Friday, August 29, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week 10

Ottawa at Montreal
Now that there's nine teams in the CFL, the Labour Day weekend games get slightly changed up a bit with BC being the odd man out and the REDBLACKS and the Alouettes restarting a tradition (did Montreal and Ottawa used to play on the Labour Day weekend? Probably.). I would have thought to help out the expansion team, Ottawa would get to host but apparently not. Maybe they will alternate as the home team from year to year. But I digress.

Back to the predictions. Battle of the 1 and 7 teams! Go big or go home. Supposedly Montreal is going to start some quarterback who was on Edmonton for a while, but I'm too lazy to look him up rather than Alex Brink. Huh. Outside the quarterback position I think Montreal is better, but I think in this game Burris will have the edge. A very slight edge.
REDBLACKS 21 Alouettes 20

Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
This should be exciting as the Bombers aren't crap anymore. The Riders have Dressler back although how effective he would be with just a couple of days of practice is a question. I'm going to go against the grain and say the Bombers take it. Just a feeling.
Bombers 29 Riders 25

Toronto at Hamilton
Is Collaros going to start? I haven't heard much, just that he is sort of practicing and taking that as a no. I don't think that Masoli is that bad a player, but let's face it, against Ray there's not a lot of hope. Maybe there will be some weird unfinished stadium/Labour Day stand, but that's not the way to bet unfortunately.
Argos 33 Ticats 26

Edmonton at Calgary
Battle of the 7 and 1 teams. That's a little more exciting. Both are good teams, but I think this will come down to home field advantage which is surprisingly huge in the CFL.
Stamps 43 Esks 40

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

CFL Television Rankings Week 7

As usual, Chris Zelkovich has the complete weekend television ratings for sports on his Yahoo blog. I'm a bit late at taking a look at the CFL numbers, but they were fourth, fifth and sixth behind the Jays games against the Tigers when the Jays were sort of in contention:

4. CFL, Ticats at Lions, Friday, TSN: 576,000
5. CFL, RedBlacks at Stampeders, Saturday, TSN: 484,000
6. CFL, Eskimos at Alouettes, Friday, TSN: 454,000

So of the three weekend games the Ticats Lions tilt had the highest ratings. The Cats game was also close until the end so that no doubt helped the average numbers. Not bad for a team with a bad record and a late start. 

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 9

1. Calgary Stampeders
Cornish is coming back and they're 7 and 1 after demolishing the REDBLACKS on the road. One can make an argument that Mitchell is the best pivot in the league and their defence rocks too. 
2. Edmonton Eskimos
While not quite as good as Calgary you can't argue the fact they are a 7 and 1 team. Beat Toronto, who are not a terrible team. The next two games will prove if they're for real.
3. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Beat BC on the road and did it on guaranteed Lion win night (I'm assuming a lot of the fans at the game were Roughrider supporters who won't be particularly enthused by a free ticket to a non-Rider Lions game). If they were to get Dressler back, they would be better, but I'm not sure they have the salary cap for it.
4. BC Lions
Lost at home on guaranteed win night. Still a good CFL team and if Lulay ever comes back they will have a nice problem to have in having two decent quarterbacks.
5. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
 Managed to win at home against an Eastern opponent. That's not much. We'll see how they do in their back to back games against the Riders.
6. Toronto Argonauts
Somebody has to be the best in the East. Acquitted themselves decently on the road against the Eskimos.
7. Montreal Alouettes
On the road and within a TD of the Bombers. At least they aren't starting Troy Smith anymore.
8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
They didn't play, but that didn't change the fact they are down to Jeremiah Masoli as quarterback and someone named McGee as the backup. One wouldn't have thought the Cats would have one win at this point in the season, but there you go.
Stomped by the Stamps. At home. I honestly thought the REDBLACKS would be a little better at this point in the year especially with Henry Burris, but apparently not. Ponying up a dump truck to Weston Dressler might not be a bad move. Assuming the REDBLACKS are near the salary cap, evidently some of those players need to be released.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ticats New Stadium Only Part Open for Labour Day Classic?

Looks like the stadium will only be partly open for the Labour Day classic against the Argos. Maybe.

The upper part of the West stands won't be open. I predicted that maybe the team would just try to get one side of the stadium declared safe, so I wasn't too far off. I'm expecting the stadium to be a shitshow, but whatever, maybe the Cats will beat the Argos with Masoli.

