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Big week here! Lots of news to talk about! In the interest of brevity (and due to the fact that I’ve been busy with summer coursework currently), I’ll get right to things and jump in with the most obvious thing to kick off this week’s column.
- On Monday, Hamilton traded Johnny Manziel to Montreal in a blockbuster five-player deal. (Yes, those are a thing in the CFL. Shut up.) Manziel, along with offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice, headed to the Alouettes in exchange for speedy receiver Chris Williams, Canadian pass-rusher Jamaal Westerman, and the Alouettes’ 2020 and 2021 first-round picks. This is an extremely interesting trade – Hamilton gets better – and got a ton in return for a guy who hasn’t seen a regular-season down of action yet. With this move, Als GM Kavis Reed signals that he’s going all-in on Manziel as the team’s QB of the future… a bold move, for certain, but considering that he gave up a ton to get him, if A) Manziel completely flames out as a starter in Canada or B) heads back to the NFL once his contract expires at the end of 2019, well… that’s tough to stomach for Als fans, I’d bet. Regardless, this team NEEDS a quarterback, and the carousel of ineptitude and injuries that they’ve got going right now clearly isn’t getting the job done.
- In addition to the Manziel trade, Kavis Reed went to look for someone to replace Chris Williams, and traded a conditional 2019 8th-round draft pick for Adarius Bowman, who was underutilized in Winnipeg thus far this season. Bowman was a CFL All-Star from 2014 to 2016 in his time with Edmonton, and has cracked the thousand-yard mark four times in seven seasons in the CFL, including a career high 1761 yards on 120 catches in 2016. Bowman is 33 this year and is probably declining, but considering what Reed gave up to get him, this is an extremely worthwhile gamble for Montreal to take.
- Looking to shake things up on their roster, Toronto traded veteran pass rusher Shawn Lemon to the BC Lions in exchange for a player from their negotiation list. While Lemon has previously been an all-star in his career, racking up 23 sacks in 33 career games with the Argos and winning CFL East All-Star honours in 2016 and a Grey Cup in 2017, he’s had a slower start to the season this time around, with just one sack in five games thus far. BC represents a chance for him to rejuvenate his career and team up with Odell Willis, himself another strong pass-rusher.
- Andy Fantuz formally announced his retirement late last week; the Ti-Cats receiver played 12 seasons in Hamilton and Saskatchewan, and retires as one of the best Canadian receivers to ever play in the CFL, finishing fourth all-time amonst Canucks in receptions and 18th overall amongst all players. Fantuz also won the 2007 Grey Cup with the Roughriders and was both a CFL All-Star and the Most Outstanding Canadian in 2010. He also won the 2005 Hec Crighton Trophy as the top player in Canadian university football. Expect a nod from the CFL Hall of Fame in a few years – and congratulations on a fantastic career.
- To virtually nobody’s surprise, Edmonton did not offer Terrell Owens a contract after he triggered his ten-day window last week, electing instead to drop him from their negotiation list instead. I’d like to say that it seems likely T.O. will ride off quietly into the night… but this is T.O. we’re talking about, after all…
Onto the games!
WEEK 6 RECAPS
Saskatchewan 31 vs. Hamilton 20: Guess Chris Jones finally listened to my message of “stop doing stupid shit”, because it paid off for the Riders this week, who earned their second win of 2018 over the Tiger-Cats. After a slow start on offense with Brandon Bridge under centre, David Watford only managed a two-and-out in the Riders’ second series of the game. Bridge would get the ball back in Saskatchewan’s third series, and stayed in for the rest of the game – a wise decision, and one that ultimately paid off, as he finished with a pedestrian stat line of 17-22 for 165 yards and a TD, but Saskatchewan picked up the win. This was, in truthfulness, a game where special teams shone for both sides; Frankie Williams scored a 98-yard punt return TD for Hamilton, while Christion Jones had a 61-yarder TD of his own. Also cool was RB Marcus Thigpen getting a single carry for Saskatchewan for the entire game… and scoring an 80-yard touchdown with his one touch. Jeremiah Masoli also fell short of setting a new CFL record of most consecutive games passing for over 300 yards; he finished his night 20-28 for 184 yards and an interception. Still, nine straight games of 300-plus-yards passing ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.
BC 25 vs. Ottawa 29: Down by three late in the game, the REDBLACKS pulled out the win thanks to William Powell getting tons of touches in the penultimate offensive series; he scored the winning TD for Ottawa after a 25-yard catch-and-run followed by a two-yard goal line punch-in. Add in a two-and-out by BC to close things out, and well, Ottawa is back over .500 for the first time in a loooong time. Since Week 14 of the 2016 season, actually. Travis Lulay had a strong game for the Lions, going 19-32 for 325 yards and two touchdowns (with Manny Arcenaux pacing receivers with 5 catches for 152 yards and a TD), and the defence played well for most of the game… but they couldn’t get a stop in when it mattered most. Trevor Harris also bounced back nicely from a very poor showing against Calgary last week, finishing 30-44 for 363 yards and a touchdown to Brad Sinopoli, who led the REDBLACKS with 11 receptions for 171 yards.
