Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cats Signing Kent Austin Thoughts

First I'm a little surprised, considering the Austin rumours were out there, but I thought it would be hard to get him to come back to the CFL. Offering the dual coach GM role was probably required to get him to come and also saves money for the Cats having to pay both positions while they are still paying former head coach George Cortez.

I'm positive towards Austin, although I don't think he is a panacea. I'm sure he also has offensive knowledge similar to Cortez although I'm sure he will hire an offensive co-ordinator. However with either Cortez or Austin next year the Cats need a defensive co-ordinator plus an upgrade in talent to be competitive next year.

Three coaches in three different years isn't a lot of continuity.

I'm sure I'll have more to say soon. After Cortez was gone, Austin was probably one of the best options. The Cats could certainly have done worse.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cats Relieve George Cortez of Duties as Head Coach

Whoa. Just read on the official CFL twitter feed (@CFL) that the Cats have relieved Cortez from coach and director of football operations.

Didn't see that one coming, although considering the team finished last in the league despite decent talent, it wasn't like there was some justification. I just thought that the offense had good enough stats (Cortez' speciality) that the team would concentrate on the defence during the off-season and go from there. Maybe them going on the road in Guelph has something to do with it who knows. No idea who the next coach will be. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Grey Cup 2013 Odds

Yes getting them out early for the 101st Grey Cup in Regina. This is as of now, obviously before a lot of free agent action

1. BC Lions
Sure the Lions flamed out at home in the West final to Drew Tate, but they do have arguably the best quarterback in Travis Lulay who is relatively young by CFL starter standards. They also have Canadian running back Andrew Harris who excels at both running and receiving. Lions receivers Bruce and Simon are getting pretty long in the tooth and may not be worth the money their contracts are currently at. The Lions have some decent non-import receiver talent and Buono is a good enough of a GM to find some decent imports if he releases one or both of Bruce and Simon. The defence was good too this year. Their could be some issues with NFL tryouts, but the Lions are stable enough for that to really not matter. 25% 4 to 1

2. Calgary Stampeders
Sure they flamed out in the Grey Cup, but they won two playoff games and Toronto will soon revert to the mean next season and odds are they won't be as hot at the end as 2012. We'll assume for now that Drew Tate will return next year from injury and won't become the second coming of Buck Pierce. They still have Glenn, although as the Grey Cup showed, he can be inconsistent. They have the best running back and a non-import to boot in Jon Cornish, plus a clutch first down receiver in Nik Lewis. Expect the offense to be pretty potent again next year. 16%

3. Toronto Argonauts
The Argos will still have Ricky Ray, although injury problems to him could derail Toronto at any time. The Argos defence will probably still be strong with the likes of non-import Foley and and import Flemons although we may have seen the last of the Kissing Bandit Adriano Belli. Chad Owens might revert to the mean a little bit, but he's been consistently over 3,000 yards for several years now. Durie is actually a reasonable non-import receiver and Kackert is a decent running back although injuries could cause problems next year. Will success spoil the Argos, in the form of a lot of previously unknown guys wanting to be paid more? Maybe although some might want to stay for less money. Scott Milanovich has turned out to be a very good CFL head coach. 15%

4. Montreal Alouettes
Anthony Calvillo looks to be coming back, but is even older and the increasing likelihood of him decreasing in ability is reason enough to have Montreal at four. GM Jim Popp seems to have no real problem finding import offensive talent and the Alouette offensive line will be strong and relatively Canadian, freeing up spots for imports at other positions. The defense wasn't as good as some of the Alouettes ones over the past decade, but it was reasonable considering the Alouettes have a consistent offense. If Calvillo gets injured,  Montreal will have lost its safety blanket. 14%

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Cats certainly won't have the defence next year to be higher on the list, but it will likely improve as defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan has decamped to Winnipeg and new free agents and newcomer imports replace those that proved not up to snuff last year. The Cat offense was great, albeit inconsistent last year and Henry Burris' stats were fantastic especially for a 6 and 12 team. The Cat offense is relatively set for another good season, although whether running back Avon Cobourne returns is a question. One negative for the offense is that backup quarterback Quinton Porter may depart, robbing the Cats of some depth in case Burris goes down, although Porter barely played at all last year except for sneaks. 12%

6. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
The Riders still have some decent talent, but they still would need to get past both BC and Calgary and then beat the East team to win the Grey Cup, barring some cross-over wackiness. Darian Durant improved from a subpar 2011 in 2012, but the team most fanned down the stretch and in their playoff game. Weston Dressler is still a talent and they have home field advantage in more places than their home field, but nothing really says the Riders will be great next year. 11%

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
I don't have much confidence in the Bombers next year. Assuming they don't jettison Buck Pierce, they'll go as far as he go without being injured, which isn't very far. I also don't have much confidence in new defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan, but I may be biased as a Hamilton fan. The Bomber defence wasn't much in 2012 anyways, so I suppose there's a chance it could improve. 4%

8. Edmonton Eskimos
Sure they made the playoffs, which is something, but they booted Eric Tillman as GM before the playoffs started which says something. Lost the Ricky Ray trade and received magic beans/Steven Jyles in return. Have a logjam of good running backs, which is something, but not what Grey Cups are made of. Rebuilding year. 3%

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Casey Creehan Adios!

Much derided Ticat defensive co-ordinator has decamped to more mosquito infested climes in Winnipeg. Double bonus for the Cats, the new co-ordinator can't help but be better and Winnipeg's defence can't help but get worse.

Thinking about the past season and defensive strategies, I'm now wondering why the Cats didn't go really aggressive and blitz heavy. The Cats were the highest scoring team in the league and sure they might get burnt fairly often for a TD, but they had the capacity to score enough to keep up, plus any times they were successful and got to the quarterback, good field position was likely to result which the Cats offense was well-suited to take advantage of. Sure we didn't have the defensive line to totally pull this off, but such an approach had to be better than the mediocrity we endured this season.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Argos Win Grey Cup, Why Can't Cats

The Argos won the Grey Cup yesterday, mainly behind good defence and Chad Kackert's running (so much for Cory Boyd). Contemplating that, I wonder why the Cats haven't been able to win since 1999 (or even get to the Grey Cup). The Argos certainly weren't favourites going into the season, unlike the Cats and their talent isn't that remarkable. They did get hot late though, which obviously counts for a lot.

Looking ahead to next year, I don't think the Cats are that far away from success, provided they can upgrade the defence, mainly through a shift in co-ordinator. It would be ironic if the Cats did have a good season, seeing that they are playing in Guelph, but that's the way things go sometimes.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vanier Cup Post-Game Thoughts

I attended the Vanier Cup at Dead Ted's Dome (TM) and had a good time at least for the first half. I sat in row 5 of section 509 of the upper bowl, which is actually good for sight lines of the field and a lot better than many seats in the lower bowl. The seats in the upper bowl were also cheaper too at $40. It was good to see over 37,000 fans for a Vanier as well.

I think overall the Laval Rouge et Or were the better team and would probably win most games if they played in alternate universes. Their running game was too strong for the Mac defence, especially on first down. I was really impressed by Boutin, Laval's running back. That said, the Laval quarterback wasn't particularly good passing, especially considering his offensive line was impressive. Maybe he had an off day.

One thing that hurt the Marauders was in the battle of field position, the Laval punter regularly out booted Mac's. In the first half, Mac would gain a good number of yards and then when they punted, their net ended up pretty sad. Unfortunately Mac never got opportunities for field goals, as the Marauders field goal kicking was far superior during the season.

Also I thought the Marauders were a bit unlucky with the first half interception call, where the Mac player looked like he should have kept possession based on down by contact. Maybe that would have changed the game.

At least for Ticat fans, Laval defensive draft picks from last year Plesius and Gascon-Nadon looked good against the Mac run. They may snag a look from the NFL, which would complicate things for the Ticats, but I'm doubting that a Samuel Giguere multiyear practice roster will happen.

I'm not sure what will happen with Mac quarterback Kyle Quinlan in the CFL next year, although he has the size and speed to be a receiver too.

With Quinlan gone, and potentially a lot of other players leaving, Mac will be in tough next year. They still have a lot of talent and an excellent head coach Stefan Ptaszek. I'm not sure that will be enough to win the OUA next year, but I'm sure they have a reasonable chance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What's the Guelph Equivalent of the Prince Edward Tavern?

I wasn't totally surprised by the Guelph announcement as the 2013 home of the Ticats, although I was thinking it was going to be London. There was some politician before the decision who seemed keen and Guelph is closer than London, although the caravan going up highway  6 won't.

I was surprised that there wasn't more interest for a Moncton game, but it could still happen. I think it would be good for the league, however the team might want to get as much value as possible out of spending for bleachers and such.

I think this is also good for Guelph and the university. If you're not living in Southern Ontario, you may not have heard of Guelph (I've met Westerners whose lack of knowledge of Southern Ontario geography surprised me), but having it on TSN every couple of weeks is great publicity.

Finally what is the Guelph equivalent of the Prince Eddie? If there is one, I'm guessing it isn't by the university.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Update, Drew Tate Out With Broken Forearm

Apparently Tate's injury is a broken forearm and is done for the season. Considering he was injured earlier in the season, I'm not sure if he's the new Buck Pierce in terms of being injury prone.

Whoa, Drew Tate Not Playing in Western Final

Hmmm, just saw on the @CFL Twitter feed that Drew Tate is out of the Western Final. Luckily the Stamps have a capable backup in Kevin "Rodney Dangerfield" Glenn. Expect concussion controversy in the media this week.

Justin Hickman

Considering the Cats past season and especially their troubles on defence, I thought I would look to see how Justin Hickman, the Cats former defensive end who signed with the Indianapolis Colts is doing this season. He's listed as an outside linebacker, with ten tackles (six solo and four assisted) through nine games. I'm not sure what that means for next year, but he is seeing the field so the chances of him coming back to Hamilton.

In 2011 Hickman led the CFL with 13 sacks (tied). Losing him to the NFL last year definitely hurt the Cats defensive line, especially early in the season when sack production was very weak. Obviously if the Cats had been able to sign him, they couldn't have spent money elsewhere so the team probably would have ended up differently. Still if you're looking to where the Cats went wrong in 2012, not having Hickman was a factor.

