Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2015 CFL Picks Week 6

BC at Winnipeg
Surprisingly, Drew Willy is supposed to be starting at quarterback after getting sandwiched last week against Edmonton. The Bombers have been good with Willy and poor with his backup Brohm. BC has been somewhat meh this year, despite Travis Lulay playing and not being injured. Since it seems both quarterbacks could be suddenly injured at any time, I'll pick the home team.
Bombers 24 Lions 20

Saskatchewan at Edmonton
The Riders are now 0 and 5, Kevin Glenn was just placed on the six game injured list and the team is down to whoever their third string quarterback is. Edmonton on the other hand is starting their former second stringer Nichols even though their third stringer Franklin looked good last week. The Riders are on the road and have found any way possible to lose. I expect it to contain with much bitching in the province.
Eskimos 30 Roughriders 17

Montreal at Calgary
The Stampeders are still a good team, although their offensive line isn't as good as last year and Jon Cornish is injured. The Alouettes seem to have found a keeper in quarterback Rakeem Cato, himself essentially the fifth stringer in camp. Still the Stamps are at home, where they are 3 and 0 while the Alouettes are 0 and 1 on the road.
Stampeders 26 Alouettes 17

Toronto at Hamilton
Arguably the premier game in week 6. The Argos have fashioned a 3 and 1 record with backup quarterback Trevor Harris. Hamilton is 2 and 2 after four games on the road. Importantly the Ticats are home at Tim Horton's Field where they were undefeated in 2015. Plus the Ticats are starting to get healthier, including CJ Gable who last week against the Riders resurrected the Tiger-Cat running game with over 100 yards. Expect a hard fought game, but Gable and Ticat kicker Justin Medlock to make the difference.
Tiger-Cats 27 Argonauts 25

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 CFL Week 5 Power Rankings

1. Toronto Argonauts
I really didn't expect Toronto to be here at this point before the season started, but here they are. One can make a pretty strong argument that Trevor Harris is a better quarterback at this point in time than Ricky Ray even when healthy. The Argos have won a lot of games on the road (including their pseudo home opener in Fort Mac). That's impressive in a league with a big home field advantage.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Cats bounced back with a big road win over Saskatchewan. Sure the Riders are in last place, but they have been in most games. The Cats are 2 and 2 on the road, which as I mentioned previously in a league with as big a home field advantage is impressive. The Cats actually discovered a running game with the return of CJ Gable who is a big upgrade on Holley at running back. Eric Norwood returned at defensive end and the return of receiver Luke Tasker is imminent.

3. Calgary Stampeders
Calgary lost on the road to the REDBLACKS. Jon Cornish got injured and Bo Levi Mitchell didn't look that great without him. Between injuries and losses to the NFL, the Calgary line isn't that great. The Stamps are still a good team, but not nearly as good as last year's team.

4. Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos demolished the Bombers, but was probably most promising was that the Eskimos did most of the demolishing in the second half with James Franklin as quarterback instead of Matt Nichols. With Mike Reilly still out, Franklin emerging really helps Edmonton out.

5. Montreal Alouettes
Montreal didn't play, so at least they didn't pick up any more injuries. The Alouettes are lucky Rakeem Cato emerged out of the fifth string role at quarterback to become a successful starter. Cato looks better than Crompton has, so maybe even when Crompton returns, Cato will keep the starting job.

So maybe the REDBLACKS are for real after winning a close one against Calgary and coming on in the second half at home. Receiver Chris Williams got a ton of yards, and the receiving corps mostly did well, although there were a lot of drops in the first half. Looks like Henry Burris can still get it done at 40 in some games.

7. BC Lions
The Lions lost a close one at home to the Argos. The Lions are a decent team and Travis Lulay at least isn't hurt, but he hasn't been dominant either.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Quarterback Drew Willy keeps getting injured in games and then the Bombers fall apart. It happened again last game, which makes one wonder about the quality of the Bombers offensive line. The backup is one time wunderkind Brian Brohm, who is no longer particularly young and not particularly wonderous.

9. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
The Riders are 0 and 5. Sure you can argue they've lost some heartbreakers, but at some point, they have to win a game.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 CFL Week 5 Picks

Calgary at Ottawa
A couple of weeks ago, I would have gave Ottawa more of a chance, but after two losses in a row, I'm not quite so confident in Ottawa's chances. The Stamps have a lot of injuries, but have managed to win games. This is on the road though. I'm going to do something odd and take the REDBLACKS.
REDBLACKS 24 Stampeders 20

Toronto at BC
Yet another Toronto road game. Is Trevor Harris better than Travis Lulay? I'm not sure, although I think that Lulay has a lot bigger chance for his shoulder to spontaneously explode midway through the game. Again I'm going to take the home team. In the CFL that's often a safe choice.
Lions 30 Argonauts 26

Winnipeg at Edmonton
Is Edmonton crap without Mike Reilly at quarterback? They beat Ottawa in a home and home, but I'm not sure how much that says. Winnipeg, apart from one game has been solid this year and quarterback Drew Willy is having a decent year. I'm going to deviate from home teams and pick the team that still has their opening day starter.
Bomber 19 Eskimost 15

Hamilton at Saskatchewan
The Riders keep finding ways to lose with backup quarterback Kevin Glenn. Hamilton, despite some good play is only 1 and 2 after three road games. The Cats are getting back Eric Norwood on the defensive line and perhaps even injury prone running back CJ Gable. The Riders are a team in disarray. Expect the Tiger-Cats to blitz like mad men.
Tiger-Cats 34 Roughriders 27

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ticat Defensive End Eric Norwood Tweets That He's Back At Practice

Just saw that injured Ticat defensive end Eric Norwood just tweeted "Great 1st day of practice...#BackLikeINeverLeft", which is certainly good news for Hamilton. Norwood was injured in a home knife accident which is pretty strange.

Norwood led the Cats with 13 sacks last year, even though he didn't play in every regular season game. Hopefully Norwood partnered with Justin Hickman on the other defensive end spot will lead to an even stronger pass rush with Ted Laurent and Bryan Henry in the middle this Sunday in Regina against the Green Riders.

2014 CFL Power Rankings Week 4

1. Calgary Stampeders
The Stampeders aren't as dominant as last year's Grey Cup winning squad, but they are winning (edging Winnipeg last week),  despite their offensive line getting decimated. Obviously they still have Bo Levi Mitchell, even if he isn't putting up particularly great stats. Fortunately for the Stampeders, many of the rest of the league's starting quarterbacks have been injured, so Mitchell is even better relatively.

2. Toronto Argonauts
Sure it is a bye week, but the Argonauts have played pretty well this year, considering all their games have been on the road (including their opener in Fort McMurray which was an away game for all intents and purposes). Frankly if I was the Argos brass, I would hope that Ricky Ray stays injured until Trevor Harris stops playing well. Harris is a way smaller cap hit than Ray (who since is on the six game injured list, his salary doesn't count against the cap while he's on it) to boot.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Sure they got blown out in one game and they lost by a point to Calgary last week, but the Bombers aren't a terrible team with Drew Willy as their quarterback.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Sure they lost to Montreal, but it was on the road and the Cats have started their season on the road. They won't always be on the road and with injured players on the mend, the Cats are still a formidable team.

5. BC Lions
So apparently Travis Lulay's career isn't over. Yet. While he's still healthy, the Lions are a decent team (although I'm not sure beating the Riders is particularly impressive). I'm just now sure when Lulay's shoulder will suddenly explode.

6. Montreal Alouettes
Rakeem Cato has surprised as the succesful third string quarterback for the Alouettes. Montreal the past few years has had a decent defense, but even without Crompton and LeFevour and Duron Carter, the Montreal offense is OK. Truth be told, Cato may be an upgrade on Crompton. Geezer receivers Fred Stamps and Nik Lewis have turned out to be playing well so far, although they may run out of steam by the end of the season.

