Friday, October 28, 2011

CFL Predictions, Week 18, 2011: Penultimate Edition

Toronto at Winnipeg
The Bombers are playing for home advantage through the playoffs. The Argos are playing to figure out which mooks (Maurice Mann?)to bring back to training camp next year. Unsurprisingly the Argos are eight point underdogs. Providing Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce doesn't explode after an ill advised run where he had the chance to slide after reaching the first down marker, the Bombers cover. Even if Pierce does get carted off, the Bombers still cover.
Assiniboine People 26 Suck People 13

Hamilton at Saskatchewan
No more Durrant as quarterback for the Riders, not that he did much either. No Andy Fantuz either. The Cats don't have anything riding on the win, besides pride at achieving double digits in wins for the first time in forever, figuring out which quarterback to start in the playoffs, whether Porter is good enough to outright release Glenn during off-season, proving various writers of power rankings wrong and not going into the playoffs sucking. That appears to be enough for the Cats to be 6.5 point favourites on the road so who am I to argue.
Caturday People 35 Birch People 12

Edmonton at BC
Now here's a game that really means something. The Lions are coming off an ass booting from the Ticats on the road and look to get back in the groove against the Eskimos. The Eskimos beat Toronto last week, but you take your wins where you can get them in the CFL. Normally I would take the Lions here, but they seem to have come down with an epidemic of injuries which strikes me as problematic. The Eskimos have Jerome Messam healthy, so expect to see a festival of his runs. Going out on a limb and picking the Esks, even though they're five point underdogs and on the road.
Messam People 27, Orca People 22

Calgary at Montreal
What's happened to the Stampeders? I'm not even sure if Burris is starting again or if it matters. Montreal is 4.5 point favourites last I checked and I say they methodically dismantle Cowtowners and leave them as the third place team in the West.
Tabernac People 31 Mustang People 22

Monday, October 24, 2011

CFL Power Rankings, Week 18, 2011

1. Montreal Alouettes
Sure they lost on the road to Winnipeg, but only by a single point. Still the most consistently good team right now in the CFL.
2. BC Lions
Blown out on the road, eight game win streak ended, but great teams still lose the occasional game. Some games things just go against you early.
3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Big comeback victory over the Alouettes and looking good for home field advantage in the East. Still a bit inconsistent.
4. Edmonton Eskimos
Leading the West and could have home field advantage. The reason? Canadian running back Jerome Messam. Having an awesome non-import in the CFL just does so much.
5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Slammed BC. Weird quarterback system. 500 team. We'll see what happens the last two games of the regular season against some gimme teams.
6. Calgary Stampeders
Beat Saskatchewan. Big deal. The fact they did it with backup Drew Tate is at least good for next year.
7. Toronto Argonauts
Kept it somewhat close to the Eskimos at the end. That's something.
8. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Should be better next year when Canadian receivers are again a strength. Now, plain sucky.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cats Beat Lions in Meaningless Game, 42 to 10

Big Cat victory in the last home game of the season, ending the big Lion win streak and sweeping BC for the season. Glenn played OK in the first half, while Porter played well in the second half. Boltus played poorly in mop up duty at the end of the game, so don't go out and buy a Boltus jersey. Even though the Cats won big, I thought Cobourne played poorly, with a number of easy drops.

Travis Lulay completed less than half of his passes so good on the secondary. Turenne, whoever he is played awesome and is my new hero. Props to Medlock for kicking seven field goals, easily outplaying McCallum who had a pick six that Ray Mariuz ran back.

Since the Bombers won earlier against Montreal, the game was meaningless for Hamilton which ends the season with two meaningless games against Saskatchewan and Toronto on the road. Can Hamilton reach double digits in wins for the first in time in a long while? Who starts at quarterback next week? Who comes back from injury? Will Antonio from Stoney Creek call the Fifth Quarter next week?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Noteworthy Ticat Individual Stats

Rookie receiver Chris Williams is already over 1000 yards and stands at 1,012 yards with 65 receptions and 6 TDs and fourth overall. Probably a lock to be the Cats nominee for rookie of the year and maybe even win it although if he misses this week with injury that hurts his chances a bit. Dave Stala is in second on the Cats with 586 yards on 43 receptions and 8 TDs. Unless he has a monster three games the Cats will only have one receiver with over 1,000 yards. Last year the Cats had two and Marquay McDaniel was really close as well.