The Cats did sign free agent defensive end Greg Peach and the line did improve somewhat later in the season, but was certainly never a force. I don't really see the Cats signing a big name defensive end free agent next year. More likely the Cats will bring in a ton of guys to camp and try to augment the defensive line with the players they already have. Assuming the Cats get non-import Eddie Steele back from a leg injury before camp and another Canadian emerges from recent drafts as a backup, the Cats could try for a non-import starter on the defensive line again. Having an all American line and not being very good like this year isn't a good strategy in the CFL.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Argos Up Big at Half 31 to 7

So much for the Eskimos as the Argos exploded in the second quarter. Ray is looking good as is Kackert. Joseph and Boyd, not so much. Owens returned a punt for a TD, surprisingly for the first time this year. I wonder what the record is for combined regular season and playoffs combined yards? Maurice Mann wasn't bad either.

Are the Argos a great team or the Eskimos a bad team. I'm leaning toward the Eskimos being a bad team, although I feel more confident in the Argos next week. At the very least the spread will be smaller.

CFL Playoff Previews Division Semi-Final 2012

Edmonton at Toronto
Cross-over time. Edmonton has already booted Eric Tillman as general manager which is a little weird and also shows upper management doesn't really expect the Eskimos to go very far.

Edmonton sucked down the stretch, but managed to get in to the playoffs anyways, while the Argos at least managed to win their last two games including against a desperate Hamilton team. The Argos have Ricky Ray as their quarterback while the Eskimos go with the superannuated Kerry Joseph. Most interesting is that the Eskimos J.C. Sherritt, who had broken the regular season CFL record for tackles in the regular season (formerly held by Ticat Calvin Tiggle) won't be playing. I didn't really like the Esks chances and now I really don't.

Toronto is favoured by four points, which I think is a little charitable.

Team Suck 29 Eskimos 17

Saskatchewan at Calgary
The big story is the Stamps starting Drew Tate over Kevin "Rodney Dangerfield" Glenn, which seems like a bit of hubris. Also goes against the Brian Mulrooney doctrine of dancing with the one that brought you. Or was the Mulrooney doctrine accepting suitcases of money from people named Karl-Heinz. I digress.

The Stamps do have running back Jon Cornish and his record of rushing yards ever by a Canadian, which certainly helped Glenn. Also receiver and blocker downfield Nik Lewis which doesn't hurt.

Probably a lot depends on how Rider quarterback Darian Durant plays. He's been up and down this year so who knows who shows up.

No doubt the Riders will have a lot of fans at McMahon, which blunts the home field advantage, but I still like the Stamps, despite the Tate hubris. I assume Tate will be on a short leash and there will be a lot of Cornish running. Stamps favoured by six, but I think it will be closer.
Stamps 33, Riders 29

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 19 End of Regular Season Edition

1. BC Lions
Beat Saskatchewan in a meaningless game to end the regular season. Good offense and a great defence. Pretty much the only complete team in the CFL this year.

2. Calgary Stampeders
The offensive powerhouse of the league. Weird situation going into the playoffs with Tate starting over Glenn at quarterback, but from the power rankings standpoint, having two good quarterbacks is a nice problem to have. Won at the end versus the Eskimos, which doesn't say a lot.

3. Montreal Alouettes
Didn't do much in the final regular season game against Winnipeg, but it was meaningless. Calvillo is still Calvillo after another year and have a good shot to go through to the Grey Cup.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Played a Hamilton that had to win, ended up winning with a festival of backups and their fourth string quarterback. Will be better with Ray at the controls, but how much?

5. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Inconsistent team. Decent quarterback in Durant, although he is also inconsistent. Benefits from rabid fan base that will show up on the road.

6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Managed to dig themselves out of the basement with a win at the end of the regular season. Could survive without Buck Pierce next year, but it won't be pretty.

7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Couldn't even beat the Argos on the road when they had too. Bad defence coupled with a good offense that gives up to many turnovers. Bizarre that Burris' stats could be so good for a 6 and 12 team although some of that comes from pretty much throwing every pass this season.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
Flamed out to end the season, but still in the playoffs anyways. Kerry Joseph as quarterback. Fired their GM before their playoff game. Ouch

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 18

1. BC Lions
Sure they got spanked against Calgary last week, but they were Lulayless and with nothing to play for. Still the backup quarterback Reilly went 19 for 26 for 260 yards with two TDs and no picks. So even the Lion backup isn't bad (at least when leading a good team). The Lions will probably not do a lot this week either.

2. Calgary Stampeders
Maybe not the consensus number two in the CFL, but beating BC handily shows something. Even Drew Tate returned and played a bit. I still like Cornish as a player and Nik Lewis doesn't hurt either. Probably all they have to play for this week is Cornish going for the Canadian rushing crown all-time plus Kevin Glenn and Drew Tate deciding who is going to play in the playoffs. That's at least something for Hamilton.

3. Montreal Alouettes
Managed to beat Edmonton even though they didn't really have anything to play for, which is a positive thing. Calvillo didn't look bad and spread the ball around to the various Alouette receivers. It was the Eskimos though, who are still a bad team even if they have something to play for.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Ricky Ray is back! And passing for four TDs! Kackert isn't injured anymore which is a plus too and Chad Owens has a ton of yards this year. No Ricky Ray at quarterback this week, so don't expect the Argos to do much unless Jarious Jackson wakes up and suddenly becomes a good quarterback.

5. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
The Riders are swooning a bit, but they're at least guaranteed a playoff spot. The Riders aren't as bad as I thought they would be this year, but they aren't great either. Keep waiting for Cup number four Rider Nation.

6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Cats win! Cats win! Still may not make the playoffs. The Cats defence looked good, but then again Buck Pierce only played briefly and without him the Bombers are a poor team. The Cats had to win to have any chance at a playoff spot, but this term is still poor.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
Had a chance to lock up the cross-over playoff spot and didn't. Keep running out Kerry Joseph as quarterback. May well win next week against Calgary, but this isn't a good team.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Not a good team anyways, but worse without Buck "Glassman" Pierce. Considering the Bombers made the Grey Cup last year, this is a sad result, but also a regression to the mean when compared to two years ago.

Monday, October 22, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 17

I missed last week's power rankings, mainly because the Cats were depressing me. Then they went and lost a heartbreaker on the weekend, despite Calgary committing seven turnovers. It's hard out here for a pimp and it's hard out here for a Ticat fan.

1. BC Lions
No Travis Lulay, no problem, even if their opponent, the Edmonton Eskimos is playing for their playoff lives. Barring a plane crash, it is pretty hard for the Lions to drop out of the top spot, no matter what happens the rest of the regular season.

2. Montreal Alouettes
Anthony Calvillo still getting it done versus a formerly hot Riders team. In the land of the castrated, the one balled man is king. In a CFL year of mediocre teams, the Alouettes are at least good for second best in the CFL.

3. Calgary Stampeders
Despite the aforementioned seven turnovers against the Ticats and basically about to lose until a field goal was muffed with no time remaining, the Stamps still got the W and that's what counts in this league. And pretty much all leagues for that matter.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Sure they lost against the Alouettes, but they had been hot and they are guaranteed a playoff spot. Again in a league of mediocre teams, that's good enough for top half of the power rankings.

5. Edmonton Eskimos
They could have guaranteed a playoff spot, but unfortunately they lost to the best team in the league. Going with Kerry Joseph as your starter is plenty problematic, but what are you going to do at this stage of the season. Winning a game gets them in as the cross-over team, so they should at least try in the last two regular season games.

6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Buck is back and the Bombers are hot and on the trail of a playoff spot. Didn't seem likely a few weeks ago, but that's the CFL for you. Mind you they only beat the Argos last week, which isn't say a lot right now and their road to the playoffs is somewhat unlikely. What's important is that there is still hope.

7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Sure they've lost a lot in a row and by losing last week gave up control of their own destiny. Still they lost only by a botched field goal on the road against Calgary so that's something. I suppose.

8. Toronto Argonauts
The Argos are close to a playoff spot, and would guarantee it with a win in either of their last two games, or some sucking by some other bad teams. But even with Ray back, the Argos are not a good team. I'm not sure they deserve dead last,  but somebody had to this week.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cats Find Way to Lose, Pooch Shot at Some Playoff Control

On business in Europe, so I only listened to the first half. Depressing that the Cats had definite opportunities to get way ahead and then screw it up (i.e. Burris' interception going back for a Calgary TD when the Cats were in the red zone). Then apparently the Cats don't give up and almost win at the end after a successful onside kick, but botch the field goal. Crazy. I suppose considering how the offensive line was a jury-rig due to injury that's not bad, but the Cats need wins.

With Toronto losing that makes a possibility still of the Cats making the playoffs via Toronto, and also via Edmonton if they lose their last two games and the Cats win their remaining two (unlikely). Winnipeg also won, tying the Cats with five wins and throwing themselves in the mix.

If the Cats win next week and the Argos lose, that sets up a scenario where the winner of that game might be in the playoffs. The Argos for sure, but for the Cats it is more complicated, since they and the Argos would have tied in wins against each other, but then the tie breaker goes to points against each other. Hamilton won the first game 36 to 27, the Argos the next two 33 to 30 and 45 to 31. So from my calculations the Cats would have to win by 8. If the Bombers also win their next two it would be chaos, and their's always the possibility Edmonton could lose their last two.

The fact the Cats could get a home game at this stage of the year and this stage of their sucking is insane.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Grey Cup in Hamilton in 2016

There's certainly still a lot to say about the new stadium, however one positive is that the new stadium is supposedly expandable to 40,000 seats. That is apparently large enough to host a Grey Cup, which the city hasn't since 1996 and 1972 before that. The configuration of the stadium with the open end zones may be that way to facilitate the temporary bleachers to get to 40K.

With the stadium to be built in time for the 2014 season (hopefully), and only the 2013 Grey Cup awarded, that leaves a lot of possibilities. There's pretty much no way Hamilton could host the 2014 event, with the most important that construction delays could cause problems. The 2015 is a possibility, but that is the same year as the Pan Am games and only three years after the Toronto Grey Cup. Likely 2016 is the first possible year and 20 years after the 1996 Cup.

However Ottawa now looks likely to be back in the CFL and will also want to be hosting a Grey Cup. Whether Ottawa is far enough away that back to back cups in Hamilton and Ottawa wouldn't be an issue is an open question. 

Getting a Cup quickly could smooth over some of the resentments over the new stadium and getting the Cats on a schedule of hosting it every eight years would be a boon to the city. The 1996 Cup had difficulties selling out the stadium, however the Ticats organization is considerably more dynamic now then back then. More people likely travel to the Cup now than back in 1996. If Saskatchewan gets in, then a sellout is likely guaranteed just from ex-pats and diehards travelling from the prairies.