7. Edmonton Eskimos
They don't have Mike Reilly at quarterback for a while, but Matt Nichols has been decent backing up. Their last two wins have been against the REDBLACKS, which isn't saying a lot.

Ottawa just lost a home and home to Edmonton after winning the first two games. Looks like they are regressing to last year's team. Still they are 500 right now, which is more than you can say for the next team. Should Ottawa stick with Henry Burris or try to move on from the 40 year old?

9. Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Riders keep finding ways to lose. Even with a credible backup in Kevin Glenn, they are still losing. I'm not really sure what to say. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Montreal Alouettes Depth Chart, Thursday July 16th, 2015

Still no Luke Tasker, CJ Gable or Eric Norwood back this week. No Courtney Stephen or Johnny Sears Jr. either.

The offensive line has changed up a bit with import Figueroa in at right tackle, with import Olson as the other tackle. Dyakowski and Bomben are the guards with Filer as the centre, all Canadians. So three Canadians on the oline.

Collaros is obviously the quarterback with Matthews as the backup. Imports Tolliver and Underwood are the starting receivers. Imports Sinkfield and Grant are the slotbacks with non-import Fantuz as the other slot. Non-import Prime is the fullback. I'm assuming that Fantuz is the only true Canadian starter besides the offensive linemen, so that's four Canadian starters on offense.

Medlock is the kicker and the bearded one, O'Neill is the punter. Banks is the kickoff and punt returner.

Defensive ends are imports Tracy and Hickman, with import Henry as a tackle and non-import Laurent as the other defensive tackle.

Linebackers are all imports, are Lawrence, Reed and Harris.

The corners are Gainey and non-import Daly, which strikes me as a little weird. Imports Stewart and Davis are the defensive half-backs, with Butler as the non-import safety. So that's three Canadian defensive starters.

2015 CFL Week 4 Picks

Hamilton at Montreal
The Tiger-Cats have a week of rest, and hopefully some players back from injury. The Cats looked great last game away in Winnipeg with all three phases of the game working, offense, defence and special teams. Expect the Ticat defence to blitz and then blitz some more on Cato.
Tiger-Cats 29 Alouettes 26

Edmonton at Ottawa
Obviously the Eskimos crushed Ottawa last week with Matt Nichols as quarterback. Is Ottawa reverting to last year's team? I don't think so. Their receivers are certainly better. Plus they are at home this week and have had a look at Nichols. Expect more Ottawa pressure.
REDBLACKS 24 Eskimos 20

BC at Saskatchewan
The Riders haven't been terrible under Kevin Glenn but have found ways to lose. BC has been OK, losing to Ottawa in their opener and then beating the Riders at home last week. I think that the Riders will be better at home.
Roughriders 23 Lions 21

Winnipeg at Calgary
Winnipeg has been decent two out of three games and actually has Willy at quarterback. Calgary also has been good two of their three games. Most important here is that Calgary is at home, plus Cornish looked good last week.
Stampeders 29 Blue Bombers 23

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 CFL Power Rankings Week 3

1. Hamilton
Didn't play, but didn't get any injuries either. Likely Eric Norwood and Luke Tasker will be back soon which will make the team even stronger. Has their starting quarterback.

2. Calgary
Bounced back with a home win against Toronto, proving that their Montreal game was likely an anomaly. Also has their starting quarterback, plus Jon Cornish is looking more like Jon Cornish.

3. Toronto
Almost beat Calgary on the road and Trevor Harris makes you wonder if the Argos want Ricky Ray to come back as quarterback.

4. Winnipeg
Beat Montreal at home after getting pummeled by Hamilton the week before with Willy at the controls.

5. BC
Evened their record at 1 and 1 with a win against the Riders. Still not exactly sure who this team is, but they aren't truly terrible.

6. Ottawa
Didn't look very good against Edmonton in an away loss. Is Ottawa regressing back to last year's team?

7. Montreal
Lost to Winnipeg, but not that badly with new wunderkid quarterback Raheem Cato. Is Cato better than Crompton at this point?

