Thursday, December 26, 2013

Former Ticat Chris Williams Signs with Chicago Bears

Just saw on CHCH that former Ticat receiver Chris Williams was signed off the New Orleans Saints' practice roster. Williams of course grieved his Ticat contract and didn't show up to came, ultimately winning the opportunity to sign with an NFL team this year.

Maybe Williams will actually see some game action.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Quick Thoughts On Ottawa Red Blacks, Expansion and the Import Ratio

The quarterback and the non-imports are the most important just due to the fungible nature of imports in the CFL. Thinking about the expansion picks, the Rider defensive tackle Shologan allows the Red Blacks to start him on defence. The Ticat fullback Delahunt can start in a traditionally Canadian position for four receiver sets and then switch off for a fifth non-import receiver who is probably pretty mediocre. So that's two out of seven non-import starters.

The Red Blacks could go with four non-imports on the offensive line, with an import tackle which are relatively easy to find, although Ottawa could take a page from the Ticats book and start two American tackles and have a decent line from the get go. I'll go with four on the line though. If the Ottawans can find a decent Canadian receiver who can start that's seven total. If they go with the two American imports, they'll have to find another Canadian starter on defense, maybe Stampeder Eric Fraser as the safety.

Finding the decent Canadian receivers looks like it might be the hard part.

Cats Lose Marwan Hage to the Red Blacks in Third Expansion Round

he Cats just lost centre Marwan Hage, non-import, in the third expansion draft round.

I'm not sure if Hage will end up retiring, however he does hail from Montreal. He has never won a Grey Cup in his long career so playing this season in Ottawa will be tough in that regard

That's Cats now need to find a new centre. Not a bad pick for Ottawa. Hage is relatively old however centres often last a long time in the CFL. 

As a person Hage was awesome at charity work in Hamilton and the city itself loses. Probably good for an expansion team to have someone who will be really visible in the community.

Tiger-Cats Lose Fullback John Delahunt in Second Round Red Blacks Expansion

The Cats lost Delahunt in the second round in the non-import round, which hurts a bit. However the Cats were far more likely to go with five receivers except on short yardage situations, so fullback wasn't a critical part of the Ticats offense.

Still Delahunt was decent and while they still have Diedrick (unless he's a free agent, I can't remember) although Diedrick is pretty crotchety. Delahunt was also an OK receiver when the time came (and it didn't come particularly often). Maybe the Cats draft somebody new, but for Ottawa a really good pick.

Other noteworthies in the second round were Saskatchewan's defensive lineman Shologan and Argo offensive lineman Joe Eppelle (ouch). Weirdly Ottawa took three fullbacks in the round. Trade bait perhaps? No receivers though. Maybe all the teams protected their decent non-import receivers and left their fullbacks open.

Ticats Lose Chevon Walker in First Round of Red Blacks Expansion Draft, Kevin Glenn Picked

Meh. The Ticats still have Gable and as I have said many times here, import running backs are a fungible commodity in the CFL. Not a bad pickup by Ottawa as Walker does have some speed, but was not great in short yardage.

Kevin Glenn getting picked seems like a smart move. Will give Ottawa decent performance at that position immediately and he was the quarterback for a team that had an awesome regular season record in 2013.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Jon Cornish Wins Lou Marsh 2013 Canadian Athlete of the Year

A little surprising, as I didn't even consider a CFL player would win. Cornish was the obvious choice for Most Outstanding Player in the CFL, which is a rarity for a non-import. Cornish probably benefits from no other obvious athlete having a fantastic year (Milos Ranoic has had a good year for a Canadian tennis player, but certainly wasn't close to a slam or anything). 2013 isn't an Olympic year either which probably helps (soccer player Christine Sinclair won it last year).

In case you are wondering, the last CFL winner was McMaster alumnus Russ Jackson in 1969, that rarity in the CFL a starting Canadian quarterback.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ticats Don't Get a 2013 CFL All-Star?

Seems a little weird. One issue is that the Cats had a ton of injuries this year and generally becoming an all-star requires a player playing almost all of the games. Unless you're Ricky Ray. Actually the Cats record considering all their injuries is pretty remarkable. Or testament to the fungible nature of import players in the CFL.

Mike O'Shea Named Winnipeg Blue Bomber Head Coach

Argos special team coach and former Argo and Ticat player Mike O'Shea has been named the Bombers new head coach. I don't think it is a bad move, although going from special teams to head with no coordinator experience is a little weird. O'Shea has plenty of experience as a player in the CFL though, and he could follow a model of appointing strong offensive and defensive coordinators and in general deferring to them.

In any case, after a 3 and 15 season, posting a 6 and 12 season would be an improvement.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New York Times Fourth Down Bot

I really like the concept of the New York Time's fourth down bot, that tweets what NFL coaches should do on fourth down. This accompanying post has some great stats, including the expected amount of points to be scored from a first down at a given yard line (below a certain yardage the value is negative). I would love to make something similar for the CFL as well as a third down bot.

Toronto Lynx Not Coming to Hamilton, Ticats Cited

Looks like the plan for the Toronto Lynx to play at Tim Horton's field won't happen. When I first heard it, it seemed a little strange as Ticat owner Bob Young had talked about a soccer team of his own in Hamilton.

From the CBC article:

"But the Lynx had competition from the Ticats organization, which has been negotiating with the city for a pro soccer partnership. The city and Ticats organization are looking for the highest possible level of soccer to be played at the stadium and the USL Pro League is at least a third tier league. City staff recommended against a deal with the Lynx."

I haven't heard much about the Ticats' plans for a soccer team lately, but evidently they are still pursuing it. Bob Young had owned (until 2010) a part of the Carolina Railhawks, now in the North American Soccer League (the second tier league), along with Canadian teams FC Edmonton and the Ottawa Fury.

If Bob Young can get a NASL team, that's obviously better for the city than a third tier team especially one that's just a farm team of Toronto FC.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

2014 CFL Free Agent List

Montreal Alouettes

Martin Bedard, FB, Non-Import
J.P. Bekasian, DL*, Non-Import
Josh Bourke, OL, Non-Import
Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, C, Non-Import
Marc-Olivier Brouillette, LB, Non-Import
Michael Carter, DB, Non-Import
Alan-Michael Cash, DT, Import
Noel Devine, RB, Import
Curtis Dublanko, LB, Non-Import
Shea Emry, LB, Non-Import
Ed Gainey, DB, Import
Kyries Hebert, LB, Import
Josh Neiswander, QB, Import
Michael Ola, OL, Import
Billy Parker, DB, Import,
Rafael Priest, DB, Import
Brian Ridgeway, LB, Import
Daryl Townsend, DB, Non-Import
Sean Whyte, K, Non-Import

Toronto Argonauts
Adriano Belli, DT, Non-Import
Mike Bradwell, SB, Non-Import
Ahmad Carroll, DB*, Import
Zach Collaros, QB, Import
Danny Desriveaux, WR, Non-Import*
Dontrelle Inman, WR, Import
Jeff Johnson, RB, Non-Import
Andrew Jones, OL, Non-Import
David Lee, DL, Non-Import
Robert McCune, LB, Import
Chad Rempel, WR, Non-Import
Zander Robinson, DE, Non-Import
Wayne Smith, OL, Non-Import
Swayze Waters, K, Import
Patrick Watkins, DB, Import
Andrew Woodson, RB, Non-Import
Jordan Younger, DB, Import

Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Marc Beswick, DB, Non-Import
Henry Burris, QB, Import
Luca Congi, K, Non-Import
Torrey Davis, DL, Import
Kevin Eiben, LB*, Non-Import
Jamall Johnson, LB, Import
Simoni Lawrence, LB, Import
Kevin Scott, ST, Non-Import

Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Chris Cvetkovic, FB, Non-Import
Andre Douglas, OT, Import
Jade Etienne, WR, Non-Import
Will Ford, RB, Import
Akeem Foster, WR, Non-Import
JT Gilmore, DE, Import
Jovon Johnson, CB, Import
Rory Kohlert, WR, Non-Import
Chris Kowalczuk, OL, Non-Import
Pierre-Luc Labbe, LB, Non-Import
Ryan Lucas, DL, Non-Import
Kenny Mainor, DL, Import
Chris Matthews, WR, Import
Steven Morley, OT, Non-Import
Henoc Muamba, LB, Non-Import
Marc Parenteau, OL, Non-Import
Michel-Pierre Pontbriant, FB, Non-Import
Mike Renaud, P, Non-Import
Chad Simpson, RB, Import
Justin Sorensen, OL, Non-Import
Brandon Stewart, DB, Non-Import
Alex Suber, DB, Non-Import
Dan West, LB, Non-Import

Saskatchewan Roughriders
Graeme Bel, RB, Non-Import
Craig Butler, DB, Non-Import
Weston Dressler, SB, Import
Alex Hall, DL, Import
Aarron Hargreaves, WR, Non-Import
Victor Harris, DB, Import
Brent Hawkins, DE, Import*
Kierrie Johnson, WR, Import
Abraham Kromah, LB, Import
Terrell Maze, DB, Import
Jermaine McElveen, DL, Import
Chris Milo, K, Non-Import
Graig Newman, DB, Non-Import
Jock Sanders, RB, Import
Ricky Schmitt, K, Import
Kory Sheets, RB, Import
Taj Smith, WR, Import
Drew Willy, QB, Import
Paul Woldu, DB, Non-Import

Calgary Stampeders
Jabari Arthur, WR, Non-Import
Fred Bennett, DB, Import
Demonte' Bolden, DL, Import
Derrius Brooks, LB, Import
Marc Calixte, LB, Non-Import*
Randy Chevrier, LB, Non-Import
Rob Cote, RB, Non-Import
Johnny Forzani, WR, Non-Import
Arjei Franklin, WR, Non-Import*
Jeff Hecht, DB, Non-Import
Malik Jackson, LB, Import
Cordarro Law, DL, Import
Etienne Legare, DL, Non-Import
Anthony Prker, WR, Non-Import
Maurice Price, WR, Import
Chris Randle, DB, Import
Juwan Simpson, LB, Import
Dorian Smith, DL, Import*
Tim St. Pierre, RB, Non-Import
Dimitri Tsoumpas, OL, Non-Import
Jamar Wall, DB, Import

Edmonton Eskimos
Joe Burnett, DB, Import
Matt Carter, WR, Non-Import
Hugh Charles, RB, Import
Cary Koch, WR, Import
Brandon Lang, DE, Import
Ted Laurent, DT, Non-Import
Michael Miller, DB, Non-Import
Scott Mitchell, OL, Non-Import
Damaso Munoz, LB, Import
Matt Nichols, QB, Import
Orrin Thompson, OL, Import

BC Lions
Josh Bell, DB, Import
Stu Foord, RB, Non-Import
Dan McCullough, Non-Import*
Nick Moore, WR, Import
Steve Myddleton, OL, Import
Keron Williams, DE, Import

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

CIS Changes NCAA Return Eligibility Rule

Just saw on the @ArashMadani Twitter feed that the CIS has changed the rule where returnees from the NCAA football have to sit out a year before playing with a CIS team. Increases the depth in the CIS.

