CFL Beat: Week 19

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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With a number of surprising results last week, the playoff situation in the West Division has seen no further resolution; a couple of key divisional matchups in EDM-BC and SSK-CGY will factor in heavily into the upcoming seedings. A Saskatchewan win clinches them one of the two top seeds in the division and a home playoff date, while a Calgary win clinches the West and a first-round bye. Ottawa and Hamilton are also duking it out for the division title over the next two weeks, where a first-round bye will be extremely valuable in not having to face the crossover team from the loaded West.

In league news this week:

  • Winnipeg signed their 2017 first overall pick OL Geoff Gray to a two-year contract; the Manitoba native was a highly sought-after prospect in last year’s draft, but due to a lot of NFL interest, he fell to eighth overall in the draft. Gray signed a free agent deal with the Green Bay Packers last offseason, and later played with both the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. The Browns released him this spring after he played three games with them. As a home-grown product, Gray is a very valuable addition to the Bombers as they enter their final playoff push.
  • Edmonton extended DT Almondo Sewell through 2020; the five-time CFL All-Star has spent his entire career with the Eskimos, and he is a highly valued member of their defensive line. This year, Sewell has contributed 32 solo tackles, six QB sacks, and one catch for 16 yards on offence as well.
  • Calgary signed veteran receiver and former Stampeder Bakari Grant to their practise roster; he was most recently with the Roughriders before being released in training camp this year. With their WR depth still depleted, there’s a chance that Grant may eventually move back to the active roster later on.
  • Saskatchewan signed their top pick in the 2018 CFL Draft, OL Dakoda Shepley, after he was released by the New York Jets earlier; he was selected fifth overall in the draft, and projects to be a key feature of their offensive line by 2020, likely.
  • After being released from BC after they brought in Tyrell Sutton in a trade with Montreal, RB Travon Van signed with the Toronto Argonauts, and he’ll back up both James Wilder, Jr. and Dexter McCluster in the backfield. Toronto also announced the signings of DB Caleb Ham (son of CFL Hall of Fame QB Tracy Ham) and WR Austin Duke this week as well.

Onto the games!


Hamilton 34 vs. Toronto 20: Jeremiah Masoli was most certainly On One last week, as he threw four touchdowns, including three to receiver Luke Tasker, to go along with 338 yards passing on 21-30 attempts. While he did also have two interceptions on the night, the Ti-Cats were still far and away the dominant team from start to finish in this matchup. Toronto’s playoff hopes are long over, but it was certainly encouraging to see the team have a pretty strong first half, particularly on offence, before Hamilton eventually pulled away in the third quarter. James Franklin had 292 yards and two touchdowns plus an interception, but it was good to see the Argos able to move the ball fairly well on a defence that has definitely stepped up its game since the first half of the season. At any rate, though, with the victory, Hamilton sweeps the season series against the Argos, who must wait until next year to get revenge on their Lake Ontario rivals.

PICK: Hamilton

RESULT: Hamilton

Saskatchewan 0 vs. Winnipeg 31: Talk about a one-sided game; this one was over even before halftime. Saskatchewan’s offence was simply putrid through this one, and couldn’t muster anything at all; it’s the second straight week that they’ve failed to score a touchdown. It was the Blue Bombers’ first shutout win since 2006, and the first time the Roughriders have gone scoreless since 2014. While Winnipeg’s offence has rebounded after looking shaky back in September, it’s most notably their D that has made major strides in the second half of the regular season. Safety DB Anthony Gaitor and LB Adam Bighill led the way for the Bombers, with Gaitor scoring a pick-six after Riders WR Kyran Moore fumbled the ball, and Bighill racking up eight tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. While the Riders have still locked down their playoff berth, the loss means they fail to clinch a home playoff game, though they still have a few opportunities left to do so this season.

