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.