CFL Beat: Week 18

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 the regular season winds down, the playoff picture becomes ever clearer. As of Week 17, four teams have currently clinched playoff berths – Calgary, Saskatchewan, Ottawa, and Hamilton. Remaining up for grabs is the third slot in the West Division as well as the crossover slot, where the team finishing fourth in the West will take the place of the third-place team in the East. Here’s how the math currently shakes up for all the playoff teams:

  • For Calgary to clinch their third straight division title, they need to win against BC and to have Saskatchewan lose against Winnipeg. If this doesn’t happen, they can beat the Roughriders in Week 19 to lock up first in the West.
  • Winnipeg has three games remaining on their schedule; of the bottom three teams in the West right now, they are the only one with eight wins. This might go on to help them later on, but with only three games left in the season, they have less of an opportunity to develop a cushion. Notable is the game against Edmonton in the final week, which could well decide either the final West spot or the crossover spot, depending on other results.
  • BC is 6-1 at home, but 1-6 on the road; they have two home games and two road games remaining on their schedule, including two against the Stamps. Despite having a game in hand on the Bombers, that’s still a tough road to keep their paws on their current playoff berth.
  • Edmonton currently sits last in the West at 7-8, but their final three games are against Ottawa, BC and Winnipeg; victories over the Blue Bombers and Lions, in particular, would be huge, and would mean some major standings shakeups late in the season.

Here’s some news this week from around the league:

  • The CFL trade deadline was yesterday at 3:59 PM EST. A small flurry of trades ensued to meet the deadline:
    • Saskatchewan acquired OL Philip Blake and FB Patrick Lavoie from the Alouettes in exchange for WR Joshua Stanford and a second-round pick in the 2020 CFL Draft.
    • Ottawa acquired LB Chris Ackie from the Alouettes in exchange for their second-rounder in the 2019 draft; in addition to having a career year with Montreal, with 81 solo tackles, two picks, a sack, a forced fumble, and a touchdown, Ackie is also a Canadian, which will help the REDBLACKS with their roster ratios moving forward, particularly useful with current starting safety Antoine Pruneau being up-and-down with his health as of late.
  • Hamilton signed Terrell Sinkfield, formerly of the Oakland Raiders, to join their receiving corps. Sinkfield was playing as a DB in Oakland, but was previously a member of the Ti-Cats’ receiving corps; with the injuries they’ve had there this season, this is a timely and welcome addition to the roster.
  • The Argos will return to James Franklin as their starting QB, despite previous lacklustre play. McLeod Bethel-Thompson couldn’t get the job done for Toronto down the stretch, and so the man who was poised to be Ricky Ray’s heir apparent will resume his place as the number one guy for the Boatmen.

WEEK 17 RECAPS

Winnipeg 40 vs. Ottawa 32 (OT): What a finish to this one. Man oh man. Winnipeg had a 15-point lead with just over three minutes to play in regulation, when the REDBLACKS scored two touchdowns and a two-point convert to send the game to overtime… Winnipeg then scored again in overtime, with Ottawa threatening to answer once more, Brad Sinopoli, a typically very sure-handed receiver, fumbled the ball at Winnipeg’s five-yard line. Recovered by the Bombers, and ball game. All the same, it was impressive to see Ottawa claw their way back into this one despite Winnipeg’s offence returning to life after looking out of sorts for several weeks. Matt Nichols had 265 passing yards and 3 TDs, while Andrew Harris had 163 all-purpose yards including 132 on the ground. The REDBLACKS’ Trevor Harris had 349 yards and three scores of his own, while William Powell added 95 yards on the ground on 14 carries. A bummer of a finish, as a REDBLACKS fan… but an entertaining game nonetheless.

PICK: Ottawa

RESULT: Winnipeg

Toronto 23 vs. BC 26: Despite McLeod Bethel-Thompson throwing four picks for Toronto, the Argos pushed hard to mount a comeback on the BC Lions. After being replaced in the fourth quarter by James Franklin, Toronto scored two touchdowns to make this a three-point game; with scant time left on the clock, they attempted an onside kick, but unfortunately couldn’t keep the Lions from recovering it, running out the clock in the end. Jonathon Jennings, starting once again due to injury to Travis Lulay, looked poised and confident in this match, and kept things simple – he threw for 199 yards on 14-24 attempts, as well as a touchdown to WR Cory Watson, but most importantly – he didn’t turn the ball over once. Jeremiah Johnson added 118 yards on the ground for the Leos, and Ty Long hit six of seven field goals on the night, his longest coming from 51 yards out.