Running back Avon Cobourne is in second for rushing yards in the CFL with 867 yards on 180 yards (4.8 yard average) with 8 TDs and two fumbles. With no Terry Grant the rest of the year, Cobourne should get his 1,000 yards.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CFL Power Rankings, Week 17, 2011

1. BC Lions
Simply put, on fire. Massive win streak and favourite to win the West and play a Grey Cup at home. Strange to think how bad they were early in the season.
2. Montreal Alouettes
Good close win at home against Hamilton. Consistently good.
3. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos haven't got a lot of respect lately, but beating the Bombers shows their quick start in 2011 wasn't a fluke.
4. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Losing to the Eskimos when they really needed a win for home field advantage in the playoffs, doesn't help their ranking. Are the Bombers running out of steam at the end of the year?
5. Hamilton Tiger Cats
Almost came back to tie against the Alouettes, but didn't win and now are below 500. Two decent quarterbacks, but no consistently great one. Lots of defensive injuries. Almost guaranteed to be on the road for the playoffs.
6. Calgary Stampeders
Losing to the Argos? Burris benched? Likely third place in the West? Not good.
7. Toronto Argonauts
Won a game at home. That's something.
8. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Still losing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Henry Burris Benched?

Looks like Calgary has benched quarterback Henry Burris in favour of Drew Tate for the Stampeders next game. I watched a lot of the game last week between Toronto and Calgary and Tate certainly looked a lot better than Burris. Burris looked especially bad on an ill advised throw that Byron Parker ran back for a touchdown. I do wonder though if this move would have been made if the Stamps were facing a team other than the woeful Saskatchewan Roughriders.

CFL Stats I Would Like to See

I've harped on these two CFL stats before, but I would still like to see them shown on television broadcasts or at least somewhere on the interwebs.

The first stat I'm interested in would be across the league, for a given number of yards to go on second down, what's the probability of making a first down. Thus I'm curious, what's the odds of getting a first down when it is 2nd and five versus say 2nd and ten. I would accept first downs that would be subsequently made on third down and disregard 2nd and goal situations. This would answer questions like "is getting a couple of yards on first down a big difference compared to 2nd and 10?" I'm sure the CFL could compile these stats relatively easily. For a fan to do it would be quite time consuming.

Maybe next game, I'll try keeping track for a small sample size. One thing I'm not sure about is how to keep track of penalties. Say it is second and five and there's a five yard penalty against the offense. Do I keep keeping track for second and five and in addition also add a new entry for second and ten? I'm tempted too, because the distribution of penalties is affected by the yardage. Second and short, there's going to be more defensive offside penalties, second and long more offensive holding.

Similarly, I'd like to see for a given field goal yardage, what's been the chance of success over the years for CFL teams. We know instinctively that a 50 yard field goal is hard to accomplish, but exactly how hard? Less than 33% overall? A fan could probably compile this over a season, but since the higher yardages are attempted relatively rarely, to get a good statistical sample one would have to do it over a number of years. Ticats kicker Justin Medlock has had a good record 50 yards and over this year, but with a plot of this stat available, one would have a sense just how good. Plus, at the end of a game, if your team needs a 50 yarder with time expiring, you would not what your chances are. Coaches may have these stats, as it would certainly be a good decision making tool.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Below 500! Cats Lose 27 to 25 to the Alouettes

Well that was a disappointing game to watch. Pretty much no home playoff game (I haven't checked whether it is even possible). Glenn played OK during the second half, Porter wasn't bad in the first either. Too many field goal attempts and penalties from what I saw. Defence was mostly acceptable, considering they were going against Calvillo.

