CFL Beat: Week 11

The Maestro
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The Maestro

The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn’t in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
The Maestro
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As we close in closer to the start of the NFL regular season, we’ll start to see some roster shakeups happening in the weeks ahead, as offseason NFL signings get released out of training camp and return north of the border, often times to their former CFL teams. This is a big boost for many rosters, and I’m always curious to see about who ends up making the largest impact. A quick roundup of CFL news and player transactions from this week:

  • After being released by the New York Jets, BC signed LB Micah Awe on Monday, who had a very productive 2017 rookie season with the Lions. Awe had nine solo tackles twice last season, and recorded 54 tackles on defence, 16 on special teams, a tackle for loss, two pass knockdowns, and a forced fumble. To make room on the roster for Awe, the Lions released veteran DL Gabe Knapton, who had been acquired in the offseason from the Alouettes in a trade for veteran WR Chris Williams.
  • Saskatchewan acquired WR Brian Jones from Toronto on Monday in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft; the fourth overall pick from the 2016 CFL draft saw limited duty in 24 games in Toronto in 2016 and 2017. This is mostly a depth move, but having another Canadian receiver on the roster will allow the Riders to play with ratios further during game time.
  • The Montreal Alouettes released WR TJ Graham on Tuesday; Graham spent much of this season on the injured list, and wasn’t productive enough to the team’s satisfaction.
  • Eskimos FB Alexandre Dupuis tore his bicep against the Alouettes and will miss the remainder of the season, the team announced on Monday. Dupuis was the backup fullback to Calvin McCarty, and the Eskimos may make a move to bring in another Canadian to add to the roster in Dupuis’ absence.

Onto the games!

WEEK 10 RECAPS

Ottawa 44 vs. Winnipeg 21: The REDBLACKS played their most complete game of the season, and ended up dismantling the Bombers in their own building. Trevor Harris passed for 361 yards and a touchdown on 29-39 attempts, William Powell ran for 106 yards and a TD on 18 carries, and backup QB Dominique Davis had two QB sneaks for scores against his former team. The defence also stepped up, sacking Winnipeg pivot Matt Nichols four times, including a pick-six on a strip-sack, and intercepted him once as well. While Winnipeg’s offence had some momentum, with Darvin Adams racking up 162 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions, and Andrew Harris scored a TD to go along with 72 rush yards, on the whole, it just wasn’t consistent enough; Ottawa forced six two-and-outs on the Bombers throughout the evening, and kept them from sustaining any continuous flow. The boos rang out after head coach Mike O’Shea elected to keep Nichols in during the fourth quarter after the game was out of reach for Winnipeg, and the fan’s displeasure got even louder after it appeared he hurt his throwing arm after getting tackled.

PICK: Winnipeg

RESULT: Ottawa

BC 23 vs. Toronto 24: Since their change at quarterback, the Argos are now 2-0; McLeod Bethel-Thompson and James Wilder, Jr. led Toronto to a hard-fought comeback win over the Lions. BC had the early momentum, aided in part by the return of starting RB Jeremiah Johnson from his ankle injury; Johnson finished the night with 117 total yards and a TD on 16 touches. Despite the Lions having a 17-10 halftime lead over the Argos, Toronto didn’t quit, and thanks to some steady pressure thanks to some crisp passing from Bethel-Thompson and the emergence of Anthony Coombs, playing his first game of the 2018 season, helped Toronto to climb back into this matchup and finally take the lead in the fourth quarter. Despite some strong pressure in the dying minutes of the game from the Lions, the drive was snuffed out when DB Jermaine Gabriel knocked the ball out of WR Manny Arcenaux’s hands and LB Marcus Ball pounced on it, securing the win for Toronto.

