We’re now approaching the halfway mark of the CFL regular season! With 21 weeks in all thanks to an added third bye week for all teams, the real halfway mark falls somewhere around… uh… next Tuesday or something. I dunno. Close enough. Suffice it to say that since this is the CFL, weird stuff always happens in the second half of the season. Will we get to see a franchise announced for Atlantic Canada? Will the Calgary Stampeders lose a game? Will people remember in Montreal that the Habs’ prospects don’t look much better than the Alouettes’ this season? So many questions… and so much time to figure it out.
In league news this week:
- In a surprising but also not entirely surprising move, Duron Carter was released on Saturday night by the Saskatchewan Roughriders due to lack of a culture fit; as of writing this, he hasn’t signed anywhere else yet. This is the third time in his career this has happened; after washing out with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015 and the Montreal Alouettes in 2016, there’s a noticeable trend happening… incredible athletic talent, but the work ethic to go along with his natural abilities and ability to be a team player isn’t always readily apparent. Further complicating matters are the salary rules bargained into the league’s CBA; as a veteran player, if he’s on a CFL roster past week 10 of this season, his full salary – roughly about $130,000 CAD – has to be guaranteed by that team, and will count in full against the $5.2 million salary cap. Hard to say if a team would be willing to take a gamble on him at the current rate he would be making in 2018.
- To replace Carter, the Riders signed veteran slotback and longtime Rider Robb Bagg; he was cut at the end of 2018 training camp along with Bakari Grant and a few other veterans, but his experience in the CFL and ability to help both in the locker room and with the national-international player ratios will hopefully come in handy for Saskatchewan moving forward. The team definitely needs a shakeup – but Bagg is a positive addition, in my opinion.
- Four days after he was absolutely drilled on the goal line in a game against Ottawa, Johnny Manziel was placed in the concussion protocol after symptoms continued to linger. This is concerning, on a number of levels; if Manziel had concussion symptoms, why was he allowed back on the field and permitted to finish the game for Montreal? And not only that, why did it take for him missing two days of practise for the team to finally admit to the fact that he wasn’t perfectly healthy? For a league that has, at times, prided itself on being supposedly “progressive” towards dealing with head injuries, this is not a good look towards both the league’s independent concussion spotters, as well as the Montreal Alouettes’ medical staff, who cleared him to return to play. For a team that’s had the injuries they’ve had this season, particularly at QB, something should change. Will it? I’m doubtful.
Onto the games!
WEEK 9 RECAPS
Edmonton 23 vs. BC 31: A surprising end result here; the Lions were down 20-10 at halftime, and had a lot of issues moving the ball downfield through the first 30 minutes – they had a field goal and a 79-yard punt return TD by Chris Rainey. After a reset, the defence balled out, limiting the Eskimos to just three points in the second half, while the offence managed to get it together and claw their way back into it. Mike Reilly threw for over 300 yards and a couple touchdowns once again, but two interceptions was also uncharacteristic of last year’s Most Outstanding Player. BC did well to get Reilly under pressure; their ability to get to him created turnovers that they capitalized on well.
Hamilton 23 vs. Winnipeg 29: The Andrew Harris show was on full display once again last week, as he once again led the Blue Bombers in both rushing and receiving yards, racking up 128 total yards and a touchdown. Matt Nichols also had another tidy evening of work, as he went 13-24 for 180 yards and 2 TDs through the air. The Ti-Cats, who have now lost four of their last five games, did manage to strike first, but they were behind the 8-ball all night after Winnipeg got their first possession of the game, and a late comeback attempt was marred by two costly penalties that prevented them from overcoming a 16-point lead. Jeremiah Masoli had a good night – normally his performance is indicative of the team’s as a whole – and he went 17-27 for 251 yards and a TD through the air and racked up 80 rushing yards on 7 carries as well… but unfortunately, even with Brandon Banks having a good night with 106 receiving yards and a TD, Masoli ultimately didn’t have enough team support to pull out the win.
Montreal 17 vs. Ottawa 24: Talk about a weird game. Trevor Harris threw for 487 yards and William Powell ran for 104; the REDBLACKS, in all, cracked the 600 yards gained mark on offense… and yet they barely beat the worst team in the CFL. It was the turnovers, really, that burned them. Despite racking up 51(!!!) first downs, the five turnovers – an interception and four lost fumbles – really made things much more difficult than necessary for Ottawa. Montreal’s offence had a much, much improved outing from last week; with more practise time under his belt, Johnny Manziel looked much more like his usual self, and while his numbers from this one weren’t eye-popping – 168 passing yards on 16-26 attempts to go along with 36 rush yards on 3 carries – the added ball security was a fantastic improvement from the previous week’s four first-half INTs. Aside from a pick-six by DB Chris Ackie in the first half, the Als’ D was absolutely putrid. Forget about difficulties scoring points – that will come with time the more Johnny Football learns the playbook… the difficulty the Als have in preventing points scored is going to be their undoing this year. Again.