This is all speculation, but again, the new stadium allows the Cats to host a Grey Cup.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hamilton Probably Out of the Playoffs. Why?

As I write this, the Eskimos are leading the Riders late in the fourth. Combined with Hamilton's loss last night to the Lions, the Ticats are pretty much out of the playoffs. Over the last three games, the Cats would need to win two more games than the Eskimos, which is looking exceedingly unlikely at this point.

Who would have thought the Cats before the season started would end up out the playoffs, via the cross-over? So much for going to the Grey Cup to cheer on the Cats.

At the end of the season there will be plenty of time for blame. Right now it is obvious the defence wasn't good enough to get it done, both because of personnel and injuries.

Why was the defence so bad? I would blame both the import non-import ratio and the ratio of money paid to offensive and defensive players. Starting two import tackles on the offensive line necessitated more non-imports on defence this year, specifically with the secondary. The Cats had no real options for a defensive starter on the line or at linebacker, so that meant the secondary with concomitant results.

Andy Fantuz is being paid an alleged $180,000 this year and Henry Burris isn't doing badly salary wise himself. This has to mean less money on the defensive side of the ball, and the no-names the Cats have on defence apart from the linebackers have played in a no-name manner.

What about next year? One assumes the Cats will invite a whole lot of import defensive line players to camp and hope a diamond in the rough emerges. I can't see the Cats giving up on their two import offensive tackles, especially with the paucity of Canadian talent on the line that was revealed in the later stage of this season. That's just a start. The Cats could end up a different looking team next year.

Friday, October 12, 2012

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 16

BC Lions at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Ticats have injuries, the Lions have injuries. Due to the BC injuries to receivers Arland Bruce and Geroy Simon, the Cats are going to see a lot of Andrew Harris. The Cats defence is looking weak defensively with all their injuries. I think the Cats are the more desperate team here and more importantly are at home where they've had some success. The Lions are two point favourites, but the Cats will come out fighting in this one. Then lose next week.
Hamilton 33, Team Northern Gateway 27

Calgary at Winnipeg
Strangely the Stamps are favoured by only three, no doubt due to the oddsmakers being impressed by the quarterbacking skills of Joey Elliot. Elliot looks like a reasonable quarterback, but I don't see him doing it back to back at this stage or with this team. Expect a lot of Jon Cornish.
Stamps 26 Bombers 21

Saskatchewan at Edmonton
The Esks are the more desperate team because a loss would really screw them from being in control of their playoff destiny (unless Hamilton has already lost). The Esks aren't a very good team, and Kerry Joseph at this stage of his career isn't a very good quarterback. This is a pick'em game, but I expect the hot Riders to continue. Especially with a healthy contingent of Riders fans in attendance.
Riders 33 Eskimos 22

Montreal at Toronto
No Ricky Ray for this one as far as I can tell. Certainly it would help out the Argos a lot to win this one in their battle for Montreal for tops in the East. Montreal has been on a little swoon of late, losing to the lowly Bombers at home. If Ray was healthy and playing, I would take the Argos at home. However Jarious Jackson is in and let's face it, he's quite mediocre. Alouettes on the road.
Alouettes 37, Team Suck 24

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 15

1. BC Lions
They beat a good team in Calgary in the battle of the non-import running backs and despite injuries. With the Alouettes flaming out, the Lions are unchallenged atop the CFL.
2. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
I'm not sure how long it will last, but the Riders are hot, coming off a dismantling of the Argos at Dead Ted's Dome.
3. Calgary Stampeders
Lost a relatively close one to the Lions. Good but not great team. Should stick with Kevin Glenn, as Jon Cornish covers up Glenn's deficits.
4. Montreal Alouettes
Have the wheels fallen off the Alouette autobus? Is this the beginning of the end for Calvillo? Montreal should be glad they're in the Eastern Conference.
5. Toronto Argonauts
Didn't look good against Saskatchewan, but Ricky Ray will hopefully be back soon. If not, there will be sliding down this list.
6. Edmonton Eskimos
Won on the road when they needed to, in a pretty much must win game. The team can't feel particularly confident with Kerry Joseph as the quarterback, but sometimes you have to make due with the players you have.
7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Lost the game that would have put them in the driver's seat for the last playoff spot in the East and now have to play the best team in the league. Some games the offence is enough to overcome, mediocre defence, most games it's not.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Woohoo Joey Elliot! Road win at a tough stadium for a visiting team to win in. Maybe the Bombers would be better off without the Buck Pierce will he or won't he play sideshow and have Elliot continue working on chemistry with his receivers for next year.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hamilton at Edmonton Debacle Aftermath

I thought going in the Cats should have been favoured to win this game (good thing I didn't make a bet). The Eskimos had lost five straight and were starting 39 year old Kerry Joseph as quarterback. The Cats were coming off a big home win and winning this game would put them in the driver's seat for the last playoff spot in the East and making things very difficult for Edmonton to overtake them.

The Cats played decently until the fourth quarter, whereupon the Cats defence collapsed and the offense started to honk. Probably the most painful thing was that the Cats lost to Kerry Joseph throwing bombs. You don't really expect that, especially the beating the Cats gave the Eskimos two weeks ago. Clearly that was an issue of the secondary and the defensive line.

Peter Dyakowski's not playing due to injury, which required an American to take his spot at guard, followed by non-import Eddie Steele starting on the defensive line due to the guard ratio issue and then Steele getting injured (probably for the season) meant the pass rush in the fourth quarter was weak, which is depressing considering Joseph generally takes a lot of sacks.

Certainly these ratio issues and injuries happen to every team in the CFL and are part of the game. However clearly the Cats don't have very much Canadian depth on either the offensive or defensive line. Having to start three Americans on the offensive line is generally a poor situation and it is not like the offense kicked a lot of ass last night. The running game was decent, although not stellar (Cobourne had 86 yards on 13 carries) and Burris was sacked twice. Burris did seem to have a lot of time though.

Henry Burris setting a new Cat TD record with 34 is somewhat bittersweet, considering the Cats are a 5 and 9 team. Stats are strange things sometimes.

Monday, October 1, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 14

1. BC Lions
Sure they lost this past week, but so did the Alouettes. Losing to the Riders robs the Lions of some of their swagger as the best team in the CFL. Possible now that they don't finish in first place, although I wouldn't bet that way.
2. Montreal Alouettes
Also lost this week and relatively badly to the Ticats. Couldn't stop the run and their pass defence was absolutely shredded. Calvillo didn't play that poorly, but was constantly under pressure and didn't seem to make any fantastic throws. Is the Alouettes defence mediocre or did the team just get behind and then lost risks trying to catch up?
3. Calgary Stampeders
Smacked a clearly swooning Edmonton Eskimos team. Not that impressive, but good teams win games especially over bad teams. Running back Jon Cornish is already over 1,000 yards rushing, but the Stamps are quite dependent on him.
4. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Beating the Lions shows the Riders are back on track. Maybe they can keep it going and get a home playoff game, but unless disaster strikes, they are in the playoffs, which wasn't so sure a few games ago.
5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Their record may not reflect it, but the Cats have one of the most lethal offences in the CFL and their defence didn't look bad last week either. One weakness is that they're terrible on the road. Apart from Knowlton, the team isn't doing to bad with respect to injuries. Probably the CFL's most inconsistent team, which isn't a compliment.
6. Toronto Argonauts
With Ricky Ray on the shelf, the Argos are reduced to starting retread Jarious Jackson. That's good enough to beat the sad sack Bombers, but probably not enough to beat a team with a good defence.
7. Edmonton Eskimos
Things are bad when the head coach makes himself offensive co-ordinator when his previous roles prior to being a head coach were defensive in nature. Things are also bad when you make rather crotchety (but still fast) Kerry Joseph your starter. The Eskimos still have a chance to make the playoffs via the cross-over, but it doesn't look likely. The Esks should really be playing their younger quarterbacks to get experience for next year.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Quarterback Buck Pierce is injured again. The Bombers are almost guaranteed not to make the playoffs. Sad considering the Bombers made the Grey Cup last year. Rags to riches to rags again. The Bombers haven't won the Grey Cup since 1990 and it looks safe to say that will continue. Hopefully next year their new stadium will be ready.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pre-Game Thoughts on Montreal @ Hamilton

Probably the biggest news is both Avon Cobourne and the returning from injury Chevon "Don't Call Me Siobhan" Walker playing. How much they'll play together may depend on ratio issues. Right now, the Cats start 3 non-import offensive linemen, Andy Fantuz and Samuel Giguere. With four receivers and a fullback in, non-import Daryl Stephenson is in at fullback. For five and six receiver sets, Stephenson comes out and non-import Dave Stala comes in (note I'm inferring this from the depth chart which may be different than what actually happens in the game). So that's six non-import starters on offense and you need seven total. The Cats start two non-imports on defence so they're up by one.

For Walker and Cobourne to be on the field at the same time that pretty much precludes Stephenson (although they could have some odd formations, especially on short yardage or he could be a tight end), and I assume it would be Williams, Grant, Fantuz and Giguere at receiver. That could be interesting, especially if one swings out and Burris does some play action to the other. I'll try and keep track of who is on the field if and when Cobourne and Walker are both on at the same time.

In other injury news Colclough is in at linebacker for Knowlton and Young is back at one of the corners.

Who knows what the Cats will do tonight? They have a 500 record at home, while the Alouettes have a losing record on the road. This game is not must win, but it is close to it, both to stay ahead of the Bombers and to try and catch Edmonton for the cross-over playoff spot. If they lose this game, things become a lot more problematic. 

Luca Congi Article in the National Post

There's an article in the National Post about Luca Congi and his kicking success this year in the CFL this year, including awesomeness over 40 yards and Paul Osbaldiston as some mystical Bagger Vance figure (although considerably pastier than Will Smith). Last year I did a post comparing Paul McCallum's kicking with NFL kickers. Maybe on the weekend I'll make a post comparing Congi's year thus far, provided he doesn't honk it up tonight.

