CFL Pass

CFL Pick ‘em, week 18: Which is the least worst team?

The CFL in 2015 has featured three distinct tiers of quality among the nine teams. At the top level, CFLpass puts those teams which have already secured a playoff spot: Calgary, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton. The bottom tier includes the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

And it is for this year’s middle class, three teams still somehow vying for the final “West” division playoff spot despite various woes, injuries and personnel dismissals, that we will be watching the games these next weeks. Interestingly, week 18 features no meetings between the Montreal Alouettes, BC Lions or Winnipeg Blue Bombers, putting each team’s fates in its own hands for one more week.

The dismal situation of *three* .333 teams fighting for the right to get trounced in an away playoff game is enough for the league’s official website itself to question the necessity of the “crossover” concept – though two of the three writers responding stood with tradition. (Speaking an Als fan, it might be better to pull the plug on this particular season right now and just let the third-best team in the West actually, you know, represent the West in the 2015 playoffs.)

Like or hate the crossover system, it’s going nowhere right now – so those CFL Pick ‘Em players still plugging away this late into ’15 must pay heed to the league’s middling (at best) trio. Could things actually get uglier before they get better…?

Montreal Alouettes: Downward spiral or graveyard spiral?
Anyone who watched the debut of Kevin “The Human Insurance Policy” Glenn’s debut with the Als last week knows that the veteran is not the answer to Montreal’s question(s), which have reached grotesque proportions. Unfortunately, Glenn could not plug-and-play his way into an offensive scheme which had already been through six quarterbacks, two head coaches and at least a couple of offensive coordinators.

So add the out-of-sync Glenn to a Swiss cheese defense that’s also now without Aaron Lavarius and Brandon Smith. Incidentally, how about Smith as emblematic of the Alouettes’ entire 2015 season? Dude comes in, gets into his first game for Montreal, leaves said game with a major wrist injury, done for the year. Brandon Smith, meet Dan LeFevour.

And Alouettes, meet the off-season. Toronto Argonauts over Montreal Alouettes.

Can BC Lions seize the day?
Of the three teams contending for that final playoff spot, the Lions are unquestionably the most exciting, probably even the best. In a league where “no lead is safe,” however, Jeff Tedford’s thrill-a-minute game plans and talent-dotted roster won’t mean anything after an unlucky bounce or two.

If nothing else, this week’s matchup against the Tiger-Cats will certainly play out differently than the blowout of the Lions in Hamilton back in August: After all, back then, Solomon Eliminian looked set to be the CFL defensive MOP while Zach Collaros was leading an amazing-looking Ticats offence. Neither unit has been the same since the injuries their respective on-field leaders.

As much as CFLpass would like to find something to base confidence in the Lions this week, it just can’t be done. The stat of the week is this: BC is 4-1 against the Roughriders and Alouettes, 1-9 against the rest of the CFL. Despite a win essentially locking up that final playoff spot for the Lions, they won’t get it. Hamilton Tiger-Cats over BC Lions.

Whoa, Winnipeg is still around…
Analyzed Brazilian Ty on this week’s episode of the 2 And Out CFL podcast: “[The Blue Bombers] play a little defense; they can’t do much else.” Surely he was being kind; Winnipeg has given up just eight points fewer than a Roughriders defence that surrendered 46 to BC three weeks ago.

Also, is it me or is anyone else skeptical about Matt Nichols as a starting quarterback? Between the Eskimos and Bombers this season, Nichols has posted 16 passing TDs against 15 interceptions; his accuracy is just under 60% and his QB rating is a pedestrian 78.0 or so. This can’t possibly be the starting quarterback on a playoff team, can it? Nah. Ottawa RedBlacks over Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

And another thing
What’s the best possible way to subvert any advantage of a late-season bye week? Trade away your starting quarterback and running back! 

What’s the best possible way to help poise the defending champions for a repeat Grey Cup win? Help them create a 1-2 punch in the backfield featuring this decade’s most dominant CFL HB and the leading rusher in 2015!

For karmic reasons alone, the pick is Edmonton Eskimos over Saskatchewan Roughriders.

– written by Os Davis