Stupid, stupid, stupid – does anyone else feel the same way? Not about predicting the results of CFL Week 1 incorrectly or anything, as we’ve learned the futility of doing so in recent years. And as always, once the games are in the book, everyone can see the folly of those picks and why. Unless, of course, you’ve devised a foolproof system like this one:
2-1-1 cuz I’m a homer and always pick the Esks to win. Also I always pick the Riders to lose 😂
— PJ (@pammyJ79) June 26, 2017
No, I’m talking about the stupidity of actually publicly predicting the ultimate output of the finest model of chaos theory ever enacting on a sports pitch. And gods help you if you actually wager, likesay, *real freakin’ money* on week 1 in the CFL. (This sloppy punter eschewed the pitfall this year and did nt bet the metaphorical house on BC minus-3 like I swore up and down I would.)
Look, next season – and this is a note to View From The South as much as anyone – save us your predictions in the first week. If you must play CFL Pick ‘Em, go ahead – and set all your confidence rankings to 0, because that how much even the most devoted of fans seem to know about this dmnable, infuriating, unpredictable, wonderful, glorious league.
Ignorance is bliss, folks, and this fan promises not to make any game predictions in week 1 of next season. It’s for the best, really.
So now, a look at week 1 of the 2017 CFL season from the safe side, i.e. the past.
Montreal Alouettes 17, Saskatchewan Roughriders 16. As an Alouettes fan, let’s just say I’m thrilled the Alouettes were involved in a game that involved a shanked field goal not by Boris Bede. In fact, props to the placekicker here for emerging as a true badass on special teams. Not only did this guy help lose Shakir Bell his spot in Ottawa with the fumble recovery in preseason week B, Bede may also be credited with stopping Duron Carter’s near heroics on a fourth-quarter kick return in this one.
O yeah, this game also featured the regular-season debut of Darien Durant for the Alouettes as well as Chris Jones’ Roughriders 2.0. Some nice defense was shown by both sides, particularly important for an Alouettes side which has lived on stalwart D for the past, what, decade? John Mincy of course was brilliant with an interception, a couple passes knocked down and five tackles.
As for Durant, the longtime Rider produced a nice if not gaudy stat line of 20-of-31 passing for 233 yards to go with two TDs against zero interceptions. Riders backers may be buoyed by offseason addition Bakari Grant’s TD and … well, the new Mosaic Stadium home opener is next week.
Calgary Stampeders 31, Ottawa RedBlacks 31. What was that about prediction week 1? VFTS doesn’t remember exactly when the words “always bet the under in week 1” emerged from my keyboard, but it was likely before the fourth quarter turned this game into another chapter of the CFL’s latest great rivalry.
To the surprise of few, both offenses got huge contributions from their QBs: Bo Levi Mitchell (31-of-48 for 376 yards, 2 TDs, zero interceptions) and Trevor Harris (33-of-45 for 300 yards, 3 TDs, 1 pick) filled the stat lines nicely. On the receiving end, Marquay McDaniel was huge for the Stamps (not S.J. Green huge, but huge) in bagging 10 catches for 114 yards. Jerome Messam ran up 65 yards and a TD, while Ottawa got at least a one-week answer for their RB questions as Brendan Gillanders threatened to send Rob Black into verbal paroxysms with 12 carries for 80 yards.
And that historically great Calgary offensive line? Zero sacks allowed as Mitchell had enough time to make a hearty poutine on at least two dropbacks.
So, yeah. The 2017 Calgary Stampeders appear to have maintained the sheer awesomeness they’ve trotted out for the past three seasons, while the RedBlacks appear to have recrafted a solid offense from a squad that lost Henry Burris to retirement, saw nearly 40% of their 2016 receiving yards disappear with Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams in free agency and reshuffled the deck entirely ant running back.
On the other hand, Grueling Truth fearless leader Mike Goodpaster, as stated in this week’s CFL Pick ‘Em show, is probably right to be concerned about the way the RedBlacks blew a two-TD lead with seven minutes to play, only to neither stop Mitchell & Co. from moving the ball at will nor score themselves.