I'll be curious to see whether this leads to a large increase in NCAA refugees. For the Ticats, Arnaud Gascon-Nadeau returned from the NCAA (Rice) to play at Laval.

Grey Cup 101 Television Ratings

TSN released the numbers for the Grey Cup. Average audience was 4.5 million on TSN, peaked at 5.5 million. Surprisingly 2.2 million watched the post-game coverage (I was not among those obviously).

The average was probably hurt by the game being a blowout relatively early. The Cats did close somewhat in the second half and then it was blowout again. Last week's Eastern final was much closer and peaked at 3.7 million, which isn't that far off the Grey Cup peak.

TSN Loses NHL to Rogers Sportsnet, CFL Implications?

With news that TSN has lost a bidding war for NHL rights to Rogers (and the CBC), what's the implications for the CFL?

Probably good in some sense, as TSN will have even more incentive to pump the league. The league could boost the number of pre-season games from the two they showed in 2013 (i.e. it would be smart to show both Rough Rider games). The CFL season only overlaps partially with the NHL season, which is problematic for TSN.

TSN could try increasing other sports instead like basketball and MLS to fill the gap left by the NHL, but historically their ratings have been terrible compared to the NHL and CFL. One of the main strengths of both the NHL and the CFL is that both have a large number of Canadian teams, meaning obviously there's a lot of games featuring two Canadian teams that boosts ratings. Canadians often don't care about games in any league that feature two American teams.

One thing that might be good for the CFL is that TSN could be interested in having a tenth team, both for the additional games and for balancing the schedule. Quebec City, Halifax and Moncton should get down to business.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Grey Cup 101: That Kinda Sucked

I'll have more posts going over Grey Cup 101 which turned into a debacle for the Cats. I was afraid of the scenario where the Cats got down early and they did.

Two plays stick out. The first is the one where Durant fumbled and the ball popped straight up into Korey Sheets hands and he rumbled for a ton of yards. Teams don't get much luckier than that and if the ball doesn't advance from the point of the fumble, the Riders are punting and maybe the game turns out a lot differently. Durant fumbled three times in the first half and usually that's bad for a team, but not in this game.

The second was in the second half where the Cats were sort of coming back and had the Riders at second and 19 fairly deep in their own end. Korey Sheets rumbled 20 plus yards up the sideline, the Riders made the first down and that was pretty much the end of the comeback.

The last game did suck for Ticats fans (apart from the first five minutes). The Cats were unlucky that they were facing the Riders in Regina, which is a home game for the Riders. A bit obvious, but if the game happened to be in Winnipeg or Edmonton things would have been a little different (although there still would have been a lot of Rider fans).

Still it was a good season for the Ticats. Two close playoff wins, including one in Toronto against Toronto were highlights. Going into next year, the Cats have a good coach and GM and pretty decent talent and should contend for top of the East next year (especially with Ottawa joining the East).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Grey Cup 101 Preview

Well it's game day and the Cats have made it to the Grey Cup, for the first time since 1999. Although statistically the team has a one in four chance of making it, so it should seem that remarkable.

Looking at the lineup, the Cats are pretty healthy. The offensive line is the one that gets used when the Cats are healthy, with imports Simmons and Figuero as the tackles, and Dyakowski (future Jeopardy contestant, Hage and Wojt in between. That should be better for both run and pass blocking, although the Cats haven't run with a running back much the past couple of games.

For the receiving corps, the Cats are again going with import Luke Tasker plays again at wide receiver after making one catch last week against the Argos. He was injured previously and goes instead of Onrea Jones, who is at least a decent blocker and isn't even on the roster.

Ellingson is the other import receiver. Bakari Grant is a slot along with non-imports Giguere and Fantuz. Gable is the running back with non-import Delahunt as the fullback when the Cats aren't using five receivers.

Burris is obviously the starter with LeFevour as the backup quarterback.

This is the starting offense the Cats generally wanted. The last few weeks the non-quarterback running game has been non-existent. Not being indoors maybe Gable sees more runs rather than just catches? Also indoors last week Burris handled almost all the snaps. In colder weather do the Cats use LeFevour for running plays like against Montreal in Guelph?

On defence, the defensive line is the regular one with Boudreaux and Norwood as the ends, with non-import Bulcke and Davis in the middle. Whether they can stop running back Kory Sheets probably deterBremines who wins the game.

The starting linebackers are Lawrence, Johnson and Murray.

The secondary has Breaux and Davis as the starting cornerbacks with McCollough and Hobbs as the defensive halfbacks. Webb is listed as a backup. Non-import Stephen is the safety.

Congi kicks and Bartel punts, with Banks as the returner.

The game really depends on the Cats not falling behind early. If they do, the Riders will pound Sheets over and over again. The Cats also have to watch for Durant running.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ticats Win! Going to the Grey Cup 101

I made the journey to Dead Ted's Dome (aka the Rogers Centre)* to watch the Ticats play the Argos today in the East Final. I got on the GO train at Clarkson (11:06 am train) and it was packed, mostly with Ticat fans and maybe a few people going to the Santa Claus parade. And the odd Argo fan. I walked up to Milestones, where there were a fair number of Ticat fans and then walked back to Rogers as a mini-parade formed of Ticats fans.

At the game, there were a lot of Argo fans, but certainly a lot of Ticat fans, especially on the Ticat side of the lower bowl. I sat in the 500 level, pretty much dead set with the C. Those seats weren't expensive at $43.75 including taxes and the Ticketmaster gouge, and have a really good view of the field.

The first half was pretty concerning, as Ricky Ray slice and diced the Cat defense, Argo receivers made a lot of yards after the catch and the Ticat receivers made pretty much no yards after the catch. The Cats did manage to score a late TD, bringing it within a TD and I felt somewhat better.

The second half was an awesome display of ball control and not letting Ray get much of a chance. The Argos had a bunch of two and outs, while the Cats had a number of long drives, culminating in the last five minutes where the Cats sealed the deal. I had to leave a bit earlier to catch the GO train back to Clarkson and then drive to Buffalo to fly to Boston, but I listened to the CHML app on my phone and it was indeed sweet.

Props to Fantuz who had 11 receptions and a plethora of first downs and Henry Burris for having an awesome second half. I'll go over the stats more tomorrow, but I'm just going to bask in the glory of going back to the Grey Cup for the first time since 1999.

* Ironically I had difficulty getting signal on my Rogers phone inside the Rogers Centre. How about that.

Ticats Parade to Rogers Centre

On the GO Train to the CFL Eastern Final

Totally packed train with a lot of Ticats fans. This could be over half the stadium cheering for the Ticats. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Grantland Article, Coach Who Never Punts and Almost Always On-Side Kicks, Applicable to the CFL

This Grantland article about high school coach Kevin Kelley who never punts and almost always does an on-side kick and how it should be applied at other levels of the game makes me wonder about its applicability to the CFL.

The on-side kick thing is probably the least likely in the CFL. I don't know the percentages of recovering an on-side kick in the CFL but I can't think they are that high. However, that said, I think the percentage would be higher if the kicker could consistently deliver an on-side kick in the right location with enough hang time. Then its just a numbers game charging the delivery area and potentially 11 versus 12, which isn't bad odds.

The third down situation is more interesting. CFL teams often go on a yard or less on third, even in their own end, especially if it isn't a full yard. The defence having to give up a yard on the ball makes this a no brainer. This quote from the article made me wonder:

"Cal professor David Romer concluded that teams should not punt when facing fourth-and-4 or less"

Some more teams do seem to go on third and two now then in the past, especially just past midfield. The longer CFL field may make a difference, it may not. How good your offense is should also make a difference. If you're the best offense in the CFL you probably should be going for it more often on third and short (especially if your defense is considerably worse), if your team's offense is the worst in the CFL, maybe not.

Certainly I think a case could be made for going on third and two almost always. Even in your own end, if you decide instead to kick, the other team is likely going to end up with great field position.

Maybe for Ottawa's team next year, with low expectations this is something they could experiment with. 

Will Rob Ford Go to the East Final on Sunday?

Cunnilingus maven Rob Ford has been asked by the organizers of the Toronto Santa Claus parade to not come this Sunday. The Argos Ticats playoff game is also this Sunday and yesterday Rob Ford sported his Argonauts shirt (number 12) while making some ill-advised comments, so the possibility is there that he could attend. The Argos have tried to distance themselves from Ford, however if did attend (and made it known he was attending) that could lead to some additional publicity and perhaps attendance for the game. On last night's Daily Show, the CFL tag on the front of Ford's shirt was prominently visible.

Hamilton mayor Bob "Britannia" Bratina has refused a traditional friendly bet with Ford. As a Hamiltonian and Ticat fan, I think this is ill-advised as our mayor should have more confidence in his team.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Toronto Argonauts Just Opened Up the 500 Level for the 2013 CFL Eastern Final

Just saw a tweet from @CFL that the Argos have opened up the 500 level (basically the upper level of the Roger's Centre) for the Eastern Final. I highly suggest getting tickets there rather than the lower bowl.

Will the Argos Open Up the 500 Level at the Roger's Centre for the 2013 CFL East Final

Last year I went to the Roger's Centre for the Vanier Cup and sat in the upper 500 level. It was actually quite a good view compared to the crap views on the lower levels. So far the Argos haven't opened up the 500 level for ticket sales. That's disappointing, because I would rather sit in the 500 level, even for the same price.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Guelph Secret Parking Lot

Now that the games in Guelph are consigned to the dustbin of history, here's a photo of the secret free parking lot near Alumni Stadium. What made it sweeter was that a private lot charging $20 was almost next door. 