I assume Glenn starts next week as long as the injury at the end of the game isn't serious. Too bad that running back Terry Glenn looks done for the season.

Friday, October 14, 2011

CFL Predictions, Week 16, 2011

Calgary at Toronto
The Stamps are solid 6.5 points on the road and tired for first. Toronto is auditioning people for next year. The Argos defence and special teams are both pretty good, but they can never count on their offence. Calgary needs this for a home playoff game.
Chaps People 29 Suck People 16

Winnipeg at Edmonton
Edmonton is at home and favoured by 2.5 points which is somewhat puzzling. When was the last time the Eskimos beat a decent team? The Bombers haven't been particularly hot recently, but have played better than Edmonton. Both teams have a lot to play for, but I think Winnipeg is even more motivated to win first place in the East.
NDP People 24 Tory People 13

Hamilton at Montreal
Hamilton should sort of still care about this game, because things become a lot more interesting if they win this game from a home playoff perspective. They would be a game behind Montreal and have the season series in hand. After last week, I can't really see it happening on the road, where they're 6 point underdogs. Alouettes consistency and better secondary wins out.
Mulcair People 31, Donut People 20

BC at Saskatchewn
The Lions are only 7.5 point favourites on the road and have won seven games in a row. Eight, soon.
Retractable People 32, Sunshine People

Thursday, October 13, 2011

CFL Power Rankings, Week 16, 2011

1. BC Lions
They just keep winning. Can't keep them out of the top spot. Who would think they would be here after the start of the season? I'm not sure if the Ticats are regretting trading Arland Bruce, but it sure has worked out for the Lions.
2. Montreal Alouettes
Solidly consistent team. Had a bit of trouble with the Argos at home, but the Alouettes play well almost every week, with only a few honkers.
3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Dominated the Cats at home and are looking good for the home stretch. Awesome defence. Offense does what it has to.
4. Calgary Stampeders
Lost a tight one to BC. Definitely second best in the West.
5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
I still think they have a bit more than the Eskimos. Call me crazy or a homer, but I think they're the mildly better team.
6. Edmonton Eskimos
See above. Plus they beat a terrible Rider team this week. When was the last time they beat a good team?
7. Toronto Argonauts
Were ahead at half time on the road against Montreal. Still have a good defence. Maurice Mann was a good pickup since the Argos lacked in the import receiver department. Jermaine Copeland is past his prime and is probably eating up a lot more salary cap room than he is worth at this point.
8. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Wow. They're terrible. If you told me at the beginning of the season they would be this bad, I would not have believed you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Four Mostly Meaningless Games

Well after Friday's debacle against the Bombers and Montreal's unsurprising win versus Toronto, the Cats are back to 500 and the last four games are pretty much meaningless. Sure the Cats could lose four and the Riders win four allowing the Riders the cross-over spot, but that pretty unlikely. The Cats could win out and the Bombers and Alouettes could lose all their games too, but that also seems unlikely. So basically the Cats are playing games that mean nothing except preparation for the away playoff games. Beating Montreal this week on the road would at least send a message, but I'm not sure the Ticats have that in them. Hopefully some players will get auditioned for next year and the fans don't realize that there's not a good reason to go to Ivor Wynne besides $8.75 Canadian tall boys.

Maurice Mann being traded for some defensive back I've never heard of (who I refuse to look up) and a draft pick to the Argos is a bit odd, but the secondary is a bit weak with all the injuries lately. Although after all the running the Bombers did on Friday I think the front four is also problematic. My assessment of Mann's Ticat tenure: a solid meh.

At least Quinton Porter played well for once in relief time. Had to happen sooner or later, but he's not going to ever challenge for Glenn's job if he honks it up totally in garbage time. Milk that prevent defence for as many yards as you can!

