Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thoughts on Montreal's Win Over the Ticats

I only caught slightly over half of the game at the stadium due to arriving at Pearson at 6:30 pm, although I did hear most of the rest on CKOC 1150's broadcast. Not a big fan of that broadcast although I do like Coach Sal. Obviously the home winning streak ended, which is sad, but not the end of the world.

I think compared to the Ticats's five game win streak prior to this game, the Cats didn't get out to a big lead early. That made things more difficult; teams that get way behind, even it was just bad luck don't play that well. The Cats were constantly in catch up mode themselves, but to be fair they never let the game really get away from them and only lost by three points.

Should the Cats go with Grigsby over Holley as their main running back? Holley hasn't done much (although the Cats don't run a lot) and but he is a better blocker in pass protection to warrant starting over Grigsby.

The Cats missed Andy Fantuz in this one. Due to the ratio, Coates takes his spot, and apologies to Coates, he isn't Fantuz. He didn't catch a pass and I only saw one pass thrown in his direction (although that resulted in a Montreal penalty). Montreal was blitzing a lot and had six sacks; Fantuz likely would have made a better quick target for Collaros to get rid of the ball quickly and avoid the rush. The Cats themselves didn't get a lot of pressure this game with only one sack, although they managed to knock Cato out of the game. Underwood had a good game with three catches for 93 yards.

Sears Jr. led the Ticats with 7 tackles, which I'm not sure is necessarily a good thing but I'm glad he's healthy again.

Strangely after the Cats knocked out Cato, Tanner Marsh seemed to play better than Cato did. That's unusual for a backup and I never thought Marsh was that great when he was playing before the ascension of Jonathon Crompton to the Montreal starting quarterback position.

In terms of victory, to me there were a few second and longs the Cats had Montreal in where if they could have prevented Montreal from getting the first down, things could have been very different (especially the final FG drive of Montreal where the Cats had the Alouettes relatively deep in their own end).

On to the Argos next week on Labour Day in the annual classic. Toronto lost the Edmonton yesterday on the road so the Cats are tied at 6 and 3 with Toronto. A win on Labour Day would have the Cats winning the season series tie-breaker and winning the vaunted Harold Ballard Cup.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

2015 CFL Predictions Week 10

Montreal at Hamilton
The Cats are hot, are at home where they are even hotter and the Alouettes have just fired their head coach Tom Higgins and replaced him with GM Jim Popp. The Alouettes actually played tough against Hamilton the last time they met at McGill coming away with a victory. The Cats are a better team now, especially their defence. Certainly anything can happen, but given Montreal's chaos and relatively lacklustre play of late, I can't see the Ticats losing.
Tiger-Cast 35 Montreal 22

Toronto at Edmonton
The Eskimos were humiliated at home last week by Hamilton, while the Argos won yet again. Edmonton's supposedly good defence didn't do too much against Hamilton, although to be fair the offense was continuously turning over the ball. The Argos have a surprisingly good offense with backup quarterback Trevor Harris and a mostly anonymous receiving crew. Argo head coach Scott Milanovich is likely a big reason the Toronto offense is so good. The Eskimos are starring Franklin over Nichols at quarterback, which might help, or it might not. The Eskimos are at though home, which still counts for something in the CFL.
Eskimos 26 Argonauts 24

Calgary at Winnipeg
Given the Bombers' struggles with quarterback Drew Willy injured, I can't see Winnipeg winning this one, even though they are at home. Marve might eventually become a good quarterback for the Bombers, but the Stampeders Bo Levi Mitchell is already there. I'm also not sure how much protection Marve will get.
Stampeders 29 Blue Bombers 19

Saskatchewan at Ottawa
The Roughriders have lost every game and managed to lose a whole lot of close games. The REDBLACKS have looked decent and then absolutely crappy. Ottawa is at home though and the Riders are not a great team. I think Burris manages to use his receivers well at home and the team takes fewer penalties than the previous week. Rider sucking continues, going into the Labour Day classic with the Bombers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015 CFL Power Rankings Week 9

1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Another week, another spanking of a team by the Ticats. This time it was supposed to be a defensive battle with the Eskimos, but it didn't turn out that way with the Cats hanging 49 points on Edmonton through capitalizing on turnovers. This was also an away game. Despite the Cats still having several important injuries, the Ticat offense kept rolling with whichever receivers were available. In the land of the blind that is the CFL, the Cats still have Zach Collaros.

2. Calgary
A close road win in Saskatchewan. Bo Levi Mitchell is obviously way better than the current average starting CFL quarterback. Not a bad defence.

