Latest posts by The Maestro (see all)
- CFL Beat: Playoffs – Division Semifinals – November 8, 2018
- CFL Beat: Week 21 – November 1, 2018
- Red Sox win World Series; Maestro continues to be insufferable. – October 29, 2018
In a shocking collapse, the Edmonton Eskimos have officially been eliminated from 2018 post-season contention thanks to the victory by Winnipeg over Calgary. As a result of this, there’s only one game left on the regular-season schedule with playoff implications, when Calgary takes on BC. Should the Stampeders win, they’ll clinch the West Division for the third straight season.
In other league news this week:
- Halifax Regional Council voted unanimously, 15-0, to have Maritime Football Ltd. formally explore options for building a CFL-calibre stadium in the hopes of bringing a franchise to Atlantic Canada. As of right now, the company is looking to build the stadium in the Shannon Park neighbourhood, nestled at the end of the McKay Bridge and Highway 111 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, at the eastern side of the Bedford Basin, the north end of the Halifax Harbour. This is actually a fantastic site for the stadium to be located, should this plan end up happening – Shannon Park is a former site of Canadian Forces Base Halifax, the eastern hub of the Royal Canadian Navy, and much of the neighbourhood and military base has not been in use since 2004, when funding was reduced and CFB Halifax was consolidated into other locations. It remains highly accessible by main arterial roads, and by public transit throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality. The stadium cost is estimated between $170-190 million CAD, and there will be some public funding for the project, likely in the levying of a new sales tax or something of the sort. A report on the viability of the site and the funding of the stadium is expected back at Regional Council within the next 90 days.
- The current collective bargaining agreement between the CFL and its Players Association expires the day before the 2019 training camp opens, and negotiations have not formally begun yet, but expect dialogue to begin soon after the Grey Cup game at the end of November. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie gave an interview with the Ottawa Sun newspaper this week, and provided a few interesting tidbits of information within, including the prospect of wanting to grow the CFL to become a global brand (not through American/international expansion again, thank God), via increasing awareness and perhaps exhibition games outside the borders. Also intriguing will be to see if the Players’ Association can successfully bargain in favour of both an increased salary cap, but more importantly, a boost to the minimum salary of CFL players – which currently sits at $54,000 CAD. With competition from the new Alliance of American Football on the way shortly, expect there to be a strong push to try and make compensation more appealing in order to compete with the three-year, $250,000 USD contracts that virtually all AAF players will receive.
- Ottawa was awarded CFL Week 2019 this week by Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, and March will have a week-long series of events in the Nation’s Capital designed to grow the game and promote further fan interest, including events with CFL Hall of Famers, team personnel, and the CFL Draft Combine. The 2017 and 2018 events, held in Regina and Winnipeg, were big successes, and the league hopes to continue this trend in Ottawa this spring.
Onto the games!
WEEK 20 RECAPS
Calgary 21 vs. Winnipeg 29: With the Winnipeg victory, Calgary once again fails to lock up the West Division. After such a strong first half to the season, it’s got to be disconcerting to see them blow so many chances to secure another bye to the West Final. Winnipeg also clinched their playoff berth for the 2018 season in the victory, which saw Matt Nichols leading the way in one of his strongest performances of the year. The Bombers’ QB went 24-33 for 358 yards and two scores, while the defence also stood strong all game long. This was Nichols’ first win against the Stampeders in nine tries in his career to date, while Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell lost a third consecutive game for the first time ever in his six-year CFL career. Also notable was Winnipeg receiver Weston Dressler’s milestone; he hit the 10,000 receiving yards mark on an 11-yard gain in the first quarter. Thanks to a strong second half, the Bombers erased a 12-6 halftime deficit and turned it into a 13-12 lead in the third quarter, and the score would seesaw back and forth a few more times before a recovered fumble from Stamps RB Don Jackson and the subsequent punch-in from backup QB Chris Streveler put Winnipeg up 29-18; the Stamps could only muster a field goal after that point.
Ottawa 30 vs. Hamilton 13: Without Brandon Banks in the lineup, the Tabbies looked out of it, and the REDBLACKS clinched the East Division and a bye into the East Final with their second straight victory over the Ti-Cats. Ottawa sweeps the season series 3-0 with the win, and Hamilton will play the crossover team in the East Semifinal in less than two weeks’ time. Despite heavy rain and win the entire game, the Ottawa offence looked sharp; Trevor Harris was highly efficient, throwing three touchdowns on 267 pass yards, while backup Dominique Davis added another on a 55-yards strike to Greg Ellingson that caught Hamilton by surprise on a 3rd-and-1 situation at midfield. Not a lot to write about for Hamilton’s performance; Jeremiah Masoli was held in check, throwing two picks and zero touchdowns, while Lirim Hajrullahu’s four field goals were the only offensive points scored all day for the home team. With the playoff standings now finalized in the East, both teams will rest key personnel in their final regular-season tilts this week…
BC 16 vs. Saskatchewan 35: The Lions’ winning streak was snapped while the Roughriders clinched a home playoff game from the victory, though with Zach Collaros leaving in the second half after a big hit from Lions DT Odell Willis, the win came at a cost. Top RB Tre Mason also left the game, and backup Cameron Marshall performed admirably in his absence, racking up 134 yards on 19 carries. The real story of this one, however, was the Saskatchewan D, which had a monster game. With two defensive touchdowns scored in this one, by DT Zach Evans and HB Ed Gainey, the Riders tie the CFL single-season record with 11 defensive TDs scored. Saskatchewan led wire-to-wire in this one, and despite the absences of a few key offensive players, looked like the clearly better team through all four quarters of this game.