2014 CFL Predictions Week 9

Montreal at Winnipeg
While the Alouettes seem to have dropped the Troy Smith experiment for now, Alex Brink is basically Winnipeg's sloppy seconds. Plus the Bombers are at home and have Drew Willy.
Bombers 24 Alouettes 19

Toronto at Edmonton
Call me crazy, but I'm picking Toronto. They're not at home, but sometimes wacky things happen. Plus Edmonton is good, but they have to revert a little closer to last season's results.
Argonauts 31 Eskimos 28

Calgary at Ottawa
The REDBLACKs are still an expansion team and the Stamps seem to be good enough that they don't lose to the crap teams.
Stampeders 41 REDBLACKS 27

Saskatchewan at BC
BC just seems hot to me and the Riders just kind of meh this year. Plus BC is at home. Not really sure about that whole guaranteed win thing, but the Lions have a giant stadium so extra tickets aren't a lot of pressure.
Lions 22 Roughriders 19

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 8

1. Calgary Stampeders
Admittedly they beat a team with one win this week, but it was on the road and Hamilton is as good as it gets for a one win team this time of the year. Which isn't that great but still. Bo Levi Mitchell has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks and the Stamps have gotten it done without Jon Cornish. Impressive.

2. Edmonton Eskimos
Sure they barely beat Ottawa on the road, but the Eskimos have had a consistently good record so far this year. Can't really argue with ranking them high.

3. BC Lions
Sure they beat a tired Toronto team this week, but the Lions seem to be coming together with Kevin Glenn at the helm after a slow start. Certainly we're setting up for the inevitable Kevin Glenn doesn't get any respect story line that seems to happen every year, but that doesn't stop the team from having a good record.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Beat the Alouettes at home by five points. Although Montreal wasn't hamstrung by Troy Smith at quarterback so that's not a super embarrassing win. Still not sure about the Riders this season, but if they get Weston Dressler back they'll be a tougher team to play.

5. Toronto Argonauts
Not five Western teams on top. Tabernac! The double blue rolled over the Bombers easily in Dead Ted's Dome (TM) this past week so there's that. Ray without Durie and Owens at receiver hasn't been too bad actually. The Argos could be decent when they come back.

6 Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Losing to an Eastern team? That hurts. Drew Willy is decent but not omnipotent this year. We'll see how the Bombers do against non-Eastern teams.

7. Ottawa REDBLACKs
Almost beat Edmonton at home. That's something. Actually being seventh is something for an expansion team. Lack of depth hurts but isn't really surprising.

8. Montreal Alouettes
Not a bad showing and not starting Troy Smith helps. Still a pretty smelly team. I'm not really sure this team is that talented.

9. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
On paper outside of quarterback they seem like they have some talent, especially Canadians and receiver. Playing three Americans on the offensive line is unconventional and doesn't seem to be working that great (in terms of the team winning). Of course LeFevour seems to be out for the season with a torn ACL and with a concussed Collaros the Cats are down to the biblically names Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback. After that it's someone named McGee. Also I'm not sure what the injury status of C.J Gable is. From the Grey Cup to doghouse in a season. Hard out here for a Ticat fan. And no doubt for whatever pimps are responsible for the girls working Barton street near the stadium. Have you seen those girls? None of them are a pimp's dream, that's for sure.

Monday, August 18, 2014

LeFevour Out For 2014 Season?

The Spec is reporting that Ticats quarterback Dan LeFevour may be out for this season with a possible torn ACL. That's obviously not good with former starter Zach Collaros still out with a concussion.

Obviously LeFevour being out is unfortunate. LeFevour was putting up good rushing and passing yards although the Cats weren't winning many games along the way. Now the Cats have to go with third stringer Jeremiah Masoli as their starter, provided Collaros doesn't come back early. Masoli hasn't looked terrible when he's been in, although his interception late in the last game pretty much ended any chance of a Ticat comeback.

To be honest, at the start of the season, Masoli was probably one of the better third stringers in the league, but it is still tough for the Ticats. Hopefully running back C.J. Gable can come back and take some of the pressure off Masoli from needing to pass every down, although Gable's rushing numbers have been nothing special this year.

Certainly for a 1 and 6 team like the Ticats this isn't good news.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tiger-Cats Lineup Analysis, August 16th Game Versus Calgary

The Cats are back at Mac for the last time. Hopefully.

The Cats are still going with three offensive line imports as they have done for a lot of the season. Olson and Dile are the tackles. O'Neill and import and former tackle Simmons are the guards with Filer in the middle. Is Dyakowski coming back this season? That would certainly help out with the ratio.

