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.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Article on Jays Television Numbers

I read with interest this Star article on the Jays television numbers staying strong this year despite the Jays being out of it:

"Except that viewership across all Sportsnet channels is up 21 per cent compared to 2012, while Jays audiences are down only slightly from last season’s record highs despite the team’s poor play."

"Last season the Jays finished with a 73-89 record, and their games drew an average of 540,000 television viewers, up 7 per cent from the previous season and 25 per cent over 2010, according to Rogers.
Before this season many baseball observers labeled the team a World Series contender, and that optimism translated into inflated early-season ratings. This season’s first regular season attracted a record 1.4 million viewers, compared with 1.3 million in 2012."

"By last August, when it had become clear the Jays wouldn’t contend for a playoff spot, viewership dipped to an average of 437,000 per game. Last month, with the Jays again out of contention, ratings fell again but to an average of 475,000 per game."

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.

A couple of points about that. The CFL numbers are biased towards Alberta and Saskatchewan while the Jays would overwhelming be balanced towards Ontario. Income for Albertans and Saskatchewan people are considerably higher than those in Ontario, so a CFL viewer on average is probably worth more based on location. I would guess the Jays may also have a slightly older audience which isn't worth as much, but I have no data on it.

The CFL's current television deal pays $40 million per year. Using that number for the Jays, the Jays contract would be worth around $83 million, although since Rogers owns both SportsNet and the Jays, there really isn't an open market. Further for both leagues I didn't include playoff games just to keep things simple. The CFL has a bit of an edge there in the sense that the six teams always make it, while the Jays have no guarantee. I also didn't include the pre-season games, where the Jays definitely have an advantage and TSN only broadcast two this year.

With Ottawa joining the league next year, that increases the number of CFL games to 81 per year. Potentially adding an Atlantic team would bump that to 90 games per year.

Ticats At Stamps Loss

I was quite annoyed after watching the Ticats lose to the Stamps in Calgary on Friday night, that I waited for a day to write about it.

The Cats played well for most of the game and were ahead until right at the end. There were numerous instances where the Cats could have made a play that would have led them to win, but just couldn't made the play. It is always annoying as a fan, when your team is ahead late, but the other team always goes on the third down (because they have to) and ends up winning. Sometimes some more aggression on offense in those situations would guarantee the win. Toronto won, but as I'm writing this, Montreal is about to lose, so the weekend wasn't a total disaster.

Bo Levi Mitchell impressed me, although he didn't do a lot early. Certainly he's excellent for a third string quarterback. I can't even remember the Cats' third stringer.

Burris had a decent game, going 26 for 39 for 408 yards, two TDs but two picks. Gable had a great game, rushing 9 times for 53 yards, but had a massive 108 yards on only six catches. When was the last time a Ticat running back had over 100 yards receiving? Beats me. Gable is turning into a special player. Get your jerseys people!

Fantuz also had a good game with six catches for 96 yards and a TD. Ellingson only caught three passes for 57 yards. Likely he's drawing more coverage.

A good effort for a road game against a great team, but the fact they could easily have won is frustrating.

Montreal didn't look good tonight versus the Lions and will not have Anthony Calvillo next week in Moncton amongst other injuries. So the Cats have an excellent shot to put some distance between themselves and Montreal and come closer to locking up a playoff home game. Here's hoping they don't blow it late versus Montreal in New Brunswick.

Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 CFL Predictions Week 12

Hamilton at Calgary
There's a few facets in this game. Hamilton has looked good of late, especially their offense. They beat BC last week, but haven't beat any other good teams. Calgary is at home and have been hot, but they are starting Bo Levi Mitchell in place of their various injured quarterbacks. Tate and Glenn are listed as backups, although what that actually means is uncertain. Mitchell has looked good, but against the rather woeful Edmonton Eskimos. Despite the home game, I'll take the Ticats and their hot offense.
Ticats 31 Stampeders 26

Winnipeg at Edmonton
Battle of the suck teams! Winnipeg is coming off a victory over Saskatchewan, while Edmonton can't seem to win a game. Both teams are crap, but I'll take the Eskimos based on the home field advantage. Plus Mike Reilly hasn't really played that bad, considering his offensive line.

