As we enter into the final third of the regular season, things are starting to take shape more firmly throughout the league. In the East, Ottawa and Hamilton are thoroughly in playoff, while Calgary is a lock in the West. Elsewhere, Saskatchewan and Edmonton duke it out for the second and third slots, while the final slot – the coveted crossover berth – is still entirely up for grabs. While the Argos and Alouettes aren’t officially out of the running yet, there’s no question they have an uphill battle ahead of them, particularly as they have to stave off pressure from teams within their own division, as well as the two teams ahead of them in the West looking to claim the final East playoff berth in the crossover. At any rate, lots of drama ahead.
In league news this week:
- Did not realize until now that Lions DB Anthony Orange legally changed his name during training camp; he was formerly known as A.J. Jefferson. This makes sense, although I feel kind of goofy for not noticing until now. Apparently he changed his name in order to be in lockstep with the rest of his extended family, and wanted his young daughter to have his last name as well now that he’s engaged.
- Calgary receiver DaVaris Daniels is expected to be “out for a while”, according to head coach Dave Dickenson, with Calgary radio station 770 CHQR confirming he broke his collarbone in the first half against Hamilton last week. This is another tough blow for the Stamps, who have also lost Kamar Jorden for the season.
- Montreal DC Rich Stubler is a tough, tough dude. He was riding his bike in the city when he hit an open car door, breaking five ribs and one of his hands. He hasn’t missed a single practise, and was on the sidelines in last week’s game against the Lions.
- Bernie Custis, the first-ever African-American pro quarterback in North America, is getting a high school in Hamilton named after him. The Hamilton-Wentworth District Schoolboard voted Monday to name the school after the former Ti-Cats star, who took his first pro snaps under centre on August 29th, 1951. A star at Syracuse, he was drafted sixth overall by the Cleveland Browns in 1951, but wasn’t given a shot to compete in training for the starting job, and Paul Brown elected to trade his rights to Hamilton rather than risk him going to another NFL team. Custis was an all-star in his first season in Hamilton, but was moved to halfback in what was likely a racially motivated move, playing six seasons with the Ti-Cats and Ottawa Rough Riders and winning the 1953 Grey Cup with Hamilton. Custis was also a longtime community member in Hamilton, serving as a teacher and principal in the former Wentworth County Board of Education, and as a football coach through the junior football ranks and at McMaster University. Custis was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2011 and also won the Canadian University football coach of the year award in 1982, his first with the McMaster Marauders. Custis died in 2017 at the age of 88. All in all, naming a new school after this man – especially one that is, fittingly, opening right across the street from Tim Hortons Field! – is an absolutely perfect decision, and I’m thrilled with the selection.
Onto the games!
WEEK 14 RECAPS
BC 32 vs. Montreal 14: The Lions’ defence became the destroyer of worlds against the lowly Alouettes… some absolutely insane numbers from this unit against Antonio Pipkin et al. Seven sacks, four interceptions, two pick-sixes – some very impressive stuff. When your D is going, it makes life all the easier for your offence; unfortunately for the Lions, starting QB Travis Lulay went down again with another injury, this time to his shoulder, and left the game for good in the first quarter, replaced by Jonathon Jennings. Both team’s offences had relatively quiet nights, but Montreal’s was especially amplified by poor quarterback play; Antonio Pipkin was terrorized all night, completing just 11 of his 22 pass attempts for a total of 95 yards, and no touchdowns to show for it – not to mention the four interceptions and two pick-sixes.
Calgary 43 vs. Hamilton 28: The Stampeders held a one-point lead at halftime, but proceeded to run away with things in the third quarter, thanks to some big scores from a Terry Williams punt return touchdown and a huge 99-yard catch-and-run score from receiver Reggie Begelton. Hamilton had the lead early in this game, but Calgary fought hard to come back from a slow start and dug themselves out of a ten-point hole in the first half. This game also featured some awesome defensive and special teams play; Ti-Cats’ LB Larry Dean snagged a Bo Levi Mitchell pass and ran it back 60 yards to the house to score, and Hamilton rookie Shaqeir Ryan scored a punt return TD as well in his first-ever CFL action as well. Ryan also fumbled another punt in his own end, which was scooped up by Calgary’s Tunde Adeleke, who scored a touchdown on the return. Ti-Cats’ CB Delvin Breaux added the second defensive TD of the game for Hamilton when he scooped up a fumble from Stamps backup QB Nick Arbuckle, returning it to the end zone. All in all, a highly entertaining matchup, especially if you’re the kind of person who roots for chaos.