Here's a photo

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ticats Win East Semi-Final in Overtime Against the Alouettes, Quick Analysis

Another game against the Alouettes that had a satisfying ending, this one 16 to 13 in overtime.

I was at the game and the wind was incredibly strong and was by far the main factor in the game. Punting into the win was close to useless and the fact the Cats were against it in the fourth quarter had a sense of doom associated with it.

The Montreal defence was mostly awesome and the Montreal offense was mostly smelly including quarterback Troy Smith who again had a completion percentage below 50% (albeit in punishing conditions).

The Cats offense was mostly bad, but turned it on at the end into the wind, with the Gable TD and then in the Cats first overtime possession. The Cats continued with their use of LeFevour, including for the final two plays of the game when he went up the gut. Using multiple quarterbacks in the game blows commentators minds, but who's in the East final?

Looking ahead to Toronto, the Argo defence isn't nearly as aggressive against the pass, the game is indoors and Ricky Ray is way, way better than Troy Smith. Chad Kackert is supposedly injured, but I'm not sure he's that much better than his backup.

I'll go over the stats tomorrow. Tonight I'm just going to enjoy the victory. I'm not even sure when the last Ticat home victory was.

Montreal at Hamilton East Semi-Final

The morning of the big game, first home playoff game since 2003. Weather forecast is 6 C and rainy in Guelph. Last I heard yesterday there were not many tickets left, so a sellout seems likely. How many Alouettes fans is also a question.

After some injuries of late, the Cats are apparently returning to a lineup they had at mid-season.

Importantly for the offensive line, the Cats have returned to two imports as the tackles, Simmons and Figueroa, with Wojt moving from tackle back to guard along with Dyakowski at guard and Hage at centre. That means the Cats will need an additional Canadian starter on offence.

Ellingson is penciled in as one of the starting receivers along with Onrea Jones who had an excellent game last week when many of the other receivers were rested. Ellingson has missed the previous seven games, so what he'll be like will be interesting. From, Ellingson apparently had a leg injury.

Grant, along with the non-imports Fantuz and Giguere are the slotbacks. Tasker who along with Ellingson has been injured is listed as a backup slotback, but barring one of the others above on the depth chart not playing, Tasker probably sits.

Gable is the running back and Delahunt the fullback, with Burris, LeFevour and Masoli as the backups. Congi kicks and Bartel punts. Banks is listed as the kickoff and punt returner.

On the defensive line, there's the preferred lineup with Bourdreaux and Norwood as the defensive ends and Davis and non-import Bulcke in the middle.
After taking last week off, Lawrence, Johnson and Murray are the starting linebackers. Corners are Breaux (back from injury)  and Davis, McCollough and Hobbs as the defensive halfbacks and non-import Stephen as the safety.

For the Als, both offensive tackles, Bourke and Perrett are non-imports, but weirdly one of the guards Ola is an import, with Bomben the other and Brodeur the centre.

Carter, Bruce and non-import Graves are listed as the wide receivers, with Bowling and Green the slots. Lavoie is the fullback and Sutton the running back. Smith, Neiswander and Marsh are the quarterbacks. Goat of the last Ticat Alouette game, Whyte is the kicker and punter.

On the all import defensive line, Lavarias and Bowman are the ends and Cash and Hopkins are in the middle.

Cox, non-import Emry, and Herbert are the starting linebackers. However whether Herbert will actually play is unknown and apparently a game time decision. Gainey and former Ticat Tisdale are the cornerbacks, Parker and Brown are the halfbacks, although Parker likely won't play according to Alouette supreme overlord Jim Popp on Friday. Non-import Edem is the safety.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Weather Forecast for 2013 CFL Eastern Semi-Final in Guelph

In Guelph tomorrow, the high is 7 and the low is 0 and the precipitation forecast is rain. So cold rain, but not really cold rain (or freezing rain). Some pundits have predicted cold weather would benefit Montreal because I suppose of Hamilton's poor running game versus their strong passing game. However Henry Burris having played in Calgary for years has significantly more cold weather experience than Troy Smith (who played at Ohio State University and not much at all in the NFL). Smith's completion percentage so far in the CFL has not been anything to write home about and I can't imagine cold rain will improve on it.

In terms of the running game, if the Cats decide to run, they may go with Jerimiah Masoli at quarterback and run the wildcat again which worked against Montreal in the last game. 

New Post On My Olympics Statistics Blog, 2012 London Summer Olympics Body Mass Index (BMI) Statistics

I had scraped some statistics from the London 2012 Olympics profile pages for each athlete a while ago and made a blog about it (Olympic Statistics). There haven't been many entries (OK only one), but I made new one using the Olympians body mass index (BMI) statistics. Histograms of all, male and female athletes, minimum and maximum BMIs.

If you're interested, check it out here. I'll try and make some more updates for the 2012 Olympics before the 2014 start in Sochi in February.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ticats Say Greg Ellingson Probable Against Montreal

Just saw on the Ticats twitter feed that Greg Ellingson is probable for Sunday's playoff game. Of course that's not 100% as Ellingson seemed to be coming back for other games.

2013 CFL Television Ratings Up 4.3 %

Chris Zelkowich's Yahoo blog has a rundown on the television increases for this CFL this year. Argos games were up 26% while the Ticats were up 14%. The Argos had a better regular season record than last year and are probably coming off a bump from winning the Grey Cup last year (no one knew the Argos would win it during the regular season last year).

The Cats regular season record went from 6 and 10 to 10 and 8 this year which is probably the main reason for the increase. The Cats were out of if relatively early this year. The Cats increase is more impressive as there was no Labour Day game to juice the rankings.

For the Argos and Cats to go up, likely the Eskimos and Bombers went down as they were out of it relatively early this year.

I wouldn't mind seeing a ranking or better yet the actual numbers for the different teams.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What is Up with Greg Ellingson?

Will Ticat receiver Greg Ellingson play in the Eastern semi-final against Montreal? Since becoming injured, Ellingson hasn't played since week 12, Friday September 13th in an away lost to Calgary.

Ellingson has 50 catches for 800 yards on the season and if he was uninjured and continued at his pace would have been a lock for rookie of the year in the CFL. The strange thing is, the nature and severity of his injury has been under reported, at least in my opinion. Ellingson has missed seven games. If this were Saskatchewan, there would be countless articles on his progress or lack thereof.
I did go through his tweets from @gelliman82, but there wasn't a lot of information there about his injury.

Even if he does come back, missing seven games will mean some rust and likely some problems fitting in again into the Ticat offense against a great Montreal defence. I wouldn't bet on him coming back though. To be out this long, there has to be a serious injury.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Calgary Stampeders Micah Johnson, Demonte Bolden and Marquay McDaniel Will Miss West Final

Just saw on Twitter that Calgary Stampeder defensive linemen Micah Johnson and Demonte Bolder as well as 1000 yard plus wide receiver Marquay McDaniel will all miss the West Final. All three were injured in the meaningless last game of the regular season. Cue sanctimonious TSN talking heads.

On the upside they're all imports, so they will be easier to replace. McDaniel being out has to really hurt the Calgary offense.

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 19

1. Calgary Stampeders
Still the best team, although the fallout from injuries from their game against the Lions remains to be seen. At least they have an off week. They still have Glenn and Cornish and Hughes which is a pretty good core.  

2. Toronto Argonauts
Sure they lost against Montreal, but that was without Ricky Ray and his ridiculous completion percentage along with other assorted starters. Plus they have a solid ballhawking defence. They did lose three out of four to close out the season, which is a bit worrisome, but because of their earlier stellar play the last four games weren't that important.

3. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders did lose to Edmonton in the final regular season game of the year, but they kept it close with backup quarterback Willy. The Riders were great in the first half of the year, but pretty mediocre in the second half and go into the playoffs with a two game losing streak. When Sheets is healthy, the Riders are still a good team, but not a great team.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Cats won four of their five last games and blew out the hapless Bombers on the road despite resting their starting linebackers, C.J. Gable, slot Andy Fantuz and others. At least Hamilton looks like they have good depth. Burris looked better in this game than against the ferocious pass rush of Montreal the previous two weeks. Hamilton is relatively healthy (apart from import receivers Ellingson and Tasker) compared to a lot of other teams which is a plus.

5. BC Lions
Travis Lulay came back which is the main thing for the Lions. They beat the Stamps at home easily. Also importantly Andrew Harris had over 100 yards rushing and got back on track, while Stefan Logan added another 62 on the ground for an effective ground attack. BC is a bit of a wild card going into the playoffs and could easily upset the Riders.

6. Montreal Alouettes
The Als beat Toronto in a meaningless game. That's something. Quarterback Troy Smith looked decent and has emerged as an OK replacement for Anthony Calvillo. Montreal still has a great defence, which separates them from the two bottom teams. Their offense is still their Achilles heel even with Smith.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
Kavis Reed is now gone. I'm not sure if that makes the team automatically better or not. The Esks did manage to go out on a high note, beating the Roughriders in a meaningless game where the Riders resting a lot of players. That's more than the last placed team. Will the Esks be better next year? Sometimes bad teams play better at the end of the season as they regress towards the mean. The Eskimos didn't do that. There's a couple of good parts (Fred Stamps), but the Eskimos just didn't have the horses. Expect to see a jettisoning of many players over the off-season. Improving the offensive line might be a good starting point to try and keep Mike Reilly alive.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Hamilton didn't absolutely need to win their game with the Bombers on the weekend, but were somewhat motivated to have a winning regular season record. The Bombers were playing for pride and for next year's jobs. They basically shit the bed. Max Hall couldn't move the ball at all and had a veritable festival of two and outs and were torched by also ran receiver Onrea Jones. Does Tim Burke get fired? I think there's a case to be made. Will the Bombers be better next year? Regression to the mean would say so. The Bombers are pretty screwed moving to the West next year anyways. Another rebuilding year.

Edmonton Eskimos Fire Head Coach Kavis Reed

Just saw it flash up on Twitter. Somewhat inevitable considering the Eskimos woeful record and the fact they didn't seem to make much progress in the second half (apart from winning their last meaningless game).

