Maybe before airing this weekend’s CFL games, TSN should run one of those “Previously on the CFL” recap clips. Heck, we’ll probably need one for last week alone to explain the wacky shifting of gears in Toronto and the shuffling of deck chairs in Saskatchewan in *week freakin’ 16*…
At least the trio of signings in Jonestown made some sense. During the bye week, the Riders welcomed aboard NFL castoffs WR Jeff Fuller (last with the Seattle Seahawks), DE Willie Jefferson (with Washington through August) and CFL boomerang LB Henoc Muamba (this year a final cut from the Dallas Cowboys).
Fuller is certainly needed immediately, and the Saskatchewan defense can certainly use the talent as well. But one wonders about taking on Muamba, a dude that has been affiliated with five North American teams in six seasons and was playing in the NFL as recently as 2015; will Muamba really be around next season? And what is he being paid for what essentially amounts to about 25% of the season on a non-playoff team?
Meanwhile, Toronto Argonauts moment took the WTF award for the week, with the abrupt dismissal of receiving trio of Kevin Elliott, Vidal Hazelton and Tori Gurley. None of the three had received a heckuva lotta quality playing time in 2016 thus far, but this release begs zillions of questions, among them: Is this a signal that the Ray-less Argos are done for the season? Why keep disgruntled players on the roster, pay them and not play them? To spite other teams? Why release them now, when your team is one game out of a playoff spot? Why hand over a potential difference-maker to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, aching for quality pass-catchers and your chief rival for an East playoff bid, for free?
Ah, well. The South supposes we can’t feel too badly for the trio. Surely, they’ll be looking at Scott Milanovich and the Argonauts in their rearview mirrors once they’ve joined the playoff sprint in Hamilt—WHAT? Gurley’s been signed by … *Winnipeg*? As though Hamilton doesn’t have enough problems on the field and in the medical offices, now they’re getting beat on the open market as well?
Sheesh, no one wants those East playoff spots, it seems. Dare we have hope for the one East side that won in week 15…? Crazy.
Speaking of last week’s games, the results looked like the following.
Edmonton Eskimos 40, Winnipeg Blue Bombers 26. I’ll admit I’m hardly an expert in CFL coverage packages, so if the loose coverage underneath by the Bombers secondary throughout the first half took me aback, you know something was amiss. What was not amiss was Mike Reilly’s accuracy, the loose D allowing him to go 21-of-23 for 170 yards in the first half. Give him the dink-and-dunk, and Reilly’sll pick it apart surgically – he’s got the long-range weapons to finish off the job, after all.
On the other side, isn’t it interesting how the notion of “losing culture” has been completely blown away in Winnipeg? All appearances suggested that the Blue Bombers came out in the second half fully expecting to again flip the switch and come back. Heck, it looked as though the comeback was on in the third quarter when Maurice Leggett picked up Derel Walker’s fumble, but alas, the Bombers managed only a field goal. The third 10 minutes was a game of punty-punty, with the teams combining for five 2-and-outs.
The Bombers couldn’t turn the corner, and a 61-yard TD strike to Walker in the fourth was the dagger, leaving two teams heading in opposite directions heading down the stretch. The Cinderella Bombers may have picked the wrong week to morph back into a pumpkin…
Calgary Stampeders 36, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 17. That thing directly above about “teams heading in opposite directions? Double that for these two teams.
Here’s a microcosm of the game and season for each of these teams (well, let’s say the post-Collaros bit of the season for the Ticats):
- Bo Levi Mitchell goes 5-of-5 passing, Jerome Messam throws in a run for first down, Stamps go 86 yards for the TD, convert on the 2-point follow.
- No special-teams disaster on the kickoff for the Ticats, though Brandon Banks manages just an 8-yard return after fielding the ball at the Hamilton 8.
- On the first snap of the drive, Zach Collaros drops back, only to have the pick nearly picked off by Deron Mayo in the open (short) field. On the second snap, Collaros has it picked off by Ja”Gared Davis. Stamps ball on the 14.
- Stamps end the subsequent drive with a botched fake field goal attempt, but the Ticats are ultimately bagged for a safety after starting on their own 8.
Barely seven minutes have elapsed in the game, the Stamps have a 10-0 lead, and despite the “no lead is safe” rhetoric, we know this particular lead is indeed pretty set.
Weird Canadian News Story Of The Week. Okay, technically this story hit Canada’s newswires a couple weeks ago, but it’s not like the progress of time has dulled the oddity of what sounds like fodder for a Quentin Tarantino monologue.
In late September, an Ottawa court heard the case of one Leston Lawrence, a former “Canadian Mint employee accused of smuggling $180K of gold in his rectum.” (Not all at once, mind you, but quite a feat nonetheless.) Lawrence had apparently “on multiple occasions” – at least a couple dozen by The South’s informal count – simply swiped 210-gram disks called “pucks” (of course they are!) from his former employer, stuffed ‘em where the sun don’t shine and ejected them at home.
Where this intrepid criminal mastermind slipped up was his insistence on repeatedly cashing in the pucks at a single gold buyer located in an Ottawa shopping center and immediately thereafter depositing payment for the gold in the Royal Canadian Bank nearby. Police were tipped off by a bank teller after Lawrence had racked up quite a bankroll.