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 14

Montreal at Hamilton
Getting close to must win territory for the Ticats to qualify for the playoffs. For the Alouettes not so much, although historically the Alouettes haven't exactly been a team that takes the brakes off. The past two games the Cats have looked good and then mediocre. The Als are only one point favourites on the road. The Cats are going to play both running back Chevon Walker and Avon Cobourne this game which has fans hopeful. The Cats have a 500 home record and the Als actually have a losing record on the road. I'll go with the Cats this week and their sense of urgency, although I probably shouldn't.
Cats 28 Team Marois 24

Edmonton at Calgary
Esks are starting their third string quarterback (who didn't look too good when he played against Hamilton two weeks ago) and are unsurprisingly seven point underdogs on the road. I think that's valid. Esks losing streak continues.
Calgary 37 Edmonton 19

Toronto at Winnipeg
Winnipeg has Buck Pierce starting (assuming he hasn't slipped on a banana peel this week) and the Argos have career backup and not particularly young Jarious Jackson. After beating Hamilton last week, the Bombers have a glimmer of a playoff spot. I'll take playoff urgency over backup starting quarterback and the Bombers will cover the three points they've been given.
Bombers 31 Team Suck 23

BC at Saskatchewan
The Lions are only 2.5 favourites on the road. Considering the Lions only managed to beat the currently lowly Eskimos by a single point and the Riders good showing against a good Stamps team last week, plus a rowdy crowd at Fertilizer Field (Mosaic), that to me says Riders win.
Riders 29 Lions 24

Thursday, September 27, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 13

1. BC Lions
Can't argue with keep winning, even if they only managed to beat the swooning Eskimos by a single point. I'm starting to think that the Lions are pretty much a defensive power house and just average on offense. That's a lot in 2012's CFL.
2. Montreal Alouettes
Anthony Calvillo is in a groove of late and the Alouettes have risen above all the other teams save the Lions. Easily handled the Argos last week at home and are close to locking up the East final in Montreal.
3. Calgary Stampeders
Sure they lost to the Riders, but only by five points and there's a lot of mediocre teams in the CFL. Jon Cornish is a good weapon to have. Glenn having a good year. Not much more to say.
4. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Have the Riders turned it around? Maybe. I need to see more proof, but they managed to win last week which is something.
5. Toronto Argonauts
Lost to Montreal badly in Alouetteland last week and have lost Ricky Ray for some indeterminant period of time. Being stuck with Jarious Jackson a career backup doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. Still not a bad defence.
6. Edmonton Eskimos
Down to their third string quarterback due to injuries whose name I can't be bothered to look up, and losers of four straight, things are looking grim for the Eskimos. Thanks Ron Lancaster for the cross-over playoff spot
7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Pretty close to basement level, especially after losing to the Bombers in a semi-must win game. Offence is powerful, but inexplicably coughs up a furball in the third quarter.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Sure they won a game, with Buck "One Game Played without Injury" Pierce back. Win two in a row and we'll start talking.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ticats Lose to Bombers 34 to 12

Well looks like it's official, the 2012 Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a bad team. It didn't look like it going into the season, but that's why they play the games.

The final score favoured the Bombers as the Cats were in if for most of the game and even leading at one point, but a combination of penalties and ineptness on offense finally ground down a Ticat defence that played relatively well.

The turning points were either the Fantuz fumble after gaining a first down or the contacting the kicker penalty that extended a Bomber drive. The Bomber
offense was helped by numerous penalties, some justified, some incredibly chintzy (including one of the weaker facemask penalties of the season) and not by the awesome play of Buck Pierce, although you wouldn't know it from the way the TSN personalities were massaging his prostate gland.

For the Cats to make the playoffs likely requires them to go 4 and 2 over the last 6 games, which considering their personnel is possible, although considering they are 4 and 8 now somewhat unlikely. Either Edmonton or Saskatchewan could also totally collapse as well, but now the Bombers are inexplicably back in the mix one game behind the Ticats.

I'll be curious to see if the coaches make any changes this week before the next home game. I'm not really sure what they could do either.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ticats At Bombers Preview

Can the Cats continue from last week and get into the crossover playoff race with Saskatchewan and Edmonton? After last week's dominating performance on offence and defence one would hope so, but the Cats have underachieved their expectations this year.

For the offensive lineup, nothing too remarkable, at least on the lineup card posted on the Cats website. Cobourne starts at running back for the still injured Chevon Walker. Dile is in at right tackle and no more Hage in the middle, with O'Neill in, but that was true last week as well. Jones is listed ahead of Bakari Grant at slot.

For Winnipeg Buck Pierce is listed as the quarterback. Insert Buck Pierce injury joke here. Pierce has given the Cats trouble over the years as have the Bombers at home.

On defence, the front four is Boudreaux and Peach outside and McElveen and Davis inside. Last week they had five sacks which compared to their previous efforts over the first ten games was impressive. With Pierce's propensity to hang on to the ball there may be some sack opportunities available.

Brock Campbell is in again at Markeith Knowlton's spot at linebacker. He had a sack last week.

The defensive backfield again has the rarity of two Canadian starters in Rwabukamba as one of the corners and Bucknor as the safety.

Looking over the Bomber depth chart, one problem seems to be their non-imports are pretty mediocre. No real non-import receiver of note and that's going to hurt you especially if you're starting two import offensive tackles like the Bombers. Compare that to the Cats trio of Fantuz, Stala and Giguere. I know the Bombers are a running team, but if they lose this game and have written off a playoff spot, I'd be throwing in whatever non-imports at slot and receiver for the remaining games and hope somebody or somebodies develop for next year.

Andy Fantuz Bad Season?

Andy Fantuz was signed to the Cats this year to a high value contract in CFL terms. After 11 games some consider him somewhat of a bust. However looking over the list of receiving leaders for the CFL, I don't think this is really the case. Chris Williams is third in the league with 900 yards receiving, however Fantuz is a respectable 12th on the list with 553 yards. Considering Fantuz missed some playing time due to injury his per game average performance would probably move him up the list of CFL receivers.

Fantuz still has seven regular games go this year and could still crack the 1000 yard mark. Fantuz always draws coverage helping out the other Ticat receivers. The Cats offence hasn't been the problem this year and neither has Fantuz.

Chris Williams has the chance to be the first CFL receiver to crack the 1,000 yard mark this year if he gets triple digit receiving yards against the Bombers tonight. That's impressive for only his 12th game this year.

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 13

Hamilton at Winnipeg
Can the Cats make it two in a row? Can Winnipeg stop their suck? Hamilton is only a 3.5 favourite, but that's on the road so it's not like the oddsmakers have any confidence in the Bombers. I can't remember if Buck Pierce is supposed to start this game or not, but even if he does, the odds he would make it through the game are slim. The Cats offence looks to be back on track and Winnipeg's defence isn't what it was last year. I feel safe picking the Cats by a TD, but then I thought the Cats would beat the Bombers last time, so what do I know.
Cats 35 Team Last Place 25

BC at Edmonton
Esks have looked bad of late, getting absolutely hammered in the Hammer last week. The Lions have won two in a row and are 8 and 3. Yet they're only favoured by 3.5 points. Doesn't seem to make a lot sense, although Steven Jyles may again be the quarterback. I don't really think that matters.
Lions 30 Eskimos 21

Toronto at Montreal
The only battle of teams with winning records in the CFL this week, that pretty much makes it the premium matchup. Montreal is favoured by 4 points, but they are 5 and 1 at home. So go with the home team.
Alouttes 25 Team Suck 21

Calgary at Saskatchewan
The Stamps are only favoured by 2 on the road, although the Riders home record is only 3 and 2. The Stamps have won four in a row, while the Riders have lost one. Durant looks to be healthy for this one, which is something at least. I still don't think the Riders are that great a team. I don't the Stamps are fantastic either, but they've got two great players in Nik Lewis and Jon Cornish on offence. That's enough.
Stamps 37 Riders 33

Thursday, September 20, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 12

1. BC Lions
The Lions keep rolling in a league full of mediocre teams. Sure last week's game against the Argos was close, but the Lions still won. You can't blow out teams every week.

2. Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes aren't at the Lions level, but they have won a lot of games behind Anthony "Dorian Grey" Calvillo. I'm not really keen on the fact the Alouettes having significantly less points scored than points allowed. That generally indicates a lucky team and teams don't stay lucky forever.

3. Calgary Stampeders
Was quarterback Drew Tate going down with a season ending injury addition by subtraction. The Stamps are better with Kevin Glenn playing who benefits from Jon Cornish's running. The Stamps offence is enough to beat most teams in the CFL, but Kevin Glenn can strike with a boneheaded pick at any time. Just wait.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Made the game against the Lions close in BC, which is saying something for Eastern teams. Chad Owens is having a career year, proving that the Argos weren't totally deficient in receivers last year, more that they were stuck with Cleo "the Party" Lemon at quarterback.

5. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Getting close to 500 is positive, although doing it by racking up games against Winnipeg isn't that impressive. Play a real team and we'll see what you can do.

6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Cats are back! Maybe. At least for one game where everything clicked. The Cat offence is capable of doing damage quickly, or burning time with a long drive. The Cat defence is capable of blowing leads for the offence. Fortunately the Ticats have Winnipeg to build up their confidence this week.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
Is the Ricky Ray trade coming home to roost for Eric Tillman and the former Evil Empire? Trotting out a geriatric Curtis Joseph didn't turn out too well last week in the Hammer. Inexplicably the Esks ran little last week, which they really should, even if they're behind. Maybe the Esks will realize that this week.

8. Winnnipeg Blue Bombers
What happened to the Swaggerville defence of last year? Why didn't the Bombers sign any free agents this off season? Who knows, but the Bombers are proving this year that you can go from the penthouse to the doghouse in one season in the CFL. If the Bombers lose this week they're pretty much done, if they're not already. At least they have a new stadium to look forward to next year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Points For and Points Against Weirdness

After this week's games, Hamilton at 4 and 7 actually has more points scored than against with 348 to 347. Montreal with a 7 and 4 record has only scored 301 points versus 327 allowed. Saskatchewan at 5 and 6 has scored 284 points versus 234 allowed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Olympic Statistics Blog

For work I ended up collecting some data from the athletes of the 2012 London Olympics. I thought about making blog posts with some statistics here, but Ticat and Olympian stuff doesn't really overlap in terms of readership so I made a separate blog called Olympic Statistics. Here's a post with histograms of the ages of Olympians. I'll continue making posts at that blog whenever I end up making some new plots and I'll probably cross post them here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ticats Annihilate Eskimos 51 to 8

Well that was enjoyable. Especially after the Cats were down 8 zip after the first quarter. Probably the play of the game was Dee Webb blocking an Eskimo kick and then Bakari Grant returning the ball for a TD with no time left. Grant seems to be returning to form after injury with four catches for 66 yards. Williams had another good game with 125 yards on eight catches plus a TD and Dave Stala had another strong game with 2 catches for 98 yards and a TD where he basically schooled the Eskimo defender. Cobourne had a good game with 121 yards on 18 touches with a TD. Not a great average, but he always had positive yards it seemed.