PICK: BC

RESULT: BC

Calgary 12 vs. Montreal 6: This was a defensive battle throughout this entire matchup – and curiously enough, for the first 45 minutes, Montreal was in fact looking like they were going to win this one. The Stampeders were finally able to put some points on the board in the fourth quarter, roaring past the home team late to win their league-leading twelfth game of the season. Thanks to a touchdown run from Terry Williams – the first of his CFL career – a Rene Paredes field goal, a rouge, and a punt single – Calgary was able to overcome the defensive pressure late in the game. For the Stamps, Micah Johnson led the way on defence, with five solo tackles and two QB sacks. Montreal picked off Bo Levi Mitchell three times in this one, and sacked him three times as well too. Despite showing some pluck, it’s still not going to put the Alouettes in the playoffs this year.

PICK: Calgary

Edmonton 12 vs. Saskatchewan 19: DE Willie Jefferson played the hero for the Roughriders in this game – he led the way with five tackles and a sack, but most importantly, he delivered the game-winning touchdown, picking off Eskimos QB Mike Reilly with less than two minutes to go and returning the ball 49 yards to the house. This game was another defensive battle – Saskatchewan racked up five sacks and three interceptions including the Jefferson pick-six, while Edmonton had three sacks and an interception of their own. Despite the offensive struggles the Roughriders may have on paper compared to their Western counterparts in Winnipeg and Calgary, there’s absolutely no doubt that they have a Grey Cup-calibre defence after their play in this one.

PICK: Saskatchewan

BYE: Hamilton (7-7)

WEEK 18 PREVIEWS

Hamilton (7-7) vs. Toronto (3-11), Friday, October 12th, 7:30 PM EST: With the Argos now out of the playoff picture, the time to evaluate for next year’s roster starts now. One of the most important factors will be the play of James Franklin at quarterback; while he lost his job as the starter earlier this year due to inconsistent play, McLeod Bethel-Thompson ended up being even worse off, and with Ricky Ray almost certain to retire after this season, Toronto will likely want to stick with the plan they had all along. For the Ti-Cats, they need to keep winning – despite having a home playoff game secured, the division title remains up for grabs, so every victory moving forward is essential if they hope to close the gap with the REDBLACKS.

PICK: Hamilton

Saskatchewan (10-5) vs. Winnipeg (8-7), Saturday, October 13th, 2:00 PM EST: The Roughriders and Blue Bombers have both won three in a row. These are two very hot teams, albeit for exactly opposite reasons right now. Saskatchewan has beaten Winnipeg twice this season already, back in the Labour Day Classic in Week 12 and the Banjo Bowl in Week 13; to answer the old zen koan about the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, it appears as though the immovable object has won out thus far in 2018. Complicating matters for the Bombers is Weston Dressler’s status – after missing practise this week, it’s unclear if he’ll end up playing, and his absence means the loss of a safety net in the slot for Matt Nichols.

PICK: Saskatchewan

Ottawa (8-6) vs. Edmonton (7-8), 5:00 PM EST: Don’t look now, but the Eskimos have lost three in a row and have sunk to the bottom of the West Division. Time is running out to get this ship turned around – and they’ll need some help to make sure they make the playoffs. Fortunately, Edmonton has some quality pieces in Mike Reilly, Duke Williams, and CJ Gable – if they can return to getting a decoy for Williams to get some more open looks, and can keep Gable pounding on the ground, things can go right. For the REDBLACKS, last week’s game was a heartbreaker – after all the momentum of the last-second tying touchdown, and to deal with the shock and loss of losing in overtime on a fumble – and they need to put those emotional peaks and valleys behind them and return to what they do best – strong play against the run and keeping the offence efficient.

