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 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.

Week 3 Preview

If you are a Western Canadian, there is no doubt that you have made fun of Eastern Canada at some point.

If you haven’t, you’re clearly lying.

We all make fun of Toronto and its self-importance. When we think of Ottawa, we think of politicians and wasting money – not all that unlike how the city has managed to lose its football franchise twice at the expense of its fan base.

And everyone, including those who live there, wonders why anyone would voluntarily choose to live ‎in Hamilton.

We Westerners have thumbed our noses at Eastern Canada since time immemorial; it’s part of our birthright. And we have made fun of their feeble football teams for years.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Arblows and Kitty Cats were propped up by the league (although it was mostly the Western teams and David Braley propping them up because they were the ones that had money). And who knows when Ottawa will need saving again.

The Eastern football teams have generally sucked for the last decade, except for the Alouettes and a blip now and then by the Arblows. ‎The Kitty Cats were a complete joke, and the Bumblers were only there because neither division really wanted them. Plus, they fit in with the East’s losing ways.

east dudes

These days, though – and I admit that it is very early days yet – the East is becoming a more stable, exciting division with young QBs (minus Henry Booris), new stadiums and growing fan bases.

The proof? Last week, Eastern teams went 4-0 over their Western counterparts; ‎overall, the East is 5-1 against the West. If this continues, the balance of power in the CFL may shift East, and I have to admit that such a shift would likely benefit the league as a whole.

Regardless, it’s nice to have some parity in the CFL again.

‎Here’s a reminder of this week’s games:

week 3

And here are my thoughts on this week’s games:

  • OTTAWA @ EDMONTON: Normally, I would pick the Schmoes no matter what. But the RODBLACKS are 2-0, and the Schmoes haven’t won a game yet. The Schmoes will be without QB Broke Pierce Jr, (Mike Reilly)‎ for at least 10 weeks, if not the season, and they’d previously lost their starting running back. The Schmoes’ defence was also shredded by the Arblows in Week 1. But there is one important factor that should be taken into account: the Schmoes had a bye last week and have had ample time to prepare. Matty Ice (the Schmoes’ backup QB, Matt Nichols – nickname not mine) will have the reins and he should be all practiced up. Prediction: Edmonton by 5
  • MONTREAL @ WINNIPEG: Is The Rookie (Rakeem Cato) a one-game wonder? Is Free (Drew) Willy truly healthy enough to play? Like most games, this one comes down to the QBs. The Bumblers’ defence has had a rough start to the year, while Montreal’s stifled the Stumps in surprising fashion last week. Then again, Montreal looked très terrible in its opening game, and the Bumblers looked rather promising. Therefore, I declare that this game is a toss up. While my head is telling me that Montreal will win, my gut says that the Bumblers will finally win one at home this year. Prediction: Winnipeg by 3
  • SK @ BC: This is another tough game to pick. Both teams are winless. Both teams have strong receiving cores. Both teams have solid QBs. The main matchups, though, are on defence. Can the Riders’ secondary shut down Emmanuel Arcenaux et al? Can the Lions’ linebackers render Jerome Messam ineffective and stop the Riders’ passing game? All eyes will be on The Lion King (a Rod Black-ism), Solomon Elimimian, as he comes off an MOP season. This game might come down to which team is more desperate for a win, and right now I’d say it’s the Riders. Prediction: Riders by 4
  • TORONTO @ CALGARY: You’ve gotta think the Stumps are one ticked off team that will be more than ready to play on Monday after getting outplayed, outmanned and outgunned by the Als last week. The Arblows, on the other hand, have managed to win both of their games so far this season – and both were road games. The Arblows’ totally awesome and unnecessary road trip (sponsored by the ogres at ROGERS) continues this week, and you have to think that a third week on the road might make the team start to show a bit of wear and tear. Then again, the team might be motived by that whole ‘us against the world’ thing. Still, I think the Stumps will feel that they have something to prove after last week’s debacle. Prediction: Calgary by 7

Week 2 Recap

What the…??

wow

 

My thoughts exactly, kid.  What is going on in the CFL??

Let’s take a quick look at all of the things I have been so very wrong about thus far this CFL season:

  • The Arblows and Alouettes, have not been the doormats I thought they would be. 
  • The RODBLACKS are undefeated thus far, which I would have bet my ENTIRE YEAR’S SALARY against. 
  • The Schmoes’ defence has looked terrible, instead of the dominating force I predicted. 
  • The Stumps looked shellshocked in their game against Montreal, and lost to a rookie QB who was on the practice roster the week before.
  • Trevor (No Name) Harris has been stellar, as have the Arblows in general. 
  • Bovine Mitchell has started one-hopping throws, which is just weird – but also wonderful. 
  • Darian Durant is hurt AGAIN.
  • The Riders’ leading receiver is some guy named Ryan Smith – aka Dressler 2.0.  (See his amazing 4th quarter catch here.)
  • The Riders’ defence sucks.  

And so on and so forth…

But that’s what makes the CFL the unique league it is – no lead is safe, and you should always expect the unexpected. 

I was 2-2 with my picks this past week, one of which had the Riders losing. (I was kind of hoping to be wrong about that one.)

Here’s a recap of the weekend’s games: 

  • The football gods continue to be unkind to QBs as Free (Drew) Willy went down while the ‎Bumblers hosted the Tiger Cats. What started out as a tight contest turned into a shellacking as the Kitty Cats scored more than 30 points in the first half. Remember when I said that the Bumblers’ defence really didn’t look that good last week? The ‘Cats proved me right (for once this season).  Final score: Kitty Cats 52, Bumblers 26.  
  • What the h-e-double hockey sticks happened on Thursday night in Montreal to make the Stumps look like actual stumps on Friday? Bovine Mitchell missed tons of throws, the Stumps’ defence was porous and made The Rookie (Rakeem Cato in a stunning debut) look like Ricky Ray in his prime. Don’t get me wrong – I’m mostly happy with the outcome, because it keeps the Stumps with the rest of the pack in the West Division, but for the sake of my football pool, well – it kind of sucksFinal score: Les Alouettes 29, Stumps 11.  
  • Well lookee here – we’ve got ourselves a real football team! The RODBLACKS put together another solid effort by beating the Leos at home by a score of 27-16. Most impressive, though, was the RODBLACKS’ comeback when down in the 4th ‎quarter. I’m not convinced they’ll be able to keep us this calibre of play all season, but they’re definitely not a free space on the bingo card these days. As for BC? Le Grand Orange made it through the entire game. That is promising. Final score: RODBLACKS 27, Cowardly Lions 16.
  • I cannot believe I’m about to say this, but BRING RICHIE HALL AND HIS 10 YARD CUSHIONS BACK. At least his defence ‎had some modicum of a pass rush. Rushing 3 linemen and yet allowing opposing receivers to be wide open when there are 9 other defenders in the backfield is simply inexcusable. Yes KG threw an ill-timed interception – but he led the team down the field for a go-ahead TD and to two TDs in overtime. Coach: When your QB throws for nearly 500 yards and your offence puts up 40 points and yet you blame the offence for the loss because it left points on the field, I have to question whether or not you were actually watching the game. John Chick was nowhere to be found today. That’s a symptom of a much bigger problem, which is that this defence has no teeth. Or, to use a more sports-appropriate metaphor, balls.  Final score: Arblows 42, Riders 40.  

A full breakdown and analysis of the Rider game will be posted tomorrow.  Have a great Monday!