Toronto at Saskatchewan
The Riders will be annoyed after to losing last week to the lowly Bombers in the Banjo Bowl. They have lost middle linebacker Rey Williams for the season, which will hurt somewhat. The Argos are still stuck with Collaros at quarterback while Ricky Ray's shoulder heals. I'll take the Riders over a backup quarterback at home easily.
Riders 33 Argonauts 20

Montreal at BC
The Alouettes are lucky that this game isn't a night game and won't have to deal with playing late. Montreal is also forced to go with backup Tanner Marsh due to Anthony Calvillo's concussion. Montreal's defence is good, but has collapsed late, like last week's debacle against the Argos at home. Travis Lulay hasn't been particularly fantastic for the Lions, but has been decent and they are at home. Expect at BC victory.
Lions 29 Monteral 22

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Toronto Argonauts Must Move From Roger's Centre By 2018

Here's the definitive Globe and Mail article on the subject. The Blue Jays want to install natural grass in the Dome and that precludes the Argos from playing there. I assume that for Grey Cups, the grass is removed at the end of the baseball season and thus Grey Cups in November can be played there.

So the Argos have to find a new home. MLSE has already mulled buying them and having them play at BMO Field. The Argos could play their potentially 11 games a year there on the natural turf without too much damage (rugby is already played on it), however MLSE could put back in artificial turf. That could make CFL haters the Red Patch Boys and former Toronto mayor David Miller* crazy, however Toronto FC has sucked its entire existence, but with and without grass. As I already mentioned in another post, having the Argos play at BMO on national television would boost the value of the naming rights.

Potentially the Argos could try an ultra cheap bare bones stadium somewhere or other. Really the Argos need a small stadium around 20,000 seats they can fill and the CFL needs the television money. People will watch the Argos on television but they won't watch TFC. Maybe the Argos could partner with the rugby and cricket folks for a stadium.

One thing to consider with television is that the CFL needs the Argos. They may be willing to fund $5 million per year over 20 years to help with a new stadium. Perhaps the Argos could partner with a developer and have some condo towers integrated with the stadium and get some money that way. This issue will probably simmer for a few years and then heat up.

*At least current Toronto Rob Ford is a CFL supporter, even showing up at a game in Saskatchewan.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

CFL Points Average For, Against and Total, 2006-2013, Over Under

I did one post looking at the average points scored per game, including the home and away numbers and the total numbers (for over under bets) for 2012. I've now gone and calculated the numbers from 2006 to 2013. Why not farther back? Because Ottawa was still in the league in 2005 and I would have to alter a few things. I'll get to it eventually. The regular season numbers bounced around a bit more than I expected:

Year  Away  Home   Total
2006   22.6     23.7    46.3
2007   21.9     27.0    48.8
2008   25.9     30.6    56.4
2009   24.7     26.4    51.1
2010   23.9     28.4    52.3
2011   23.8     26.5    50.3
2012   23.5     28.3    51.7

The average total points scored ranged from a low of 46.3 in 2006 to a high of 56.4 two years later in 2008. So keep that in mind for your over under bets. Article on Defensive End Brian Bulcke

The Ticats website has an article on non-import defensive tackle Brian Bulcke returning this week to Calgary after playing his first two seasons there. Bulcke has turned out to be a great free agent signing by the Cats, a non-import defensive starter in the middle of the line.

As Bulcke has turned out to be a great player, I've been wondering why Calgary didn't resign him. He comes from a good school in Stanford and majored in mechanical engineering so he's no moron. He has good size at 6'4" and 280 pounds. In his first year he had 11 tackles and a sack, while last year he had 18 tackles and two sacks so one would expect that his third year would show further improvement.

I then went and looked at Calgary's depth chart for the first game this year and saw that the Stamps started non-import Corey Mace at defensive tackle. So the Stamps were already set there. The Stamps only started one non-import on defense, so it was unlikely that the Stamps would start two non-imports on the defensive line (which would be pretty wacky). So in a way the Cats were lucky that Calgary probably couldn't keep Bulcke with Mace, especially if Bulcke wanted to start.

The Cats were a good destination for Bulcke considering they like going with two import offensive tackles as starters, meaning someone who could possibly start on defense would be given a decent shot.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 11

Finally some excitement and bigger changes in the power rankings than the past few weeks.

1. Calgary Stampeders
Managed to turn the difficult trick of winning back to back games in the CFL, something no other team did this week. The Stamps managed to do it with Bo Levi Mitchell at the helm which is impressive in the sense that the Stamps have by far the best quarterbacks overall in the CFL (even if Drew Tate has a bit of glass jaw). Cornish had another solid game this week and the Stamps showed they can get by without Nik Lewis.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
No one really expected the Bombers to win the Banjo Bowl. Maybe they might keep it close in the Peg, but the one win team would eventually lose to the one loss team. Surprising that the Riders would give up so many sacks, but even good teams are going to have bad games now and then. Durant had a bad day passing and Cory Sheets was just OK. The Riders are still a good team, just not invincible.

