CFL Beat: Week 6

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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Lots of news around the league this week! Including the best kind of news… the juicy gossip! Crime, money, drama and intrigue! All the best kind of stuff to keep you entertained during these, the dog days of summer.

  • Despite a much stronger start to their season than they’ve enjoyed in quite some time, the Montreal Alouettes made waves across the league this week when they fired their GM, Kavis Reed, shortly after their win over the REDBLACKS. Despite the team not giving any specifics for the reasoning behind the firing, there are a number of sources out there than claim Reed was fired because of a number of financial irregularities – including a way to circumvent the CFL salary cap, as well as charging the team for personal expenses, including plane tickets. According to 3DownNation, Reed’s firing had been in the works for quite some time, but was temporarily delayed due to Mike Sherman’s departure as head coach. With Reed gone, assistant GM Joe Mack and director of football ops Patrick Donovan will share the GM duties on an interim basis until Reed’s replacement is hired. This, of course, is a major bummer for Als fans, because Joe Mack was incompetent during his time as GM of the Blue Bombers from 2010-2013, when they were regularly in the league basement. In another 3DownNation article, the league has apparently been calling the shots for the team for quite some time – including forcing Reed to release Johnny Manziel back in the offseason, much to Reed’s chagrin.
  • Considering the timing of Reed’s firing, it seems to be imminent that the league is cleaning house in order to eventually announce a sale of the Alouettes – most likely to Peter and Jeffrey Lenkov, brothers who were born in the Montreal area who now reside in Los Angeles, working as a movie producer and a lawyer, respectively.
  • Simoni Lawrence had his two-game suspension upheld by an independent arbitrator this week, which means that he’ll be missing the Tiger-Cats’ next two games: Friday, July 26th vs. Winnipeg, and Thursday, August 1st at Saskatchewan. Fitting that the team affected most negatively by his hit – the Riders – will also be the beneficiaries of his removal to the press box.
  • A week after getting released by the REDBLACKS, BC picked up Ryan Lankford to help bolster their return game. Despite his costly gaffe for Ottawa in their game in Week 4 against Winnipeg, he does have some proficiency for kick and punt returns, and for BC, who are looking everywhere for ways to shake off their poor start to the season, this is a logical – albeit still small – roster move.
  • Montreal announced Wednesday that they released long-time return man Stefan Logan, who’d been with the team since 2015, and spent a total of eight seasons in the CFL. At age 38, it’s unclear if he’ll be receiving another contract, but at any rate, it’s clear to say he’s had a long and successful career; he leaves the Alouettes as their all-time leader in kickoff return yards with 3,881 yards, and 3,457 punt return yards as well.
  • The CFL signed an agreement with the British American Football Association (BAFA) this week, making it the tenth league to sign an affiliation intending to grow the game internationally, and to provide players an opportunity to play pro football at an elite level here in Canada. With agreements in place already in Austria, Denmark, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Italy, and Mexico, football players in the UK will hopefully receive invites to international combines and drafts in the future. The CFL 2.0 experiment, which began in earnest last season, is showing early signs of success, with 24 players from outside Canada or the United States holding roster spots on all nine CFL franchises.

Onto the games!

WEEK 5 RECAPS

Edmonton 33 vs. BC 6: This was a very ugly one indeed for the LioUns, who are firmly in the West basement thus far. Mike Reilly had terrible protection from his O-line; after getting sacked seven times in these teams’ previous meeting, he was sacked five more times in this game – without adequate time in the pocket, BC is going to have a very tough go of trying to get back into a highly competitive divisional race. The Eskimos were once again extremely efficient on both sides of the ball – Trevor Harris once again showed why he was a shrewd free agent signing, leading the way for Edmonton with 276 passing yards and two touchdowns, as well as a rushing score of his own. BC’s only points were off two Sergio Castillo field goals – at least they’ve got the kicking game going, I guess?