8. Edmonton
Beat Ottawa soundly at home with Nichols at quarterback. There's some hope now at least.

9. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Finding ways to lose at the end is never good for your power rankings. No one wants to be the team that leads in low point losses.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hamilton Tiger-Cat Stat Leaders for 2015 Through Two Games

Zach Collaros has had a good start to the year, with 635 yards pass through two games, with a 74.6% completion percentage. He has two TD passes and an interception.

Three Ticats are bunched up with similar receiving yard numbers. Fantuz leads with 156 yards on 17 catches. Sinkfield is somewhat surprisingly second with 8 catches for 154 yards. Bakari Grant has 8 catches for 145 yards.

The Ticats rushing leader Holley only has 40 yards on 14 carries.

Gainey leads the Ticats with 15 tackles, Reed is second with 8.

Sears Junior has two interceptions.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

2015 Week 3 CFL Picks

Ottawa at Edmonton
If you asked me at the beginning of the season who would be favoured in this game, it wouldn't be Ottawa (although I might have thought Mike Reilly was injured). If this was in Ottawa I would give it to the REDBLACKS for sure, but it is in Edmonton. Still I don't think a lot of Matt Nichols at quarterback without more starts and Henry Burris has a lot of weapons at receiver. So REDBLACKS it is bizarre as it may seem.
REDBLACKS 27 Eskimos 22

Montreal at Winnipeg
Willy will play at quarterback for the Bombers this week, which is a little surprising after getting sandwiched by Hamilton's defenders last week, but there you go. Obviously Rakeem Cato kicked ass as quarterback for the Alouettes last week. Do the Bombers have a good enough defence to get him off his game? I'm not actually sure. The Bomber defence didn't look particularly good against Hamilton last week. Still I think Willy has more experience that Cato and they are at home. So the Bombers it is.
Bombers 26 Alouettes 22

Saskatchewan at BC
BC has only played one game and managed to lose it to Ottawa. So I can't think they are that great a team. The Riders almost won last week, then lost to the Argos at home because they couldn't stop Trevor Harris. The Riders now have Kevin Glenn as their starter for the season now. I'm inclined to pick the Riders, just because BC hasn't shown much and I'm wondering if their new coach is going to be a bust.
Roughriders 22 Lions 19

Toronto at Calgary
Sure Trevor Harris has looked great at quarterback for Toronto in place of the injured Ricky Ray and Calgary shat the bed in Montreal last week. However I have to think that the Stamps will play better at home and up to their standards. Plus Harris will probably come back to Earth.
Stampeders 29 Argonauts 27

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Through Two Weeks of the 2015 Season, CFL Teams Are 79.2% On Extra Points

With the rule changes to extra points and two point converts for the CFL in 2015, it no surprise that extra point kicking percentages are down from near perfect last year through the first two weeks of the season. CFL teams were good on 19 of 24 attempts for extra points which is now equivalent to a 32 yard field goal.

Hamilton's Justin Medlock is perfect in seven attempts, while Winnipeg's Hajrallahu has missed both his attempts. It is certainly possible that the accuracy will rise as the season goes on, although bad weather is more likely later in the year. No indoor games have been played yet either.

Considering that for a two point convert, the ball is scrimmaged on the three, being successful half the time would yield considerably more points on average throughout the season.

2015 CFL Power Rankings Week 2

A pretty confusing week of games in terms of power rankings.

1. Hamilton
After demolishing Winnipeg and almost beating Calgary, despite having a number of injuries, Hamilton has to be considered the top team right now. Having Collaros and an excellent receiving corps, plus an incredibly aggressive defence is a good combination, especially in a league missing a lot of starting quarterbacks. Hamilton is lucky they have a bye week this week and could get back some of their injured players.

