CFL PREVIEW: Predictions on the upcoming season
2019 prediction: 12-6
2018 record: 10-8
Synopsis: The Bombers have the best one-two quarterbacking punch in the league and upgraded an already formidable defence with the addition of Willie Jefferson.
Key additions: DL Willie Jefferson, WR Chris Matthews, LB D.J. Lalama, WR Lucky Whitehead
Key deletions: LB Jovan Santos-Knox, S Taylor Loffler, OL Sukh Chungh, DB Kevin Fogg, WR Rashaun Simonise
He said it: “We had the perfect play call for the coverage they were in and he ran a great route and there’s only a certain amount of people in the world who can take a play like that 90 yards, weaving through traffic all the way down the field, and have that kind of speed.”
— QB Matt Nichols on WR Lucky Whitehead’s pre-season TD
2019 prediction: 11-7
2018 record: 13-5
Synopsis: The defence is a question mark, but Bo Levi Mitchell is the elite QB every team needs to stay on top. If he stays healthy, they always have a chance.
Key additions: DB Courtney Stephen, LB Fraser Sopik
Key deletions: LB Alex Singleton, LB Jameer Thurman, Defensive coordinator DeVone Claybrooks, DL Ja’Gared Davis, DL Micah Johnson, CB Ciante Evans, DL James Vaughters, WR Marken Michel, WR Julan Lynch, WR Chris Matthews, WR Lemar Durant
He said it: “I’m a little bit undersized but I’m somebody who moves really well and on top of that, I’m someone who is versatile. I can do a lot of things on the football field and a lot of things that a lot of people can’t. I’m a pretty special player.”
— Rookie LB Fraser Sopik, to a cfl.ca reporter, prior to the CFL draft
2019 prediction: 10-8
2018 record: 9-9
Synopsis: QB Mike Reilly should have enough offensive weapons, and protection to rack up throwing yards, TDs and victories.
Key additions: Head coach DeVone Claybrooks, QB Mike Reilly, OL Sukh Chungh, WR Duron Carter, DB Aaron Grymes, OL Brett Boyko, RB John White, WR Rashaun Simonise, WR Lemar Durant, QB Danny O’Brien
Key deletions: Head coach Wally Buono, QB Travis Lulay, QB Jonathon Jennings, WR Manny Arceneaux, LB Solomon Elimimian, WR DeVier Posey, DB Anthony Orange, K/P Ty Long, LB Micah Awe, RB Jeremiah Johnson, FB Rolly Lumbala
He said it: “I didn’t take the head coaching job to fail. I want to win. I want to be a champion multiple times over. We have set ourselves up with a great nucleus for years to come. You want to be a consistent contender every year and build off of that. And that’s the objective here.”
— New head coach DeVone Claybrooks
2019 prediction: 10-8
2018 record: 9-9
Synopsis: There is a drop-off from Mike Reilly to Trevor Harris at QB, but the revamped Eskimos defence should be enough to offset it.
Key additions: QB Trevor Harris, WR Greg Ellingson, WR DaVaris Daniels, LB Larry Dean, LB Don Unamba, OL SirVincent Rogers, WR Ricky Collins, WR Tevaun Smith
Key deletions: QB Mike Reilly, WR Duke Williams, WR Derel Walker, WR Bryant Mitchell, QB Danny O’Brien, DB Aaron Grymes, LB J.C. Sherritt, DL Jake Ceresna, DB Mercy Maston, LB Adam Konar, DB Nick Taylor
He said it: “I think his resume speaks for itself. He’s won two Grey Cups so far. He set an all-time CFL record for touchdowns in a playoff game. He’s thrown for a ton of yards. He’s thrown for 30-plus touchdowns multiple times. So we’re thrilled.”
— GM Brock Sunderland on new starting QB Trevor Harris
2019 prediction: 9-9
2018 record: 12-6
Synopsis: The Riders won a handful of games last year on the strength of a defence that lost some key pieces, including the head coach, a defensive wizard.
Key additions: Head coach Craig Dickenson, DL Micah Johnson, RB William Powell, LB Solomon Elimimian, WR Manny Arceneaux, QB Cody Fajardo, DL A.C. Leonard
Key deletions: Head coach Chris Jones, DL Willie Jefferson, QB Brandon Bridge, DL Tobi Antigha, WR Jordan Williams-Lambert, LB Samuel Eguavoen, DL Chad Geter
He said it: “I want to get hit on the first play of every game because that’s the way you get locked in. Obviously you don’t pray for a kill shot on you. Once you do get hit a couple of times, your body starts to acclimate and that’s when things tend to slow down.”