Burris had a good game with over 400 yards with 23 completions out of 33 attempts and 3 TDs, but he did have 2 picks.

The defence surprisingly stepped up with five sacks by five different quarterbacks. Considering the feeble amount of sacks the Cats had going in to the game, that was quite the accomplishment. Kerry Joseph couldn't seem to get much going after the first quarter and then it was all downhill for the Esks.

Certainly the win was important, pulling the Cats to within one game of Edmonton for a crossover spot and going two games ahead of Winnipeg. If the Cats can win next week in the Peg, that's pretty much it for the Bombers to catch the Cats for the East's final playoff spot.

Some weirdness in the game was at the end of the third quarter where there was a series of penalties that extended it. It was like the quarter that wouldn't end.

Eskimos at Cats Game Day Thoughts

Is this a must win game for the Cats with eight games remaining. Mathematically no, but the Cats have a decent shot playing Edmonton at home with the rather crotchety Kerry Joseph at the controls. With Winnipeg losing already this week, a win would get the Cats two games up on the Bombers and probably more importantly another win in their battle against the Riders for the crossover playoff spot.
Potentially if the Riders get hot the Esks could be a crossover possibility as well, so beating the Esks is potentially doubly important.

The Esks have also lost back to back games against the Stamps. The Cats have lost five straight so neither team can claim much momentum. The Cats have lost some close games although last week the Argos pulled away in the fourth quarter.

The Cats still have injury issues. Hage is apparently gone at centre for the season, but O'Neill hasn't been really been an issue as a replacement. Knowlton is still missing at linebacker which hurts due to his ability to make big plays, something the defence has been lacking this year.

The Cats strength this year has been their offence. To win this game and their remaining games the Cats are going to have to score enough points to compensate for their rather woeful defence. That's somewhat obvious. What the Cats should do knowing this is go for it on third down more often to keep drives alive and keep the Cat defence off the field. Sure there will be failures, but statistically the Cats should be going for it always on third and two or less. Porter also has to step on quarterback sneaks. Last year they were a strength, this year not so much.

I'm not sure what the Cats can do about their front defensive four. Certainly bringing in new personnel like the trade this week for Peguese and seeing who can play is one thing the Cats can do. People argue that sacks are an overrated stat, but the Cats are dead last in the CFL in sacks by a rather large margin and probably not coincidentally are 3 and 7. More blitzing? Probably easier said than done and the Cat secondary isn't anything to write home about this year, although considering they are starting two Canadians isn't terrible.

Cobourne is starting again at running back according to the online depth chart. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he is good as a receiver. Hopefully Burris uses him today.

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 12 Part B

Edmonton at Hamilton
This is a really important game for Hamilton, which is kind of sad considering there are still eight games left in the season. Edmonton has been on a bit of a mini-slide lately and starts the geriatric but still fast Kerry Joseph in place of Steven Jyles. The Cats are favoured by 3.5 at home which probably speaks to Joseph starting despite the Cats losing five straight. The Cats should have a chance in this one, but there's been other games where they did too yet sucked. The Cats main problem is defence, specifically run defence and unfortunately for the Cats Edmonton has good running backs up the wazoo plus Joseph will probably tuck and run plenty. No joy in Mudville.
Eskimos 27, Cats 19

Toronto at BC
The Argos have won two straight and are a reasonable team. The Argos offence is average, but Ricky Ray can still burn teams with a long bomb, which sadly a lot of CFL teams can't do. Too bad BC is at home and just a better team rounding into form after pummelling the Alouettes last week. Lions favoured by 7, but I expect more.
Lions 39 Team Suck 25

Saskatchewan at Montreal
The Riders have won back to back games against the Bombers. The Alouettes are at home and favoured by 6. The Als aren't the Bombers and will bounce back from last week's mauling in Vancouver.
Alouettes 29 Riders 21

Friday, September 14, 2012

CFL Predictions 2102 Week 12 Part A

Winnipeg at Calgary
Calgary is hot, coming off back to back wins against the Eskimos, is at home and favoured by 9.5 points. The Bombers are not hot coming off back to back losses to the Riders. I don't think things are going to change although going by Kevin Glenn's history this is one of those games he usually losses inexplicably.

Stamps 33 Bombers 21

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 11

Unfortunately little time today.

1. BC Lions
2. Montreal Alouettes
3. Calgary Stampeders
4. Toronto Argonauts
5. Edmonton Eskimos
6. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Random Thoughts on the Argos Game

I attended the game Saturday at Dead Ted's Dome in box 305. It made going to the Dome considerable more enjoyable although watching the Ticats honk it up in the fourth quarter sucked. Probably the best part was the view. Way better angle than the seats below for watching a football game.

Other notes from the game totally at random.

First Half

Congi to me looks like he has kind of a weird low trajectory on his field goal attempts, but he seems to make them so I'm not complaining.

Time count violation really? All's well that ends well.

Nice break up of a TD by the Cats number 6.

Where's the Ticat cheerleaders? Lazy.

Two Argo kickoff penalties? Afraid of Williams?

Giguere you had your chance.

Fantuz a bust?

Ricky Ray running?

Second Half

Bad Ticat defence.

Nice catch by Stala.

Giguere makes a TD catch.

Most box fans Ticats fans?

Bad kickoff and punt coverage.

Ray can still make the big completion.

Birds in the Dome?

Argo receiver off the goalpost.

Argo missed field goals?

Last call at end of third quarter in the box too, but they come and ask you for an order. Nice.

Kackert TD and it's over.

50/50 $6100.

5:15 42 17 put in Porter.

Bad interference call against Argos at end.

Last play incompetent pass.

Friday, September 7, 2012

CFL Previews 2012 Week 11

Calgary at Edmonton
Calgary won a squeaker last week at home against Edmonton. I expect Edmonton to return the favour at home this week. I assume the Eskimos will have non-import running back Jerome Messam in the lineup this week. How they fit him in with Hugh Charles and Cory Boyd is a bit of conundrum, but I guess Messam can always be a quasi-fullback and an option to run or catch. Last week Boyd was a scratch so who knows who will play. I'm unsure who will start out of Kerry Joseph or Steven Jyles this week, but I'll assume the Eskimos will run a lot for a CFL team. Kevin Glenn has looked relatively good this year playing for the Stamps, but I just can't see him winning against Edmonton twice in a row. The Esks are favoured by three, by I see them covering.
Edmonton 29 Calgary 23

Hamilton at Toronto
The Ticats are a better team than their record would indicate. I would say the Argos are a slightly worse team than their record would indicate. Burris looked poor last week in Hamilton while Ray had a decent game. I expect the Cats to be looking for revenge, plus receiver Bakari Jones is back from injury, which should make the offense potent enough to cover for a fairly shabby defence. Argos are favoured by three, but that's mainly because they're at home. Expect a fair number of Ticats fans at Dead Ted's Dome (including potentially me).
Ticats 37 Team Suck 31

Montreal at BC
Seems to be a theme that whoever lost last week will win this week. I think this also holds true for the Als versus the Lions in the battle of the 6 and 3 teams. Montreal was the better team last week and Calvillo had yet another 300 yard game in a row (that's eight now). The Lions are historically excellent in BC Place, especially against Eastern teams (although this isn't a night game). Lions are favoured by 5.5, I expect them to cover.
Lions 33 Alouttes 25

Saskatchewan at Winnipeg
The Bombers got absolutely spanked by the Riders last week, with nothing good to say about their play at all. I expect them to also lose this week at home in the Banjo Bowl, but not by as much and by more than the three points the Riders are favoured by. Is Buck Pierce back? I don't know, but I'll guess no.
Riders  34 Bombers 19

Thursday, September 6, 2012

CFL Power Rankings Week 10

1. Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes beat the Lions last week, albeit at home, but still that's enough for me. I'm not sure if the Als will hold on to this spot for very long, but after the Labour Day weekend games, the Als are looking good.
2. BC Lions
Obviously still a good team. Can take back first place by winning this week. Getting Elimimian back from the NFL would make them better.
3. Calgary Stampeders
Who won the Kevin Glenn Henry Burris switcheroo? Looks like Calgary after they won the Labour Day classic at home against Edmonton. Cornish is arguably the best running back and Canadian to boot.
4. Edmonton Stampeders
Edmonton has an abundance of riches now that non-import running back Jerome Messam is back from the NFL. Of course they have Steven Jyles and now that he is injured Kerry Joseph as quarterback. Joseph is probably better than most backup quarterbacks in the CFL right away, but he's really old. We'll see how the Esks do during the second half with their quarterback tandem.
5. Toronto Argonauts
Winning on the road on Labour Day at Ivor Wynne. Can't really argue with that. Chad Owens had a monster game receiving and on special teams and Ray also had a good game. The Toronto secondary also looked good, but that might just be Henry Burris.
6. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Wow the Riders absolutely spanked the Bombers. No Joey Elliot heroism here. Are the Riders back after losing five straight? Who knows, but they get to play the Bombers this week, which is pretty convenient.
7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Before the season started, people probably weren't expecting the Cats to be 3 and 6. So much for Smiling Hank. A weak defence, with a poor secondary and a toothless pass rush means an OK offense and awesome special teams isn't going to amount to much except for a lot of games lost by a small margin.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
How did this team get to the Grey Cup last year? OK Buck Pierce wasn't injured that much and Doug Brown was still around clogging the middle. The Bombers didn't seem to do anything in the off-season which seems pretty stupid now. I'm tempted to put them in ninth place behind McMaster.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ticats Honk it Up On Labour Day

So the Cats lost a close one yesterday 33 to 30 to the Argos, the last Labour Day game at Ivor Wynne. In some ways the Cats looked like they were in it and in other ways they didn't.

Burris played mostly horrible when you look at the stats, 13 for 30 for 218 yards with 2 TDs and 2 picks. Plenty of Burris' random throws that aren't near the receiver. Dave Stala actually led the Ticat receivers with four catches for 62 yards. No catches for wide receiver Simon Giguere which is problematic and only one catch for Chris Williams, although that was for 52 yards and he did return a punt for TD to break the league record in only nine games. Fantuz only caught 2 passes for 22 yards which isn't good enough considering there were 30 pass attempts.

