School is back in session, and LaboUr Day has come and gone. We’re now into the back nine of the CFL regular season, and, more importantly, the NFL is back TODAY. At long last!!! We now have football available on our TV screens every day from Thursday through Monday! That’s the kind of world I want to live in, well and truly.
In league news this week:
- Hamilton head coach June Jones said in an interview this week that top receiver Jalen Saunders is most likely out for the season with a right knee injury, after he was carried off the field last week – another major loss to the Ti-Cats’ receiving corps. In nine games this season, Saunders had 45 receptions for 739 yards and two touchdowns – a fantastic followup to his 2017 rookie season where he notched 76 catches for 1170 yards and four TDs.
- Recently acquired receiver Duron Carter’s status remains unclear for Toronto’s re-match this week against Hamilton. Head coach Marc Trestman had planned on not playing Carter last week in order for him to have time to familiarize himself with the Argos’ playbook, but Trestman has remained unclear about whether or not Carter will play. That may not become clear until Friday or Saturday this week, potentially.
- Ottawa REDBLACKS linebacker Kyries Hebert was suspended for the second time this season, and he’ll miss the next two games because of a late hit on Alouettes receiver BJ Cunningham, where he made contact with his head. Hebert missed a game in June due to a headshot on Calgary WR DaVaris Daniels, and this is a troubling development indeed this year for him; Hebert has had an otherwise strong year at ILB for Ottawa… but he’s really hurting the team and the league when he’s playing recklessly.
- The BC Lions have updates on a few key injuries: LB Solomon Elimimian is getting his wrist re-evaluated; he was previously expected to miss the remainder of the season after injuring it back in Week 5. Additionally, receiver Manny Arcenaux is trying to push surgery on his ACL in to late November so that he can come back into the lineup, though nothing definitive has been planned as of right now; he remains for the time being on the six-game injured list. If he does manage to come back, that would really be something…
- In other Lions news, returner and running back Chris Rainey has been the subject of trade rumours this week; known for his speed, the Lions are looking to shake things up in order to try and snap out of the funk they’ve been in for the last 18 months or so. That said, it’s not clear what other teams are interested in Rainey’s services, or what the asking price would be from BC in exchange.
- Other Lions include the team being interested in WR DeVier Posey, who had an excellent year last season with the Argos and was named MVP of the 2017 Grey Cup. Posey was cut from the Baltimore Ravens this week, and is also apparently working out for the Bills as well. Toronto is also believed to be interested in re-signing Posey for the remainder of the season in order to complement Duron Carter and versatile RB James Wilder, Jr.
Onto the games!
WEEK 12 RECAPS
Montreal 21 vs. Ottawa 11: A very disappointing show for the REDBLACKS, who had a really difficult time moving the ball against the Alouettes – not usually a regular feature of these close rivals. Montreal’s DBs played some very aggressive man coverage, and broke up tons of deep passes; they also forced Trevor Harris to check down over the middle a fair bit to just dink and dunk down the field. The Als’ offence was also productive enough to put some distance between them and the REDBLACKS; while QB Antonio Pipkin did throw two picks, he also went 18-27 through the air for 242 yards, and added 75 rush yards and a TD on the ground as well. Boris Bede also hit four field goals and two rouges to account for 14 of Montreal’s 21 points on the night. Ottawa failed to score a touchdown on the night, and Montreal squashed a late comeback attempt attempt in the fourth despite a number of costly penalties during the drive – they’ll stay alive in the playoff hunt in the East for another week, at least…
Winnipeg 23 vs. Saskatchewan 31: Marcus Thigpen scored a 25-yard TD in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference-maker in this back-and-forth game between the Prairie rivals, as the Riders won their 13th Labour Day Classic in the last 14 years. This game saw lots of back-and-forth action, with four lead changes throughout; both teams had up-and-down results with their offences, but ultimately, Saskatchewan was able to work out the kinks in the end, while Winnipeg, despite 158 yards from league-leading rusher Andrew Harris, couldn’t overcome the two interceptions thrown by QB Matt Nichols, who had his worst outing in some time, with just 166 yards passing in all. The Roughriders had more solid QB results, with Zach Collaros going 18-30 for 250 yards, a TD, and an interception. Rookie returner Kyran Moore also scored a fantastic 65-yard punt return touchdown that thrilled the sellout crowd in Regina.
Edmonton 20 vs. Calgary 23: The Stampeders won their seventh straight Labour Day matchup at home, further extending their lead over the rest of the West to three games. This was an extremely close matchup the entire time; both teams had success moving the ball initially, but a few key injuries factored in later. For Edmonton, receiver Derel Walker left in the first half and didn’t return, while Calgary lost their top receiver in Kamar Jorden as well. Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell was also knocked out of the game in the second half, although he did return wearing a knee brace in the fourth quarter and managed to keep the offence moving. Edmonton had two touchdowns – a Duke Williams catch from Mike Reilly, and a CJ Gable rushing score – while Calgary only managed one, a pass from Mitchell to DaVaris Daniels. Fortunately for the Stampeders, they managed to make their final possession count; with no time left on the clock, kicker Rene Paredes, who made five of six field goal attempts on the night, hit from 43 yards out, sealing the deal for Calgary and breaking the hearts of Edmonton fans yet again.