Winnipeg 38 vs. Toronto 20: A much better showing this week for the Blue Bombers after their poor play against the Lions in Week 5. Andrew Harris should really be in the conversation for MOP this year, as he’s averaged over 100 yards a game in rushing through the first third of Winnipeg’s schedule. Harris led the way with 161 yards rushing on 27 carries, while Matt Nichols also had a bounce-back game, going 19-27 for 245 yards and two touchdowns. The defence also shut down Toronto’s offence completely; this scoreline is quite misleading. Aside from a field goal and a ROUGE (WOOOOOOOO) by Ronnie Pfeffer, the Argos’ D scored all of the team’s points thanks to two forced fumbles that were returned for touchdowns. Toronto now drops to 1-4 on the year, and has an upward battle ahead of them to try and gain some ground on Ottawa and Hamilton; that said, there are a number of divisional matchups coming up shortly that may be their chance to turn the season around.
Montreal 8 vs. Calgary 25: After leaving last week’s game against the REDBLACKS with a knee injury, Bo Levi Mitchell returned this week to lead the Stamps to victory over the hapless Alouettes, and passed Doug Flutie on Calgary’s all-time passing yards leaders list. The ferocious defense also knocked around the Montreal offence, racking up two picks and a sack on the rotating quarterback carousel. Drew Willy got injured again, joining Jeff Mathews on that list, so Matthew Shiltz stepped in to finish the job. Eric Rogers continues to be a standout on Calgary’s offence, with the young receiver racking up nine catches for 113 yards and a touchdown to lead the way once again. Calgary’s defence continues to be tops in the CFL, conceding fewer than ten points a game. All in all, the outcome of this one was never really in doubt.
BYE: Edmonton (3-2)
WEEK 7 PREVIEWS
Edmonton (3-2) vs. Montreal (1-4), Thursday, July 26th, 7:30 PM EST: We may well see Johnny Manziel get his first taste of CFL regular-season action during tonight’s game… he may even start. In re-uniting with Mike Sherman, there’s a level of familiarity there with the general offensive playbook, and with a few days of practise under his belt, it’s possible that he could see a further extended look if the Alouettes fall behind early. At any rate, this game is an opportunity for both teams; for Montreal to see what they’ve got in their new QB and their bolstered offensive line, and the Eskimos will need a win to help keep pace with Calgary in the West Division. Montreal is just the opponent that they’ll need in order to try and claim second place outright.
Toronto (1-4) vs. Winnipeg (3-3), Friday, July 27th, 8:30 PM EST: In a re-match of last week’s game, Toronto had a pretty dismal showing on the offensive side of the ball. James Wilder, Jr. got basically shut down by the Bombers’ D, and James Franklin had very little to show for his passing work, either. The whole offense needs a re-grouping; not a complete re-tooling – yet – but more cohesion is essential. Despite the strong offensive showing by the Bombers, the two forced fumbles for touchdowns at least show that Toronto’s defense showed up to play… Winnipeg just needs to keep doing what they’re doing on offence in order to stay afloat in a competitive West Division: let Andrew Harris eat.
Ottawa (3-2) vs. Hamilton (2-3), Saturday, July 28th, 4:00 PM EST: This is a big divisional matchup, and it’s coming with the Ti-Cats making some big changes. Gone is Johnny Manziel, yes, but coming the other way is WR Chris Williams, who can be a serious playmaker when healthy, as well as DE Jamaal Westerman. Williams was a key player in the REDBLACKS’ 2015 season where they fell in the Grey Cup to Edmonton, and has cracked the 1000-yards mark four times in six seasons, including three times over 1200 yards. If he can get inserted into the offence to complement a strong corps of receivers, including Brandon Banks, Luke Tasker, Jalen Saunders and Terrence Tolliver, that will bode extremely well for Hamilton moving forward. Ottawa, meanwhile, does NOT want to relinquish its hold on the East right now, and after a better game against BC, they’re hoping they can keep the momentum going. William Powell has been a stud so far in 2018, and while Trevor Harris turned things around last week, he still needs to be more consistent, and some more connection with Greg Ellingson would be an extremely useful thing moving forward.
Calgary (5-0) vs. Saskatchewan (3-2), Saturday, July 28th, 9:00 PM EST: Stamps continue to roll, ho-hum, et cetera, the usual. Saskatchewan will have their hands full, ho-hum, et cetera, the usual… I feel like this has been something I’ve said before numerous times, but this remains the reality about both teams. If Chris Jones is serious about wanting to give the league’s best defence a challenge, he’ll move Duron Carter back to receiver and let him do his thing. I, personally, would also love to see him lean more on his three-headed monster of running backs in Jerome Messam, Marcus Thigpen and Tre Mason… Give me some old-school three-back sets out there, dammit! At any rate, even on the road, Calgary is a force.
BYE: BC (2-3)
STANDINGS AND STATS
East Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
West Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
- Reilly, EDM – 1648
- Masoli, HAM – 1562
- Mitchell, CGY – 1330
- Reilly, EDM – 9
- Mitchell, CGY – 9
- Harris, OTT – 6
- Harris, WPG – 610
- Jackson, CGY – 442
- Powell, OTT – 422
- Williams, EDM – 556
- Sinopoli, OTT – 470
- Walker, EDM – 386
- Hughes, SSK – 6
- Johnson, CGY – 4
- Willis, BC – 3
- Bighill, WPG – 2
- Smith, CGY – 2
- Murray, OTT – 2
- Ward, OTT – 13
- Hajrullahu, HAM – 13
- Lauther, SSK – 13
BEERGUYROB IS A FUCKING WITCH. SHIT.
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=148402
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||17||4-0||73.91%|
Enjoy the games, everyone.