I wasn't a particularly big fan of Reed's time in Hamilton so I wasn't expecting much from his Eskimo tenure. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

2013 CFL Predictions Week 19

All games that don't matter!

Montreal at Toronto
Ricky Ray is being rested (pretty sensibly) which does hurt, although Collaros did quite well when Ray was injured. Toronto will probably rest anyone else who is iffy. Montreal will go with Troy Smith again and I will assume try to go with a lot of the first team offense just to try and get them more in sync with Smith before next week's playoff game. More likely some defenders may rest. Hard to pick. I have the feeling Toronto doesn't really care, however I do like Collaros better than Smith at this stage. Toronto is a much more ballhawking defence than Hamilton was the past two weeks against Smith, expect a few picks. Maybe even pick sixes.
Toronto 33 Montreal 22

Calgary at BC
Buck Pierce gets the start. But will he get the finish? Even if he is healthy (which is a bit of a stretch) DeMarco will probably finish. Haven't heard who starts for Calgary, but it will probably be Tate who will be motivated. BC is at home and the Stamps don't care too much. However the Lions offense has been mediocre all season, especially without Lulay. Talent seems to be a bit of problem and I don't expect that to change.
Stamps 44 Lions 38

Hamilton at Winnipeg
The Ticats wouldn't mind getting 10 wins and having a winning regular season (the last I believe was 2003), so there's that. Winnipeg is playing for their jobs, but that's because they aren't a very good team. The Cats have some starters coming back from injury who will play to get the rust off (hello Greg Ellingson) so it won't be a pile of total stiffs for Hamilton. Burris will get some work, but last week Masoli got a ton of action with the wildcat and was more effective than Burris and will obviously play a lot, so that might not be to Winnipeg's advantage. Defensive end Greg Peach (formerly a Ticat) is injured in a surprise to no one. Somehow with Hamilton needing a victory for a regular season winning record I think they'll do it. Also Winnipeg has been pretty incompetent this year.
Ticats 28 Bombers 26

Edmonton at Saskatchewan
A nothing game to the Riders, but Edmonton has found ways to lose all year, so I'm not go to even waste the time with a cursory analysis.
Riders 30 Eskimos 20 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Argos Resting Ricky Ray for Final Regular Season Game

So says this Toronto Sun article. Can't really blame them, as Montreal has a defensive that never stops blitzing and Ray is coming off an injury. Ray has looked good the past couple of games, so there's no need to play to get rust off.

Hamilton Ticats 2013 1000 Yard Watch, Bakari Grant and C.J. Gable

Bakari Grant is at 947 yards receiving and is thus only 53 yards away from the coveted 1000 yard mark. One would expect he'll get some throws early to try and make the mark.

C.J. Gable looked good for 1000 yards rushing two games ago, but after two efforts against Montreal that yielded very few yards, Gable is very unlikely to get it with only 782 yards. Gable does have 600 yards receiving which is very respectable for a running back.

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 18

1. Calgary Stampeders
You can't argue with continued success. In a game that was meaningless to the standings but meaningful for the power rankings, the Stamps beat the Riders at home. Also Cornish outgained Sheets in rushing yards.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders are right now the second best team, but they can't beat Calgary. So they're stuck in number two.

3. Toronto Argonauts
Back to back wins over the Bombers after back to back losses to the Tabbies. More importantly Ray is back and isn't showing any signs of injury, putting up ridiculous pass completion percentages. Kackert and Owens contributing or not doesn't really seem to matter, showing the Argos are a team that is more than the sum of their parts.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
After a terrible outing the previous week against the Als, Hamilton bounced back with third string quarterback playing a ton executing a wildcat offense and thoroughly perturbing television commentators everywhere by beating Montreal with it. Even with Burris in a funk, the Cats have options at quarterback. The Ticats defence was better this week, even if it was against media favourite, but mediocre quarterback Troy Smith.

5. Montreal Alouettes
Fabulous defence that almost never allows yards after the catch. New quarterback in Troy Smith who isn't totally terrible. S.J. Green making unbelievable catches. Meh. Good enough for fifth.

6. BC Lions
They beat Edmonton but allowed them to score 29 points. I'm assuming that Lulay isn't presently available (and I'm wondering if he's coming back for the playoffs). They have Stefan Logan back, but I'm not sure he's the player he was four years ago with BC. Somewhat of a missed opportunity season for BC. Anything can happen in the playoffs.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
Why better than Winnipeg? I'll say quarterback Mike Reilly and excellent slotback (and Humpty's pitchman) Fred Stamps. Crappy, crappy defence.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Hall seems to be an OK quarterback and maybe gives hope for the future. The Bombers just can't seem to win games. Maybe next year they can improve to six victories.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tim Horton's Field, October 27 2013, West Stands

Here's a photo I took today of the West Side stands at Tim Horton's Field. Looks like good progress is being made, but will it be ready for the first exhibition game?

When's the Last Time the Ticats Had A Soldout Playoff Game?

I have no idea. I assume the Guelph game will be soldout, despite likely bad weather. In the future, due to the small size of the new stadium, playoff sellouts will probably happen, although Hamilton fans have historically been pretty cheap.

Hamilton Beats Montreal in Guelph, Locks Up A Home Playoff Game

Yesterday in Guelph was pretty satisfying. Things were looking grim and then Banks returns Whyte's missed field goal for a TD and suddenly the cold weather and rain didn't matter any more.

The Cats sucked pretty hard in the first half, only scoring three points and it looked like a repeat of last week. Fortunately the Cats got a couple of turnovers deep in their own territory to stop the Alouettes from totally running away from it in the first half.

In the second half, the Cats played way better than the Als, outscoring them 24 to 8 on the way to the victory.

One oddity in the game was the Cats use of all three quarterbacks throughout the game. Masoli got a lot of touches and had the only TD pass. All season the Cats have put in LeFevour for a few plays that are mostly runs and while he had a few touches, Masoli seems to have leapfrogged him. Burris didn't have a great day when he had the ball, just an OK one, going 16 for 23 for 163 yards with a pick. That's only 7.1 yards per attempt, which is bad, but in both games Cat receivers had very low YAC yards, whereas Montreal tended to have a ton of them.

The weird thing about the backup quarterback running plays was how effective they were versus how uneffective the regular running backs were rushing. The Cats seemed to have no problem with Masoli getting over five yards per rush, while Gable had 2 rushes for -1 yards. But it worked, so I'm not complaining. I'm not a television commentator who is tied into conventional wisdom. Try new things on offence, if they work great.

Troy Smith had a better game in some ways this week than last week and ended up losing. He did have two picks versus 2 TDs, but he had 340 yards passing. His passing percentage was better than last week's at 59%, but that's still pretty mediocre. Over two games, that's around 55% which is pretty much Michael Bishop territory. I saw on Sportscentre that Chris Schultz was complaining about how Smith's last five passes were all incompletes, so maybe the media love in is over.

Most importantly, the Cats got their home playoff game in Guelph (and the Guelph and Guelph University get the publicity for a home playoff game) and proved last week was somewhat of an aberration. I'll be most curious next week to see what the Cats do quarterback wise. I assume Burris will get some significant reps in the first half and then the backups will play a lot. Winnipeg played Toronto relatively tough for the last two weeks so who knows how that game will go. I would like a regular season winning record, but not at the cost of injuries.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 CFL Predictions Week 18

Winnipeg at Toronto
It is has been a while since we had a Thursday game. So no procrastinating until Friday with my picks. The Bombers didn't look to bad against the Argos at home, but as the Bombers have been wont to do in 2013, they lost. In the Argonauts favour, Ricky Ray is now firmly back and the rust should be off. The Argos are also at home, which doesn't mean a lot since the double blue may be better on the road. The Bombers have nothing to lose, but not a lot to win either. I assume that there will be some evaluation of who should come back next year for Winnipeg. Probably a closer game than would be expected, but the Bombers aren't winning.
Argonauts 27 Bombers 23

Edmonton at BC
This game is interesting because neither time has much to play for. The Esks are out and the Lions can't get a home playoff game. No Lulay for this game is probably the most important fact. The Lions have lost three in a row and the Eskimos four. BC is at home, however I'm going to go for once with the Eskimos. Reilly has had a fair number of starts and should have the advantage over his counterpart DeMarco who hasn't played as well as he did initially.

Montreal at Hamilton
After last week's dismantling of the Hamilton offense by the Montreal defence, some would think the Cats are totally doomed. However it is often true in the CFL that it is difficult to win two games in a row against an opponent and Kent Austin is a good enough coach to make some adjustments to the Ticat offense. Despite what the CFL commentators said last week, Alouette quarterback Troy Smith wasn't actually very good with a completion rate just under 50%. Don't expect that to change this week. Plus Hamilton is 5 and 3 at home versus Montreal being 3 and 4 and Hamilton needs this game to get a home playoff game.
Ticats 33 Alouettes 24  

Saskatchewan at Calgary
Not much to play for for either team except to set an example for when they could meet in the playoffs. Both teams are hot, with the Stamps winning four straight and watermelon people winning three. Calgary has been basically unbeatable at home, at 7 and 1, while the Riders are a respectable 5 and 3 away from home. This could come down to a Jon Cornish versus Kory Sheets battle. However I think the true edge for Calgary is that Kevin Glenn is playing better than Darian Durant at the moment.
Stampeders 41 Riders 36 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 17

1. Calgary Stampeders
Not a big surprise that the Stamps are yet again number one. Yet another victory, this time over the hapless Eskimos. Glenn has settled into being the starter, Cornish and Hughes are rolling. Blah, blah, blah first overall.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders bitchslapped the Lions last week. Sheets is back and playing well, Durant is playing better with Sheets back.

3. Toronto Argonauts
After two back to back losses, the Argos went back to winning last week. Admittedly it was against the Bombers and it was close, but with Ray back at the helm and an excellent defence, the Argos are capable of beating all the teams in the CFL.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Ticats were demolished by the Alouettes in Montreal and didn't look particularly good. The offense was terrible (although how much that was the Alouette defence is hard to say) and were outplayed thoroughly on special teams. Games like this are going to happen on occasion, especially on the road and doesn't mean the team is doomed. Now if they lose next week, things are more problematic.