Toronto 28 vs. Hamilton 42: With such an offensive explosion from the Ti-Cats, it’s hard to believe that they not only A) coughed up a 14-point lead in the first half, but B) were also down by seven points with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. An explosive fourth quarter made all the difference, as Hamilton ended up roaring back and scoring two field goals and two touchdowns in the last eighteen minutes of action to defeat their Lake Ontario rivals yet again. Toronto’s offence did okay, all things considered – starting QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson had a mediocre game, going just 14-29 for 163 yards, no touchdowns, and a pick, but was fortunate to get some help from James Franklin, who scored three times. Franklin had two QB sneaks into the end zone, and also connected on a pass to OL Ryan Bomben, who was in as an eligible receiver on the play. Despite the offensive trickery, it wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace with Hamilton – Jeremiah Masoli went 26-35 for 385 yards, three touchdowns, and an INT, while RB Alex Green had 18 carries for 115 yards and two rushing majors as well. Once again, the Harold Ballard Trophy stays in the Hammer, the Ti-Cats remaining Labour Day victors until next year’s matchup.
BYE: BC (3-6)
WEEK 13 PREVIEWS
Ottawa (6-4) vs. BC (3-6), Friday, September 7th, 10:00 PM EST: The Lions are coming off their bye week, but are still missing some significant personnel, as mentioned earlier. While they’re still sitting last in the West with a 3-6 overall record, the good news is that they’ve performed much better while at home than on the road this year; at BC Place, the Lions are 3-1 in 2018, including wins over Winnipeg and Edmonton. Ottawa needs to re-set after what was a very poor offensive showing last week – unusual for a team with balanced threats. The REDBLACKS need to get William Powell engaged more in this game, as he had just nine carries for 50 yards – he’s proven to be a versatile threat out of the backfield and in the slot. For the Lions, with the rumours of the team wanting to trade Chris Rainey, it remains entirely unclear about the status of the run and return game for this matchup – if the team does choose to sit Rainey, then Travon Van will take his place as the secondary back and primary returner.
Hamilton (5-5) vs. Toronto (3-7), Saturday, September 8th, 1:00 PM EST: Despite struggling last week, Argos HC Marc Trestman says that McLeod Bethel-Thompson will unquestionably get the start in this rematch against the Tiger-Cats. After giving up over 500 yards of offence, the D needs to do its part to support the offence, because overall, it’s working more efficiently since Bethel-Thompson became the starter. For the Ti-Cats, this is a crucial game – a win here and an Ottawa loss would put the teams tied for first in the East – a strong re-emergence after a mid-season swoon where they were sitting under .500. With receivers Chris Williams and now Jalen Saunders out for the year, it’ll be important that Brandon Banks and Luke Tasker remain healthy and productive for the rest of the season if the Ti-Cats want to make some noise in the playoffs in a couple months’ time.
Saskatchewan (6-4) vs. Winnipeg (5-6), Saturday, September 8th, 4:00 PM EST: It’s a narrative about two teams heading in opposite directions for this rematch known as the Banjo Bowl. The Bombers, despite having the top offence in the league, are still conceding tons of yards on defence, and it’s really hampering their chances at a playoff spot when matched up against teams with better balance overall. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, has really turned things around since Zach Collaros got healthy and Duron Carter got released. With young talent getting more playing time, including receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert and DB Nick Marshall, it’s been quite interesting to see how more energized the team feels out on the field. Even with Winnipeg playing at home here, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Riders’ turnaround, and I have to go with the visitors at my pick for this week’s game.
Calgary (9-1) vs. Edmonton (6-5), Saturday, September 8th, 7:00 PM EST: These teams were extremely evenly matched up last week, and it was really thanks to a great night from kicker Rene Paredes that the Stamps got to notch yet another Labour Day victory. With all of the injuries from last week, it’ll be curious to see how rosters are affected moving forward – in particular, I’m curious to see about whether Bo Levi Mitchell’s knee is going to hold up, after he played much of the second half in a brace. Knee injuries are one of those things where sometimes the status is immediately clear; if Mitchell isn’t quite playing like himself in the weeks ahead, Calgary may be vulnerable. That’s a big “if”, however. Still have to see how things shake out this week before any further prognostication. Hopefully the home crowd will make a difference this week for the Eskimos – it was a tough way to lose a game last week, and if they can do a better job of holding on to the football this week, they could definitely get revenge on their provincial rivals.
BYE: Montreal (3-8)
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 – 3546
- Masoli, HAM – 3269
- Harris, OTT – 3005
- Reilly, EDM – 23
- Mitchell, CGY – 21
- Masoli, HAM – 12
- Harris, WPG – 963
- Powell, OTT – 764
- Gable, EDM – 681
- Williams, EDM – 1063
- Jorden, CGY – 944
- Banks, HAM – 880
- Hughes, SSK – 13
- Johnson, CGY – 6
- Willis, BC – 5
- Murray, OTT – 3
- Fogg, WPG – 3
- Rose, OTT – 3
- Ward, OTT – 30
- Lauther, SSK – 29
- Hajrullahu, HAM – 25
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=148402
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||31||2-2||67.39%|
Enjoy the games, everyone.