Ray had a much better game passing, with 32 completions out of 45 attempts for 375 yards and a TD. Chad Owens roasted the Cats with 11 catches for 176 yards. Doesn't really say a lot for the Ticat secondary or the pass rush, which went sackless.

Chevon Walker did have an excellent game in his return from injury, with 111 yards on only 14 rushes. No pass receptions though which is almost a must for a running back in the CFL.

The Cats did find themselves ahead at the half and during the second half. Probably the turning point was when the Cats gave up a safety and then promptly a TD. I don't know if that has a name, but that's never good.

The Cats are now 3 and 6 heading back to Toronto. Right now they're behind the Riders for a cross-over playoff spot, where most observers certainly didn't expect the Cats to be at after Labour Day and also a game ahead of the Bombers for last place in the CFL. So much for the last season at Ivor Wynne.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 10

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
Suck versus suck. The Bombers have the slightly worse record, while the Riders have the suck momentum with five straight losses. The Bombers have fried their head coach. They have Joey Elliot as quarterback which doesn't evidently impress the odds makers considering the Bombers are seven point underdogs on the road. I don't think the Riders are that good, but they do have home field advantage.
Riders 24 Bombers 19

Toronto at Hamilton
Who knows what will happen here. The Cats on paper would seem to be a good team, but find ways to lose including three straight. The Argos haven't looked particularly good of late, with the lack of good receiver options for Ricky Ray. The Cats are favoured by 3.5 at home. Probably home field advantage and a full house wins out here.
Ticats 37 Team Suck 26

Edmonton at Calgary
Edmonton has the slightly better record and Steven Jyles as quarterback. Calgary now has Kevin Glenn starting who has been effective. The Esks have Cory Boyd as a running back who should by now be more integrated into the Edmonton offense. The Stamps are favoured by 3.5 at home, but Edmonton seems to have weirdly won games this year.
Eskimos 30 Stamps 26

Friday, August 31, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 9

1. BC Lions
Pretty much the only consistently good team in the league. Strong on both sides of the ball.
2. Montreal Alouettes
Defence is still somewhat meh, but somehow Anthony Calvillo keeps putting up good numbers. Good offensive tools doesn't hurt either.
3. Edmonton Eskimos
Somehow 5 and 3. I don't really understand it, but numbers don't lie. Steven Jyles isn't that great, but he hasn't really totally cocked up some games, unlike some other quarterbacks.
4. Calgary Stampeders
Winning with Kevin Glenn. Or more correctly 500 with Kevin Glenn. That sounds about right.
5. Toronto Argonauts
Didn't look great last week, but Ricky Ray is still better than most of the other quarterbacks in the league. Receivers corps is a little weak and holds him back.
6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Lost three in a row, but didn't lose by a lot of points. That counts for something I guess.
7. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
After winning three games to start the season, have now lost five. That's not good. The upside is they play Winnipeg the next two weeks so they could be back at 500.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Last place and have fired their coach. Looking on the bright side, going into the Labour Day weekend, the Bombers are one game out of a playoff spot and Joey Elliot isn't a bad quarterback.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 9

1. BC Lions
Can't argue with 5 and 2 and a suffocating defensive performance against the Riders last week.

2. Montreal Alouettes
Sure Calvillo is really old and isn't that consistent this season, but beyond the Lions there isn't any great teams in the CFL. Mostly a nostalgia pick.

3. Toronto Argonauts
Have a winning record, coming off a win, have an experienced CFL quarterback. Sure they released probably the best running back in the CFL recently, but import running backs are a dime a dozen.

4. Edmonton Eskimos
Also have a winning record, coming off a lose, have Steven Jyles as quarterback. Good enough for fourth, which is better than what I thought they would be when the season started.

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Offense has looked the best at times in the CFL and have Chris Williams, maybe the best overall weapon in the CFL this year. Also have managed to honk things up quite frequently.

6. Calgary Stampeders
Not bad considering their putative starting quarterback's shoulder pretty much gave out just after the season started. Team is meh. A few good players like Nik Lewis and Jon Cornish, but just don't have the overall talent of the teams ahead of them.

7. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Won three to start the season and have lost four straight. Hard to determine how good the Riders are, but the team isn't looking great right now.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
I'm not ready to anoint  Joey Elliot as the new saviour in Winnipeg, but he looked good against Hamilton last week. Still the Bombers only have two wins, so they'll have to show more to move out of their mother's basement in the CFL power rankings.

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 9

Hamilton at Montreal
The Ticats are coming off two straight losses where if they hadn't flamed out in the second half, they could have won. The defence has looked weak, although the offence has had moments of incompetence. Injuries have also been a factor. Montreal is coming off two straight wins, although Calvillo has certainly looked mortal this year and the Alouette defence is nothing to write home about. Hamilton won the last meeting with the Alouettes at home. Montreal is favoured by 4 at home. Supposedly the Cats have Fantuz back at receiver, which is important because his replacements as a non-import receiver did little and should make the Cat offence a little more potent. Call me a homer, but I think the Cats have the edge in this one.
Ticats 35, Separatist People 28

BC at Winnipeg
Is Joey Elliot the second coming of Tom Clements in Winnipeg? I'm guessing no, but he did look good in getting the Bombers second win last week. The BC Lions offence has been decent this year, but the defence has been awesome. I expect Elliot will come back to Earth this week. The Lions are favoured by 5.5 on the road, expect them to cover.
Lions 27, Bombers 16

Calgary at Saskatchewan
The Riders have lost four straight after winning the first three. The Stamps managed to lose to the Argos last week. Glenn is in for Tate with his season done for the Stamps at quarterback and has been inconsistent as his career has generally been. Durant too has been inconsistent, looking good during the wins and poor during some of the losses. The Riders are favoured by 3.5 at home. I'll take them, but they won't beat the spread
Riders 27, Stamps 25

Edmonton at Toronto
Inexplicably these teams have 4 and 3 records making this the premier matchup in the CFL this week. The Argos are coming off a win while the Eskimos are coming off a loss to the Alouettes. Lots of story lines, with Ray playing his former team, the just released Cory Boyd playing his former team. The Argos are favoured by 3.5 at home. Basically I'll take Ricky Ray over Steven Jyles at quarterback. Sure the Eskimos have a winning record with Jyles, but that strikes me as luck.
Argos 23, Eskimos 19

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 8 Part A

Hamilton at Winnipeg
Hamilton is the better team, although there's a lot of injuries including Andy Fantuz. Depending on Simon Giguere to step into his spot? Quite unlikely. Various injuries on the defence. Then the Bombers are starting their third string quarterback Joey Elliot. The Cats are favoured by three on the road and considering how bad the Bombers have been and tossing in a new quarterback into the mix probably won't help.
Ticats 32 Bison People 28

Montreal at Edmonton
The Eskimos aren't getting a lot of respect considering they are 4 and 2 and they're at home but only 1.5 point favourites. At this point I think oddsmakers are giving Montreal credit for past years when they haven't shown much. That said, the Eskimos and Steven Jyles don't really inspire me, even if he has been playing better the last few games. I'll go with the home crowd here, although I don't feel very confident about it.
Eskimos 26 Alouettes 24

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 7

1. BC Lions
Still on top. Not super consistent, but this year in the CFL, that's what you've got.
2. Edmonton Eskimos
Feels weird writing this, but yes a team quarterbacked by Steven Jyles is number two. Can't argue with a 4 and 2 record. Must be the defence. Adding Cory Boyd probably doesn't hurt either.
3. Calgary Stampeders
Managed to win on the road with a powerful run offence that takes the pressure off Kevin Glenn. Still meh about this team.
4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Were ahead going in the fourth quarter, then their run defence collapsed and their offence went AWOL. Injuries starting to hurt, especially that of Fantuz and to a lesser extent Knowlton.
5. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Back down to earth after winning three games to start the season. Still a big improvement over last year.
6. Toronto Argonauts
Certainly losing Cory Boyd doesn't help, although Chad Kackert is pretty good. The Argos are depending on Ricky Ray now and his passing offence for good or ill. Probably mostly ill.
7. Montreal Alouettes
Alouettes just don't seem to have it this year. Could this be Calvillo's last year? Maybe.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Going to the third string quarterback. That's always a good sign.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Curious Case of Cory Boyd

So the Argos have released Cory Boyd. I think this Damien Cox article in the Star pretty much hits the nail on the head in terms of reasoning: with performance bonuses quarterback Ricky Ray will make a lot money and cause salary cap problems. Cox doesn't mention it, but likely Boyd had performance bonuses based on set yardage totals so releasing him halfway through the season gets rid of more than his base salary as his totals are good this year. Also after I believe nine games CFL veterans are guaranteed their full salary even if released, so Boyd had to go quick.

Ticats fans should pay attention to what happens with sitting veteran running back Avon Cobourne. Likely his contract has performance bonuses, which he obviously isn't hitting so maybe he won't be released before the nine game mark as insurance in case Chevon Walker goes down.

Chad Kackert the new starting Toronto running back has actually struck me as a fairly decent player, thus illustrating my mantra that in the CFL, import running backs are fungible commodities. Also with Ricky Ray as quarterback, rather than a stiff like Cleo Lemon, passing is going to come to the fore and the Argos don't have to lean on their running backs as much.