PICK: BC

RESULT: Edmonton

Toronto 21 vs. Winnipeg 48: With another victory, Winnipeg is off to their best start to a season since 2003, when they also started 4-0; Toronto showed a little bit more competitiveness in this game, but still ultimately remain the most mismanaged franchise in the CFL – which is a truly shocking revelation, especially considering the circus that has followed the Montreal Alouettes around the last several years. The Bombers made the highlight reel on the very first play of the game, with receiver Lucky Whitehead rattling off a 104-yard return touchdown on the game’s opening kickoff. Winnipeg’s offence was on cruise control throughout this one, with Matt Nichols throwing for 209 yards and three scores on 18-24 attempts, and running back Andrew Harris had 116 yards rushing and a TD on 14 carries. Toronto, despite giving up a ton of points, is starting to show some strides offensively – McLeod Bethel-Thompson had a career-high 388 yards passing and 3 touchdowns, though he did have two picks as well… and most positively, the Argos seem to have found a way to finally get the ball to Derel Walker, their biggest off-season acquisition, who had 9 catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns on the night. Defensively, there are still a ton of holes in the Argos’ game plan, but it’s better than last week, I suppose.

PICK: Winnipeg

RESULT: Winnipeg

Montreal 36 vs. Ottawa 19: After a big win at home against the Ti-Cats last week, the Alouettes kept the momentum rolling. Vernon Adams, Jr. had a career night, going 23-30 for 327 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air, including a spectacular 75-yard catch-and-run with WR Quan Bray… AND two more rushing scores as well. The REDBLACKS just looked… lost. Dominique Davis threw a bad interception early, while RJ Harris had a fumble as well, and right from the opening minutes, Ottawa lacked any sort of momentum. The Als would go on to just completely blow the game wide open in the second half thanks to Adams’ scrambling skills… all of a sudden, the East Division looks way different, and Montreal reaches the .500 mark for the first time in over two seasons.

PICK: Ottawa

RESULT: Montreal

Calgary 23 vs. Hamilton 30: The Stamps had the Ti-Cats pinned down for a while, but late in the game, Jeremiah Masoli managed to get the offence going, and connected twice with Brandon Banks to score two touchdowns, sealing the win for the home team. Banks had himself an extremely impressive game, with nine catches for 86 yards and two TDs, plus an additional 115-yard return touchdown on a missed field goal in the second quarter. Hamilton’s special teams were On One in this game… not only did Brandon Banks have his impressive return TD, but Will Likely added a 110-yard kickoff return TD just before Banks’ score in the 2nd. Just as well that special teams came through, since the offensive was out of sync until late in the fourth. The Stamps had a good start to the game, with Nick Arbuckle throwing for 368 yards, and special-teamer Ka’deem Carey blocking a punt and returning it for a TD… but at the end of the game, there wasn’t enough in the tank to prevent the Tiger-Cats from breaking through. With the win, Hamilton gets its first victory over Calgary since 2011… which absolutely blew me away when I was doing my stats research this week. Crazy league, this CFL.

PICK: Calgary

RESULT: Hamilton

BYE: Saskatchewan (1-3)

WEEK 6 PREVIEWS

Toronto (0-4) vs. Calgary (2-2), Thursday, July 18th, 9:00 PM EST (TSN, ESPN2)Calgary returns home after a late loss last week to the Ti-Cats, and how fortunate for them that Toronto is ripe for the picking. Key takeaways for this game for the Stamps will be tightening up on special teams – giving up two return TDs in one game is very uncharacteristic of them – and to work on wearing out the porous Toronto defence by extending drives and maintaining possession. Toronto, meanwhile, needs to work on pretty much everything… but most especially on defence. Getting the ball to Derel Walker like they did last week against the Eskimos would be a good start too, though.

PICK: Calgary

Ottawa (2-2) vs. Winnipeg (4-0), Friday, July 19th, 8:30 PM EST (TSN, ESPN+)All of a sudden, the REDBLACKS are sliding, after two bad losses. Head coach Rick Campbell said earlier this week that “Dom[inique Davis] is my guy” when asked about who would start at quarterback, with the caveat that injuries might necessitate a change. Lo and behold, Jonathon Jennings was taking the first-team reps during Tuesday’s practise, with the team later announcing Wednesday that he would be getting the start this week. I’m no Jonathon Jennings fan, but I guess it’s time for a change. For the Bombers, they’re rolling. If they can stay efficient on offence, as they’ve been all year, and continue to show the ability to come with defensive stops at key times, they’ll remain the class of the CFL.