Ottawa 30 vs. Saskatchewan 25: As a REDBLACKS fan, I’m thrilled about this win – I don’t even care that it cost me in the pick pool. After two weeks with a very lacklustre offence, the REDBLACKS managed to finally figure things out, using RB William Powell to full advantage against a dominant Saskatchewan pass rush. Powell led the way for Ottawa, racking up 18 carries for 148 yards and two scores, while QB Trevor Harris found some solid footing this week, throwing for 334 yards and two scores with no turnovers on 27-34 attempts. The REDBLACKS were also able to get to Riders’ pivot Zach Collaros, who had two interceptions on the night, throwing for just 162 yards on 10-27 attempts. Saskatchewan also had trouble establishing a run game against a staunch Ottawa front seven, which held firm despite lacking the same pass-rush presence that Saskatchewan has been known for this season. At any rate, the Riders let one get away – their best play all night came on the very opening kickoff, when RB Marcus Thigpen returned the ball for a 97-yard touchdown before the offence even took the field for the first time.
BYE: Edmonton (7-5), Winnipeg (5-7), Toronto (3-8)
WEEK 15 PREVIEWS
Montreal (3-9) vs. Winnipeg (5-7), Friday, September 21st, 8:30 PM EST: The Alouettes are putting Johnny Manziel back in as their starting quarterback, a move that felt inevitable, at some point, though certainly delayed until Antonio Pipkin turned back into a pumpkin, which he did last week. Winnipeg, meanwhile, comes off the bye stating that Matt Nichols will remain their starting quarterback, though he has certainly struggled as of late as well. Winnipeg really needs a win in order to keep pace in the tight West Division – thanks to BC having one game in hand, the Bombers have slipped to last in the division and out of the playoff picture outright. A win coupled with a BC loss would restore them to the crossover spot – but they need to figure things out defensively if they want to have any serious shot at a playoff run.
Edmonton (7-5) vs. Ottawa (7-5), Saturday, September 22nd, 4:00 PM EST: Edmonton always packs an offensive punch, but if Ottawa’s D can have a game like they did last week, then they’ll be able to play them pretty tightly. The real question for this game will be how the REDBLACKS’ secondary holds up; Mike Reilly, the 2017 CFL MOP, can carve up defences better than anyone else, but it seems like the REDBLACKS do well against Edmonton, particularly in matching up against deep-ball threats such as Duke Williams. That said, Williams is only one piece of the puzzle, and there’s lots of other guys to account for as well. If the REDBLACKS can keep the run game going in response to the Eskimos’ playcalling, then this should be an awesome matchup.
Saskatchewan (7-5) vs. Toronto (3-8), Saturday, September 22nd, 7:00 PM EST: Time is running out for Toronto, who have defensive woes that seemingly never end, to re-insert themselves into the playoff picture. As I write this, it remains to be seen who will start at quarterback against the Riders – McLeod Bethel-Thompson had a tough outing against the Ti-Cats in Week 13, and James Franklin, playing in short-yardage duty, scored almost all of the Argos’ points. That said, Franklin’s lost the starter’s job already due to inconsistent play – what’s to come this week? Meanwhile, the Riders need to figure things out offensively as well, and need to stop relying on their defence to win games; without the ability to consistently put some points on the board, it’s going to be a tough battle to keep afloat in the always-tough West Division.
Hamilton (6-6) vs. BC (5-6), Saturday, September 22nd, 10:00 PM EST: No update as I write about Travis Lulay, although the fact he didn’t return to game action last week is probably not a great sign of things to come for the Lions; Jonathon Jennings, who definitely has a powerful arm and quick legs, just hasn’t strung together the type of consistency needed to be a long-term in this league. Hamilton, meanwhile, had a tough matchup last week against the Stamps, and while not playing exactly poorly per se, still ended up overmatched by the time the clock struck zero. This week, they face another good D, but one that has some holes, particular at middle linebacker as Solomon Elimimian continues to be sidelined.
BYE: Calgary (10-2)
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 – 3943
- Masoli, HAM – 3786
- Mitchell, CGY – 3630
- Mitchell, CGY – 27
- Reilly, EDM – 26
- Masoli, HAM – 16
- Powell, OTT – 994
- Harris, WPG – 984
- Gable, EDM – 681
- Williams, EDM – 1235
- Banks, HAM – 1033
- Sinopoli, OTT – 956
- Hughes, SSK – 13
- Willis, BC – 9
- Lemon, BC – 8
- Rose, OTT – 5
- Orange, BC – 4
- Rose, BC – 4
- Lauther, SSK – 36
- Ward, OTT – 33
- Hajrullahu, HAM – 30
2-1’s ALL AROUND! GET ‘EM WHILE THEY’RE HOT!
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=148402
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||35||2-1||66.04%|
Enjoy the games, everyone.