5. Montreal Alouettes
Impressive outing by the Alouette defence at home against the usually offensively powerful Tabbies. The Alouettes, led by Chip Cox are clearly the best defence in the CFL and their special teams aren't bad either. Their offense was OK last week as well for once. Despite what TSN commentators would have you think, new Montreal quarterback Troy Smith had a mediocre game (below 50% completion rate). Can the Alouettes do it twice in a row and away from home?

6. BC Lions
Is Travis Lulay coming back this season? Hopefully, because the Lions aren't going to do much this year with DeMarco as the quarterback. The Lions seem to be weakening down the stretch. The Lions didn't look that great with Lulay in this year, so maybe the problem is that excluding the quarterback position, the Lions just aren't very good this year. Harris has had a subpar year so far compared to last year. Maybe Stefan Logan will help.

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Came close to beating Toronto. That's something at least and Hall is a plausible starting CFL quarterback. The Bombers announced they're raising ticket prices this year. Since they're so bad this year, they could be better next year, but don't bet on it.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
Weak offensive line, not very good defence and Fred Stamps. Stamps is good, but not good enough to help the worst team in the CFL out of the basement of the rankings. At least Stamps has his Humpty's commercials.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Raise Prices for 2014 Season

This Winnipeg Sun article reports that the Bombers are raising their ticket prices for 2014, despite a pretty lackluster campaign in 2013. Most aren't going up that much, but for those poor souls in section P7 (are there P7 Boys or their prairie equivalent?):

"The biggest jump in price is in the P7 category, which includes 4,400 seats at both ends of the upper deck. The price of those tickets is going up from $196.95 to $249, or an increase of more than 25%, but it remains the least expensive ticket available."

Actually $196.95 isn't bad for upper deck at the ends. My section 5 seats at Ivor Wynne which would seem to be equivalent were $300. Who knows what they'll be for the new stadium.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ticats at Alouettes Blowout Aftermath

Well that was ugly. I certainly thought Montreal had a chance, being at home and having an excellent defence. I didn't expect that blowout.

Montreal got ahead early and continued rolling throughout the first quarter. They benefited from some penalty calls that kept drives alive or gave good field position. Mainly the Montreal defence was the reason. Constantly blitzing, the Cats didn't have an answer in the first half (nor much of one in the second half either, although when LeFevour was in they were more effective). The Cats were sacked five times total in the game even though it seemed like it was more.

One could blame the line, but the pressure came from Montreal sending extra defenders, so some of the issue was not getting the ball away quickly. Having both Ellingson and Tasker injured was unfortunate as both are good for getting open inside and catching balls in tight coverage. Hopefully one of them is back next week. Having Simmons back from injury at tackle would help as well.

Montreal also had excellent tackling. The Cats had virtually no yards after first contact, while the Alouettes had a decent amount. Similarly on special teams, the Cats had little in the way of return yards, while Montreal had some decent returns, including some instances where the returner really should have been tackled.

One bright spot is that the Alouettes quarterback Troy Smith wasn't actually very good. He had 247 yards on 17 passes versus 35 attempts. Generally teams don't win very many games when the quarterback had less than a 50% completion. That didn't stop TSN commentators Chris Cuthbert and Glenn Suitor from coverage of Smith bordering on fellatio. I expect that from Rod Black, but generally CFL fans aren't stupid, you tell us once he won a Heismann and we will remember it. Smith did have three TDs versus no picks, but he had numerous passes that while hard thrown were no where near catchable. So that's a positive for the Cats at least for next week.

I'm assuming that Kent Austin will have the team fired up for next week at least and also will have looked at the tape and found some ways to adjust. The Cats really need to win this.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ticats at Alouettes, Half-Time

Uh, well that sucked. Montreal benefited from some penalties early (Ticats can be called for facemasks, Montreal not so much), but the Cats have played poorly and the Montreal defence has been great.

The game is probably too far gone, so the Cats might as well put Lefevour in for the second half to get some experience. I don't really blame Burris much as he was under a ton of pressure. What he could have done to help was make some runs rather than always going for a pass.

The commentators are saying that Troy Smith has looked good, but he's made enough terrible passes that really he hasn't played well. The Montreal defence is why this game isn't close.

Not having Tasker or Ellingson hurts as both of them seemed to be able to get open early inside, which really could have helped Burris.

Sometimes games get away from you. Too bad the Cats will lose their chance (pretty much) to host the East final.

Where's the CIS Football Coverage on TSN SportsCentre?

I saw the first part of the Guelph Queen's game yesterday, but didn't know how it ended. Still don't know. I watched a fair amount of SportsCentre yesterday, plus the full noon to 1 pm one today before the Ticats game. I saw no coverage at all of any CIS games. I did see some coverage of some Southern US college games, far from the Canadian border. Do I care about what Auburn did? Not particularly. Is there a lot of Auburn alumni watching TSN? I strongly doubt it.

Perhaps TSN's Chris Cuthbert and Jock Climie would like to know their alma mater's results?

I do realize that the game was on a Rogers Sportsnet channel and as far as I know, TSN shows no CIS regular season games. Do they still show the Vanier Cup? I'm not sure.

Certainly there's a case to be made for showing a few CIS highlights on a Saturday and on Sunday morning. At the least it builds the brand of players who will later play in the CFL, which TSN broadcasts all their games of.

Preview: Hamilton Ticats at Montreal Alouettes, October 20th 2013

What's interesting about the Ticats lineup this week versus last week? Non-import receiver Samuel Giguere is pencilled in the depth chart. Combine that with the offensive line starting four Canadians (Wojt is still at right tackle and O'Neill is at guard again this week) and I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen on offense.

The Cats have two Canadians starters on defence and need just five on offense for the ratio. With the four on the line and Fantuz, the Cats don't need Giguere for the ratio and indeed Dobson Collins is listed as a starting wide receiver, with Giguere listed behind Fantuz at one of the slot positions. Maybe Giguere will just be eased in and not play a lot of downs. Something to watch for.

Import Onrea Jones is listed as a starting wide receiver and imports Grant and Tasker ("his father played in the NFL!" Rod Black) are listed as two of the other slots. So still no Greg Ellingson. Non-import Delahunt is back at full back after being out with injury for a spell.

In theory with Delahunt in at fullback, the Cats would not even need Fantuz on the field as they could go with Jones, Dobson, Grant and Tasker as the slots and receivers. Something I doubt will happen, plus the Cats almost never use a fullback except for in obvious short running plays, preferring to go with five receivers.

On defence, Johnson looks like he'll be back at middle linebacker. Bulcke at defensive tackle and Stephen at safety are the two starting Canadians on defence. Dee Webb is still injured.

Congi is back at kicker, so hopefully that will placate all the callers on CHML's the Fifth Quarter. Unless he misses some field goals and the whole cycle will begin anew.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Thoughts on the Argos at Ticats Thanksgiving Game

A little late to be talking about Monday's Ticat Argo tilt, but I have some thoughts. First C.J. Gable is turning out to be a great find for the Cats. He had 17 carries for 118 yards, for a solid 6.9 yard average and a TD. In addition he had five catches for 46 yards. Gable has a decent shot at 1,000 yards rushing this year. I'm assuming that Gable signed a two year deal plus a club option year, so potentially the Cats would have him for 2014 and 2015 as well, before he could try the NFL as a free agent. Getting rid of the possibility of option year players to sign with the NFL certainly improves things as a fan.

Luke Tasker had seven catches for 113 yards to lead the Ticats receivers. Ellingson being injured is giving Tasker a chance to make an impression. With Tasker, I wonder if Kent Austin (his coach at Cornell) didn't come back to the CFL to coach, would he have ever had had a chance to make an impression in the CFL? Maybe a team might have invited him to camp, but would they have had any faith in him? Football can be a lucky business and sometimes successful players got their initial chance through luck.

Dobson Collins also had a good game, second in receiving yards with 69 on five catches. With the success the Cats have had with a variety of receivers this year, that speaks well of both Burris, the offensive line and the offensive system.

Fantuz only had two catches for 33 yards. Is his injury still bugging him, or was he just getting a lot of double coverage. Grant only had four catches for 31 yards, so I'm assuming the Argos were putting weaker coverage on Collins and Tasker.

Burris had a great game, with 350 yards passing on 27 completed passes versus 36 attempts. A 75% completion rate is excellent against the Argos defense. One pick versus no TDs, but even Ricky Ray had a pick.

The defence had a good game as well. Bussey, in at linebacker for the injured Jamal Johnson had six tackles. The Cats had two sacks, a pick and a forced fumble which isn't bad.

Overall an excellent game against a tough opponent in a game they needed to win for any hope of home field advantage for the Eastern Final.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Montreal Alouettes Announce Concussed Anthony Calvillo Is Done for 2013 CFL Season

Sad to hear, although as a Ticat fan I would rather be facing Neiswander than Calvillo. Is this it for Calvillo? I think there's a decent possibility it is. Calvillo wasn't that great this year even before he was injured and next year he'll be a year older and coming off a concussion ended season. Perhaps more importantly for Montreal, he has a very high salary and in a league with a low salary cap, that money has to come from somewhere. Too bad it may end this way, but in professional sports, the end is rarely pretty.