3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Maybe a bit of a homer pick, but the Ticats offense is humming and the defence is coming together. Perhaps more important, the Cats actually have a healthy starter at quarterback right now. The Cats have great receivers including rookie Greg Ellingson and Gable is emerging as one of the better backs in the CFL.

4. BC Lions
The Lions also have a healthy starter in Travis Lulay, although to be honest, Lulay hasn't been that great this year. He hasn't been terrible, but no one is saying his name for most outstanding player. The Lions have a decent defense, and are always tough at home. That's something.

5. Toronto Argonauts
Things were looking poor early for the Argos and backup quarterback Collaros, but they managed to storm back and win against a tough Montreal defence, without star receiver Chad Owens. The Argos have a decent roster of receivers now. Especially valuable is non-import Durie. The defence had five sacks (albeit against a backup) which never hurts. Toronto is definitely better with Ricky Ray as the quarterback, but they're still OK without him.

6. Montreal Alouettes
I really thought the Alouettes were going to beat the Argos back to back and cement their place as one of the CFL's better teams in 2013. Instead backup Tanner Marsh regressed to the mean of backup quarterback play and the Alouettes collapsed rather spectacularly. The Alouettes have a good defence, at least until the end of games, but their offense looked rather feeble, especially their running game. Things aren't looking good for Montreal the rest of the season without Calvillo.

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers aren't the worst team in the CFL! I didn't think that would be case, but there you go. With Buck Pierce being traded to BC, Goltz at least has a chance to develop as the starter. The Bomber defence looked good against Saskatchewan this week which is also a good sign. The Bombers won't make the playoffs this year, but they may win some more games this year.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
I thought the Eskimos had a chance of winning this game, but couldn't get it done. Reilly is getting a lot of experience, but Edmonton's offensive line, is well, offensive. Allowing seven sacks just isn't that conducive to winning and keeping your quarterback healthy. Until the line improves, it will be difficult for the Eskimos to win.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Steve Milton Article on the Ticats' Greg Ellingson and Rookie of the Year Award

There's a good article from Steve Milton posted on the Scratching Post about Greg Ellingson being the frontrunner for the 2013 CFL Rookie of the Year award. I've been posting about that possibility for a while now. If Ellingson finishes at second in receiving yards, it is pretty much a lock. The last winner of that award was everyone's favourite holdout Chris Williams.

When Was the Last Time the Ticats Finished with a Winning Regular Season Record?

With the Ticats now at 500 with eight games left, there's a possibility the Cats could finish with a winning regular season record, provided they go 5 and 3 or better.

When was the last time the Ticats accomplished this feat? That would be 2001, when the Cats were 11 and 7. Note that the Cats were 9 and 9 in 2009 and 2010.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ticats Wildcats Uniforms

BC at Hamilton Gameday 2013

Who's in and who's out for the Ticats this week? Giguere is still out, with Stala in for his non-import spot amongst the receivers. Boudreaux is out at one of the defensive end spots, with Norwood and Scott as the defensive ends. Hage is back in after a few games injury as the centre.

Johnson is the middle linebacker, with Lawrence and former Argo Issac as the other linebackers. Murray and Davis are the corners, with McCollough and Webb as the halfbacks and non-import Stephen as the safety.

For BC the most important injury is middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian is missing, which has to help the Cats. Will the Cats try and run without him? I'm guessing no, because the Cats hardly run in 2013, but who knows.

The Cats were burned a few times by the long ball last week. Will they drop more players into coverage compared to the blitzes they did last week? Again who knows. They only had one official sack last week, although their coverage of the run game was excellent.

Who am I looking for to make a big contribution this week? Ellingson on offense and Bulcke on defence.

Finally the red uniforms the Cats will use to honour the Flying Wildcats will be strange as a spectator.

Friday, September 6, 2013

MLSE Buying Toronto Argonauts?

I have to admit I was surprised to see this Canadian Pres article about MLSE (owners of the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC) kicking the tires on buying the Argonauts and having them play at Toronto FC's BMO field.

With the Blue Jay's wanting to switch to natural turf in the Roger's Centre and eventually booting the Argos, playing at a reconfigured BMO would be a good option and would give the Argos a chance for a sellout.