Not sure how great a pickup this is for the Esks, but he is a good back. I'm shocked the Eskimos are a 4 and 2 this year, but apart from Winnipeg, it has been a weird year of parity in the CFL. I think the salary cap is finally starting to really kick in in the CFL this year. If you've spent a lot on your quarterback, his teammates are going to be smellier.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

CFL and the Potential NHL Lockout

Looks like there's a good chance the NHL will lock out the players to start the season. That's got to be good news for the CFL. No television ratings competition from the NHL and probably more importantly no media competition from the NHL either. Sure the media can talk about a settlement during a lockout, but after a while with nothing new to report the audience starts to become bored of talks or no talks leading TSN's sports centre every night. The lockout could easily continue to after the Grey Cup so the league should be able to get more value out of the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup as well. Thanks Gary.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

CFL Prediction 2012 Week 7

Calgary at Hamilton
The Cats are only favoured by 4 at home which seems a bit weird, considering the Cats have won three in a row, Burris has been on fire and Kevin Glenn on the road is not a lot to write home about. Sure Kevin Glenn could have a monster game, but the Ticat defence probably knows a lot of his tendencies. That may well be true for the Stamps defence, but Hamilton at this point in the season is just a better team. Cats beat the spread.
Ticats 37 Nosehill Park People 28

Saskatchewan at Edmonton
Edmonton is favoured by two points which is a little surprising. Certainly the Riders will have some fans at Commonwealth Stadium so the home field advantage for the Esks won't be as strong as say against the Argos. Edmonton's quarterback Steven Jyles isn't terrible, but hasn't exactly been impressive so far. The Esks have some good receivers, but the offence just isn't that great. Defence seems not bad. The Riders are a fairly solid team although Durant can suck the odd time. I think the Riders win this one although it will be close.
Riders 29 Eskimos 26

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 6

1. BC Lions
After beating Toronto on the road, the Lions are looking consistent and good. The offence may not be as impressive as one would have thought before the season, but the Lions have an impressive secondary. That never hurts in the CFL.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Didn't play, but didn't lose either. Power offence with Henry Burris looking like the best old quarterback in the CFL. Defence is good enough when matched with the offence. Burris could however start passing in random directions at any time.

3. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Also didn't play but still a good team this season with quarterback Durant back on track. Not super consistent.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Sure they lost the Lions, but most teams don't have BC's secondary. The Argos with Ricky Ray as the quarterback are a reasonable team.

5. Montreal Alouettes
Second best old quarterback in the CFL in Anthony Calvillo plus a fairly porous defence. Sure they beat the Bombers at home but that's not saying a lot. Offensive line is kind of meh this year, which means teams are going after and getting to Calvillo. Still have a lot of talent, but have never looked overpowering this year.

6. Calgary Stampeders
Didn't play but got waxed by the Lions the previous week. Tateless and will only go as far as Kevin Glenn will take them. Which won't be particularly far. Still have arguably the best receiver in the league in Nik Lewis when you include blocking downfield.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
Not a bad record, but I just don't have a lot of confidence in Stephen Jyles at quarterback. Defence is impressive.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Just a mediocre team. Not terrible, but consistently not good enough to lose lots of games. Won't get blown out a lot, which is something I guess. Does Paul LaPolice coach next year?

Friday, August 3, 2012

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 6

Montreal at Winnipeg
Battle of the losing record teams! I assume the Bombers are going with Brink at quarterback, but I don't know that for sure. The Alouettes will obviously go with Calvillo who is a little beat up of late. Montreal is favoured by two on the road, which is basically damning with faint praise. Basically one team has a good offense and a bad defence and vice versa for the other. When that's the case, I'll go with the home team.
Bombers 24 Alouettes 23

BC at Toronto
The Argos now have a competent offense with Ricky Ray at the controls. Certainly not awe inspiring, but Ray is quite capable of burning a secondary if given a chance. The Lions have a ton of talent but have been inconsistent so far this year. Coming off a solid victory last week the Lions are favoured by a mere field goal on the road. I'm not sure if the Argos can contain the Lion offense enough to get by with their offense. Lions.
Lions 31 Team Suck 28

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

CFL Power Rankings 2012 Week 5

1. BC Lions
They're back on top after annihilating the Stampeders on the road last week. BC isn't exactly consistent, but in a parity filled year in the CFL, that's not required to be on top. Having a good young quarterback goes a long way. BC's top receivers are getting a bit long in the tooth, but there's enough left in the tank for another Grey Cup run.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Didn't look good after the first two games, but winning on the road in Riderville with a never quit effort vaults the Cats up the rankings. Burris is having an amazing year, with loads of TDs against hardly any picks plus an un-Burris like completion percentage. Burris apparently still has it, despite being only a little younger than Calvillo. Plenty of weapons on offence plus George Cortez devising the schemes make the Cats capable of scoring in bunches. Satisfactory defence. Good special teams run backs, bad special teams coverage.

3. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Sure they lost one at home, but it was by a single point and the Riders certainly haven't been blown out this season. Need to learn to play four quarters of complete football, but teams that were terrible the year before often have this problem. Durant seems to have found whatever he had lost last season. Dressler is their biggest weapon, if he gets injured, stick a fork in them.

4. Toronto Argonauts
A winning record after five games? That's something. Ricky Ray seems rejuvenated on the Argos and the double blue actually have some receivers this year for Ray to bomb it to on occasion. Combine with a reasonable defence and the Argos can beat the weaker teams in the league. Having a hard time against the better teams.

5. Edmonton Eskimos
Somehow they are 3 and 2 with Steven Jyles as quarterback, but if I were the Eskimos, I wouldn't complain. Sure they lost to the Bombers, but the Esks have a good enough defence to keep them in games plus some decent receivers. No Messam here hurts at this point of the season.

6. Montreal Alouettes
Calvillo is looking off this year and the Montreal defence is looking mighty porous, especially compared to previous years. That's not a good combination. The Als might want to think about next season and a potentially Calvilloless team. Paying the CFL's highest salary to someone who isn't getting it done any more is something the Maple Leafs have done for years and look where that's got them.

7. Calgary Stampeders
No Drew Tate, although Kevin Glenn is OK. The Stamps offence looked smelly against the Lions at home last week which raises cause for concern. Are the Stamps the weak sister of the Western Conference this year? Looks like it.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Well they won a game finally at home by a point. I need to see more before I move them out of the basement.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hamilton Beats Saskatchewan 35 to 34

Things looked pretty grim for the Ticats there in the third quarter and I certainly wasn't expecting a Ticat victory. The Cats didn't look too bad in the first half and then fell apart. They showed a lot of heart and came back to win by a single point.

Burris looked good going 29 for 40 for 352 yards, 4 TDs and no picks. Burris hit eight different receivers in the game. Going into the season I didn't expect Burris to have high pass completion percentages, but I'm not complaining after the last two games.

Chris Williams looked good again hitting the century make in receiving yards with nine catches. Giguere finally is starting to show his potential with three catches for 76 yards. Props to backup import Onrea Jones coming in to start this game to replace an injured Bakari Grant with seven catches for 66 yards and two TDs, plus an important catch near the end of the game where he hung on despite being drilled. Nice to see Dave Stala with a TD reception.

Boudreaux had a good game at end, with two sacks and forcing a critical Darian Durant fumble in the fourth quarter. Kudos to the defence for holding on on the last Rider series, forcing the turnover on downs. I always hate when the opposition has the ball at the end of the game with the chance to win with a field goal.

On special teams the Cats gave up a lot of return yardage which definitely hurt them, without doing much themselves.

Looks like the Cats are for real and are above 500.

One thing that did make me laugh was an ad for Saskatchewan cancer workers bitching about the Saskatchewan government. If you want to reach a Saskatchewan audience, buying national ad time during a Rider game is one way to do it. Obviously the rest of Canada doesn't care, but I'm sure TSN will cash the cheque. Having a competitive Saskatchewan team is essential for good CFL ratings.

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 5 Part B

Hamilton at Saskatchewan
This one is hard to call. The Ticats are coming off two straight wins, while the Riders are on a one game losing streak although the last game was a close one. The Riders dominated the Cats in the season opener at Ivor Wynne. Considering the edge home teams have had in the CFL this year, it isn't surprising Saskatchewan is favoured by 3.5. The question for this game is, are the Riders for real this season or were they just lucky early? The Cats have some injury problems, with Markeith Knowlton out at linebacker and Bakari Grant out at receiver. Grant isn't such a big issue since the Cats have depth at import receiver. Knowlton is a bigger factor. Due to the Cat injuries I'll go with the Riders in a close one.
Wheat People 31, Ticats 30

BC at Calgary
I would have thought the Lions would have been better than 2 and 2 at this point of the season. For Calgary I didn't have a lot of faith in Drew Tate and now he's gone for the season and the enigma that is Kevin Glenn is in at quarterback. Glenn is a career 500 quarterback and is capable of beating good teams and losing to bad ones. The line is a pick'em, which isn't that surprising. I'm tempted by BC, but Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce are looking old and Nik Lewis seems to have developed a rhythm with Kevin Glenn and this is crazy, but I'm going with the Stamps.
Stampeders 39 Lions 34

Thursday, July 26, 2012

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 5 Part A

Edmonton at Winnipeg
Somehow the Eskimos are 3 and 1 with Steven Jyles as quarterback. I had no idea the Eskimos would have that great a defence this year, but there you go. Winnipeg is winless yet only a 1.5 point underdog. That seems surprising to me and means the oddsmakers don't really believe in Edmonton. I'm not sure what to say here. The Bombers haven't looked completely terrible, but they are by no means good either. I don't really like Brink much as a quarterback, but I have to think the Bombers are hungry. In this season of parity and home wins, I'll go out on a small limb and take the Bombers.
Bombers 22 Eskimos 21

Toronto at Montreal
The Als still have a good defence and a completely sucky offence. Toronto has an improved offence and still has a decent defence. The Als are favoured by 4 at home. Calvillo is looking a little hurt and his offensive line isn't impregnable anymore. I'll go with Ray in this one.
Suck People 30 Alouettes 26

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TSN CFL Panel at 2012 Ticat Opener

TSN CFL Panel by philinator
TSN CFL Panel, a photo by philinator on Flickr.
Here's a shot I took at this year's home opener at Ivor Wynne, where the TSN CFL panel was broadcasting live from the West end zone.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thoughts on Where the Cats Play in 2013

Now that the Cats know that they can't play at Mac this year, where will the team play? The Cats would like to keep the team as close to Hamilton so fans can continue to attend live games. I can understand this rationale, but with television and a new stadium I'm not sure if this is a potentially big problem getting fans to come back the following season. The Cats would also like to not be too financially burnt in 2013. Cat fans attending games will probably buy more high margin merchandise, both at games and around town.

However there's a tradeoff with locations that potentially might make it worth the Cats while to play. At last year's Moncton game the league made sure the Cats didn't lose out financially from playing a home game there. There's no Moncton game this year after two years of games, so I'm sure Moncton would like another game next year under similar terms. The Cats could play two games there early and late in the season so that the cost of extra seats added could be spread over two games. Not great for local Cat fans, but perhaps good for the Cats financially. Montreal would probably work as an opponent for one of the games.