2013 CFL Predictions Week 17

Calgary at Edmonton
This should be a no brainer game. The Stampeders are the best team in the league and Edmonton is pretty much the worst. Kevin Glenn has been effective after emerging as the starter and Jon Cornish either the best or second best running back in the league depending on whether you're a Rider fan or not. Edmonton has a bad offensive line and a mediocre defense. The Esks have nothing really left to play for except the rivalry, while the Stamps would like to lock down first in the East. The Eskimos will probably play with pride and then lose a close one for yet another moral victory.
Stampeders 37 Eskimos 32

Toronto at Winnipeg
Somewhat shockingly the Bombers are coming off a win and the Argos a loss. In theory the Bombers could still get a playoff spot, but don't have much room for error. The Argos have the inside track on home field advantage in the East and beating Winnipeg this week would certainly help. The Argos had a lot of injuries in their loss to Hamilton last week, however they did have Ricky Ray back at quarterback. Ray looked rusty in the first half, however by the end of the game he piled up some decent stats, without Chad Kackert at running back. The Bombers could win, but two wins in a row is too much to ask this bad team and Toronto will be looking to get back on track after two straight losses and more importantly losing the beloved Harold Ballard Cup to the Ticats.
Argonauts 33 Bombers 24

BC at Saskatchewan
This one is an important game for determining who has home field advantage for the West semi-final (I'm pretty much conceding that the Stamps will host the final). The game is in Saskatchewan, which obviously helps the Riders, plus the flatlanders also have a healthy Kory Sheets. BC still is Lulayless which hurts. DeMarco has been decent so far in relief, but will be hard pressed in Mosaic. Expect the Lions to lose.
Riders 29 Lions 25

Hamilton at Montreal
This one is a bit hard to call. Montreal managed to lose to Winnipeg last week at home, which can't be great for momentum. Plus with the loss, it will be difficult for the Alouettes to catch Hamilton for a home playoff game, despite how much Mark Cohen probably loathes a 13,000 stadium hosting a playoff game. Hamilton can catch Toronto as long as they win one more game than the Argos over the last three games, which won't be easy with the Argos playing two of them against the hapless Bombers. Hamilton is the hotter team, coming off two straight victories, with an offense that is clicking and an improved defence. The Alouettes have the better defence, but with Neiswander in instead of Calvillo, their offense will end up screwing them. Cats win.
Ticats 37 Alouettes 28

CFL 2013 Thanksgiving Television Ratings

The Eh Game blog has the Canadian sports television ratings for the past weekend, which includes the Thanksgiving games. The two Thanksgiving games were third and fourth overall, with the Hamilton Toronto game receiving 956,000 viewers making it the top CFL game of the week. Both teams have trouble drawing fans to their stadiums in Southern Ontario, however those teams can do well in the ratings when it is an important game (and when nothing else is on the television due to the holiday). Considering the value of the Argos for television ratings (and maybe the Ticats), the league might want to pony up some cash for a new stadium. The NFL regularly helps out teams with stadium costs.

The 956,000 number on TSN is also respectable compared to the second place Canucks Habs game at 1,374,000, especially considering that more people can watch CBC (potentially without cable) than TSN.

The Eskimos and Riders game had a respectable 778,000 viewers for the earlier Thanksgiving game, for fourth place which actually seems a bit low for a Rider game, although Edmonton is now out of it.

The Bombers and Alouettes was the third ranked CFL game and sixth overall with 686,000. I'm not sure whether this includes RDS or not. The Lions Stamps game was the fourth ranked game and seventh overall with 659,000 viewers.

I'm a little surprised that the NHL has jumped on the Thanksgiving bandwagon with a couple of games featuring Canadian teams, however it is better for the CFL that they haven't. Frankly I'm surprised the league hasn't made two games traditional. Hamilton at Toronto would be a logical one, considering it is after the baseball regular season, plus a Western match up.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 16

1. Calgary Stampeders
You can't really argue with 12 and 3. They've done it with a combination of different quarterbacks, which even strengthens their power ranking as they are more resilient to the traditional bugaboo of a good football team, starting quarterback injury. They've still been successful without receiver Nik Lewis as well, but having Jon Cornish as your starting running back means the passing game isn't as important. Throw in an excellent front defensive four and you have a team that wins a lot.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders are a far better team now that running back Kory Sheets is healthy. Without him, quarterback Darian Durrant is mediocre, with him, he's significantly better as is the entire team. Sure the Riders barely managed to beat the Eskimos, but good teams are going to win close games occasionally rather than blowing out teams every week. The Riders certainly aren't looking as invincible as earlier in the season.

3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Cats have won two straight over their arch rivals, the Toronto Argonauts and now have a chance at winning the East overall. The Cats have basically the only elite quarterback who has started all year (sorry Mike Reilly) and so many quality receivers that injuries don't matter. C. J. Gable is emerging as one of the better backs in the CFL and is arguably the best at receiving. The defence is no longer terrible either as they were earlier in the season.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Strangely the Argos were on top of the world, winning four straight on the road against some of the CFL's best teams without starting quarterback Ricky Ray. Then they played two games against the Ticats and lost both. Ricky Ray was back in the last game and was good statwise, but still had a bit of rust. Likely after playing a game, Ray will be better this week, plus the Argos still have a solid defence (although that wasn't evident in the last two games).

5. BC Lions
Uh, is Travis Lulay coming back? DeMarco is OK as a quarterback, but at this point in the season he's not good enough yet to compete with the best teams in the league. Andrew Harris is having a good season, but not as good as last year. The rest of the Lion receivers are kind of meh. The defence is still respectable, but if the Lions want to do anything in the playoffs, Lulay will have to come back and play well.

6. Montreal Alouettes
By losing to the lowly Bombers at home and the Ticats winning, the Alouettes have pretty much crapped the bed at their chance to catch Hamilton and have a home playoff game. Now they have to not totally suck to hold off the semi-surging Blue Bombers for the last playoff spot in the East. Kind of embarrassing, but that's what happens when Anthony Calvillo's head is scrambled.

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
With a win, the Bombers are firmly out of the basement of the power rankings. Beating the Alouettes at home almost warrants the Bombers up a further spot, but they've only won three games in 2013, which obviously isn't much. Is Hall the real deal in Winnipeg at the quarterback position? Who knows. However their offense didn't suck enough to trash a good outing by their defence so maybe there's hope for next year.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos lost yet another close game, this one on the road to Saskatchewan. Edmonton has had some moral victories, but not a lot of victories. Will Kavis Reed get the boot at the end of the year? Probably. Will Edmonton lose out the season. Probably.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Toronto at Hamilton Pre-Game Thoughts

I'm on the way up to Guelph, with seats in the Parkway Nissan box. So go buy a Nissan from them.

Probably the biggest news is that Ricky Ray is starting as the Argos quarterback. He's an upgrade on Collaros last week, however there's probably some rust. Ray generally has a really high completion percentage, with a lot of short passes plus the occasional bomb. The Cats will have to watch for yards after the catch by Andre Durie and Chad Owens. Supposedly Chad Kackert is injured at running back. I doubt that makes much of a difference as whoever replaces him is probably just as good. 

For the Cats, Jamal Johnson may be injured which would hurt or he may play. The Cats are again going with non-import Wojt at right tackle with O'Neill taking his usial guard spot. Another week without import Greg Ellingson at receiver. He looked like a lock a few weeks ago for rookie of the year, but if he doesn't play soon that won't happen. Import receivers Collins and Tasker (son of former Buffalo Bill Steve Tasker) are in this week. Still no Samuel Giguerre either. 

Having home field advantage should help the Cats this week. Winning this week gives the Cats a slight shot at winning the East, but more importantly gives a big advantage against the Alouettes for a home playoff game. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Saskatchewan Roughriders Financial Report Numbers 2012

In the previous post I was pondering over the Ticats merchandise and how it sells relative to other CFL and Canadian pro sports teams. Saskatchewan has merchandise sales that are third overall in Canada behind the Leafs and Canadiens. However interestingly the Riders are a public owned team and make public their annual report.

This Regina Leader-Post article has the highlights of the report for 2012. Gross revenues were $34.4 million versus $32.2 million in expenses. These expenses would be a lot higher than any other CFL team and are unique to Saskatchewan.

Gate receipts were $13.1 million which again would be way higher than any other team, although Edmonton might not be far behind.

Football expenses were $10.9 million which is a useful number as it would be similar for other CFL teams. This would include the $4.4 million salary cap, coaches salaries, plus one would assume equipment expenses, travel, scouting and the other costs associated with running a CFL team.

Merchandise sales were over $7 million which I would assume would lead the CFL by a wide margin (I seem to recall something about the Ticats recently selling over $1 million in merchandise in a year (third best in the CFL)) and thus it is likely the Riders outsell all other CFL teams combined). I'm not sure if this is the total sales or the profit on the sale of the items.

Sponsorship was $5.2 million. I've heard that Montreal has high sponsorship revenues but I'm not sure how comparable these would be to the Riders. I've never heard a Ticat number, but obviously it would be significantly less.

Concessions sales were $3.8 million. Again I'm not sure if this is total sales or profits. All concessions have a pretty massive markup (i.e. beer). 

Ticats Store at Ticat HQ and Ticats Merchandise Ranking Amongst Canadian Teams

I stopped by the store at Ticats HQ this week and I was impresses by the raw number of apparel items the Cats had. Compared to the offerings before Bob Young owned the team, the Cats have come a long way. I was particularly impressed that one could buy a Ticat hammer as well as a Ticat measuring tape.

I've heard the Cats are third amongst CFL teams in terms of merchandise sales. Obviously Saskatchewan is number one. I'm not sure which team is number three, likely it is one of the Alouettes, Eskimos, Lions or Stampeders. The Riders are apparently number three amongst all Canadian pro teams, behind the Leafs and Canadiens with $10 million in merchandise sales in 2011 according to this Toronto Star article.

I'm guessing the Ticats would not rank ahead of any of the Canadian NHL teams and certainly not the Blue Jays (although for the Jays you pretty much only see baseball caps). The Raptors? Probably not. Toronto FC seemed to sell a lot of merchandise for a few seasons, but nowadays after numerous shit the bed seasons you don't see as much. 