For MLSE, given that the CFL salary cap is around $4.4 million, and that MLSE already has a big ticketing and market infrastructure available, turning a profit on the Argos wouldn't be that hard. Especially since attendance is bound to go up from the cavernous and crappy for football Roger's Centre. Also for the naming rights, getting repeated nationwide exposure on TSN for the CFL would be an improvement, since TFC's television ratings are dismal compared to the CFL.

2013 CFL Predictions Week 11

Calgary at Edmonton
I'm going to go out on a limb here and call an upset. Edmonton came close to winning last week and it is difficult for teams to win back to back games. Mike Reilly is putting up some decent passing numbers  (although they're juiced from being behind a lot and abandoning the running game). Calgary is missing Nik Lewis due to his broken leg and Cornish wasn't particularly effective last week. A close one, but the Eskimos take it.
Edmonton 29 Calgary 27

BC at Hamilton
Hamilton was close on the West Coast last week, but ultimately were burned by some long bombs, plus a few key referee calls (including the weakest horse collar tackle I've seen). It's tough for teams to win back to back (which I've already mentioned). Hamilton has some injury problems (including Giguere at receiver and Boudreaux at defensive end), but the Lions are missing Solomon Elimimian as the middle linebacker. I'll pick Hamilton in Guelph.
Hamilton 33 BC 26

Toronto at Montreal
It is a back to back festival! Considering Montreal was able to win the battle of the backup quarterbacks last week, I think it makes sense to go with them at home. Plus the Montreal defence seems to be coming together. Not that the Argo defence is that bad, but they're not great.
Montreal 25 Toronto 21

Saskatchewan at Winnipeg
Worst team versus best team. While the Bombers at least didn't embarrass themselves too badly in the first half last week, I can't pick them in good conscious, even at home.
Riders 32 Bombers 24

Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 CFL Power Rankings Week 10

1. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Still have only one loss and several teams are on to their backup quarterback. Kory Sheets is on pace to break Mike Pringle's single season rushing record. Class of the CFL for now.
2. Calgary Stampeders
Lots of quarterback injury problems, but a lot of answers too, with three decent quarterbacks in Drew Tate, Kevin Glenn and Bo Levi Mitchell. Losing Nik Lewis had hurt. Almost an epic collapse last week against the Eskimos, but still managed to hang on at home, as good teams do.

3. BC Lions
Travis Lulay managed to pass for over 300 yards against Hamilton at home last week, showing that he still has it. The defence did give up a lot of offense against Hamilton last week, but was able to persevere when it counted. Still needs to show against a top CFL team.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Came close to defeating the Lions in BC late at night, which has historically been difficult for Eastern time zone teams to do. The pass offense is rolling with Henry Burris having many games with over 300 yards passing. Not many rushing attempts. Last week the pass completion percentage was great, but a large number of sacks caused problems, especially in the first quarter. Defence has improved since the start of the year, but it is still weaker than the offense. Having a healthy starter as your quarterback is something this particular week.

5. Montreal Alouettes
Beat Toronto in the battle of the backup quarterbacks in a low scoring affair.  Great defence, especially Chip Cox in the middle who has a ridiculous number of tackles. However going with a backup quarterback for the rest of CFL season will be a learning curve, graded hard early.

6. Toronto Argonauts
With Ricky Ray, the Argos are an efficient offensive machine with gaudy pass completion numbers. Without him, they have a mediocre offense at best combined with a decent defence. Not a great recipe against the better teams in the league.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
I saw someone comment on the internet that this is the best 1 and 8 team ever. That is true and the Eskimos came close to upsetting the Stamps in Calgary. Quarterback Mike Reilly has decent pass numbers and has improved with more starts. To move up the rankings the Eskimos will actually have to win a game. Can they win enough to save head coach's Kavis Reed's job? Doubtful.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Beaten pretty soundly in Regina last week, although the first half was something of a moral victory for a team with one win. Lots of quarterbacks on the roster, but one hasn't really emerged. Changing the general manager and offensive co-ordinator mid-season isn't good for a team's power rankings.

Anthony Calvillo on the Nine Game Disabled List

The Montreal Alouettes have placed Anthony Calvillo on the nine game disabled list. Obviously Calvillo's concussion must be pretty serious for this move to be made. Calvillo could come back for the playoffs after the nine games, as well teams can take two players off the nine game list per year early(as the Cats did with Dave Stala). Putting Calvillo on the nine game list has the effect that his salary for those nine games doesn't count towards the salary cap. Calvillo's salary is by far the highest on Montreal so not having to count half of it would be significant, and likely more than $200,000 if he stayed on the list for the entire nine games.