PICK: Edmonton

BC (7-7) vs. Calgary (12-2), Saturday, October 13th, 8:00 PM EST: The Stamps beat the Lions 28-17 at home back in Week 8, and this game is the second of three key divisional matchups that BC has against the league leaders this season. If the Lions are really going to stay in the playoff picture, their results against the Stampeders are going to be a make-it-or-break-it situation. With this game and their season wrap-up in Week 21 at BC Place, there’s not a lot of time to try and build a cushion over some of the other nearby teams, most notably Winnipeg and Edmonton. With four weeks left in the season including this one, BC will need all the good fortune they can get. With the Stamps’ receiving corps currently decimated by injuries, this game may end up being the best chance they get at revenge.

PICK: Calgary

BYE: Montreal (3-12)

STANDINGS AND STATS

East Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Ties Points For Points Against
x-Ottawa 14 8 6 0 359 333
x-Hamilton 14 7 7 0 407 341
e-Toronto 14 3 11 0 304 440
e-Montreal 15 3 12 0 253 448

West Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Ties Points For Points Against
x-Calgary 14 12 2 0 430 270
x-Saskatchewan 15 10 5 0 386 373
Winnipeg 15 8 7 0 466 365
BC 14 7 7 0 330 359
Edmonton 15 7 8 0 383 389

x – Clinched Playoff Berth
y – Clinched Division
c – Clinched Crossover Playoff Berth
e – Eliminated from playoff contention

Passing Yards

  1. Reilly, EDM – 4605
  2. Masoli, HAM – 4286
  3. Harris, OTT – 4217

Passing TDs

  1. Mitchell, CGY – 29
  2. Reilly, EDM – 27
  3. Masoli, HAM – 21

Rushing Yards

  1. Powell, OTT – 1236
  2. Harris, WPG – 1233
  3. Gable, EDM – 853

Receiving Yards

  1. Williams, EDM – 1415
  2. Sinopoli, OTT – 1157
  3. Banks, HAM – 1112

Sacks

  1. Hughes, SSK – 15
  2. Johnson, CGY – 10
  3. Willis, BC – 9

Interceptions

  1. Orange, BC – 5
  2. Rose, OTT – 5
  3. Rose, BC – 5

Field Goals

  1. Lauther, SSK – 45
  2. Ward, OTT – 43
  3. Medlock, WPG – 38

PICK POOL

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

Rank Total Points Weekly Score Win Percentage
Beerguyrob 48 4-0 73.85%
Ballsofsteelandfury 46 4-0 70.77%
SonOfSpam 44 3-1 67.69%
Litre_cola 44 4-0 67.69%
Game Time Decision 44 3-1 67.69%
Spanky Datass 43 4-0 66.15%
The Maestro 42 3-1 63.93%
Wakezilla 42 3-1 63.93%
Dolph Ucker 4 0-4 6.15%
blaxabbath 2 0-4 3.28%
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

Jonathan Jennings isn’t happy about being benched this week for Lulay. Over the weekend, his agent took a shot at Ed Hervey saying he shows up late and has no idea what’s going on. All the stuff you want to hear going into must win matches

Wakezilla

They need to start the season earlier. It’s October 11 and there are still 4 games left? I don’t want a December Grey Cup, thank you very much.

ballsofsteelandfury

Or, hear me out, reduce the number of games. There are only 9 teams in the league FFS!

16 games. Each team plays the others once at home and once away. Screw divisions. One table and top 6 make the playoffs. Easy peasy.

litre_cola

Wally Buono says top 7 and the 1st place team gets a bye. When Halifax comes it will be 3 teams from each division.

ballsofsteelandfury

That would make it 18 games with my plan. Still works!

BC Dick

Next year the Grey Cup is one week earlier. I’m fine with 18 games since there’s only 2 preseason garbage matches. They’ll never go to 16 I don’t think – CFL needs their gate money.

litre_cola

Tough to gain ground on OuzomanKristof when he goes 4-0.

ballsofsteelandfury

The problem with McLeod Bethel-Thompson is that he has no first name.

Senor Weaselo

Never trust a man with three last names!

blaxabbath

`he delivered the game-winning touchdown, picking off Eskimos QB Mike Reilly with less than two minutes to go and returning the ball 49 yards to the house.

comment image

“Mike Reilly makes rarely mastered return miss, resisting ‘mo’s recovery match.”