Toronto 10 vs. Montreal 40: Johnny Manziel finally picked up his first CFL win – although he sat on the bench for the final 30 minutes of this game, despite a good first half of play. An entertaining game, despite the lowly nature of both teams; Montreal’s offence came to life from rookie RB William Stanback, who scored the first and second touchdowns of his CFL career, and WR Eugene Lewis also threw a 61-yard bomb to WR George Johnson off of a razzle-dazzle lateral from Manziel at the line of scrimmage, which came as a result of DE John Bowman scooping up a loose after DL Woody Baron blocked a 44-yard field goal from Argos’ kicker Drew Brown. With Manziel on the bench for the second half, Antonio Pipkin came in to relieve him, and mostly just handed the ball off to Stanback and backup Lawrence Pittman, who racked up 120 combined rush yards total in this game.
BYE: Edmonton (8-9)
WEEK 21 PREVIEWS
Toronto (4-13) vs. Ottawa (10-7), Friday, November 2nd, 7:30 PM EST: The REDBLACKS will rest QB Trevor Harris for this one, so Dominique Davis will get the start. They’ll also be resting star RB William Powell for the second straight game, meaning that his rushing title is in jeopardy if Winnipeg’s Andrew Harris plays this week against the Eskimos. At any rate, the team’s success this season is more important than individual stats accrued, and it’s the right decision with the division locked up. The Argos have nothing left to play for except pride; despite the fact that Ottawa will see their backups getting the majority of the playing time in this contest, Toronto’s D still has more holes than well-aged Swiss cheese, and the versatility of the Ottawa offence should be readily able to exploit that. Toronto beat Ottawa 42-41 in a shocker back in Week 8 with McLeod Bethel-Thompson at the helm, but expect this offence to look a bit different now that James Franklin is back at the helm once more. Also don’t expect another defensive collapse like the one from three months ago.
Winnipeg (10-7) vs. Edmonton (8-9), Saturday, November 3rd, 4:00 PM EST: The Eskimos faded fast down the stretch, while the Blue Bombers have won five straight games, clinching their playoff spot and finally looking like the dominant team that everyone predicted at the beginning of the 2018 season. Hard to believe that a team with a QB and receiving tandem this good could be outside the playoffs for the first time since the ill-fated Kavis Reed era… but here we are. The Derel Walker injury was really the undoing of this team. Regardless of the disappointment in the Albertan provincial capital, at least there’ll be more football played at Commonwealth this season when the Grey Cup comes to town at the end of the month. With Winnipeg likely to rest starters this week in prep for the playoffs, this will hopefully be the chance for Edmonton to finish strong and begin prep for 2019 and their hopeful return to the post-season once more.
Montreal (4-13) vs. Hamilton (8-9), Saturday, November 3rd, 7:00 PM EST: It’s all over but the crying for the Als, who wrap up their season in Steeltown this week. Hamilton will play the crossover team, the BC Lions, in the Eastern Semi-Final next week. With the REDBLACKS having commanded the last two games and negated much of Hamilton’s offensive production, Jeremiah Masoli, if he plays, will hopefully be able to establish a rhythm with the playmakers he has left on his roster… which seem to be dwindling by the week. The main goal for this one will just to get out of this one as healthy as possible… for the Alouettes, the 2019 auditions continue. With so many QBs on the roster for training camp next season, it appears the competition is on, which is especially weird, considering the price Montreal paid for Johnny Football this season…
Calgary (12-5) vs. BC (9-8), Saturday, November 3rd, 10:00 PM EST: A lot of playoff implications to this one; win, and the Stampeders get the bye to the West Final; lose, and the Riders win the division. Calgary has not looked like themselves as of late – while they’re also dealing with tons of injuries to their receiving corps, as Hamilton is as well, the football they’ve been playing still hasn’t been up to par in other areas. The Lions came back to earth last week against the Riders, but remain a dangerous team; if they can get to Bo Levi Mitchell like other teams have done as of recent, they’ll have a chance to win. A Stamps loss would mean it’s the first time Calgary hasn’t won the division since 2015 – and I’m all for chaos.
BYE: Saskatchewan (12-6)
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|
x – Clinched Playoff Berth
y – Clinched Division
c – Clinched Crossover Playoff Berth
e – Eliminated from playoff contention
- Reilly, EDM – 5242
- Masoli, HAM – 5209
- Harris, OTT – 5116
- Mitchell, CGY – 34
- Reilly, EDM – 29
- Masoli, HAM – 28
- Powell, OTT – 1362
- Harris, WPG – 1355
- Gable, EDM – 951
- Williams, EDM – 1534
- Banks, HAM – 1423
- Sinopoli, OTT – 1376
- Hughes, SSK – 15
- Johnson, CGY – 13
- Willis, BC – 11
- Orange, BC – 5
- Rose, OTT – 5
- Rose, BC – 5
- Lauther, SSK – 54
- Ward, OTT – 49
- Hajrullahu, HAM – 44
One week left in the pool – will Beerguyrob finally be caught? Hang on to your hats, folks!
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=148402
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||52||3-1||67.53%|
Enjoy the games, everyone.