Friday, October 7, 2011

CFL Prediction 2011, Week 15

Winnipeg at Hamilton
Is Hamilton a good team or an average team. That's a question that will be partially answered tonight? Is Winnipeg for real this year or are they going to implode down the stretch like they were destined to before the season. To get the preliminaries out of the way, the Bombers are 8 and 5 and the Ticats are 7 and 6. Winnipeg is a healthy 4 and 2 on the road, while the Cats are 5 and 2. Hamilton is favoured by 3.5 points, which is pretty small considering they're at home, although this year has been the year of the road team in the CFL.

Last I heard, oft injured Bomber quarterback Buck "the Glassman" Pierce was going to start. I don't know if that will happen, or if will manage to make it through the entire game if he does play. Bomber running back Fred Reid is out for the season which is problematic considering the Bombers run a lot. The Cats have injury problems too, probably the most important being centre Marwan Hage, plus non-import receiver Matt Carter.

Normally I would pick the Cats here (even if I wasn't a fan) however the Cats have shown a bizarre ability to never really get beyond 500. However the last two games the Cats have shown the ability to insert new offensive players like running back Terry Grant and pseudo receiver Marcus Thigpen (who isn't really new, but was stuck on return duty) and gain a lot of yards. A lot of that has to do with quarterback Kevin Glenn and his experience. Cats not that easily.
Offense People 29, Defense People 22

This post will be updated with the rest of the picks tomorrow.

Monday, October 3, 2011

CFL Power Rankings, Week 15, 2011

1. Montreal Alouettes
Tied for the top record overall in the CFL, two game win streak including a hard fought victory last week in Winnipeg. The Alouettes are the most consistent of the better CFL teams this season.
2. BC Lions
Certainly close to the top ranking, the Lions have won their last six straight games. They easily handled the Eskimos last week in their renovated BC Place opener. Excellent defence and good young Canadian receivers paired with vets Simon and Bruce makes for a good offence as well. Point differential is massive.
3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Winners of two straight, the more impressive being their ass booting of Calgary in Touchdown Atlantic. Last week's victory in Toronto wasn't particularly impressive, but it wasn't a close game either. Hamilton's offence has morphed as the season progressed and suddenly speedy Marcus Thigpen and Terry Grant are important factors and Bakari Grant and Aaron Kelly are tall receivers sitting on the sidelines. Injuries are starting to become an issue.
4. Calgary Stampeders
Pummelled the sucky Riders last week, but aren't on a hot streak. Burris has been hot and cold this year as has the defence. Excellent road team. Mediocre at home.
5. Edmonton Eskimos
Where has the great team of the first five games gone? The Eskimos have since gone 2 and 6, which may be as bad a record as the Argos over that time period and worse than the Riders. Slipping fast into third place in the West.
6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Losers of two in a row and are now 1 and 4 over their last five games including a lose to the Argos and two to the Riders. Not good. With a season ending injury to Fred Reid and Buck Pierce battling to stay in games, the Bombers are sliding towards third in the East.
7. Toronto Argonauts
Still bad, but played somewhat OK against the Ticats this week. Not really a lot to say apart from really weak Canadian talent. Expensive offensive lineman Rob Murphy sitting on the sidelines with an injury doesn't help either.
8. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Bad, bad team.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ticats Beat Argos 27 to 12, Relatively Easy

After a good second half, the Ticats took off the brakes in the third and then turned it on in the fourth. Quarterback Kevin Glenn had a good game with over 300 yards passing despite having three picks (with one being fumbled by Shell and the Ticats recovering). Grant, Stala and Thigpen had good games this week. The defence played well, although it is difficult to measure against the Argo offense. Good to see a lot of Ticat fans in the crowd and great to hear an "Argos Suck" chant on TSN.

With that the Argos are done for the playoffs (I'm not sure if it is even mathematically possible now). That means the game in Hamilton against Winnipeg is of critical importance for a home playoff spot as a Ticat victory leaves the two teams tied on points. Montreal hosts the Argos next week in what is pretty much a gimme game, especially after watching the Double Blue tonight.