CFL Pass

CFL Pick ‘Em, Week 9: Trying not to think of Alouettes while admiring Eskimos

With a couple of hours to go before this week’s opening kickoff, CFLpass has one last chance to brag: Four for Four! #4for4! Et cetera. Hey, a perfect week in CFL Pick ‘Em may be old hat to you – though in 2015 I doubt it muchly – but I’m gonna enjoy it until my next choice goes awry.

The choices, with much assorted vaguely associated commentary, for week nine of CFL Pick ‘Em run below. As always, all picks are set with a “Confidence Level” rating of 100%, because what would be the point otherwise? (Rhetorical question there.)

Montreal Alouettes at BC Lions – A few random thoughts on this suddenly sickeningly sour Montreal Alouettes season, a few hours before game time:

•  Though seeming ages ago, you may recall that, just after week one, many CFL fans were optimistic about this team’s prospective new starting quarterback, a guy who would generate excitement and interest throughout the league. A young man named … Brandon Bridge. At the rate QB Rakeem Cato has been going – see below (or don’t) for more on said rate – who would be shocked to see Bridge get that historic start before Crompton someday returns...?

•  So notes a writeup displaying a finely-honed sense of understatement on league’s official website: “Montreal doesn’t seem to have luck on its side in Vancouver. Since 2000, the Alouettes have only managed one win on the road when facing the Lions, coming in 2010 at Empire Field.” (Anyone else miss the 1990s…?)

•  After Cato’s amazing debut, his TD-to-interception ratio is a painful 3:6, and The Canadian Press further notes that the Montreal “offence is last in the nine-team league in touchdowns (11), passing touchdowns (7), first downs (127) and passes completed (129). They are second to last in points scored (142), ahead of Ottawa (134)…”

•  And the offence becomes even more abysmal late in games this season: In the Als’ last four losses, they’ve scored a total of 26 points in the second half. They’ve posted second halves in which they’ve scored 0 and 2 already this season already, and the week 10 game against that utterly monstrous Hamilton defense looms in seven short days. Then there’s the question of John Bowman. What *was* up with that benching last week? And … ah, I can’t do any more. BC Lions over Montreal Alouettes.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Edmonton Eskimos – Yes, the Hamilton defence is looking outstanding right now and Eric Norwood is coming off an überdominant performance (thank you, sir, for the 33 Fantaseh points). Sure, Zach Collaros has become a model of consistency during the Ticats’ four-game winning streak. Indeed, this roster is a fair bit healthier than the decimated lot it appeared to be on Opening Day.

But.

Edmonton just may be catching Hamilton at the right time in the season. After all, no opposing team has come close to ringing up the Esks’ scoreboard like Collaros did in a career day last week against a weakened BC Lions offence; the most points scored against the CFL’s stingiest defence in 2015 has been 26. Incidentally, Odell Willis has been pretty überiffic lately, racking up three sacks last week alone (and thank you, too, for those 22 Fantash points).

Combine this with the home venue itself, at which the Eskimos are on an 8-0 run stretching back over 11 months and where they’ve scored at least 30 points all three games this season, and I’m thinking the not-quite-invincible Ti-cats are surprised: Eskimos over Tiger-Cats in a possible Grey Cup preview. (Yeah, I said it.)

Calgary Stampeders at Saskatchewan Roughriders – So.

The Riders sold out this game days in advance, reportedly the first such early capacity-filler at Mosaic this season. The Riders are coming out of a bye week, well-rested, optimized, etc. Head coach Corey Chamblin is still in place (not sure whether that’s bad or good, but it is at least stability).

Then there’s the sheer statistical oddity-unto-madness the Roughriders have already been through this season. The 0-7 start is a fairly significant outlier against both team and recent CFL history, and every observer would be smart to expect some regression to the mean.

Plus, the Green-and-White have the Macho Man exhorting them on to victory.

So why isn’t my confidence higher on these guys? Could it be because all the positivity surrounding the Riders coming out of this bye ranges from intangible to simple “feels” (in the parlance of our times)? And how about those Stampeders – defending champions, remember? – and their incredible adaptability week after week, even absorbing the loss of the league’s no. 1 running back in Jon Cornish along the way? (Blowout of the RedBlacks notwithstanding.)

Contrast this capacity for the comeback with the Riders’ (ahem, coaching staff, cough cough) questionable decision-making in crunchtime and blown fourth-quarter leads – interesting how both these teams have been keeping fans on the edge of their seats all season long. And I know on whose fans’ side of the sofa I’d rather be sitting as the time ticks down. Take the Stampeders over Roughriders and in those final minutes just remember to…

Ottawa RedBlacks at Toronto Argonauts – And now, some dialogue.

The Internet: Were those really the true colors (so to speak) of the RedBlacks last week?

CFLpass: Um, well, maybe not quite so much, but …

76% of CFL Pick ‘Em players: Argonauts over RedBlacks

CFLpass: me 2. :)

– written by Os Davis