PICK: BC

RESULT: Toronto

Montreal 24 vs. Edmonton 40: Another week, another shredding of the Alouettes’ secondary. Mike Reilly went 33-42 for 424 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT en route to a dominant win over Montreal, while rookie RB Shaq Cooper, starting in place of the injured CJ Gable, had 17 carries for 102 yards and 5 catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in his first-ever CFL game… nice game, rook. Montreal’s offencce is no longer proving to be the team’s weak point; it’s clearly their defence that’s holding them back. Three straight weeks of giving up over 500 yards is absolutely atrocious, and something needs to change in a major way on the back end in order to try and staunch the bleeding. The good news for Montreal is that Antonio Pipkin performed admirably in spot start duty in place of Johnny Manziel, currently out with a concussion; the rookie went 14-25 for 217 yards, one pass TD, one rush TD, and an interception.

PICK: Edmonton

RESULT: Edmonton

Calgary 27 vs. Saskatchewan 40: Undefeated no more! The Stampeders suffered their first loss of 2018 thanks to a full-team effort from the Roughriders, who had a fantastic all-around game. While Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell still threw four touchdown passes, the D still pressured him all game long, sacking him five times, including two by league leader Charleston Hughes. Nick Marshall also intercepted a deep ball from Mitchell and returned it 67 yards for a TD in the first quarter to put the Riders up by two scores. On the offensive side of the ball, Marshall also had a rushing TD to go along with 6 field goals from Brett Lauther; while the Riders moved the ball well – Zach Collaros went 25-34 for 270 yards, and Jordan Williams-Lambert led all receivers with 10 catches for 152 yards – they easily could have converted a couple more red zone opportunities into more points. The Stamps, for all their ability to make the most of previous opportunities, just couldn’t protect the ball enough; with 3 fumbles lost, they got behind the 8-ball and couldn’t make up the lost ground on the scoreboard. There was also a huge scuffle in this game late in the fourth quarter that resulted in a number of ejections and a whack of penalty yards assigned – clear to see that the rivalry between these two teams remains alive and well.

PICK: Calgary

RESULT: Saskatchewan

BYE: Hamilton (3-5)

WEEK 11 PREVIEWS

Edmonton (6-3) vs. Hamilton (3-5), Thursday, August 23rd, 7:30 PM EST: The Ti-Cats beat the Eskimos back in Week 2 by a score of 38-21, due in part largely to Jeremiah Masoli having an excellent game. Since that time, the Eskimos have gotten healthier, while the Ti-Cats have remained the same talented but inconsistent team they were projected to be this year. A frustrating time, to be sure – they have the roster to be the top team in the East, but haven’t been able to string together enough consistency on either side of the ball, and remain well back of the REDBLACKS at the halfway mark of the season. While Edmonton had a great game against Montreal – most teams do, of course! – they need to capitalize on their offensive firepower and not be afraid to air it out against Hamilton, which, fortunately, they’ve shown they are well-equipped to do.

PICK: Edmonton

Toronto (3-5) vs. Montreal (1-8), Friday, August 24th. 7:30 PM EST: Antonio Pipkin will get his second straight start for the Alouettes as Johnny Manziel continues to recover from a concussion; he was a fine caretaker of the offence last week in Johnny Football’s absence from the field. More pressing for Montreal is the need to fix their absolutely atrocious defence; they’ve given up over 500 yards of offence three games in a row, and average 458.3 yards a game in offensive yards conceded; they’re also statistically last in many other categories, including points allowed, number of touchdowns allowed, number of plays allowed, interceptions recorded, and two-and-outs forced. Toronto, statistically, isn’t faring that much better on defence over the first half of the season, but the ship seems to be righting itself now after this two-game win streak by the Boatmen.

PICK: Toronto

Winnipeg (5-4) vs. Calgary (7-1), Saturday, August 25th, 3:30 PM EST: Just the Bombers’ luck that they’ll get off a pissed-off Stampeders team as their first opponents after a lacklustre home effort last week; the Stampeders’ 17-game win streak in games coming after a bye week, including 11 straight road wins after a bye week, is now over, but they remain well in front of the rest of the league, and will be raring to sock it to the league’s top offence as best as possible in this game. Matt Nichols had a very emotional response to getting booed by his own fans last week. “The saddest thing tonight for me was I feel like I give my heart to this city and this team,” Nichols said. “I put everything in there to go out there and try to perform for my teammates and these fans and it was pretty sad for me. I took some shots tonight, took a big one on my elbow and had to come out for a couple of plays and shook that one off and got booed by the whole stadium that I was coming back out there. That was pretty hard for me tonight.” A completely valid response – and hopefully he’ll be able to channel that into some success in a bounce-back effort this week.

