As some of you already know, the previous week was a tough one for me. The Ottawa area got hit hard on Friday night with multiple tornadoes causing millions of dollars of damage and destruction to homes across the city, and I was without power for 52 hours over the weekend. And I’m well aware I got off very, very lightly. Many residents of my fine city don’t even have homes to return to right now, let alone worry about the state of their fridge and freezer, or, more callously still, the fate of their favourite sports teams. While we’re all part of a very resilient community here, a lot of people still need a lot of help in the rebuilding process in Ontario and Quebec. The Ottawa Senators Foundation has launched a GoFundMe for citizens of Ottawa-Gatineau, and has pledged to match the first $50,000 CAD raised in the process… which at the time of my writing, they’ve already passed $100,000 raised, which is awesome. If you could spare a couple bucks, there are some folks here who would be very grateful. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I shit on my hockey team a lot… almost always, justifiably so… but in this instance, they’ve got this one absolutely, 100% right.
To donate to the Sens Foundation tornado relief GoFundMe campaign, click the link here: https://www.gofundme.com/ottawa-senats-amp-fans-tornado-relief?utm_source=ottawamatters.com&utm_campaign=ottawamatters.com&utm_medium=referral
All this goes to show… I didn’t get to spend a lot of time watching football last weekend. With no power and limited cell connectivity, the most I could muster was listening to the REDBLACKS on the radio. At any rate, I’ll be doing my best to recap the games from the past week all the same!
In league news this week:
- REDBLACKS kicker Lewis Ward set the single-season record for consecutive field goals made, after he went 7-for-7 against the Eskimos to reach 37 straight attempts. The previous mark was 32 straight, set by current Stampeders kicker Rene Paredes in 2016. Next up for Ward? The all-time CFL record of 39 straight field goals. Knock on wood that he can pull this off… I just hope he doesn’t go on to pull a Blair Walsh in the playoffs.
- Montreal traded starting RB Tyrell Sutton to the BC Lions on Tuesday, along with Montreal’s third-round pick in the 2019 CFL draft, in exchange for their own 2019 second-rounder. Sutton moves to the Lions after six seasons with the Alouettes, the only team he’s ever played for thus far in his CFL career. With Jeremiah Johnson’s health up and down this season, and with Chris Rainey being used primarily as a return man as opposed to a rusher, the acquisition of Sutton is a shrewd move to bolster the run game for the stretch drive – and, if all goes well, a playoff run for the Lions.
- With practise rosters expanding for the remainder of the season, Edmonton went out and acquired a few veteran names to bolster the squad as the playoffs draw near; LB Taylor “Tank” Reed, a six-year vet who won a Grey Cup in 2016 with Ottawa, and DB Brandyn Thompson, a fifth-year vet who had previously played for them as well.
- A few key updates from Toronto: the Argos have ruled out QB Ricky Ray returning this season, which isn’t a shocker, considering how debilitating his neck injury looked at the start of the season after getting hit hard. LB Bear Woods, who missed over half the season after off-season surgery, is now week-to-week once again with an undisclosed injury – a blow to a defensive leader on a unit that can ill afford to have key faces missing for extended periods of time. The Argos may also have their third kicker of the season starting for them on Friday: after Ronnie Pfeffer and Zack Medeiros were both injured earlier this season, Toronto signed Felix Menard-Briere to their practise roster; with Medeiros’ status uncertain, the young Canadian may end up handling both kicking and punting duties for the Double Blue.
Onto the games!
WEEK 15 RECAPS
Montreal 14 vs. Winnipeg 31: What’s the cure for losing? Playing the Alouettes, it seems. The Bombers broke a four-game losing skid with their win over Montreal, with solid showings on both sides of the ball – a refreshing change of pace for a team that has had tons of miscues offensively and defensively as of late. Embattled quarterback Matt Nichols had a good outing, showing a steady hand to throw for 256 yards and a TD to RB Andrew Harris on 18-25 attempts, while former NFLer Kenbrell Thompkins led all Winnipeg receivers with five grabs for 94 yards. For the Als, Johnny Manziel got his first start in six games, and while he didn’t look horrible by any means, he still got harassed all night, particularly by Winnipeg DL Craig Roh, who sacked him three times. Also of note: Andrew Harris got hurt in the first half of this game with a lower body injury, and didn’t return in the second half – if he’s not available this week, that’ll be a big loss for the Bombers.
Edmonton 15 vs. Ottawa 28: A crazy matchup in the nation’s capital, which had the potential to end with a highly different final score – but thanks to penalties reversing touchdowns six separate times in this one, this ended up being a predominantly defensive shutdown effort for the REDBLACKS. Thanks to Lewis Ward’s seven field goals – keeping his consecutive field goal streak alive! – and a fourth-quarter touchdown from Trevor Harris to Greg Ellingson, Ottawa had enough to keep the Eskimos at bay. Mike Reilly was mostly neutralized – he threw for 253 yards on 27-41 attempts, with a TD to Duke Williams, a rushing score, and an interception – but was still outgained by his Ottawa counterpart Harris, who went 23-30 for 313 yards, a TD and a pick of his own. All the same, thanks to a stout run D, neutralizing CJ Gable effectively, while allowing their own back in William Powell to get loose for 147 yards on 23 carries, the REDBLACKS put out a statement win against one of the top teams in the league.