BYE: Calgary (7-0), Saskatchewan (3-4), Toronto (2-5)
WEEK 10 PREVIEWS
Ottawa (5-3) vs. Winnipeg (5-3), Friday, August 17th, 8:30 PM EST: A win’s a win, sure, but the REDBLACKS are going to have a tough time beating the Blue Bombers if they can’t do a better job of securing the football. Just a lot of sloppy play without proper fundamentals last week; PFTCommenter would’ve had a conniption if he’d been watching. Interesting to see that the O-Line is completely healthy right now, which means that longtime C/LG Jon Gott, who’s been with the team since their inaugural 2-16 2014 campaign, is being squeezed out of the starting lineup for the first time in his career. For Winnipeg, after their slow start to the year without Matt Nichols, they’ve really turned things around since his return, and are 4-1 in their last five games, while the defence has improved considerably as well. If the Bombers can keep the rushing attack going against a strong Ottawa front seven, that’ll bode well for them this week.
BC (3-4) vs. Toronto (2-5), Saturday, August 18th, 4:00 PM EST: After a gutsy win last week, DE Shawn Lemon now gets to square off against his old team; the Argos dealt him to the Lions back in Week 6, looking to re-set their team culture. Beyond dealing their best pass-rusher away and making the change at QB to McLeod Bethel-Thompson, the Argos will have had the added benefit of a bye week to rest up and get themselves ready for the tilt against the Lions. For BC, they’ll want to try and avoid getting in a big hole early, as they have tended to do over the past little while; both these clubs are really good second-half teams as of recent, so perhaps some fireworks may be in order…
Montreal (1-7) vs. Edmonton (5-3), Saturday, August 18th, 9:00 PM EST: With Johnny Manziel now in the concussion protocol and looking unlikely to start this week, the Alouettes will now turn to
Drew Willy Jeff Mathews Matthew Shiltz Vernon Adams, Jr. ANTONIO PIPKIN (???) to take the reins as the starting QB. Austin Apodaca, who, like Pipkin, is probably not a real person, will back him up against the Eskimos. Talk about some unbelievably shitty injury luck for Montreal quarterbacks this year – it’s honestly pretty incredible. Pipkin has only a single game of CFL experience – this would be his first career CFL start, assuming he’s pressed into action. Apodaca has dressed as the third QB for two games in 2018, but hasn’t yet seen game action. Meanwhile, the Eskimos continue to get healthier, getting back LBs Adam Konar and Christophe Muamba in time for this matchup. With a healthier defence, and with the league’s top passer against a patchwork Alouette secondary… this could potentially turn really, really ugly for Montreal.
Calgary (7-0) vs. Saskatchewan (3-4), Sunday, August 19th, 7:00 PM EST: It’s the first game post-Duron Carter, and Rider fans, who really quite enjoyed Carter’s enthusiasm for the game and large personality on and off the field, will be clamouring for Chris Jones’ head if Saskatchewan can’t make some strides soon. Calgary’s already beat them once already this season; a second loss to the Stamps would increase the calls for Jones’ firing even more. Chemistry issues aside, the loss of Carter in the slot removes Saskatchewan’s top playmaker… although Jones had already done that for several weeks forcing him into a cornerback role. The Roughriders are a confusing miasma of mediocrity right now. Not so the Stamps.
BYE: Hamilton (3-5)
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 – 2622
- Masoli, HAM – 2465
- Harris, OTT – 2374
- Reilly, EDM – 16
- Mitchell, CGY – 13
- Harris, OTT – 9
- Harris, WPG – 720
- Powell, OTT – 608
- Gable, EDM – 532
- Williams, EDM – 759
- Walker, EDM – 734
- Sinopoli, OTT – 724
- Hughes, SSK – 9
- Willis, BC – 5
- Jeffcoat, WPG – 5
- Murray, OTT – 3
- Fogg, WPG – 3
- Rose, BC – 3
- Ward, OTT – 25
- Hajrullahu, HAM – 19
- Lauther, SSK – 19
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=148402
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||26||2-1||76.47%|
Enjoy the games, everyone.