This benefits the Tiger-Cats because the Alouettes are forced to go with backup quarterbacks for the rest of the season. Sure Montreal beat Toronto last week, but that was a battle of backups with Ricky Ray gone. Montreal will have a tougher time beating Calgary, Saskatchewan and BC with a backup. Their defence does appear to be excellent this year so the Cats will have play well themselves to place above Montreal.

Weirdly with Cavillo and Ray both out, the Cats have a legitimate chance at first in the East. Which would mean a home playoff game in the 13,000 University of Guelph stadium.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Shot of Tim Horton's Field, September 2nd, 2013

Here's a shot I took of the skeleton of the East side stands of the new Tim Horton's Field. Progress is coming along. The West stands are farther behind, but being ready for June next shouldn't be too difficult.

Monday, September 2, 2013

What is Tim Horton's Paying for Naming Rights For the New Ticats Stadium? 2015 Grey Cup in Hamilton?

I'm curious what Tim Horton's is paying for naming rights for the new stadium. I found this article from CHML's Ted Michaels, with the following info:

"While the actual total of the agreement was not publicized, sources tell Inside the CFL that the naming rights were purchased for between $10 million and $15 million." 

The article says it is a ten year deal, so the price is between $ 1 million and 1.5 million per year. That's significantly less than the $2.7 million per year that BMO paid for BMO Field in Toronto, which I discussed in this earlier post.

From that post "Obviously there's a lot of visibility on the Gardner Expressway from cars, but Toronto FC games currently receive miniscule television ratings compared to CFL games and usually the games involve an American opponent. For Scotiabank Place, the arena of the Ottawa Senators, Scotiabank paid $21 million over 15 years. Is $10 million over 10 years possible for a rebuilt stadium?"

Interesting that the Cats could be getting more money than the Senators stadium. I do wonder what the new price for BMO stadium will be when the contract comes up again. As I said, high value for the location, but not a lot of television visibility.

The Ticats will eventually host the Grey Cup at their stadium, sooner than later and perhaps as early as 2015 (mentioned in this 2010 article from Perry Lefko). That has to have some real monetary value for Tim Horton's, as does the potential that the Cats could host it again before the ten year deal is up (perhaps Grey Cup 2023). Of course Hamilton last hosted the Grey Cup in 1996 and 1972 before that and the 1996 wasn't particularly successful. The new modern Grey Cup is usually sold out now independent of the city, so Hamilton hosting it again shouldn't be a problem (and with Bob Young's marketing muscle it could be impressive).

The question is how many temporary fans can be shoehorned in to watch the game. I've never really gotten a firm number on that, however one assumes that in the design that is accounted for. We'll see.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hamilton at BC Stat Breakdown

The Cats lost a close one on Friday 29 to 26 in Vancouver. It's disappointing they didn't win, although the three hour time difference always makes it difficult for East teams.

Henry Burris statistically had a great game, going 29 for 36 with 2 TDs and one pick for 352 yards. That's an 80.6% completion percentage which is remarkable in a lowing effort. Two caveats with that performance. The yards per attempt, wasn't great at 9.8 and the yards per completion was mediocre at 12.1 yards. The Cats made a lot of short passes in that game, making them punt more than they should have. Second, Burris was sacked six times (the Cats only had one sack that counted). Sacks are worse than incompletions because of the loss of yards. Still yet another 300 yard plus passing game for Burris.

The receivers generally had a good game with few drops. Ellingson continued his strong bid for the 2013 rookie of the year award with 8 catches for 94 yards and a TD. Bakari Grant had a good game with four catches for 77 yards and a TD and Andy Fantuz was also effective with five catches for 68 yards. Onrea Jones also did well with five catches for 58 yards. Dave Stala had a single catch for 8 yards, taking over Samuel Giguere's non-import spot on the offense.

The running game wasn't much to talk about, although Gable had 45 yards on only five carries which is a good average at least.

Defensively the Cats allowed a lot of passing offense with Travis Lulay passing for 359 yards, going 26 for 36. Andrew Harris had a mediocre day rushing, getting only 39 yards on nine carries.

Linebacker Rico Murray led the Cats with 8 tackles. Boudreaux had a sack, although he should have had another one early in the game, but instead a very dubious horse collar tackle penalty was called.

Overall a good road performance, but not good enough to win. Hopefully the Cats can bounce back against the Lions in Guelph this coming week.