2013 CFL Predictions Week 16

BC at Calgary
The Lions still don't have quarterback Travis Lulay back which is definitely a problem. DeMarco is decent, but isn't at Lulay's level yet as proved in their loss at home to the Riders last week. The Stampeders  do have their starting quarterback Kevin Glenn playing (I think at this point Drew Tate can't be considered the starter). The Stamps are at home and are coming off a win where non-import running back Jon Cornish was particularly effective. The Stamps can go a long way towards locking up home field advantage or at least a home playoff game. Expect them to win.
Stamps 28 Lions 19

Edmonton at Saskatchewan
The Riders proved that with Kory Sheets back at running back, they were capable of beating the Lions on the road after four straight losses. Edmonton proved last week they are still a bad team. Last I heard, Sheets is available this week and the Riders are at home. The Riders also picked up defensive end Alex Hall from the Bombers (who happens to lead the CFL in sacks) for a small bag of Old Dutch dill pickle flavour chips). One of those games where there's not a lot to say.
Riders 40 Eskimos 13

Winnipeg at Montreal
The Bombers have no chance at the playoffs and are basically playing out the string and trying to figure out who should be back next year, which probably includes starting quarterback Max Hall.
The Bombers won't have Alex Hall on their defense as previously mentioned, but will go with oft injured Hamilton castoff Greg Peach. Montreal will counter with Neiswander at quarterback. The Alouettes are sort of hot, winning two games straight, the Bombers not so much. The Alouettes could potentially still host a home playoff game so they'll be motivated.
Alouettes 27 Bombers 12

Toronto at Hamilton
The Argos lost in Toronto against the Cats last week after four straight road wins, some against tough opponents with backup quarterback Collaros at the helm. Starter Ricky Ray could be back this week which would be an improvement but not a massive one. Hamilton could in theory catch the Argos for first in the East, but more likely a win would solidify their chances of hosting the East semi-final. The Cats still have some injury problems, like Ellingson and Giguere amongst the receivers, but have built a reasonable team and Burris has been healthy at quarterback despite the massive number of sacks the Cats have coughed up. The Cats are at home in Guelph, and even if Ray plays, he'll probably have a little rust.
Ticats 26 Argonauts 22

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ticats Fans Booted From Rogers Centre, Loud Cheering Cited

Rick Zamperin has a funny story about some Ticats fans being booted by security at last Friday's game against the Argos for cheering too loudly.

I think that says pretty much everything that's wrong with Toronto sports fandom.

Watching the game on TSN it did seem that good play by the Ticats did get some decent cheering. That could be important if the Cats end up playing in Dead Ted's Dome (TM) in the playoffs.

Monday, October 7, 2013

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 15

1. Toronto Argonauts
Sure they lost, but it was to Hamilton which is a decent team. The defence is still decent and the team is great in the second half. With Ricky Ray close to returning, the Argos are that much better. Not that Collaros is bad, but Ray will be efficient in the first half.

2. Calgary Stampeders
Sure they whipped the Blue Bombers, but that's not saying a lot. Still with both Kevin Glenn and Jon Cornish playing healthy the Stamps have a great offense. Throw in Charleston Hughes on defense and that's a good team.

3. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders without running back Kory Sheets? Not very good. With him? A lot better and able to beat BC on the road. Darian Durant is a good quarterback, but much more effective when he doesn't have to throw every down and where play action is a genuine threat. As long as Sheets remains healthy, the Riders are a good team.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Beat the Argos at home, proving the Cats can beat a good team and not just the also rans. The Cats have a rarity in the CFL, a healthy starting quarterback. The Cats do have a lot of injury problems including in the receiving corps but the Cats have found OK replacements. Hamilton does seem to not be capable of putting together two wins in a row though.

5. BC Lions
When is Travis Lulay coming back? His replacement DeMarco isn't bad, he isn't Lulay. The Lions aren't a bad team, but without Lulay they're confined to mediocrity, like losing at home to the Riders.

6. Montreal Alouettes
The Alouettes are coming off a big victory but it was against one of the CFL's wanker teams, the Edmonton Eskimos which were led by a likely concussed quarterback. The Alouettes have a great defence, but without Anthony Calvillo their offense is a work in progress.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos are a bad team and now they can't make the playoffs. Will coach Kavis Reed survive?

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Surprise, surprise the Bombers lost again. And they've traded their best rush end for some magic beans. At least they'll have a couple games against the Rouge et Noir next year.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ticats at Argos Half-Time, October 4th 2013

Good to see the Cats with a big lead after the first half.

Steve Tasker gets his first TD which fortunately for us, Rod Black isn't doing the broadcast, otherwise we would hear endlessly who his father was.

Interestingly the Cats started non-import Wojt at right tackle, breaking with their several year habit of starting two import tackles. If the import isn't any good, it isn't worth wasting a spot on him. O'Neill started at Wojt's guard spot.

Dobson Collins didn't do bad as a receiver so far. The Cats seem to have no difficulty finding import receivers. Still no Greg Ellingson which hurts.

Gable had a good game so far. Burris also did well apart from that one interception that was either under or over thrown.

Durie burnt the Cats pretty badly with yards after the catch. Owens didn't really do much.

2013 CFL Prediction Week 15

Hamilton at Toronto
Arguably it is easier to get from downtown Hamilton to Dead Ted's Dome in downtown Toronto than to Alumni stadium in Guelph so there may be a fair number of Cat fans in attendance. I hoped to be among them, but I have a deadline at midnight tonight which may or may not be affected by the US government shutdown. Thanks House Republicans.

But I digress. Apparently Ricky Ray will dress, but that sounds like code that he won't start. I still think that Collaros isn't as good as Ray, but is still pretty good. The Cats are coming off a stinker at home, and aren't great on the road or against good CFL teams. I think the Cats have a decent shot, but the Argos defence at home will be too much for them.
Argos 28 Ticats 24

Saskatchewan at BC
I'm assuming that Travis Lulay is still out for BC. Normally one would go with the Riders with their starter at quarterback against a backup, but the Riders have lost four straight with Durant at the controls and BC has done well with DeMarco as their replacement quarterback. BC is at home as well. However Kory Sheets is back at running back so that's enough for me to take the Riders. Riders 24 Lions 19

Montreal at Edmonton
Neither team has their starting quarterback due to concussion issues. Kerry Joseph is the Eskimos backup and considerably more experienced than Neiswander who starts for the Alouettes. Joseph is a million years old and is long ways from when he was good. The Alouettes do have a great defence which I think will be the difference in this one. The Eskimos are bad on and off the road.
Alouettes 33 Eskimos 15

Winnipeg at Calgary
Uh, Calgary? Not hard to pick this one, especially with the Stampeders being at home and the Bombers being the Bombers.
Stampeders 39 Bombers 22

Monday, September 30, 2013

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 14

1. Toronto Argonauts
Behind most of the game on the road in Edmonton, the Argos managed to mount a comeback, with Collaros as the quarterback and again with no Chad Owens. Kackert is back at running back though and had a monster game. The Argos have won four in a row on the road against some of the best teams and a mediocre team in Edmonton. Scott Milanovich must be the odds on favourite for whatever the CFL calls their coach of the year.

2. Calgary Stampeders
Didn't look good at all in the first quarter against the Cats on the road, but somehow luckily weren't behind by much and ended up winning behind some powerful John Cornish running and Kevin Glenn deep strikes. Even with injuries to Nik Lewis and others, the Stamps are the class of the West.

3. BC Lions
Absolutely whipped Winnipeg without Travis Lulay and DeMarco has emerged as another excellent CFL backup. Granted they kicked the Bombers asses, which says less than for other beating other teams. Bighill and Elimimian are a great combination on defence for BC.

4. Montreal Alouettes
It wasn't pretty, but the Alouettes managed to win at home against the now somewhat hapless Riders. Neiswander had a passable game as a replacement quarterback for Anthony Calvillo, but more importantly the Alouettes have a great defence, perhaps one of the better ones in the CFL. Led CFL leading tackler by Chip Cox, the Alouettes had a bunch of sacks and picks against the Riders.

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Looked great in the first quarter against Calgary, but didn't score many points then wilted, even leading to Henry Burris getting pulled for ineffectiveness. The Cats can beat the bad teams, but have trouble against the good teams. Until that changes, the Cats aren't moving up.

6. Saskatchewan Roughriders
How the mighty have fallen. Four losses in a row and they still have their starting quarterback. Losing Kory Sheets has obviously hurt the Riders and unusual for the CFL and import running backs, they haven't been able to find someone to replace him. The Riders better get on track soon or there will be no home playoff game this season, which would cost the organization major bank.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
Well they came close against Toronto, but ultimately folded. Mike Reilly finally got a concussion, which seemed inevitable. Edmonton is somewhat better than their record attests, but not that much better. Fred Stamps is a great receiver on a bad team.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
How low can the Blue Bombers go? Pretty low. Not looking good for next year, although injuries haven't helped. At least Ottawa will be in the league next year. Too bad the Bombers will be in the West.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

2013 CFL Predictions Week 14

BC at Winnipeg
I believe Travis Lulay is still injured so the Lions will be forced to go with DeMarco at quarterback on the road. Winnipeg is still a bad team that somehow managed to throw away a victory against Edmonton last week with a bizarre tip. BC is better than Edmonton and the Bombers have their own injury problems.
Lions 27 Bombers 19

Calgary at Hamilton
The premiere matchup of the CFL this week, with two teams without losing records. Hamilton came pretty close to defeating Calgary two weeks ago in Cowtown but threw it away at the end. The Ticats prevailed over the Alouettes last week in Moncton, although it was closer than it should have been. The Stamps ended up losing at home to Toronto. Based on two weeks ago, I'm going to go with Hamilton.
Ticats 29 Stamps 26

Toronto at Edmonton
The Argos have won three in a row on the road, including last week's win in Calgary. Edmonton managed a lucky win in Winnipeg. Edmonton is slowly getting better, but Toronto is winning even without Ricky Ray and Chad Owens. Expect that to continue.
Argos 29 Eskimos 22

Saskatchewan at Montreal
The Riders have been on a bit of a spin as of late, but the Alouettes aren't doing much better either losing in Moncton last week. The Riders are missing running back Cory Sheets, but more importantly Montreal is missing quarterback Anthony Calvillo. Expect the Riders to get back on track on the road.
Riders 25 Alouettes 21

Friday, September 27, 2013

Halifax CFL Stadium Becomes Election Issue

Apparently Nova Scotia contributing public money to a CFL stadium has become an election issue:

"Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil's stance on public funding for a stadium in Halifax capable of holding Canadian Football League games is a contradiction, NDP Premier Darrell Dexter said Thursday.

Nova Scotia's three main political party leaders were asked during a radio debate whether they would be willing to support using taxpayers' money for a stadium in the city."

If Halifax is going to build a stadium, they pretty much will have to do a public private partnership like Ottawa and make the stadium the centre piece of a larger development. Getting the feds to contribute without an international sporting event will be difficult.

CFL Commisioner Mark Cohon Says CFL 2013 TV Ratings Up 14%

I'm always interested in where CFL television ratings are at whether in Canada or the US. I came across this quote from a Kelowna radio stations interviewing Mark Cohon:

"I think last year, the 100th Grey Cup, was a big part of that. I look at that as our CFL Olympics. We really had the opportunity to unite the country and you see it this year. Our ratings (TV) are up 14 percent which is phenomenal."