Tasker is back at receiver along with non-import Giguere who had over 100 yards in catches last week. Grant, non-import Fantuz and Ellingson are the slots with non-import Prime as the fullback. Madu is in as starter at running back for the injured C.J. Gable which definitely hurts although Hamilton is 1 and 5 with him in. Koch is on the injured list.

The team leader in receiving yards is actually Giguere with 248, followed by Gable with 223 then Tasker with 208. LeFevour leads the team with 272 rushing yards and Gable is next with 138 (which seems pretty low).

LeFevour starts yet again at pivot with Masoli again as backup. That's four Canadian starters on offense without Prime. Potentially it could be five if Prime was in along with Fantuz and Giguere.

On defence, the ends are Tripp and Coleman while in the middle are the standard non-imports Bulcke and Laurent. The linebackers are Lawrence, Reed and Murray. No Bowman this week which is unfortunate.

The corners are Breaux and the non-import Stephen. The half-backs are Stewart and Davis with the non-import Butler in at safety this week. So for defence that's four Canadian starters, which is certainly above average for the CFL. I'm not sure if the Cats consistently have eight Canadians playing all the time since they only need seven. With eight Laurent or Bulcke can't be rotated out with no issue.

Calgary plays with four Canadian offensive linemen, along with Parker as a starting Canadian slotback. Cote is the fullback so with him in that's six Canadian starters on offense. I assume when Cote goes out Sinopoli comes in to maintain the ratio.

On defence, Calgary starts one Canadian, Turner, as a defensive tackle. So that's one Canadian starter on defence versus the Ticats four. The Ticats four on defence is really unusual in the CFL.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fate of Ticats Labour Day Classic Won't Be Known Until August 28th

The Spec has a new article about the stadium with comments from city public works general manager Gerry Davis that the fate of hosting the Labour Day game won't be known until August 28th.

With Mac not able to host, that is definitely problematic for the Ticats. The uncertainty is also in itself a problem as the team isn't able to market itself properly. No doubt not having three home games plus the exhibition game at Tim Horton's Field has impacted merchandise sales severely. The Labour Day game likely has merchandise sales far surpassing any other regular season game.

What's more disturbing is what Ancaster councillor Lloyd Fergusion thinks: "Councillor Lloyd Ferguson told the CBC he thinks it's a "stretch" for the facility to be ready in time for the game."

Ferguson has considerable experience in the construction industry and pointed out well beforehand that the stadium wouldn't be ready when everyone connected to the stadium was saying that the stadium would be done.

Here's one possibility for the stadium to be partially ready for Labour Day: concentrate only on one side of the stadium for the Labour Day game and only have it open. Hopefully that would be the side where I have season tickets.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week 8

A Tuesday game? That means I have to do this early. Damn Argos and their crappy stadium.

Winnipeg at Toronto
Strangely the Argos are favoured in this one, although not by much. Certainly the bye week helps Toronto. I just can't see the Bombers losing this one.
Bombers 33 Argonauts 24

Edmonton at Ottawa
The REDBLACKS have played enough games that we kind of know what they're going to be this season. And that's not very good. The Esks are surprisingly good this year. So sorry Ottawa.
Eskimos 41 REDBLACKS 27

Calgary at Hamilton
I'm basically expecting the Cats to lose another close one at tiny Ron Joyce Field at McMaster. The Cats are a pretty good team for 1 and 5, but they just seem snakebitten this year.
Stampeders 30 Ticats 26

Montreal at Saskatchewan
Why am I even putting some thought into this. Riders at home. The only curious thing will be to see if switching up quarterbacks helps the Als somewhat from ultracrap to just crap.

BC at Toronto
My brain says Toronto will lose because of the two games in one week. But you have to make a wacky pick every so often so Toronto at home. Kevin Glenn isn't omnipotent.
Argos 28 Lions 27

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 7

1. Calgary Stampeders
Stomped the REDBLACKS. Which isn't much of an accomplishment. But still the Stampeder juggernaut rolls on, even without running back Jon Cornish.

2. Edmonton Eskimos
Beat the Alouettes some what handily but not a complete beating. The Eskimos are just a lot better than last year.

3. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Beat the Bombers in Bomberland. The Riders have looked a bit wonky at times, but have seemed to have righted the ship and get back in the first for first place in the West.

4. BC Lions
A tough victory at home, the Lions came back from a small half-time deficit. Allowed a lot of yards to Doug LeFevour, but Kevin Glenn was even better passing for over 400 yards. It will be interesting when Travis Lulay comes back. Expect Glenn to get benched and have an even bigger chip on his shoulder.

5. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
It has to be painful for the Bombers to lose at home to their hated banjo playing Prairie rivals. Drew Willy couldn't get it done after getting it done late the week before. Perhaps the Bombers are starting to regress towards the team they were last year. Too bad they weren't still in the East.

6. Toronto Argonauts
Didn't play which makes them look better. I'm assuming that Chad Owens and Andre Durie are getting healthier. Still have Ricky Ray which is something.

7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Ticats are now that team in the CFL that loses lots of close games. The Ticats had this one, but couldn't get it done late. Still LeFevour is looking good and if the Ticats could put together a good game they could be scary. Expect Kent Austin to have an aneurysm by the end of the year.

They aren't very good. But better than Montreal.

9. Montreal Alouettes
Smelly. At least they seem to have realized that Troy Smith isn't the answer. Like Fred Brooks advice in the Mythical Man Month that throwing more programmers at a bad software project won't help things, I say that throwing more coaches at a bad team doesn't help either.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 CFL Television Ratings Week 6

Chris Zelkowich has the Canadian weekend sports television ratings over at his Yahoo blog. Unusually this summer the Jays games held down the first, second and fourth spots, with the CFL games in the third, fifth and sixth spots:

1. MLB, Blue Jays at Astros, Friday, Sportsnet: 832,000
3. CFL, Lions at Stampeders, Friday, TSN: 656,000
5. CFL, Roughriders at RedBlacks, Saturday, TSN: 516,000
6. CFL, Argonauts at Alouettes, Friday, TSN: 514,000

Low ratings for the CFL this week compared to previous weeks and significantly lower than last year's average (around 700K). Surprising that the Riders game was so low. The East totally sucking this year can't help

Thursday, August 7, 2014

2014 CFL Predictions Week 7

Saskatchewan at Winnipeg
I'm going to go with Winnipeg at home. I'm assuming they'll be plenty of more motivated against the hated Riders. The Riders seem a bit hot and cold this season.
Bombers 35 Riders 29

Edmonton at Montreal
Uh, Edmonton.

Hamilton at BC
The Tiger-Cats can win this game, but it is in BC which is usually difficult for EST teams. I expect the Cats to lose a close one and Kent Austin to blow a gasket.

Ottawa at Calgary
Uh, Calgary. 

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 6

1. Calgary Stampeders
Sure they lost a close one to BC. And at home. I still have faith in them. Although clearly they would be better if Cornish was healthy.

2. Edmonton Eskimos
Didn't play last week, so they couldn't show me something that would make me like them less.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers look like they are for real this year. Won an interesting game in Hamilton as they looked great in the first half, kind of sucked in the second and then looked great at the end as they drove the length of the field (or at least it seemed so).

4. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
The Riders would appear to be back after wiping the Redblacks at home. Not a great test, but it is something.

5. BC Lions
Another week where all five Western teams are better than the Eastern teams. Considering they beat Calgary at home in a close one, they certainly could have ranked higher, but they've had some weak games this year. Getting Andrew Harris involved seems key.

6. Toronto Argonauts
Blasted Montreal. That's something. Did it without Durie and Owens too.

7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Sure they lost at home, but it was close, against a good team, and came back from a big deficit. LeFevour was crap in the first half, but recovered in the second. Hamilton can win games if they play all four quarters, but that seems unlikely.

8. Ottawa Redblacks
Sucked mostly against Saskatchewan. Their offense isn't bad though. They need a better defence, especially in the first half and to avoid turnovers. Which isn't likely to happen.

9. Montreal Alouettes
Introduced a lot of coaches. That's never a good sign. The Als weren't a terrible team last year and in fact had a very good defence. Not this year.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

City Announces August Ticat Game Moved to McMaster

The city announced Friday that, in a surprise to no one, Tim Horton's Field can't host the August 16th game and the game instead will be played at Mac. The city claims it will be ready for the Labour Day game versus the Argos, which is good, because this Spec article says Mac isn't available.

Obviously the ticket revenue issue hurts, but is to a large part mitigated by the million the Ticats are supposed to get per game (in fact if they received $9 million per game for nine games, that's probably more than the ticket revenue).

However where the Cats lose is obviously all the other game income and momentum. So not only are the Cats likely getting crushed by missed merchandise sales at the games, they're liking selling less overall. Beer and concession income will be missed too, plus in game advertising revenue will be sharply reduced.

Luckily while the Cats have been terrible, so have the other three teams in the East, especially Montreal.