Even more concerning … well, let’s just say that RedBlacks offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo had better vary up the plan a little next week, because it’s not going to take a genius to work out Harris’s game. See directly below; RedBlacks fans, you may want to go on to the next bit…
Statistic Chart of the Week. If you’re into the CFL (or, apparently, Formula 1 racing), you need to Twitter-follow Marshall Ferguson of TSN and CFL.ca. The stat boards and charts that grace his feed illuminate certain facets of the league “at a glance” as we’d say Back In The Day.
For example, check out this graphic of Harris’s targets in the Grey Cup rematch game. The green dots represent completions; what else do you need to know…?
Rod Black’s Crimes Against the English Language. For a while, it looked as though the grammar rehab program that TSN’s Rod Black completed over the winter had worked. Throughout the entire first half of the Calgary-Ottawa game, nary a slip of the tongue stymied Rod – and VFTS was truly in awe at the miracles of modern linguistic science.
Alas, such good times could not last for the poor beleaguered English language. After halftime, it was readily apparent that Rod had fallen off the wagon again; perhaps he’d sneaked a peek at a couple of panels of a Captain Underpants comic, figuring it to be harmless. Grammarians dug into the trenches and Anglophones throughout North America cracked open the nearest available fifth when the already tired (so, so tired) subject of the Stampeders’ supposed “road to redemption” after a “crushing” defeat in the 2015 Grey Cup.
Ultimately drawing on his massive experience as a professional football player, Rod surmised that the Stamps’ psychological state might be shaky, because “the losses are always first and foremost sometimes.”
Now, Rod is not never nearly a poet sometimes, but in his prolonged wresling match with syntax and grammar, he accidentally stumbled upon a line that might have made Gertrude Stein happy: Said Rod midway through the third quarter, “Now the rain starting to fall here now.”
And by the end of the Ticats-Argonauts game, which TSN also had him on (Why, TSN, why?), Twitterers bored with the surprise blowout took to seriously wondering…
What in the world is Rod Black talking about?
— SaskRidersChick (@saskriderschick) June 25, 2017
Though The South pities the damage done to our beloved native tongue, at least we can rest assured that this bit of the column will stay rife with material throughout the 2017 CFL season.
Edmonton Eskimos 30, BC Lions 27. Here’s a pretty good microcosm of this game, not to mention a GIF the CFL probably never wanted to see…
I got you covered, sister!! pic.twitter.com/j47vM4YwiN
— 💙Leanne H💚 (@SnapperSnafu) June 25, 2017
Why? Because to paraphrase “Fast Eddie” of The Color of Money, the BC Lions showed you their ass out there. Harsh assessment? Maybe, but my hot take has cooled down since this game and The South is still laying the blame for this one on BC. Jonathan Jennings, a QB talented enough to do stuff like this Week’s View From The South’s Play of the Week (see below), yet continues to subvert his team’s chances with mental mistakes in the first half.
Not that Jennings was alone in this quality for the (quite possibly overrated) Lions. Sue Jennings fumbled deep in his own territory to give Mike Reilly a nice short field, but geez, Reilly was fleeing from a feebly crumbling line. The BC OL allowed two sacks in the first quarter to an Eskimos side hardly known for its pass rush. By the third quarter, Jerome Messam himself noted that
BC oline getting beat like a drum. 👀
— Jerome Messam (@JMessam) June 25, 2017
And yes, a spirited BC comeback was put together in the 4th to tie it at 27-27, the touchdown drive based on the one incredible strike to Nick Moore; otherwise, Jennings was 1-for-3 for 6 yards on the final BC drive and stayed on the field to hurl the would-be dagger thanks to a 10-yard penalty.
On the other side, the Eskimos got what they could out of the regulars: Reilly was 20-of-28 for 315 yards and 2 TDs against zero picks; John White amassed 104 yards and a TD on 17 carries; and last year’s late-season fantasy darling Brandon Zylstra racked up a “Performer of the Week”-level 152 yards on seven catches. The Esks OL, often worrisome in ’16, gave up just one sack and we know from last year that if Reilly isn’t hitting the turf multiple times, the Eskimos win.
Play of the Week. “Qurikiness” aside, just look at the effortlessness with which Jennings slings the ball while on the run. Incredible.
Toronto Alouettes – i mean, Toronto *Argonauts* 32, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 15. And those who saw it knew it wasn’t even that close.