PICK: Saskatchewan

RESULT: Winnipeg

Ottawa 16 vs. Edmonton 34: The REDBLACKS had a 16-14 lead at halftime, but thanks to some strong defensive play and just absolutely putrid playcalling from the road team, the Eskimos roared back in the final two frames to soundly defeat the visitors. With 20 unanswered points, Edmonton now finds themselves with some momentum as the playoff hunt in the West gets even tighter. After a few lacklustre games, Mike Reilly looked more like his old self, racking up 369 passing yards and a TD on 31-38 attempts, and receiver Bryant Mitchell, stepping up to fill the void left by the injured Derel Walker, led the way for the Eskimos, with 13 catches for 190 yards and a TD. RB CJ Gable also had two scores on the ground to help Edmonton secure the victory. The Eskimos’ D also sacked QB Trevor Harris five times in this game, preventing Ottawa from establishing any offensive rhythm in the second half. A disappointing showing for the REDBLACKS, who now sit tied with Hamilton on victories for the top spot in the East Division.

PICK: Edmonton

RESULT: Edmonton

BC 26 vs. Calgary 21: In head coach Wally Buono’s final regular season game at McMahon Stadium (the Lions’ head coach, who was also the Stamps’ head coach from 1990 to 2002, is retiring at the end of this season), BC shocked Calgary with a rare home defeat. The Lions came roaring out of the gate, scoring 13 points in the first quarter from two field goals and a touchdown from new running back Tyrell Sutton. While Calgary would battle back in the second quarter, a second Sutton TD allowed the Leos to take a 20-18 lead into halftime; in the second half, the defences took over. Calgary could muster only a field goal, while BC had two of their own to keep their lead at five points and ultimately close out the major upset over the heavily favoured home team. Despite Calgary capitalizing on a few BC turnovers, it still wasn’t enough to keep them in this one – the Lions held firm over the final thirty minutes, and the Stamps just couldn’t get the job done in the end.

PICK: Calgary


BYE: Montreal (3-12)


Hamilton (8-7) vs. Ottawa (8-7), Friday, October 19th, 7:00 PM EST: This is the first of a home-and-home series between the two top teams, who sport identical records. Almost certainly it’s going to result in eventually determining who takes the division title and the first-round playoff bye – the stakes are extremely high. While their records are the same, Ottawa currently holds the tiebreaker due to having bested the Tabbies at Tim Hortons Field back in Week 7 by a 21-15 score. This is about as even as teams can get – when the defences get going, both are formidable unit, and Hamilton has the edge in quarterback play this year with Jeremiah Masoli making an MOP case for his side. The key for both teams is consistency, on both sides of the ball – both teams lack it, and it could end up being their Achilles heels, in this game, this series, and later on in the playoffs as well.

PICK: Ottawa

Edmonton (8-8) vs. BC (8-7), Friday, October 19th, 10:00 PM EST: With Travis Lulay back last week to help lead the Lions to an upset win over the Stampeders, BC got back a key piece of their offence, and his ability to contribute will be essential to the Lions’ bid to lock down one of the two remaining playoff spots left. Despite both teams having eight wins, the Leos currently have the inside track on that crossover berth due to having a game in hand to the Eskies… but a Winnipeg loss in Week 20 could also really shake things up once more. Edmonton looked more composed and in sync last week in the second half against the REDBLACKS than they’ve looked in quite some time, and despite BC having an excellent defence, including a stronger secondary than Ottawa’s, if Mike Reilly can put together another performance like he did last week, then Edmonton’s chances look much better. Still, hard to win this year at BC Place – the Lions are 6-1 at home. I like those odds.


Montreal (3-12) vs. Toronto (3-12), Saturday, October 20th, 4:00 PM EST: It’s the Also-Rans Bowl this week, as the Als and Argos face off to figure out which team is the biggest loser in the league. After Montreal sold off a few parts last week, including RB Tyrell Sutton and LB Chris Ackie, there are further holes to their roster, but Toronto’s also really isn’t looking much better at this current stage in the game. Johnny Manziel is still looking for his first career CFL win, and against a team that’s almost as sad-sack his own, this week might represent the best chance he has all season to accomplish this task. Toronto will be further evaluating James Franklin this week, as he still represents their QB of the future, despite having temporarily lost that job this season. One may need a lot of beer to watch this one, but hey, a beer’s a beer.

