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

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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 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!

Week 1 Recap

That was one of the most bizarre weeks of CFL football that I can recall in some time.

And I’ve watched A LOT of football.

As such, on Saturday night, I just about printed out all of my season previews for the sole purpose of BURNING THEM.

But I didn’t. We’re only one game in, and there’s a lot that can happen over the course of a CFL game, let alone a season.

And in that vein, let’s have a moment of silence for the loss of Darian Durant for the season…

done

What devastating news. We wish Darian and Doug, the name I’ve randomly given to his Achilles, all the best in their recovery.

Rider fans, including the writer, are likely still in a state of disbelief this morning. Coach Chamblin swore at a reporter at the post-game news conference. And the team took a number of hits besides the season-ending injury to Durant that will create major ratio issues. The Riders’ depth is going to be tested early, and it won’t be pretty.

I think I may cry.

And I may need to write a new preview. It may be cathartic.

However, we must move forward, although I admit that my enthusiasm for this CFL season has been significantly dampened by what transpired at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday night.

I was a dismal 1-3 with my predictions this week.  Here’s a recap of the weekend’s games:
  • The RODBLACKS surprised everyone by beating Les Alouettes, although let’s be honest – the Als losing both of their QBS – namely Goldilocks Crompton and Fever LeFevour – was a boon for the RODBLACKS. The Als will need to find two QB quick. Does Tino Sunseri get a call?
  • The Kitty Cats nearly did the improbable, beating the Stumps at home. But terrible play calling in the waning minutes of the game allowed the Stumps to kick a 50 yard field goal for the win. Ugh.
  • What the…?? The Arblows absolutely LIT. UP. the Schmoes’ defence for 400+ yards of offence en route to a 26-11 win. No Name Harris threw for over 300 yards and the Schmoes lost Broke Pierce Jr. (Mike Reilly) for a significant amount of time. Major injuries to both the Schmoes’ QB and RB spell trouble.
  • I do not recall the last time I saw such a pathetic display of tackling by the Riders. The Riders made the Bumblers look like Ricky Ray and Charles Roberts in their prime. And I also swore Richie Hall was back with those 10 yard cushions the defence gave to the Bumblers’ receivers.  Major injuries to DD, as mentioned above, and starting Canadians Nic Demski and Shea Emry (both possibly 6-gamed) put the Riders in a whole heap of trouble. Watch for an airlift of QBs and more Canadian players this week.

Week 1 Preview

Today is THE DAY – the day I wait for all year (please don’t judge me).

kickoff

It’s the first day of the 2015 CFL season! 

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YEEEEEEEEEEEAHHHHHHHHHHH!

This week’s games are as follows:

week 1

The odds-on-favourite?  Montreal by 8 (I kid you not).

Finally, here’s a brief preview* of this week’s games:

*These previews and predictions are only provided for entertainment purposes and are not based on anything other than the writer’s opinion.  Therefore, the writer is not liable for any losses incurred as a result of any person relying on said previews and predictions for their own use.  Any person who relies on these previews and predictions does so at their own risk.

  • The CFL couldn’t have picked a worse game to open up the season with, as the Als and the RODBLACKS will likely be among the CFL’s bottom feeders this season. Nevertheless, I will be watching. While both teams have serious offensive challenges, Montreal has a defence, while Ottawa just has 12 guys standing around the field at any given time. Prediction: Montreal by 5.
  • It’s a Grey Cup rematch as the Kitty Cats look to avenge their loss by taming the Stumps. Does winning a regular season game make up for ‎losing the Grey Cup? Heeeelllll, no. But that’s how this game is always billed. The Cats have some injury problems and thus far the Stumps haven’t showed any signs of a Grey Cup hangover. Prediction: Stumps by 7.
  • The Arblows open the season on the road at home to the Schmoes in Fort McMurray. Why yes, you did read that correctly! Due to the coldheartedness of ‎Rogers, the Arblows are being forced yet again this year to take their traveling circus out west in order to host a home game. Trevor Harris (who?) will start for the Arblows against the Schmoes’ top-notch defence. Good luck to the QB I’ve never heard of, even though he’s apparently been in the league for 3 years and has started a whole 3 games during that time, ’cause you might need it. Prediction: Schmoes by 18.
  • When’s the last time the Riders opened the season against the Bumblers? I haven’t a clue. Besides, who am I – Rob ‘overly reliant on similes’ Vanstone? Harsh but true. Anyway, the Riders take on the Bumblers without Weston Dressler and Tyron Brackenridge. While this isn’t the greatest news to start the season, it’s better that these two Rider gods rest up and not risk further injury. Besides – they’re only playing the Bumblers. Prediction: Riders by 12.