2. Calgary
I'm not about to write off Calgary despite an ugly road loss in Montreal. Bo Levi Mitchell is going to have a bad game occasionally, although perhaps Calgary's offensive line isn't as decent as last year (after losing centre Brett Jones to the NFL). They still have Jon Cornish although he hasn't done a lot in the first two games. Calgary should bounce back.

3. Toronto
You can't really argue with two wins, although both teams they faced didn't have their starters the entire time. Trevor Harris has emerged as a surprisingly good quarterback and Chad Owens is in good form. What the Argos do against better teams is a question, although who the better teams in the league are, is is also a question.

4. Winnipeg
The good news is that apparently quarterback Drew Willy is coming back this week to play, otherwise the Bombers would be farther down the list. With Willy they are a decent team, without him as shown last week against Hamilton, they aren't that great. The Winnipeg defence wasn't great against Hamilton, which is a negative.

5. Ottawa
The REDBLACKS have managed to win their first two games. I'm still not certain that it is for real, hence sticking them in the middle. They are certainly playing better than they did in the pre-season. With all the quarterback injuries, Henry Burris actually isn't looking too bad.

6. Montreal
Montreal loses their first two quarterbacks and then settles on Rakeem Cato to start at quarterback and he has a great game against Calgary. The Alouettes have a good defence. Whether Cato can continue to be successful is a good question.

7. Saskatchewan
The Riders aren't as bad as last season when they lost Darian Durant as their starting quarterback, having Kevin Glenn, but they haven't won a game either. The Riders don't appear to be among the elite teams in the CFL this year.

They have only played one game this year and they lost to Ottawa with Lulay, which isn't a good sign.

9. Edmonton
The Eskimos are a good team with Mike Reilly at quarterback, who unfortunately is now gone for some time. They haven't been as good a team with Nicholls as pivot. Hopefully Reilly comes back soon.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Justin Medlock Has Made All His Extra Point Attempts Through Two Games

The biggest rule change in 2015 in the CFL was the moving back the ball to the 25 yard line for extra point attempts, which is a 32 yard field goal attempt. The Cats kicker Justin Medlock is one of the better kickers in the league, especially at longer distances. Having a better kicker means the rule change is a good one for the Cats in 2015.

Medlock has made seven of seven attempts at extra points through two games, including five alone last Friday in Winnipeg. After two games, the Cats look to have the best offense in the CFL, which normally would mean the Cats should consider going for two from the three yard line, especially if they can succeed more than 50% of the time. However with Medlock's success, the Cats probably aren't going to go for two unless they really need it at the end.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Thoughts on the Ticats Blowout of the Blue Bombers, 52 to 26, in Week 2

There was a brief period when I thought that Winnipeg might win the game against Hamilton, but then Drew Willy was injured (yet another CFL quarterback down in five regular season games) and Brandon Banks scored a TD on a punt return and the rout was one.

Zach Collaros had a pretty good game, going 26 for 33 for 354 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions. The Ticats run production was again weak, with Holley have six carries for just 16 yards, but with the passing offense working, it didn't need to be.

Bakari Grant ended up having the best performance with five catches for 117 yards, although he did have a fumble in the first half. Sinkfield also had a good game with 3 catches for 78 yards and Fantuz seems to be doing especially well this year with 8 catches for 73 yards.

Medlock kicked three field goals and five extra points, while Hajrullahu missed both his extra points.

Defensively the Ticats were pretty dominant and even had three interceptions.

I was a little concerned that the Ticats wouldn't perform well after a heart breaking loss to Calgary, however the team bounced back which is important considering the fact the team started with a number of road games. It is interesting the Cats are doing well despite all their injuries. Luke Tasker would seem to be the biggest problem, although the team seems well stocked with import receivers. Holley is probably worse than Gable or Grigsby, but given how pass oriented the Ticats are, the difference in player quality isn't that much.