Saskatchewan 30 vs. Toronto 29: A rematch of last year’s East Division final (thanks to the crossover rule in effect), this time the Riders got their revenge, leapfrogging Edmonton for second in the West with the victory over the Argos. This game was much closer than it probably should have been for Saskatchewan; the Roughriders had a ten-point lead heading into the second half, but managed to cough it up as James Wilder, Jr. scored a 24-yard TD, Zach Medeiros made a few field goals, and DB Trumaine Washington had his second interception of the night, which turned into a pick-six for the Argos. Thanks to a field goal from Brett Lauther in the final minute of the game, the Roughriders came back and secured the win… but the defence was sloppy, and Zach Collaros turned the ball over too often. Saskatchewan may be in second place in their division, but they’ve got a ways to go to be serious challengers to Calgary as it currently stands.
Hamilton 32 vs. BC 35 (2OT): Talk about a comeback for the ages. After being down in the fourth quarter by a score of 28-21, the Lions went for it on third down, and came up with an incomplete pass. After Hamilton went two-and-out, June Jones elected to punt instead of attempting a long field goal, which proved to be a critical error. BC managed to pull off an unbelievable final drive; with nine seconds left, QB Jonathon Jennings hit WR Shaq Jones on a tightly covered route to give the Lions one last shot to score from the 20. Jennings then connected with Bryan Burnham in double coverage for the touchdown. Needing a two-point attempt to tie the game, Jennings threw a fade to Burnham, who caught it, and after a lengthy review, was found to have just baaaaaarely stayed inbounds by dragging his foot. With the game tied with no time left, overtime was needed; both teams scored field goals on their first possessions, but on the second possession, Ti-Cats’ K Lirim Hajrullahu missed, while Ty Long connected again for the Lions, going 4-4 on the night and capping a wild, improbable victory to bring the Lions back to .500 on the year.
BYE: Calgary (10-2)
WEEK 16 PREVIEWS
Toronto (3-9) vs. Calgary (10-2), Friday, September 28th, 9:00 PM EST: This is a tough out for Toronto; time is slipping away to stay relevant in the playoff picture, and it’s almost impossible for an opponent to win at McMahon Stadium. Mix into the fact that Calgary’s coming off a bye week, and the fact that Toronto is missing their defensive leader in ILB Bear Woods, and… yeah. Even with Calgary’s receiving corps still banged up, this is gonna be a tough game for the Argos to win.
BC (6-6) vs. Hamilton (6-7), Saturday, September 29th, 4:00 PM EST: BC won last week’s game as much as Hamilton lost it; some conservative playcalling and blown defensive coverages really helped the Tiger-Cats shoot themselves in the foot. Expect that things will be tightened up accordingly. If Hamilton’s D can put pressure on Jonathon Jennings, he’ll likely revert to being the turnover machine he regularly is… but that remains an if. On paper, they should be able to get to the opposing QB well, with Ted Laurent, Larry Dean and Adrian Tracy all threats in the front seven, but they didn’t do that effectively last week, sacking Jennings just once.
Winnipeg (6-7) vs. Edmonton (7-6), Saturday, September 29th, 7:00 PM EST: Look out, Eskies. With the Riders having leapfrogged them as a result of last week’s win, Edmonton now suddenly has BC and Winnipeg nipping at their heels, and they can ill afford to have offensive blackouts like they did last week against the REDBLACKS. Considering both the quarterback and receiver situation they have, the ability to create separation and run clean, tight routes shouldn’t still be an issue at this point in the season. Fortunately for Edmonton, Winnipeg’s defence is not nearly as formidable as Ottawa’s, so hopefully this will be a return to form. What remains to be seen, however, is the status of Andrew Harris – the running back left at halftime against Montreal, and hasn’t practised yet this week at the time of my writing this, though head coach Mike O’Shea has said that hasn’t ruled him out of this week’s lineup just yet. If Harris isn’t good to go, that’ll be a hole in what is arguably the most dangerous ground game in the CFL.
Saskatchewan (8-5) vs. Montreal (3-10), Sunday, September 30th, 1:00 PM EST: The Riders need to keep rolling, and also need to avenge their surprise 23-17 loss to the Als from all the way back in Week 3. Both these teams are very different since then; Montreal has (sort of?) stabilized their QB situation, while Zach Collaros’ return from concussion has also mostly done the same for Saskatchewan. The Riders have also seen a number of other young playmakers emerge as threats since the departure of Duron Carter from their roster, while Montreal has seen other key pieces shipped out, namely in receiver Chris Williams and running back Tyrell Sutton. Even as the home team, the Als will be hard-pressed on both sides of the ball to match the talent that Saskatchewan has; without Sutton to grind out first downs, they’ll likely be forced to move towards an air-raid-esque style on offence – which I’m not certain that Johnny Manziel is particularly suited to play, but also that Saskatchewan’s D is particularly adept at stopping either. So I guess we’ll see. At any rate, I’ve learned not to hold my breath when it comes to waiting for the Als to do something cool.
BYE: Ottawa (8-5)
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 – 4219
- Masoli, HAM – 4097
- Harris, OTT – 3868
- Mitchell, CGY – 27
- Reilly, EDM – 27
- Masoli, HAM – 18
- Powell, OTT – 1141
- Harris, WPG – 1028
- Gable, EDM – 733
- Williams, EDM – 1300
- Sinopoli, OTT – 1069
- Banks, HAM – 1033
- Hughes, SSK – 13
- Willis, BC – 9
- Lemon, BC – 8
- Rose, OTT – 5
- Orange, BC – 4
- Murray, OTT – 4
- Ward, OTT – 40
- Lauther, SSK – 39
- Hajrullahu, HAM – 33
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=148402
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||38||3-1||66.67%|
Enjoy the games, everyone.