PICK: Winnipeg

Edmonton (3-1) vs. Montreal (2-2), Saturday, July 20th, 4:00 PM EST (TSN, ESPN+)Montreal played extremely well last week, but Edmonton was even more fantastic – with the way that Trevor Harris is leading the offence, plus with the way the Eskimo D-line has put pressure on opposing quarterbacks thus far, they remain a very complete team. Vernon Adams, Jr. presents the Eskimos with a tough defensive game plan, due to his ability to make plays even after the pocket breaks down, not to mention his strong rushing abilities. Throw in William Stanback and the possibility of RPOs on just about every play far from first down, there’s a lot to consider. I think this one is going to be an excellent game!

PICK: Edmonton

BC (1-4) vs. Saskatchewan (1-3), Saturday, July 20th, 7:00 PM EST (TSN, ESPN+)The Riders don’t look nearly as good as last season, which of course is in part due to the departure of Chris Jones, their former head coach and defensive stalwart, but it’s also tough when injuries on the offensive side of the ball mean the D has to be out for prolonged periods. For BC… woof. If it weren’t for the extremely, extremely rouge against the Argos a couple weeks back, they’d be looking for their first win of the year. Without adequate O-line protection, Mike Reilly’s effectiveness will remain highly diminished, but most of all, without figuring out how the hell to run a defence, the Leos are toast. If they lose again, I think that’s it for their playoff chances this year.

PICK: Saskatchewan

BYE: Hamilton (4-1)

STANDINGS AND STATS

East Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Points For Points Against
Hamilton 5 4 1 187 100
Montreal 4 2 2 107 121
Ottawa 4 2 2 109 134
Toronto 4 0 4 59 162

West Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Points For Points Against
Winnipeg 4 4 0 138 79
Edmonton 4 3 1 125 82
Calgary 4 2 2 124 104
Saskatchewan 4 1 3 100 111
BC 5 1 4 102 158

Passing Yards

  1. Masoli, HAM – 1517
  2. Harris, EDM – 1362
  3. Reilly, BC – 1256

Passing TDs

  1. Nichols, WPG – 10
  2. Masoli, HAM – 9
  3. Harris, EDM – 8

Rushing Yards

  1. Stanback, MTL – 457
  2. Gable, EDM – 415
  3. Harris, WPG – 378

Receiving Yards

  1. Banks, HAM – 506
  2. Ellingson, EDM – 379
  3. Burnham, BC – 349

Sacks

  1. Hughes, SSK – 5
  2. Law, CGY – 4
  3. Davis, HAM – 4

Interceptions

  1. Roberson, CGY – 5
  2. Lawrence, HAM – 2
  3. Hecht, WPG – 2

Field Goals

  1. Whyte, EDM – 14
  2. PWard, OTT – 13
  3. Hajrullahu, HAM – 12

PICK POOL

Dipshit me would probably be leading… if I’d remembered to submit my picks last week. God damnit.

Remember to submit your picks here! https://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=168258

Rank Total Points Weekly Score Win Percentage
Litre_Cola 14 2-2 73.68%
SonOfSpam 13 3-1 68.42%
Beerguyrob 12 1-3 63.16%
The Maestro 12 0-4 63.16%
Game Time Decision 11 1-3 57.89%
Ballsofsteelandfury 11 2-2 57.89%
BC Dick 11 2-2 57.89%
Sharkbait 8 4-0 42.11%
blaxabbath 5 0-4 26.32%
Dolph Ucker 0 0-4 0.00%
nomonkeyfun 0 0-4 0.00%
Spanky Datass 0 0-4 0.00%
Wakezilla 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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litre_cola

Sharky with a 4-0! Very nice.

ballsofsteelandfury

Dipshit me would be leading if I knew how to make better predictions!

blaxabbath

“0-4 is alright….but how many of those were first half interceptions?!”

-N Peterman