3. Toronto
They just keep winning with Trevor Harris at quarterback. Credit has to go to head coach Scott Milanovich.

4. Edmonton
So they got spanked by Hamilton at home. They still have a good defence, especially against the wankerly offenses of the CFL. Still no Mike Reilly at quarterback, but at least they decided to start Franklin.

Could have beat the Argos on the road if they hadn't got so many penalties. I fully expect the REDBLACKS to continue to get a lot of penalties.

6. Montreal Alouettes
Won on the road, fired their coach, installed Popp as coach. I can't really see this ending well, but stranger things have happened in the CFL.

7. BC Lions
Losing to Montreal at home. Ouch. If somebody had told me Lulay had managed to play this long without his shoulder disintegrating I would have thought they would have had a better record. Not having reigning CFL MOP Eliminiam hurts.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Bye week for Winnipeg, but still no Willy.

9. Saskatchewan Roughriders
They just keep finding ways to lose. Sure it was close, but the Riders manage to play just badly enough to lose every game. That's weird.

Friday, August 21, 2015

2015 CFL Predictions Week 9

Missed the first game this week. Damn.

Hamilton at Edmonton
The Cats have looked great lately despite injuries to CJ Gable, Bakari Grant and Andy Fantuz among others. However the Ticat defence has been fantastic. Edmonton's defence is also great; their offense without Mike Reilly hasn't been so great and now they are missing their start receiver Adarius Bowman. Normally I would go with the home team here, but Hamilton has been looking so strong lately and has an advantage at quarterback, it is hard to go against them.
Tiger-Cats 28 Eskimos 22

Calgary at Saskatchewan
The Riders aren't a 0-7 team so they have to win eventually. Most likely it will be at home. I just don't think it will be against Calgary this week.
Stampeders 33 Riders 22

Ottawa at Toronto
Toronto just keeps winning with Trevor Harris as their quarterback in the absence of Ricky Ray. I'm not sure the Argos get much of a bounce from Dead Ted's Dome (aka the Rogers Centre), but Ottawa didn't look good last week. Toronto for sure.
Argonauts 29 REDBLACKS 23

2015 CFL Power Rankings Week 8

I wrote this earlier in the week but didn't post it before the Thursday game.

1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
It would be hard to argue against Hamilton as the top ranked team. They have won four in a row, are unbeaten at home and absolutely destroyed BC last week,
offensively, defensively and with special teams. That's despite injuries to Andy Fantuz, CJ Gable, Bakari Grant ad that safety. The Cats are deep in both import and non-import talent and their defensive front seven is second to none in the league. Another Brandon Banks punt return TD, plus a passing TD for him, is an endorsement for special teams coach Jeff Reinebold.

2. Calgary Stampeders
The Stamps demolished Ottawa at home, showing that apart from Hamilton, they are a cut above the other CFL teams. In a league rife with backup quarterbacks forced into starting, Bo Levi Mitchell is considerably better than the average quarterback. Even with an injury to start Canadian running back Jon Cornish, the Stamps offense is still formidable.

3. Edmonton Eskimos
Considering that the Eskimos have been missing starting quarterback Mike Reilly for weeks, the Eskimo defense has kept the team winning, even with some mediocre quarterbacking from backup Matt Nichols? Eventually Reilly will be back and the team will be even better. Adarius Bowman
being out hurts.

4. Toronto
Toronto keeps winning with Trevor Harris and basically some no names. I'm not sure how long it can last, but they are a decent team with Harris.

Spanked by Calgary and their own incompetence last week, Ottawa is having trouble while receiver Chris Williams is injured, even though they have a lot of other receiving options.

6. Montreal Alouettes
Rakeem Cato isn't looking as good as his initial games. At least the Michael Sam distraction is over.

7. BC Lions
They were dominated by Hamilton last week, even with Lulay and Harris. Now their best linebacker Eliminiam is out. Not good.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
With Drew Willy out, the Bombers finally tried out Robert Marve at quarterback against the Argos at home. He didn't look bad, so at least there is some hope in Bomber land for making the playoffs until Willy returns. Not a lot of hope, but the West isn't that great this year.

9. Saskatchewan Roughriders
They're 0-7 and Durant and Glenn are hurt. Maybe next year Saskatchewan.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Should the Tiger-Cats Start Anthony Woodson Over Ray Holley?

With Andy Fantuz and CJ Gable injured and out for some time, the Cats have to find a way of replacing them and being mindful of the ratio. Last game the Cats used import Ray Holley at running back for Gable and non-import Matt Coates at receiver for Andy Fantuz, keeping their import non-import ratio the same for these two positions.