PICK: Calgary

Saskatchewan (4-4) vs. BC (3-5), Saturday, August 25th, 10:00 PM EST: If Jordan Williams-Lambert can have another game like the one he had last week against the Stamps, it’s probably going to be fair to say that the Riders won’t end up missing Duron Carter all that much, after all… Saskatchewan’s win last week shows they’ve got the capability to beat anyone in the league; it’s now just a question of putting things together more consistently from here on out. For BC, last week’s faster start was definitely encouraging, but they absolutely cannot afford to sit back like they did in the second half of the Argos game and allow their opponents to take the game to them. Fumbles are one of those things where luck plays a factor, so I can’t harp on the need to protect the ball better; that’s just a given. All the same, the Lions need to be aggressive and not be afraid to take it to Saskatchewan’s O-line, in particular.

PICK: Saskatchewan

BYE: Ottawa (6-3)

STANDINGS AND STATS

East Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Ties Points For Points Against
Ottawa 9 6 3 0 244 206
Toronto 8 3 5 0 161 243
Hamilton 8 3 5 0 204 176
Montreal 9 1 8 0 144 306

West Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Ties Points For Points Against
Calgary 8 7 1 0 233 126
Edmonton 9 6 3 0 261 222
Winnipeg 8 5 4 0 289 214
Saskatchewan 8 4 4 0 191 202
BC 8 3 5 0 180 212

Passing Yards

  1. Reilly, EDM – 3046
  2. Harris, OTT – 2735
  3. Masoli, HAM – 2465

Passing TDs

  1. Reilly, EDM – 19
  2. Mitchell, CGY – 17
  3. Harris, OTT – 10

Rushing Yards

  1. Harris, WPG – 792
  2. Powell, OTT – 714
  3. Gable, EDM – 532

Receiving Yards

  1. Williams, EDM – 831
  2. Walker, EDM – 816
  3. Sinopoli, OTT – 775

Sacks

  1. Hughes, SSK – 11
  2. Willis, BC – 5
  3. Jeffcoat, WPG – 5

Interceptions

  1. Murray, OTT – 3
  2. Fogg, WPG – 3
  3. Rose, BC – 3

Field Goals

  1. Ward, OTT – 27
  2. Lauther, SSK – 25
  3. Hajrullahu, HAM – 19

PICK POOL

Not a good week for picks across the board. Looks like we all got took. Damn you, Bombers and Stamps.

Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=148402

Rank Total Points Weekly Score Win Percentage
Beerguyrob 29 1-3 76.32%
Game Time Decision 27 1-3 71.05%
SonOfSpam 26 2-2 68.42%
Spanky Datass 25 1-3 65.79%
Ballsofsteelandfury 25 2-2 65.79%
The Maestro 25 1-3 65.79%
Litre_cola 23 1-3 60.53%
Wakezilla 22 1-3 57.89%
Dolph Ucker 4 0-4 10.53%
blaxabbath 2 0-4 5.88%
nomonkeyfun 0 0-4 0.00%

Enjoy the games, everyone.

The Maestro
The Maestro
The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn't in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
https://www.doorfliesopen.com/index.php/author/the-maestro/
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Wakezilla

Stamps losing is fine because everyone loses. I’m more choked at the LioUns blowing a big lead than anything.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

THESE RIDERS I CALL THEM AN OAKLAND FAN LOOKING AT HIS REPORT CARD BECAUSE THERE’S NO A IN SIGHT.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Good work as always.

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Brick Meathook
Brick Meathook

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LemonJello
LemonJello

Frauddy Mercury?

Game Time Decision

Russ Jeremy?