— QB Zach Collaros, who has a history of concussion problems, prior to a pre-season game
2019 prediction: 10-8
2018 record: 8-10
Synopsis: QB Jeremiah Masoli gives them a chance to win every game. That six of those games will be against Toronto and Montreal is a bonus.
Key additions: Head coach Orlondo Steinauer, DL Ja’Gared Davis, DL Justin Tuggle, DB Rico Murray, WR Brian Jones, RB Cameron Marshall, DB Tunde Adeleke, OL Chris Van Zeyl, OL Ryker Mathews
Key deletions: Head coach June Jones, LB Larry Dean, LB Don Unamba, WR Jalen Saunders, WR Terrell Sinkfield, RB Alex Green, RB John White, DB Courtney Stephen, RB Mercer Timmis, WR Shamawd Chambers
He said it: “When he walked into the locker room, I saw him and I just got happy. I don’t have to worry about him trying to hit me after the play, stuff like that. I gave him a big hug, I gave him a box full of Timbits … just (to) take care of the big guy. He’s one of those guys that you hate to play against, but you love him when he’s on your team.”
— Simoni Lawrence to cfl.ca reporter Chris O’Leary on new OL Chris Van Zeyl, a former Argo.
2019 prediction: 8-10
2018 record: 11-7
Synopsis: An offence that was decimated in free agency is in the hands of QB Dominique Davis, who is talented but raw, and will be learning on the job.
Key additions: QB Jonathon Jennings, WR Caleb Holley, WR Ryan Lankford, S Chris Randle
Key deletions: QB Trevor Harris, WR Greg Ellingson, WR Diontae Spencer, RB William Powell, OL SirVincent Rogers, DB Rico Murray, DL A.C. Leonard, QB Danny Collins
He said it: “I’ve been watching those guys; they all do great things. I feel I can join that club. As a quarterback, especially in this league, you have to be patient, you have to wait for your time. The time is here. I’m ready to work, I’m ready to go.”
— Dominique Davis, who has been on depth charts behind elite pivots Trevor Harris, Matt Nichols and Bo Levi Mitchell.
2019 prediction: 6-12
2018 record: 4-14
Synopsis: They went hard after Bo Levi Mitchell in free agency for a reason. Largely unproven QBs make the climb out of the basement much more difficult.
Key additions: Head coach Cory Chamblin, WR Derel Walker, DB Kevin Fogg, DL Tobi Antigha, LB Micah Awe, RB Tyrell Sutton, RB Chris Rainey, OL Shane Richards
Key deletions: Head coach Marc Trestman, WR Duron Carter, DL Justin Tuggle, OL Chris Van Zeyl, LB Bear Woods, K Zach Medeiros
He said it: “We don’t talk about them as the (No.) 1. We talk about them as the 1 and 1B and we’re very fortunate right now to have two guys who are starters in this league.”
– Head coach Corey Chamblin on QBs James Franklin and McLeod Bethel-Thompson
2019 prediction: 5-13
2018 record: 5-13
Synopsis: The Als’ ownership follies are a distraction, but the larger concern will be quarterbacking. The inexperienced Antonio Pipkin is first up.
Key additions: WR DeVier Posey, S Taylor Loffler, DB Ciante Evans, WR Felix Faubert-Lussier, RB Jeremiah Johnson, LB Bo Lokombo, DB Patrick Levels
Key deletions: Head coach Mike Sherman, QB Johnny Manziel, WR Ernest Jackson, LB D. J. Lalama, DL Gabriel Knapton, QB Jeff Mathews, S Jermaine Robinson
He said it: “The players know who I am, they trust me. They know I’ve been in their shoes, they know I’ve been in this league for 20 years and they’ll always know I have their best interest at heart. Everything I do is about winning football games.”
— Interim head coach Khari Jones
West semifinal: Calgary over B.C.
East semifinal: Edmonton over Ottawa
West final: Winnipeg over Calgary
East final: Hamilton over Edmonton
Grey Cup: Winnipeg over Hamilton