PICK: Montreal

Saskatchewan (10-6) vs. Calgary (12-3), Saturday, October 20th, 7:00 PM EST: We’ve got the league’s top two records squaring off against each other, and unfortunately for the Roughriders, they will have a tough go of things this week. After an extremely rare home loss, the Stampeders will be itching to make amends; meanwhile, the Riders looked like absolute dogshit against the Bombers last week. Two consecutive weeks without scoring an offensive touchdown is never a good look – even when you have a playoff berth locked down. It’s become clear by now that this team will live and die by its defence, but if Charleston Hughes and Willie Jefferson can’t get to Bo Levi Mitchell and put pressure on him, it’s going to be a tough road to travel to a win. The Stamps’ game plan will be a series of short passes – quick slants, bubble screens, and RPO-like stuff – just to ensure the ball leaves the pocket quickly.

PICK: Calgary

BYE: Winnipeg (9-7)


East Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Ties Points For Points Against
x-Ottawa 15 8 7 0 375 367
x-Hamilton 15 7 7 0 441 361
e-Montreal 15 3 12 0 253 448
e-Toronto 15 3 12 0 324 474

West Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Ties Points For Points Against
x-Calgary 15 12 3 0 451 296
x-Saskatchewan 16 10 6 0 386 404
Winnipeg 16 9 7 0 497 365
BC 15 8 7 0 356 380
Edmonton 16 8 8 0 417 405

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

Passing Yards

  1. Reilly, EDM – 4974
  2. Masoli, HAM – 4624
  3. Harris, OTT – 4508

Passing TDs

  1. Mitchell, CGY – 31
  2. Reilly, EDM – 28
  3. Masoli, HAM – 25

Rushing Yards

  1. Powell, OTT – 1275
  2. Harris, WPG – 1269
  3. Gable, EDM – 940

Receiving Yards

  1. Williams, EDM – 1454
  2. Banks, HAM – 1290
  3. Sinopoli, OTT – 1207


  1. Hughes, SSK – 15
  2. Johnson, CGY – 11
  3. Lemon, BC – 10


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

Field Goals

  1. Ward, OTT – 46
  2. Lauther, SSK – 45
  3. Long, BC – 41


ABSOLUTE CARNAGE IN THE PICKS THIS WEEK. (And by carnage I more mean simply that the BC upset win did a number on just about everyone here.)

Remember to submit your picks here!

Rank Total Points Weekly Score Win Percentage
Beerguyrob 49 1-3 71.01%
SonOfSpam 47 3-1 68.12%
Ballsofsteelandfury 47 1-3 68.12%
Litre_cola 47 3-1 68.12%
Game Time Decision 47 3-1 68.12%
Spanky Datass 45 2-2 65.22%
The Maestro 44 2-2 63.77%
Wakezilla 43 1-3 62.32%
Dolph Ucker 4 0-4 5.80%
blaxabbath 2 0-4 3.08%
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.
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Game Time Decision

nice to see some different picks this week in the pool.


If only the Ham family named one of their kids Dak…


Ahem — that’s PRO BOWLER Dak. I think he’s earned the title.

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Two consecutive weeks without scoring an offensive touchdown is never a good look.

“It is when your eye black is this sharp PraiseBe.”

-D Carr


Has anyone ever played for every CFL team?


Kevin glenn is 1 short of the whole set I believe. He is missing Hamilton.


That is so awesome. I love how like middle relievers or NBA guys just end up collecting jerseys as they get traded around the last few years of their careers. It’s just novel.

BC Dick

Glenn has em all. I thought Mr. Cola would know that. Was in Hamilton for two or three years after Winnipeg released him… so they could start the Stefan Lefors era. And lo, many Grey Cups poured their sweet nectar into Stefan’s victorious gullet. Kevin’s waiting for the Schooners to start up so he can have a 10 spot.