A judgment in the case is expected in early November from Judge Doody.
Yes, that’s the name.
BC Lions 40, Ottawa Redblacks 33. Like the Calgary-Winnipeg game of week 14, both teams may take pride in their performance in this game. With their East competitors in Toronto and Hamilton both taking losses in week 15, getting this team back to offensive form was probably more important than a win, necessarily.
Clearly, the RedBlacks heard the lamenting and whinging of Brian Schmidt and myself in last week’s Greuling Truth CFL Pick ‘Em Show regarding the limp, vanilla offense they’d been playing for a month and a half. No more! In the most exciting showcase of Ottawa offense since – dare The South say it – Henry Burris had two functioning hands – Trevor Harris went for a sick 485 yards, distributing 23 passes fairly evenly among the four-headed monster of Williams, Sinopoli, Jackson and Ellingson.
And despite allowing nearly 500 yards in passing alone, the BC D can take pride in having done much right (like getting the win, for example). Perhaps facing the realistics of a 27-23 halftime deficit, the Lionds defense clamped down in the second half to allow just 10 points: A direct contrast to the team’s worst tendencies this season in surrendering late-game barrages.
The blueprint for Ottawa going forward, then: Throw and keep throwing; your defense is gonna allow points. For BC, go with the Manny Show in the first 30 minutes, with Solly & Bighill playing the second part of the bill.
Montreal Alouettes 38, Toronto Argonauts 11, a.k.a. The Game That Cost Three Receivers. Of course, when you have Drew Willy, you’ll want to deprive him of as many options as much as possible. And after your statistically worst defense by nearly any measure gifts the CFL’s worst offense with 349 all-purpose yards plus four passing TDs while bagging no turnovers whatsoever, you definitely need to address an offense built entirely upon cardboard, spit and hopes for the health of as soon-to-be 37-year-old veteran in week 16 of the season.
The real key to the Alouettes’ victory? These:
Or maybe it’s the Statistic Of The Week Which May Give Montreal Alouettes Fans Hope: As a starter, Rakeem Cato is 0-4 under head coach Jim Popp, 5-4 with anyone else.
Canadians in the NFL. This weekend, fans of the Canadian game got the excuse to keep an eye on the Houston Texans. Though it was intensely difficult to keep one there. For what would be a 27-23 Texans vicotyr over the Tennessee Titans, Christian Covington was named the starter in IR’ed J.J. Watt’s spot at defensive end oppositie Jadaveon Clowney. Devon Still, who’d seen much of the action at that DE position in the preseason, substituted for Covington on about one-third of Tennessee snaps.
Covington recorded just one tackle in the game while his Texans managed only one QB sack (albeit a crucial one by Clowney in the fourth quarter). The Texans D had a particularly bad second quarter, but afterward reduced Marcus Mariota to pedestrian-at-best stats. The South’ll give Covington a passing grade for helping get the Texans the W here, but it’ll take more to replace a Watt like that normally.
Next up for Christian and the guys: a trip to Minnesota for what could be a goodie for defense lovers.
Meanwhile, north of the border during the Thanksgiving weekend, the slate includes…
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Ottawa RedBlacks. The South likes the addition of Fuller, Jefferson and Muamba, and Darian Durant will be under center for the Riders. The RedBlacks, meanwhile, are apparently back to a point-a-minute offense in Ottawa. While the new defensive additions take time to gel on Jones’s Riders (a refrain for 2016, to be sure), we figure neither of these defense can really stop anyone right now. RedBlacks win; also, who’s with me in liking the over on an O/U of 53 and that Saskatchewan +6.5 pointspread?
BC Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Who would’ve thought that the Bombers losing three in a row would be headline-worthy stuff? Sadly for the Bombers, the favorable bits of their schedule are behind them, while BC Lions need to win a couple more before feeling comfortable about their playoff position. BC Lions win.
My Favorite Fantasy Player (This Week). What’s that? My team only won this week because we were forced to play Rakeem Cato and the Alouettes QBs? Naw, man. I knew he was good for some points … in fact, I knew he’d be great in a Jacques Chapdelaine-run offense! Yeah, that’s it…
In any case, my guys clinched a playoff spot based on Cato’s performance. If only we hear that in Montreal sometime soon…
But it may not be this week. For the Edmonton Eskimos at Montreal Alouettes game, every reason exists to pick the Esks: They’re heating up at the right time, Reilly has mastered the hyperquick release, and Edmonton has the runners to exploit a weak rushing D. But hey, this Als fan is feeling optimistic (and apparently masochistic) after last week. Vive Chapdelaine! Alouettes win.
Calgary Stampeders at Toronto Argonauts. What a matchup! The CFL’s best team versus its worst. There’s no sport in predicting Stamps win in a blowout, so the South’ll thrown in a five-star fantasy pickup, i.e. Jerome Messam, who will be the CFL’s top rusher this week. And take the Stamps minus-9 while you’re at it.
Next week: After the Toronto Argonauts muster a single point in a 35-1 loss to the Calgary Stampeders, Argonauts management announces the release of the entire defense.