Holley hasn't really done much when he's played at running back, gaining 112 yards on 28 attempts for a 4.0 yard per carry average. Admittedly the Cats mostly passed when Holley was playing. Woodson has gained 61 yards so far in 2015 on 11 carries for a 5.5 yard average, a lot of that after Gable was injured early in a game. If the Cats aren't going to run much if Gable isn't in, I don't see why the Cats don't start Woodson at running back over Holley. Holley doesn't seem that much better than Woodson and Woodson is a non-import. If the Cats start Woodson, they could start another import receiver over Matt Coates who hasn't caught a pass yet in 2015 and balance the ratio. Underwood or Sinkfield could come in place of Coates.

The one issue is that the Cats would need another Canadian running back to back up Woodson and play special teams.

CFL Cameraman Winnipeg Blue Bomber at Hamilton Tiger-Cats

2015 CFL Picks Week 8

Edmonton at Montreal
The Eskimos have a great defence and the Alouettes defence isn't too shabby either. Edmonton is missing Adarius Bowman, their top receiver which obviously hurts. Edmonton has managed to be a good team despite missing Mike Reilly and going with Matt Nichols, who has been kind of meh. Rakeem Cato has been impressive for Montreal, although their record hasn't been great. I'm going to go with that old CFL standby of going with the home team.
Alouettes 26 Eskimos 25

Toronto at Winnipeg
If Bomber quarterback Drew Willy wasn't whacked while playing in Hamilton last week, I would go with Winnipeg. The Bombers are going with Robert Marve at quarterback who is quite green. The Bombers have lost other players to injury so I think the Argos with Trevor Harris have the advantage. The Argos have shown no problems winning on the road in 2015.
Argonauts 30 Blue Bombers 21

BC at Hamilton
The Tiger-Cats have CJ Gable and Andy Fantuz out with arm injuries, but they still have Zach Collaros at quarterback plus a lot of decent receivers including Luke Tasker and Bakari Grant to drive the offense. Holley at running back is a bit of downgrade to Gable, but the offense is still good. The Lions have been up and down, although non-import Andrew Harris is having a great year at running back. Hamilton's defence and special teams have also been good and the Cats are undefeated at Tim Horton's Field. I don't see that changing.
Tiger-Cats 29 Lions 23

Ottawa at Calgary
The REDBLACKS have surprised this year by being better than they were expected to be. Calgary is good, but not as good as last year's Grey Cup winning team, plus Jon Cornish is out with a thumb injury. Chris Williams is still on the one game injured list as of today, which definitely hurts Ottawa. Ottawa still has a lot of receivers, but Williams when healthy is one of the most dangerous threats in the CFL. Assuming Williams doesn't play, plus Calgary being at home means a Stamps victory.
Stampeders 33 REDBLACKS 24

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

2015 CFL Power Rankings Week 7

1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
I don't think one can argue with the Cats as the top team in the CFL. They dismantled Winnipeg and all three phases looked good, offense, defense and special teams. Collaros is looking great passing outside the pocket. The only weakness was Holley running in the absence of CJ Gable. The receivers didn't seem to miss Fantuz too much.

2. Calgary Stampeders
Didn't play this week so I assumed they got healthier. Still have Bo Levi Mitchell, but not having Jon Cornish for a while hurts their offense.

3. Edmonton Eskimos
Sure they lost to the Lions, but it was on the road and it was close. They have a great defense and a reasonable offense in the absence of Mike Reilly.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Beat Saskatchewan, but that's not really saying a lot considering they are 0 and 7. Still with Trevor Harris at quarterback and a decent receiving corps, the Argonauts are a decent team.

Still not exactly sure if the REDBLACKS are totally for real, they looked OK beating the Alouettes, although they needed a weak pass interference call at the end to win. Burris played well, which is important if Ottawa is going to go anywhere in 2015.

6. BC Lions
Lulay and more importantly Andrew Harris came through for the Lions in a victory over the Eskimos at home. How good are the Lions? Who really knows. They have good linebackers in Eliminian and Bighill which is something.

7. Montreal Alouettes
While Rakeem Cato is great after losing your first two quarterbacks to injury, he isn't the best quarterback in the CFL. One wonders if the Sam controversy has been holding Montreal back.

8. Saskatchewan Roughriders
After losing Durant and Glenn at quarterback, Brett Smith didn't do bad against the Argos on the road. The team is bad, but not 0-7 bad. They'll get a win someday.

9. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers seem to go as Drew Willy does, and he was injured against Hamilton. The Bombers looked terrible against Hamilton even in the first half with Willy still in. Now they have Brohm and Marve as their quarterbacks. Doesn't look good for the Bombers until Willy comes back.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

2015 CFL Week 7 Picks

Edmonton at BC
The Eskimos are missing their starting quarterback and the Lions have theirs. Strangely though the team without their starter has been doing way better. That's mostly because the Eskimos have an awesome defence. It is also partly because BC quarterback Travis Lulay hasn't done much lately. However I think that the Eskimos have to lose occasionally and I'll pick BC at home.
Lions 28 Eskimos 27

Montreal at Ottawa
This is a hard one. Is Rakeem Cato for real? Is Henry Burris too old? I'm not really sure, but I do know the REDBLACKS are at home and have an excellent receiving corps, including Chris Williams. That's enough for me.
REDBLACKS 27 Alouettes 22

Saskatchewan at Toronto
The Riders have been sucking all regular season and now backup quarterback turned starter Kevin Glenn is on the injured list and the Argos have Trevor Harris. The Argos didn't look good in Hamilton on Monday, but the Roughriders aren't the Ticats at home by any stretch. More tears in Regina.
Argonauts 33 Roughrider 17

Winnipeg at Hamilton
The Bombers have done well with Drew Willy healthy and been demolished when he gets hurt. Last time these two teams met in the Peg, Hamilton injured Willy, then proceeded to annihilate the Bombers. While there's no guarantee that the Ticats will injure Willy again (but it is certainly possible) the Cats are really good at Tim Horton's Field. Unfortunately the Cats will be missing CJ Gable and Andy Fantuz from the offense, but they have enough talent and the special teams talent to win this game.
Tiger-Cats 31 Blue Bombers 21

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

2015 CFL Power Rankings Week 6

1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Cats had a masterful performance against the Argos at home Monday, dominating in all three phases of the game, including an on-side punt that flummoxed the Argos defenders. Unfortunately they lost both CJ Gable and Andy Fantuz to the six game injured list. Previous to this, the Cats didn't have much of a running game without Gable, but non-import running back Anthony Woodson was able to pick up yards with Gable gone early. Losing Fantuz definitely hurts, but the Cats have Luke Tasker back so the receiving game shouldn't totally drop off.

2. Edmonton Eskimos
Despite not having quarterback Mike Reilly, the Eskimos have been able to get it done with Matt Nichols as the quarterback. The Eskimos have Adarius Bowman having an excellent season as a receiver and a stellar defense, likely the best in the CFL.

3. Calgary Stampeders
The Stampeders don't seem to be as good as the 2014 edition, but they still keep winning games, including a close one versus Montreal at home. They have however lost non-import running back Jon Cornish which definitely hurts. The Calgary offensive line is also a patchwork unit of late, which is probably the main difference from 2014.

4. Toronto Argonauts
Sure the Argos weren't great at Tim Horton's Field on Monday, but they have effectively played five road games and won three of them. Trevor Harris can be argued to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league and Ricky Ray might not start whenever he comes back.

5. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers are a decent team if quarterback Drew Willy stays healthy and a bad team with backup Brian Brohm in. Right now Willy is sort of healthy so the Bombers get an OK power ranking, although he could potentially get injured at any time.

Ottawa had a bye week this week, but got back on track the previous week, winning at home. Ottawa is starting to take advantage of their off-season receiver signings and former Ticat Chris Williams is still one of the CFL's most dangerous weapons. How Ottawa does really depends on how well Henry Burris can play quarterback at an advanced age. At least he is healthy.

7. Montreal Alouettes
The Als lost a close one on the road in Calgary. Rakeem Cato would seem to have a lock on the quarterback position even if Jonathon Crompton returns. However Montreal overall just isn't that great and one wonders if the whole Michael Sam thing has been a distraction.

8. BC Lions
Travis Lulay is back and the Lions are very good. Andrew Harris has been good at running back, but the Lion defense lead by linebackers Eliminian and Bighill is just meh.

9. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Lost yet again (and probably out of the playoffs). Both Glenn and Durant are injured. Time to play for next year.  

Ticats Put Both CJ Gable and Andy Fantuz on Six Game Injury List is reporting that the Ticats have put both import running back CJ Gable and non-import receiver Andy Fantuz on the six game injury list. Both Gable and Fantuz had arm injuries, but being at the game Gable's seemed more serious at the time.

Fantuz had 311 yards on 30 catches and no TDs in 2015. That was one yard behind Bakari Grant for the team lead. Fortunately the Cats have import receiver Luke Tasker back. I'm assuming the Cats will do what they did last year when Fantuz was injured and play former Hamilton Hurricane Matt Coates to take his spot in the starting lineup for five receiver sets (which the Cats use a lot of).

Gable was injured to start the year and the Ticat running game was non-existent while he was injured and then revived with his return. Now the Cats turn to Holley and Nic Grigsby has apparently been added to the practice roster. Non-import running back Anthony Woodson had 54 yards on ten carries after Gable went down. Personally I didn't think Holley did much in his time starting and prefer Grigsby.