The Labour Day Classic could be played at the Rogers Centre, however the Argos might want that as one of their home games. If it was a Cats game, I'm sure a decent crowd would show up, but booze and merchandise wise, I'm not sure how it would compare to Labour Day, which the Cats traditionally make a lot of money off of.

PEPS Stadium at Laval University is a possible venue for a one off game, with the Alouettes as the opponent. According to Wikipedia the largest attended game there was 19,500 and there was an exhibition game between the Als and the Renegades in 2003. Perhaps the consortium who runs Laval's football team could guarantee money like Moncton, although I wouldn't bet on it. The game could be a test run for interest in Quebec City for a future CFL team. I haven't heard many rumours about PEPS though.

That leaves the TD Waterhouse Stadium at Western in London. Wikipedia claims it can be expanded to 16,000. One assumes the Cats would like to get to at least 20,000. The Cats could run bus and ticket combos, individually and as part of season ticket packages for Hamiltonians. Hopefully local London area fans would come out too. Assigning the Rider game would probably help for boosting attendance too.

I would doubt Western would offer the incentives that Moncton would, however they and London probably wouldn't mind the publicity, especially the big television audiences the games would bring.

I think at least one Moncton game is a given. Western will probably host the majority, with the question of how many? Potentially it could be eight regular season games, or as few as five, if two games are in Moncton, the Cats host Labour Day in Toronto and a game in Quebec.

Monday, July 23, 2012

CFL Week 4 2012 Power Rankings

1. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Lose and make it into first place. Strange, but at least the points for and points against are good over the season which is usually a good sign of team strength. Durant appears to be legitimately back as a quarterback. Rob Bagg being out for nine games hurts, but Dressler and Getzlaf are still impressive.
2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Two straight baby! After beating the Alouettes handily at home this past week with Burris having a ridiculous pass completion percentage, the Cats offense is looking good. The defence is starting to come around and the special teams have been awesome. Need to show they can win on the road to show they are for real.
3. Edmonton Eskimos
How has this team won three out of four? Defense I guess. I don't understand it, but they beat the Lions and held them to 14 points in BC. Can't argue with wins though and they get the Bombers next
4. BC Lions
I still think this team has talent, but after losing two in a row I'm starting to wonder. One would have thought an offense with Lulay and Simon would be more potent, but perhaps Geroy is starting to show his age.
5. Calgary Stampeders
I don't really like Calgary, and I'm not a huge fan of Kevin Glenn as a quarterback, with the Stamps Tateless for the rest of the year, however Glenn has usually been a 500 quarterback and position five in the power rankings makes sense. Nik Lewis showed his still has it.
6. Montreal Alouettes
Anthony Calvillo is looking somewhat meh. Is this the year when his skills finally decline? The Als still have a lot of offensive weapons, but the Montreal defense and sieve would be a good word analogy question. Too many shootouts and you'll get burnt a lot.
7. Toronto Argonauts
Beat someone other than the Blue Bombers and I will be more impressed. Offense still needs work, although Ray probably will end up being one of the more reliable quarterbacks by the end of the year.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
This pick was easy. At least the Bombers are only two games out of first place. That's something. I guess.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ticats Alouettes Lineup Rundown

Offensive line is the same as last week, although Hage is listed behind O'Neill at centre. Everything is the same with receivers as last week, Williams and Giguerre as the wideouts and Grant and Fantuz as the slots. Looks like Stala comes in for five and six receiver sets. Chevon Walker again starts as the running back.

There is a change on the defensive line. Import Greg Peach is one of the ends, with McElveen as the other. Brown and Rose are in the middle. Regular linebackers with Knowlton in.

Non-import rookie Bucknor is listed as one of the corners with Tisdale as the other. Thomas is again one of the defensive halfbacks. Non-import Hinds is listed as the backup safety behind Webb, which is a little odd since he seemed to be playing some corner last week or at least on the field often.

So six non-import starters on offense and one on defence. Probably worth watching if Peach is an upgrade over Crable as an end. Considering the Cats have one sack from their defensive line over the first three games things can only get better.

Friday, July 20, 2012

CFL Predictions Week 4 Part B

Edmonton at BC
The Lions are only favoured by 8.5 at home, which seems a bit charitable. Sure The Eskimos waxed the Bombers like the Kardashian sisters at half price day at the beauty salon, but the Lions aren't the Bombers. Steven Jyles versus Travis Lulay? I'll take the Lions, unsurprisingly.
Lions 35, Eskimos 25

Montreal at Hamilton
Both teams are coming off victories at home, although the Alouettes were pretty much gifted a victory by Kevin Glenn. The Cats looked great in the first half, and pretty mediocre against the Argos in the second half. The Cats had awesome special teams, with reigning CFL Rookie of the Year Chris Williams making two special teams TDs. The Alouettes have some good weapons to surround Anthony Calvillo. The Cats are favoured by a mere two points at home. I'll go with the home team, considering the success CFL home teams have had this year.
Ticats 29 Alouettes 27

Parity, Maybe?

No more defeated teams left in the CFL last night after the Riders lost to the Stamps at home. I would be remiss not to point out I predicted a Calgary victory. Apart from Winnipeg, it looks like there is a lot of parity in the CFL this season. That's probably better for ratings and attendance.

Kevin Glenn winning last night isn't a huge surprise. He's basically a 500 quarterback for his career. Sometimes he'll throw a stupid interception that blows the game and sometimes he'll throw a bunch of TDs at the end to win. You never really know. At least Calgary has a chance this season, although they will have to hope good Kevin Glenn shows up in the playoffs.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CFL Predictions 2012 Week 4, Part A

Winnipeg at Toronto
The Bombers are winless and Pierceless heading into Toronto. The Argos are coming off a close one, losing in Hamilton. The Argos are favoured by a relatively massive 8.5 points. Is Bomber coach Paul LaPolice's job in jeopardy? Maybe. Ricky Ray has been effective against better teams and the Argos should have an easy win.
Suck People 30, Bombers 16

Saskatchewan at Calgary
The Riders are unbeaten and the Stamps Tateless, having to make due with Kevin Glenn, who has a penchant for interceptions that give away the game. One problem for the Riders is the non-import receiver Rob Bagg is on the nine game injury list. The Riders are favoured by 3.5 points on the road. I'm going to go against my better judgment and say the Stamps win at home.
Stamps 35, Riders 32

CFL Week 3 2012 Power Rankings

1. BC Lions
Sure they lost to the Riders, but it was on the road and it was close. I'm not willing to cede the top spot to the Riders quite yet.
2. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Can't argue with three straight wins. Durant is back and the defence is solid.
3. Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes only beat Calgary because of Kevin Glenn's stupidity, but good teams find ways to exploit other teams' fuckups. Calvillo is starting to look his age, but he still has a lot of weapons available and quarterbacks are starting to drop like flies in the CFL.
4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Ticats are back, baby! Sure Toronto may have outplayed them apart from special teams, but multiple special team TDs in a single game is impressive. Chris Williams is a weapon the Cats need to exploit if they want to move up.
5. Toronto Argonauts
Have looked reasonable the past couple games and the offence is satisfactory now. Ray is looking good amongst some of the wankier CFL quarterbacks. Toronto has the added bonus this week of facing the Blue Bombers at home.
6. Calgary Stampeders
Well Drew Tate is done for the year and making an attempt to be Buck Pierce 2, Electric Boogaloo. Kevin Glenn can be an effective quarterback at times and as he demonstrated last week can really pooch things with a ridiculous pick. Does the team rally around Glenn, or give up after week three?
7. Edmonton Eskimos
Smashed Winnipeg, but that doesn't say much. Steven Jyles still hasn't proved he can be a consistent quarterback and GM Eric Tillman is ruing the day he traded Ricky Ray.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Pierce is in, then out, then in again, then out again, almost like he's doing the hokey-pokey. Was last season's performance an aberration and the team is reverted to the sulkiness they had in previous seasons? Looks like it right now.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Where Does the Drew Tate Money Go?

With word that Drew Tate is out for the season to fix his shoulder for the year one issue is where his salary cap hit gets deployed. Players going on the nine game injury list don't have their salary during that time apply to the CFL's salary cap. With Tate gone for 15 games, 83.3% of his salary is likely available to the Stamps. According to this helpful article about CFL quarterback salaries from the Winnipeg Free Press, Tate's base was $200,000 (obviously he won't be making his bonuses this year) so that's $166,666.66 of extra salary cap room available this year. One caveat, backup Kevin Glenn might have some incentives in his contract that could now be met and take away from that number.

Still that's a good amount of money for a non-quarterback. Calgary would be in the lead spot for grabbing any noteworthy NFL cuts. The Stamps could front load a contract as well with a signing bonus leaving more salary camp room for next year.

The one winner in the Tate injury is now third stringer non-import quarterback Brad Sinopoli. With Tate gone the entire season, Sinopoli probably stays on the roster the entire season.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thoughts on Ticats Victory over the Argos

George Cortez gets his first win and the Cats are off the schneid. I thought the Cats if they were going to lose would lose on special teams. I didn't expect the Cats to torch the Argos with two special teams TDs, but Chris Williams has continued his the success that made him the CFL's Rookie of the Year winner. I'm wondering what Williams' contract duration is. If he signed a standard two years plus an option, we will have him next year because the old NFL option year escape route is gone.

Stats wise the Cats weren't as impressive. Burris had a completion rate under 50% (Michael Bishop like numbers) going 12 for 27 for 181 yards, but at least he had three TDs versus one pick. That said Burris had better numbers the previous two games and lost them both. Burris did run 5 times for 48 yards, including some crucial first downs. If the opposing team is going to open up the middle of the field, I have no problem with Burris taking the yards with his legs.

Ray completion percentage just OK at 60.% , going 23 for 38, but for only 232 yards with no TDs and a pick. Ray ran once for three yards.

Chevon Walker ran 17 times for 66 yards. The Cats lived up to their reputation of having a porous run defence, as Cory Boyd ran 19 times for 168 yards and a TD. Boudreaux did managed to get the Cats first sack by the front four of the season. Johnson had the most tackles for the Cats with eight.

Attendance was 24,264 which is OK, although the Argos are usually a draw. I'm still wondering about the claim by the Cats that there are 3,000 more season tickets holders this year. However last year's second home game attendance was only 22,245, although that was against the Riders, another strong draw. Traditionally the Ticats don't do well in attendance when a home game is a week after another home game, but next week's is against the Alouettes, the team is coming off a win and this game is the one where the team gives free tickets to season ticket holders.