaaaaaar from the only one.

So, in response to those who think that the referees have been abusing their penalty powers, the CFL released these infographics yesterday:

penaltiespenalties2

(You know, these infographics might be the most professional material the CFL has ever put out.)

My first question in looking at these infographics is since when do we refer to penalties as fouls?

My second question is: aren’t roughness fouls also preventable fouls?  I would think that shoving a guy after the whistle is somewhat preventable.

My third question is what is a technical foul? And really, aren’t all fouls predictable and therefore preventable in some way?  If a kicker kicks a kickoff (heh) out of bounds, it may be more of a technical foul because there isn’t any roughness involved, and it’s not as if the kicker wanted the ball to go out of bounds.  But couldn’t it have been prevented had the kicker kicked the ball better?  Maybe he should’ve squib kicked it if there’s a substantial wind…

ANYWAY…

The CFL’s argument is that nearly 60% of the penalty flags that have been thrown thus far this season didn’t need to be thrown.  And of those, only a small fraction have anything to do with the new rules.

While I would agree with this in part, the fact is that more penalties are being called in general according to someone who has a lot more time on their hands than me. It’ll be interesting to watch how this analysis changes as the season goes on.

Regardless, the CFL and its players need to figure out how to deal with the epidemic of penalty flags, because nobody has enjoyed watching these flag fests over the past couple of weeks – not even ME.

Here are this week’s games:

Week 4

And here are your previews:

  • The Kitty Cats come off a bye week where they said BUH BYE to running back Nic Grigsby ($10 says he ends up with the Riders by Labour Day).  The Als are smarting a bit after losing a close game to those awful Blue Bumblers.  While the Cats are a better team on paper and also have game-breaker Brandon Banks (hmmm…he needs a nickname), the Als are rather formidable when they’re playing at home.  So…I’m going to go out on a limb and say Montreal wins this one. Prediction: Montreal by 4
  • I can’t believe the spread in this game is only 3.5 points – especially after the Schmoes shredded the RODBLACKS last week.  I think this is the week where we actually find out if the RODBLACKS are, as they say, ‘for real’ (I hate that phrase), or if they’re the scout team I think they are.  I still don’t think that MATTY ICE (Matt Nichols) is a good QB.  Must I link to the most hilarious interception you may ever see to prove my point?  Okay.  I will.  The Schmoes’ defensive was back in gear last week, but I expect the RODBLACKS to come out with a bit more fire since they’re playing at home.  Nevertheless, the Schmoes will still win this game.  Prediction: Edmonton by 12
  • What can I tell you about this game that you don’t already know?  I can tell you that Weldon Brown won’t be suiting up for the Riders again this season.  And I can tell you that this spells trouble.  Up until he had to leave last week’s game due to injury, he had pretty much shut down Emmanuel Arceneaux.  I fear the same won’t occur this week.  For some reason the Lions don’t run the ball much, which I always think is a mistake because Andrew Harris is a goooood running back.  So let’s put it this way: if the Lions start running the ball, the Riders are going to have even more problems.  The Riders are desperate to win at home and keep the boo birds at bay.  Therefore, I think they Riders will play ‘not to lose’ instead of ‘to win,’ and that never works out well.  Prediction: BC by 6
  • The Stumps have juuuuuuuuuuuust been getting by the last couple of weeks.  A one point win over the Kitty Cats and a five point win over the Arblows doesn’t exactly scream ‘COMMANDING’.  Maybe it’s still a bit of a Grey Cup hangover, but they’re just not all that sharp.  Lucky for them, though, they get to play the Bumblers.  The Bumblers have shown that their defence will make teams pay for their mistakes, so if the Stumps’ offence can keep from turning over the ball, the Stumps should cruise to a win.  Plus, I just don’t think that Free (Drew) Willy will be able to put up enough offence to keep pace with the Stumps. Prediction: Calgary by 10

Week 3 Recap

This was me on Friday night…

OMG

Except with a few expletives thrown in (and a few things that were actually thrown.)

But do not fear Rider fans, as history may be on our side!

For example, in 2011, the BC Lions went 0-5 to start the season, but still ended up winning the Grey Cup.

(Of course their first win was against the RIDERS for a 1-6 record after 7 weeks.  And of course I was at that game.)

Here are some further spooky similarities:

  • BC lost its first game in 2011 by 4 points.
  • Saskatchewan lost its first game in 2015 by 4 points.
  • BC lost its second game in 2011 by 2 points.
  • Saskatchewan lost its second game in 2015 by 2 points.

And then there’s this: the score in BC’s first game in 2011 (30-26) was identical to the score in Saskatchewan’s first game in 2015.

MIND. BLOWN.

Anyway, I was a better than average 3-1 in my predictions this week.  And I was about 40 seconds away from going 4-0.  *Sigh*  On that note, let’s recap the week that was in the CFL.

  • Apparently I spoke too soon last week.  The RODBLACKS looked more the training camp team I thought they were on Thursday night.  Henry Booris was absolutely terrible.  It was fun to watch.  But I have to question why the commentators called it ‘The Matt Nichols Show’.  First of all, it should be the MATTY ICE SHOW, as that is his team nickname.  Second, if he’s going to have his own show, his goatee absolutely needs to go.  Third, does a QB who flips the ball to a defensive lineman really deserve his own show?  If so, I think his impromptu pass to Zach Evans should be the first clip. Regardless, I think it was more a case of the RODBLACKS imploding and taking far too many penalties than the Schmoes’ offence actually dominating.
  • Oh, Bumblers.  I so despise you.  This was yet another case of where it looks like the winning team put up more of a fight than it actually did.  Those Bumblers were lucky, I tell you, as without a blocked punt returned for a TD, they would’ve put another game in the loss column.  While The Rookie (Rakeem Cato) did not have as good of a second game as his debut, he bounced back from his mistakes and showed a lot of resilience by bringing the Als within two points of a win.
  • Do I even need to tell you what happened when the Riders visited the Lions’ Den on Friday night??  Fine.  I will.  The Riders’ offence started out strong, but struggled later on in the game.  The defence yet again gave up big points when the game was on the line.  Both offence and defence took aggravating penalties.  It other words, it was deja vu (BUT NOT DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN, CHRIS CUTHBERT.  ‘All over again’ is redundant).
  • I have immensely enjoyed watching the Stumps stumble out of the gate this season.  I also really enjoy watching Jon Cornhole get stuffed at the line of scrimmage play after play.  And what do I love more?  Watching Jon Cornhole fumble.  This game delivered on both points.  Alas, the Stumps somehow managed to get by the Arblows, who shot themselves in the foot multiple times throughout the game.  Again, both teams took far too many penalties.  All teams need to be more disciplined, because no one is enjoying watching these flag-fests.