So things returned to normal in the CFL for week 10, it seems. Montreal and Saskatchewan lost, Calgary and BC won. And as football fans of the United States get ready for NFL and/or NCAA football, the CFL heads into the second half with traditional Labour Day derby games. Autumn is a great time to be a football fan, indeed.
Last week in the CFL, things played out like so.
BC Lions 29, Ottawa RedBlacks 23. After this one, the optimistic BC Lions fan says the defensive glass is half-full; his/her pessimist counterpart sees half-emptiness. On the one hand, RedBlacks QB Trevor Harris was good enough to rack up 23-of-30 passing for 352 yards and 1 TD against zero interceptions – straight through to the fourth quarter, when the big pass plays kept coming – in what was supposed to be a game about kicking off the rust.
The positive thinker, on the other hand, observed guys getting involved in key defensive stops beyond the typical exploits of metahumans Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill. The Lions faithful had to like Mike Edem and Alex Bazzie’s performances, particularly the latter, punctuated by a pair of QBs sacks ending the first quarter and, effectively, Ottawa’s hopes in the fourth.
And who could fail to see the dominance implicit in the sack/fumble/safety sequence to immediately give back the lead to BC just after the RedBlacks had gone up 20-19? Or the resilience to give up just three points after drives including nifty 53- and 24-yard receptions in the fourth quarter?
Not matter whether you’re with the half-empty or half-full crowd, the BC D’s glass is big. Real big. And good.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 32, Montreal Alouettes 18. Have you ever seen this cartoon series “Gravity Falls”? It’s kinda/sorta like a Scooby Doo for post-millennial tweens, with kids solving mysteries – only with actual supernatural, science-fiction, time-travel and government conspiracy elements included. Unfortunately, the show is a Disney™ production, so phony wholesomeness and corny sentimentality are well apparent.
Anyway, my 11-year-old daughter Suzie really digs the show (no accounting for kids’ taste); she calls our mutual viewings of the episodes as “Daddy Time.” As parents know, even watching safe, syrupy Disney is tolerable enough such conditions.
So why is the South going so far afield here? Because the entire time I was watching Winnipeg-Montreal, Suzie was asking me to watch “Gravity Falls”; as an Alouettes fan clinging to hope, I only acquiesced after a nine-play fourth-quarter Winnipeg drive followed by Justin Medlock’s fifth field goal. I should have just skipped the whole thing altogether and binge-watched the whole of season two with the daughter instead. I hated this game.
This Week’s Stat That Makes Incredibly Little Sense. The Winnipeg Blue bombers are somehow dead last in passing yards allowed (345.0) and total yards allowed (424.0), but are first in turnovers (33) and interceptions (18).
Edmonton Eskimos 33, Saskatchewan Roughriders 25. The Eskimos appear to be one of the CFL’s upwardly-trending teams (along with Hamilton, Winnipeg and Ottawa) going into the halfway mark, but the South is withholding judgement here while Edmonton is certainly enjoying a favorable run of schedule.
Actually, these Esks seem downright charmed by the way the schedule has fallen thus far: This season, th Esks have managed to avoid playing offenses led by Zach Collaros, Ricky Ray, Bo Levi Mitchell and Trevor Harris. Edmonton has faced current starters just three times this season, going against Kevin Glenn’s Alouettes once and Darien Durant’s Riders twice – and the Riders rang up 36 points on the Esks prior to last week’s 23-point showing. In fact, the Riders 16 points in the third quarter nearly matched their season’s total third-quarter *cumulative* points (19).
Meanwhile, is it only me who thinks Naaman Roosevelt would be in the “best CFL wide receiver” discussion if he were on almost any other team this season?
Calgary Stampeders 30, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23. Brian Schmidt nailed it in this week‘s Grueling Truth CFL Pick ‘Em Show: Simply put, the Calgary Stampeders of the 2010s are the CFL’s answer to the New England Patriots. This is a franchise that places the emphasis on protecting the QB, mastering the fundamentals and maintaining focus.
