BY Jeff Schneberk
Well, Week 6 of the CFL is set to be possibly the slowest week of the entire Canadian Football season. Normally, a week of games would see a set of 4 different games played out between Thursday night and Sunday afternoon, this week only sees a grand total of 2 games.
Sometimes I think that if the NHL did this, they would lose fans (2 games in a 7 day period). Given the ease of the schedule this week, maybe this would be a good time to run down the CFL through the opening 5 weeks and see who has what and who needs more.
The games this week by the way have Hamilton (1-4) traveling to Edmonton to take on the 1-4 Eskimos tomorrow night (Friday).
In that sense it should either wind up being a good game between 2 fairly evenly matched teams, or a game better saved for one of those re-runs of weird shit they show on the Comedy Network on long weekends at 4 a.m.
The only other game of the week falls on the holiday Monday between the other 1-4 team in the league, Winnipeg.
Winnipeg makes a trip as far west as anyone in this country can go, British Columbia.
The Toronto Argos came into this season in unusual position; they are the defending Grey Cup champs. They came into the season with increased expectations. It is interesting that they start defence of the title as the usual powerhouse team Montreal is experiencing one of their worst seasons ever.
Toronto is top spot, Montreal is #2, while Hamilton and Winnipeg are tied at 1-4.
Pro: Toronto’s number 1 asset is they have a good offence
Con: Hard to pinpoint one, as long as they don’t falter down the stretch, Toronto should be a favourite to fight for the Cup again, as long as Montreal doesn’t rise sooner or later.
This will be one of the few sad seasons for the Montreal football club. The loss of head coach Marc Trestman will be felt not just this season but possibly next season too.
Pro: They still have Anthony Calvillo
Con: with the firing of Trestman’s replacement Dan Hawkins and have replaced him with the team GM.
Just where do you plan to start with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats? I don’t see much here anymore. They have the right players in place and that is the problem. How do you have a team like this and only have 1 victory?
Pro: there is always time to turn it around, they have good players (Stala, Fantuz, Burris, Javon Walker and Brandon Isaac).
Con: this team has always had problems. Always. At any given point in the season, they are always missing something. Nobody really knows what it is.
Winnipeg is the other sad-sack team in the CFL. It is always easy to feel bad for the Blue and Gold. Their fan support is crazier than the Toronto Maple Leafs’ used to be. Winnipeg fans are as loyal as they are crazy. You have to admire them. It is difficult to admire what they admire (the Bombers).
Pro: they have an unbelievable new stadium, the Investor’s Group Stadium. The Russian Roulette of CFL quarterbacks continues for the umpteenth time in Winnipeg. Winnipeg has just announced they will start Justin Goltz as QB, not just for this Monday’s game, but for the entire season. That means Buck Pierce will be a backup and be a helper to the team’s offensive co-ordinator, Gary Crowton. Injuries have plagued Pierce since he joined Winnipeg in 2010.
Con: they still aren’t any good. No idea why.
Over in the West division, a changing of the leader of the pack seems to be taking place. All of those years when the red and white of the Calgary Stampeders dominating year in and year out, seems to have been replaced, at least over the past few years.
The Green Riders have made a move.
Saskatchewan started the season a couple years ago at 6-0. They did not win the Grey Cup. There is nothing guaranteed by starting out the way the Riders have so far. Mind you, 2 of their wins have come at the expense of Hamilton so technically none of that shit counts really, but what is scary is that Saskatchewan is one of 4 teams that are headed for a bye this week, and that is especially nice considering that Darian Durant is still nursing a foot injury. Their next game is Aug. 9 at Calgary. Those games are always good.
Pro: Saskatchewan remains the CFL’s only unbeaten team. IF this was the NFL, everyone everywhere would be wearing Riders jerseys.
Con: they don’t have any obvious ones. All they need to realize is that 5-0 becomes 6-0 and so on, but Rider Nation at this point will not be content until they find some way to win it all.
Calgary continues to keep the pressure on the Riders. Matchups between the 2 teams are always worth the price of admission. Next date: Aug. 9.
Pro: Calgary remains unbeaten on home field. That could come into play when Saskatchewan comes to visit on Aug. 9. Calgary has also been making a name for itself in the quarterback department. They have had Henry Burris, Kevin Glenn, Drew Tate and now they’ve got some Texan named Bo Levi Mitchell. Mitchell was exceptional in his debut last week.
Con: always hard to pick a con for the Stamps. If one of the above mentioned QBs can take control of this team (not Burris anymore of course), it would make the team even stronger.
Edmonton thus far has about as much to look forward to as the Tiger-Cats. Mike Reilly made an impressive showing in last week’s last second loss at Montreal. Reilly can play at this level there is no doubt about that, his playcalling came into question on the final play when nobody on the Eskimos side of the football looked like they had a clue what they were doing.
Pro: Edmonton doesn’t play this week either and that isn’t a pro, but at least they look like they have another QB who looks like he can play. So far this season, RB Hugh Charles has looked good, and WR Fred Stamps dominates, Eskies look good and there is plenty of time for this club to improve.
Con: A quick glance at the standings and the worst part of the Eskimos team sticks out like a sore thumb. Edmonton’s defence has been almost as bad as Hamilton’s defence. Winnipeg has given up almost 140 points compared to 99 point scored. With numbers like that, you will not make the playoffs, I don’t think.
British Columbia (3-2)
BC currently sits in 3rd place in the West, four points over the Eskimos. Two of BC’s wins have come at BC Place Stadium so they have some comfort playing at home, however they have allowed more points this season than they have scored.
Pro: I guess that in any season when a football team is doing well, credit for it is usually attributed to the play of the team’s starting quarterback. Travis Lulay isn’t even having quite a career year this year, but he is at the helm of the team and they are winning games. Lulay actually ranks only 5th in the CFL in completions with 71 on 112 attempts. He does have confidence that that never hurts.
While struggling to get his club into the end zone at times, Lulay has been able to move the B.C. offence consistently as the Lions have produced 11 touchdowns, 86 first downs and average time of possession of 31 minutes 27 seconds.
Con: Can’t think of much here but losing to the Argos and their backup QB last week can’t hold well with Lions head coach Mike Benevides. Teams in the league are always going to have those tendencies where they don’t play their best when they need to (against someone else’s backup). Time will tell.
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