Up 14% so far in 2013 is impressive. It probably doesn't hurt that the Riders started out 2013 with a lot of wins. Hamilton being respectable in 2013 probably doesn't hurt. The Argos being a good team and coming off a Grey Cup also doesn't hurt. The Argos attendance is pretty lacklustre, but the ratings for Argos games are usually decent.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Happened To Greg Ellingson in the Moncton Game

Update: I see from this Scratching Post blog entry that Ellingson was out injured for this practice.

I was at the Moncton game and noticed that Greg Ellingson had no catches in the game. According to the score sheet he had a tackle so he at least played some. I'm not sure if he was covered heavily by the Alouettes or was injured. Hopefully not injured, but a little odd considering Ellingson is amongst the CFL leaders in receiving yards.

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 13

1. Toronto Argonauts
One team to rule them all. The Argos went in and beat the Riders and now the Stamps on the road with their backup quarterback Zach Collaros and without star receiver Chad Owens. You can't really argue with them being number one. The Argos have an excellent defence that generates a lot of turnovers. Scott Milanovich has emerged as a great head coach who I'm sure the Alouettes wish they had. Now after two hard games the Argos get the Eskimos.

2. Calgary Stampeders
Lost a hard fought game to the Argos with Kevin Glenn as the quarterback. Losing at home isn't a good thing, but the wheels haven't totally fallen off the Stampeder bus. The Stamps still have three capable quarterbacks, a great running back in Jon Cornish and a good defence. Just not good enough to beat the double blue apparently.

3. BC Lions
The Lions are back and managed to win in Saskatchewan with backup DeMarco (yet another win by a backup quarterback in the CFL in 2013). Apart from Harris the Lions don't have a lot of offensive stars that dominate, but they get the job done. Having both Bighill and Elimimian on defence makes a big difference to the Lions.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders
After three losses in a row, including several at home, the wheels are starting to come off the Rider bus. There's no backup quarterbacks to blame, just losing close games. The Riders still have a lot of talent and seem to have no trouble with the bad teams in the CFL, but against the best teams in the CFL they aren't getting it done. At least they have Montreal next week to try and get things going again.

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Cats won a game against the Alouettes that was a lot closer than is should be, considering the Als were playing their third best quarterback. Still they won and that's what good teams sometimes do, win games where they didn't play particularly great. In the Cats defence, it wasn't really a home game and the fans seemed evenly split between the Als and Cats. Burris had a poor game stat-wise yet the Cats still won. However the Cats haven't beaten a good team yet and can't move up without doing that. They'll get a chance against Calgary at home next week.

6. Montreal Alouettes
The Als came close in Moncton, but the team is hampered without Anthony Calvillo as quarterback. The defence is great, but mistakes and two and outs on offense will eventually wear down any team. Without Calvillo coming back, the Als will have trouble with all but the weakest teams in the CFL.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
Didn't look like they were going to get it done in the Peg, but the Eskimos have won back to back games against Winnipeg. That's something I guess. It did take a bizarre play where a player tipped a pass into Fred Stamps hands ten yards down field at the end of the game, but as they say, luck is the residue of skill. Don't expect the Eskimos to do much against better teams.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
What to say? The Bombers had their game at home against Edmonton won, but proceeded to cough it up in spectacular and amusing fashion (if you're not a Bomber fan). If the Bombers can't beat the Eskimos who can they beat? OK the Roughriders that one time.   

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Cheerleaders Pre Moncton Game

Here's the Tiger-Cats cheerleaders going to get changed before the game. They had been out and about hawking their playing cards. Oddly I've seen no sign if the Montreal Alouettes cheerleader. Maybe the Alouettes cheaped out and didn't bring them. Shame. 

Picture of Moncton Stadium

Seventy five minutes before kickoff in Moncton. The new Cats kicker is having trouble kicking into the wind. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 CFL Predictions Week 13

Edmonton at Winnipeg
The battle for last place continues for another week. In theory Winnipeg isn't that far behind Montreal but Edmonton is pretty much screwed. Edmonton won last week but that was at home. I'll go with home field advantage again.

Blue Bombers 25 Eskimos 22

Montreal at Hamilton
Word is that Tanner Marsh (or is it Marsh Tanner?) is injured so the Alouettes are going with their third string quarterback who didn't do much last week. Hamilton is again going with Henry Burris, along with a few injuries but nothing compared to Montreal's problems. Hamilton came as close as possible to winning in Calgary last week, but managed to cock up a bunch of opportunities to seal the win. That said, despite a pretty dubious home field advantage in Moncton, the Cats will win.
Tiger-Cats 37 Alouettes 28

Toronto at Calgary
This one is interesting. Last week no one gave the Argos much of a chance, but they won in Saskatchewan. This week will be a little tougher, unless Jon Cornish promptly gets injured during the game. With a battle of backup quarterbacks, I'm going with the home team.

Stampeders 28 Argonauts 23

BC at Saskatchewan
Have the wheels fell off the Rider chuck wagon? No Kory Sheets hurts a lot and the Riders have lost two in a row, including one to Winnipeg. BC looked good last week and have historically been strong at home. However the Lions are missing Travis Lulay and that's enough to pick the Riders. Doubtless there will be a lot of Rider fans present.
Riders 27 Lions 19

CFL Celebrity Spotting Moncton Edition

Just saw Duane Ford and the commissioner in the lobby of the Delta. J├Ąger Bombs later?

Lots of Alouettes Fans in Montreal

Flying to Moncton there's a lot of Alouettes fans on the plane and a couple of Tigercat fans. I'm concerned for home field advantage. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

CFL Ratings on ESPN 2

Searching on Google I found this blog with ratings for ESPN and ESPN 2 for July 22 to 28th. What's interesting for CFL fans is that for ESPN down at ranking 19 there's the CFL (on a Thursday) with 273,000 viewers for three hours. In case you're curious that was a game in Montreal against Edmonton that was won 32 to 27 by the Alouettes.

Those aren't bad numbers, especially considering that ESPN 2 doesn't seem to have a lot of live sports during the summer. Considering that I posted yesterday that last week's Canadian CFL rankings were around 900,000 that's encouraging.

Since the Canadian television deal is around $40 million, could a US television deal be worth $12.3 million proportionately (assuming the $40 million for 900,000 per game versus 276,000)? Probably not, although with rumours that the CFL gets almost nothing for its games shown in the US, they're clearly worth something if shown on a channel with good availability in the US. I haven't seen ratings for the CFL on the the NBC sports channel although they may be lower as the channel is fairly new.

I actually found the blog on this forum, where they make the point that the ratings are higher than MLS on ESPN 2, which is kind of amusing. The forumers make the point that Americans love football and with the first half of the CFL season occurring during a football deficit, the CFL really needs to capitalize on it. Imagine the ratings if Tim Tebow showed up.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 Week 12 CFL Television Ratings Around 900,000 Viewers Per Game

I saw this tweet from Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell (@ticatmitchell):

"Top 4 broadcasts again for sports this week were cfl games Avg of nearly 900k. Jays #5 at 550k and highest nfl game at 532, hawks/49ers."

That's pretty impressive. I made a post earlier this week comparing the Jays numbers and the CFL's numbers, however in that post I gave an estimate for the CFL numbers that was pretty low:

"I was wondering about the comparison with the CFL. The Jays have 162 regular season games per year, so last year the Jays had 87,480,000 total viewers across all games last year. The  CFL has only 72 regular season games per year. Just using an estimate of 600,000 viewers per game that's 42,000,000 viewers total which is significantly less than the Jay total."

Using an estimate of 900,000 viewers per CFL game would give 63,000,000 viewers per year which is a lot closer to the Jays total per year. Adding Ottawa next year and an extra nine games would bring it still closer. 

Considering that the CFL television deal is worth $40 million per year, with 63 million viewers, that works out to 63 cents per viewer of a game. That's a lot of Wendy's ads.

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 12

1. Calgary Stampeders
Good teams find ways to win when they really shouldn't. That was the case this past week against Hamilton at home. I think that Bo Levi Mitchell has pretty much passed Drew Tate on the depth chart. With Kory Sheets injured, Jon Cornish is now the best back in the CFL.

2. Toronto Argonauts
Winning on the road with defence, a backup quarterback against the Riders. Impressive effort for the Argos showing they're for real. The Argonauts also did it without star receiver Chad Owens, showing they have some depth at receiver.  Kackert was injured during the game, but I don't think he's really any better than whoever the Argos toss in there.

3. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Problems in Riderville and suddenly with two losses in a row the Riders aren't looking so hot. Durant passed for 381 yards, but only made 50% of 50 attempts, with 3 TDs and 3 picks. Kory Sheets being hurt definitely hurts the Riders. Giving up 19 points in the fourth quarter and only scoring 3 isn't something a good team does.

4. BC Lions
Spanked Montreal pretty hard in BC, albeit the Alouettes had no Anthony Calvillo so that's not that huge an accomplishment. Taylor had a good game at receiver, although Arceneaux caught six catches for 16 yards which is pretty sad. We don't know how serious Lulay's injury is. If he's out indefinitley I'd be tempted to have the Lions lower. DeMarco and Buck don't really impress me.

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Came close to beating the big dog in Calgary, but given many opportunities in the final quarter to close out the game the Cats played like Mayor Bob Bratina governs, shitting the bed. The Cats have a great offense and Gable is emerging as one of those backs that burns teams receiving. The defense has improved, but to move up the rankings the Cats offense has to smash opponents when given the opportunity. 

6. Montreal Alouettes
Montreal get spanked pretty hard in BC last week without the services of Anthony Calvillo. Both Marsh and Neiswander were mediocre as quarterbacks and now it looks like Marsh is injured as well. Montreal's defence is still decent, but when you're forced to rely on Neiswander, you're in trouble.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos managed to beat the Bombers at home to get their second victory. For a 2 and 9 team, the Eskimos aren't a terrible team but they aren't very good either. Mike Reilly has put up some decent stats, but his offensive line is holding him and the team back.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers just aren't very good and can't figure out who should start as quarterback. Just a bad team overall and there's not really much left to say.