Just look at this game, another much-anticipated “Game of the Week”-lvel game starring these Stampeders. Bo Levi Mitchell went 27-of-37 for 323 yards with 1 TD vs. zero interceptions. For the majority of CFL QBs, that’s a notable game; for Bo, it’s normal. His average stat line in 2016 reads 25-of-36 for 317.5 yards with 1.66 TDs against 0.4 interceptions. And his OL allowed zero sacks for the firth time in 2016.
The star on offense after Bo? DaVaris Daniels, with five catches for 108 yards and a TD. In Patriots-like fashion, Daniels wasn’t even on a professional roster (not even in Saskatchewan) a week ago – betcha didn’t have him on your fantasy team!
The defense meanwhile shut Collaros and the Ticats – great name for a Canadian retro-doo wop band, by the way – out of the end zone for nearly three quarters. Helped along by the inevitable penalties – Hamilton leads the league in flags accrued on both sides of the ball – the Calgary D didn’t even need a turnover to tip the game into the W column.
If the Stamps can control even the Ticats in Hamilton, who or what can stop them? A ostensibly slightly deflated football or two, perhaps…?
Next week, we get the Labour Day Classics on a Monday holiday in the US. Nice of the CFL orgnizaers to plan it like that. The slate of *five* games includes…
BC Lions at Toronto Argonauts. What could possibly justify betting against BC here? The Lions may be beatable by Calgary, but the Grueling Truth power rankings don’t lie: The distance between the Lions and the CFL’s second-best is, at present, significant. BC Lions win handily.
My Favorite and Least Favorite CFL Fantasy Players (This Week). You know how The South proclaimed last week all that stuff about “f*** fantasy football”? Well, f*** that. Both my CFL fantasy teams – including the pitiful Rouge, White & Blue trainwreck – won this week, so I love fantasy football now.
The South sends a shoutout, hugs and kisses to Andrew Harris (good for 34 points in the Fantaseh format) and Taylor Loffler (contributing 16, nice work from a DS spot) – but I just love all CFL players. This week. Right now.
Ottawa RedBlacks at Montreal Alouettes. So we’re expecting more from Trevor Harris this week than last? And for the overworked Alouettes defense to wear out as humans do in the fourth quarter? And Duron Carter’s suspension has finally kicked in? Yeah, RedBlacks win.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Saskatchewan Roughriders. Blue hot or no, this game represents one huge monkey on Winnipeg’s collective back: The Bombers haven’t won their Labour Day Classic since 2004. Here’s to thinking that the streak continues while the Riders’ numbers balance out a bit, i.e. as bad as things are in Regina, this isn’t a 2-16 team. Riders win – and against this secondary, I’m thinking Naaman Roosevelt makes for a nice daily fantasy pick.
Edmonton Eskimos at Calgary Stampeders. The Eskimos first true test in a long time … maybe brushing up on the Ideal Gas Law might help. Stampeders win.
Weird Canadian News Story of the Week. Okay, for those of you who are buying into that liberal BS pushed by Michael Moore about how Canada is some sort of idyllic relatively crime- and violence-free country, just get a load of this sobering video captured by hidden security camera:
In a Winnipeg Free Press story entitled “Cops bewildered by brew burglar in goalie gear,” reporter Randy Turner relates the story of a hockey goalie-garbed miscreant and his accomplices attempting to pilfer some ill-gotten free beer in the wee hours of the Russell (pop. 15,247), Ontario, morning. Perhaps fearing security armed with mad slapshot abilities, the perp even brought his stick to the scene of the alleged crime.
About the only thing that would make this more frightening is a revelation from police investigators that the Russell Hockey Gang was somehow in league with the Belleville Mannequin Mob…
Toronto Argonauts at Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Can Toronto lose two games in six days? Absolutely they can. Tiger-Cats win.
Next week: American fans, having discovered the CFL thanks to daily fantasy football, return to ignoring the Canadian game in droves once NFL season starts. Depressingly, there’s no punchline here.