CFL Pass

CFL Pick ‘Em, week 14, part 2: Gearing up for playoffs

So the Blue Bombers were a bit friskier and Ian Wild got well more quality playing time than CFLpass had figured – but in this season of CFL Pick ‘Em a W is, as they say, a W.

With a Saturday CFL Game Day upon us, the rest of this duffers Pick ‘Em picks for week 14 are as follows.

BC Lions at Edmonton Eskimos – With the talk of Montreal (or possibly Toronto, with the potential denial of home-game dates coming) scoring a crossover playoff spot, perhaps CFL fans should be more surprised that BC Lions are even making their presence for that no. 6 spot felt.

After all, 2015 was supposed to be a rebuilding year for BC under first-time CFL head coach Jeff Tedford. While a 4-7 mark isn’t going to be confused with anyone’s definition of “dominance”, but this is a team that has surprised us with an impressive offensive line, has weathered the loss of the monstrous Solomon Elimimian and has been playing without a running game all season.

Having said that, the absence of Travis Lulay should realistically end the Lions’ playoff hopes -- even if they’re 6-8 in three weeks after beating Saskatchewan and Winnipeg.

On the other hand, it’s tough to take a team who last week trotted out some sort of insane hybrid of an NCAA read option-centric offense and the 1925 Ottawa Football Senators’ playbook. Could Mike Reilly really win again with single-digit completions? CFLpass’ll go Edmonton Eskimos over BC Lions, but an upset is certainly imaginable.

Toronto Argonauts at Ottawa Redblacks. – First of all, let’s get a little sober about that much-touted three-game win streak the Redblacks are currently enjoying. Sure, this first-ever three-gamer is swell and all, but any other team racks up wins against Saskatchewan, BC and Saskatchewan and nary a blip registers on the radar.

Two words sum of the Redblacks success in 2015 – and what’s looking more and more like a legitimate Grey Cup run: Henry. Burris.

If only for the simple fact that Ottawa is one of two teams to have kept its Opening Day starting QB active in what has been a revolving door for every other CFL franchise in ‘15, Burris has provided the expansion-team-no-more with an in-built advantage all season. But Burris has become the very personification of the importance of experience in this game.

Burris’s stats this season make for a fascinating description of what’s actually happening in the Ottawa offense right now: The QB has thrown just 12 TD passes (including two last week) against 395 pass attempts for a 3.0% success rate; that’s second-lowest among the dozen CFL quarterbacks who have completed at least 50 passes this season. In contrast is his tiny 1.8% interception rate, third-best among the aforementioned QBs. Talk about your dink ‘n’ dunk.

So Burris and the Redblacks have dinked-and-dunked their way to a 7-4 mark, but note that only one of those victories has come against a team currently posting a winning record, namely the upset of Calgary in week five. Nevertheless, there’s no compelling reason to bet against Burris at home right now: Ottawa Redblacks over Toronto Argonauts.

Montreal Alouettes at Saskatchewan Roughriders – While the Rider Nation faithful are at various levels in the realization that their team will soon be mathematically eliminated, one can’t fault Alouettes fans for believing their season has just begun.

After all, last week saw Montreal’s Opening Day quarterback play his first full game in 2015; Stefan Logan scored a 78-yard kick return TD that wasn’t called back on a penalty; Samuel Giguere played his best all-around game this season (though somewhat at the expense of S.J. Green); the front seven on defence was productively aggressive with four sacks and loads of pressure; even Boris Bede and the his special teams unit starred with 15 total points and some nice spot-punting.

Unlike the Alouettes’ other highlight-reel games this season (e.g. the Rakeem Cato game in week 2, the great upset at Tim Horton’s place in week 10), the immolation of Winnipeg actually seems sustainable – at least into this week. The right personnel are coming around at the right time of the season for a Montreal playoff run, at the expense of the Roughriders.

Sorry to say that such a loss mathematically eliminates Saskatchewan, but I say it anyway: Montreal Alouettes over Saskatchewan Roughriders.

 

– written by Os Davis