If you’re an Argonauts fan this week, you’re not talking about small sample size. You’re talking about all those contributors on the field and off from Montreal: Jim Popp, Marc Trestman, Bear Woods and especially S.J. Green. And if you’re Ricky Ray, who went for the most prolific game in his 17-year CFL career with 506 yards, you’re asking Green, “Where have you been all my life?”
On the other hand – and VFTS is well aware of going Chicken Little in these situations – Argos fans cannot let themselves get too comfortable, because Ray sure isn’t. That dude seems to gpick himself up slower every time he’s hit.
If you’re a Tiger-Cats fan, meanwhile, you don’t want to talk about it. To put it plainly, Hamilton was just terrible across the board and, sorry to say, the problems may begin with collective denial.
The eye test says that Zach Collaros is a shell of his former self still; he’s now 4-9 in starts since the injury suffering in 2015; this includes an 0-3 record against the Eskimos and 0-2 against the Stamps. We knew that after the offseason that the Ticats’d be weak in the secondary – but here’s a 37-year-old dude going 32-of-41 and getting gifted some 172 yards after the catch. A quarterback like Ray cannot be allowed such absolute control the middle of the field, but Hamilton doesn’t appear to have the capability to stop such a beating there.
An ugly, ugly portent of a game for the 2017 Hamilton Tiger-Cats…
Weird Canadian News Story of the Week. View From the South breaks from the CFL material briefly for this regular item, a public service to remind Americans that, while they may believe Canada is little more than a photocopy of its southerly neighbor, it is in fact a whole unique, weird nation of its own.
How can you tell folks in Dawson are hardcore? (Aside from the fact that they actually, you know, live in the Yukon Territory, I mean.) For them, the hardest drink just won’t cut it – until it’s been garnished with a mummified amputated toe.
No, seriously. Since 1973, The Sourdough Saloon has featured a tradition in which those brazen (and/or odd) enough to do so, order the “Sourtoe Cocktail.” The recipe is simple: The alcoholic drink of your choice, garnished with a preserved human toe. Cheers!
The Sourtoe has twice made headlines this month. Firstly, the bar put out a public call for the return of the toe, which stolen from the premises. Later, so as to provide the Sourdough with an out should the digit go missing again while the masses clamoring for a Sourtoe assemble an angry mob, the bar put out a call for a backup toe – alas, the contribution need only be made post-mortem. Perhaps they should’ve called Walter Sobchak…
Incidentally, the thieved toe was returned via post in four days, thereby depriving Sherlock Holmes a chance to declare, “The game is afoot!”
And onto this week’s games…
Ottawa RedBlacks (+7.5) at Calgary Stampeders. Here’s to thinking that, if the RedBlacks could choose their opponent in week two, the Stampeders would fall last on their list of preferences. Specifics aside, over the past three seasons, Calgary is 5-2 in rematches after a non-win, with both of those losses coming at the hands of the Eskimos in 2015. In all games following a non-win, they’re an insane 10-1-1, with the loss and tie the opening day games of 2016 and ’17, respectively. To put it succinctly:
You will be assimilated. Calgary wins.
BC Lions (+1) at Toronto Argonauts. Wow, who would have imagined this line two weeks ago? BC may still be the better team on paper but, if only to contradict my Rouge, White & Blue CFL Podcast co-host Joe Pritchard, The South will say Argonauts win and let’s all appreciate that Ray-to-Green conncetion while it’s still viable.
Montreal Alouettes (+8.5) at Edmonton Eskimos. Right now, The South would say Edmonton is the second- best team in this league – and that the Alouettes have not yet realized their max potential, which is what they’ll have to do to beat the Esks at all this season.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (-1) at Saskatchewan Roughriders. Yeah, surrrrrrrre, the View has lots of salient points on this one. The Bombers didn’t show us a heckuva lotta new material this preseason, and thus the one bet on which we may hedge is that these guys sure won’t match last year’s +27 turnover differential. Against this, we’ve got a team still in flux enough that we might rename them the Questionmarks on top of the unquantifiable psychological aspects of breaking in the new stadium in Regina. Since my buddy Mr. Pritchard tells me this one’s gonna be all about who wins the first quarter, The South goes with a Bombers win here.
Next week: View From the South comes up with all sorts of reason s why you shouldn’t bet on week *2* of any CFL season…