Thursday, August 14, 2008

Battle of the Truly Mediocre CFL Teams

Yes it is the clash of the two worst teams in the CFL tonight, Hamilton and Winnipeg. With a combined three and eleven record, a battle between two such teams, both with terrible records, is a rare event and should be savored. Ok, perhaps not, but there is redemption to be had for both teams, especially the Cats. If the Cats win and the dreaded double blue loses, the Cats are tied for second. If the Cats win, they will be even at two and two on the road and can lay claim to the title of Road Warriors (in the sense that, overall CFL teams have better home records).

Somewhat surprisingly, the Peg is a 3 point favourite, which usually indicates that on neutral ground the teams would be even. Considering the momentum the Cats have after smashing Toronto with Richie Williams starting and Winnipeg losing handily 39 to 11 to Montreal, one would have thought that the Cats would have been the favourite (the last time we were favourites, I think it was versus Saskatchewan). However in Winnipeg, Dinwiddie goes back to bench and Kevin Glenn comes back at quarterback, plus Milt Stegall, a known Hamilton killer should play. Further their starting center, Dominic Picard returns to duty to shore up a crappy Winnipeg offensive line. Still further, Stanford Samuels returns to Winnipeg to play at corner. Finally Jason (cut by both Hamilton and Montreal) Armstead comes in as a return man.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, guard George Hudson' injury causes some chaos in the ratio, with Lumsden being out adding to the chaos. Caulley is definitely a capable back, but Lumsden's nonimport status would have been valuable tonight. So all this combined probably explains Winnipeg being slight favourites, despite them being so sucky last week.

A note about Williams and Printers. Cat scribe Ken Peters has written about the Cats possibly releasing Printers before the Labour Day game, I guess due to relative ineffectiveness and his high cap cost. As a veteran, after nine games, his pay for the full season is guarranteed and applies against the salary cap. Just a rumor, however probably not a good idea. Williams could easily get injured and then where would we be, Timmy? Having two reasonable starters is imperative for a team with a mediocre cast. Plus I'm not sure what we could do with the extra cap space for this season if Printers was released. Sure it would have been useful before the season, but I'm not sure what could be done with it now. Maybe you could renegotiate some other player's salaries and pay some money this season rather than next. I don't know the policy. One thing the CFL could do, is release the salaries for all players making over $100,000. It would make it easier to analyze situations like this and I think the fans would want to know.

On to the game. Williams needs to occasionally run like last week (eight rushes for 59 yards), whether it is planned, or taking opportunities to pick up a first down. With Caulley, same as last week (14 rushes for 127 yards), and stick with him, even if he gets stopped for two yards on first down. Previously the Bombers defensive line was known for run stopping, but I think those days are done, so have at them. This should help the line as well, which is pretty mediocre for having three imports. For the receivers, Walker and Mitchell were the top gainers last week, so look for Williams to continue to use them. Miles was in the depth chart this week, I have not idea what will happen to him. Getting the ball to Bauman wouldn't hurt either. Interestingly, last week Piercy, a fullback had a pair of 16 yard receptions and the other fullback Pavlovic had a TD reception. That is indicative of some creative play calling which will hopefully continue this week, as it has been rare this season.

On defence, no Dinwiddie, but Kevin Glenn. Glenn has always seemed to me to be a decent enough quarterback, but nothing remarkable. He is not the threat to run that Joseph was last week, however he is less likely to make boneheaded passes that have no chance to be caught. Obviously, the Cats will need to get some pressure like last week, likely with some occasional blitzes. Charles Roberts hasn't done much this year and the Cats have generally been good against the run, except for when they are losing late. Stegall has certainly killed Hamilton in the past, however he doesn't seem to be the same player anymore. I keep saying Moreno will have a big game, maybe this week is it.

I think the Cats have a decent chance to win, although getting Glenn back could give the Bombers a lift. If the Cats can get ahead and establish their running game, this could be a thrashing.

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