With Willy gone, at least for a couple of weeks, the Bombers are a bit screwed, although considering the number of other starters out in the CFL, things could be worse.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2015 Week One CFL Television Ratings

Chris Zelkovich has the Canadian weekend sports television ratings here. Of the three weekend games, the Bombers at the Roughriders were top at 780,000, with the Eskimos at Argos at 498,000. The Friday night Ticats at Stampeders game was lowest at 455,000 which is a bit disappointing considering how good the game was. Those are pretty low ratings, although there was a lot of competition in the first week. The Blue Jays are still in the playoff mix for once, which makes a big difference. No idea what the ESPN television ratings for the CFL are for week one, but I'll look for it.

2015 CFL Week 2 Power Rankings

1. Calgary Stampeders
Even though it was close Hamilton, Calgary still won and no one was injured. Plus with all the injured quarterbacks, Bo Levi Mitchell looks even better and they still have Jon Cornish and Charleston Hughes.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
But for a fifty yard field goal, Hamilton would have won in Calgary. Perhaps most impressive was Hamilton's defence, which forced five Calgary turnovers. Johnie Sears Junior looked especially good.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Drew Willy doesn't suck apparently after having an awesome game against the Riders. Although the Bombers kicked ass early last year and look how that turned out for them.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Didn't expect them to beat Edmonton in Fort McMoney and was a little surprised by Trevor Harris' performance (although not totally). Chad Owens did well, which is important. Do the Argos even want Ricky Ray back now?

5. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Well Durant is already out for the entire year with a blown Achilles, but at least the Riders had the sense to sign Kevin Glenn as a backup so they're not totally in the toilet like 2014.

6. BC Lions
Haven't played yet, so a bit of a cypher. Assuming that Travis Lulay isn't injured yet, although considering the way CFL quarterbacks are dropping, my guess is his shoulder pops out as he steps onto the field.

Well the REDBLACKs won, their first road victory ever. However it was against Montreal who got to find out how their third string Canadian quarterback was going to play. So I'm not convinced yet of Ottawa's prowess, but with all the backups in, an old Henry Burris isn't so bad.

8. Edmonton Eskimos
Well quarterback Mike Reilly is gone for 10-12 weeks already. So the Matt Nichols era begins. At least a lot of other quarterbacks are injured so that's something.

9. Montreal Alouettes
Lost back Dan LeFevour for the season and also Jonathon Crompton to the six game list, the Alouettes are down to their third string quarterback Canadian Brandon Bridge. That's not good, although I suppose it is for fans looking for a Canadian quarterback to start. Michael Bishop time?

2015 CFL Predicitons Week 2

Hamilton at Winnipeg
This a little tougher than I thought it would be a week ago, because Drew Willy had a great game against Saskatchewan. Zach Collaros also had a good game against Calgary, but was more impressive was that the Hamilton had a great game against Calgary with five turnovers. I think that Hamilton has a better game in week two and get pressure on Willy.
Tiger-Cats 27 Blue Bombers 23

Calgary at Montreal
Considering that Montreal lost both their starting and backup quarterbacks in week one and could be potentially starting a Canadian quarterback and Calgary won against a tough Hamilton team in week one, I don't think Montreal is winning. The Alouettes are at home, but Charleston Hughes is too opportunistic at defensive end for whoever ends ups at quarterback, plus Calgary's offense is excellent as well.
Stampeders 29 Alouettes 14

British Columbia at Ottawa
BC hasn't played yet so I'm assuming that Travis Lulay will start and isn't injured yet. Ottawa won their last game on the road, however that was against Montreal who blew through two quarterbacks.
I'm going to go with BC here, although they are on the road, mainly because I still somewhat believe in Wally Buono.
Lions 29 REDBLACKs 27

Toronto at Saskatchewan
The Riders also lost their starting quarterback in Durant for the season with a blown Achilles. At least this year they have Kevin Glenn as a backup. Toronto managed to win their home opener on the road in Fort Mac against Edmonton with Trevor Harris at quarterback rather than Ricky Ray. That's impressive and better than how I thought the Argos would do this year without Ray. Can Harris beat Glenn on the road in Saskatchewan? If it was at home I would take Toronto, but I think the Rider fans make the difference.
Riders 24 Argos 20