Thursday, July 23, 2009

CFL Preview Week Four: It’s Time to Regroup

I’m not going to sugar coat it, I got almost all of my picks wrong last week. It was ugly. After going 1-3 last week, my record now stands at 6-6.

In fairness, the picks were rather difficult to make last week and there were definitely some surprising results. For the first time all year, I picked the Calgary Stampeders to lose in their game against the Toronto Argonauts.

The reason?

Toronto was on fire even though they had lost to Saskatchewan and Calgary had let me down for two week in a row. So naturally Calgary goes out and plays amazing, blowing out the Argos.

In my other wrong pick, I thought Winnipeg would beat the Hamilton. After a 6-6 first half score and an interception return for a touchdown by Winnipeg, this looked very possible. Then Winnipeg reject Kevin Glenn comes in against his former team and lights it up! Definitely an unpredictable week three.

I think many teams in the CFL were sharing my disappointment when it came to week three. The Edmonton Eskimos were lit up by Jarious Jackson and the Lions at home, allowing passing touchdown after passing touchdown. Saskatchewan also felt Edmonton’s pain, as they fumbled and bumbled to an agonizing loss to the Montreal Alouettes. And the Argos lost badly to the Toronto Argonauts, making fans wonder if the team is for real after all.

The best thing for these teams to do in week four is forget, but learn from the past. Focus on the basics, such as taking care of the football, establishing a productive offense, and avoiding key mistakes.

Prediction Time

Thursday July 23rd
Game One: Montreal Alouettes vs. Hamilton Tiger Cats

Montreal’s first game against the east this year sees them hosting the underdog Hamilton Tiger Cats. In a supposed battle of the titans last week against the Riders, Montreal proved they are the top dogs in the league. Hamilton on the other hand, continued their impressive early start to the season by beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Pride and first place will be on the line in this bitter Eastern battle.

Montreal’s Keys to the Game:

AC Throw and AC Run: Really two of the biggest threats for the Alouettes may in fact be league leading running back Avon Cobourne and Anthony Calvillo. We saw last week how effective Cobourne really is running the ball, and Montreal should continue to call his number last week. If Cobourne struggles, Anthony Calvillo will have to set the offense back on course.

Take Care of the Ball: One of the big reasons that Montreal struggled against Saskatchewan in the first half was that they didn’t take care of the ball. Careless fumbles led to a lot of missed opportunities. Hamilton is known to pounce on your mistakes this season, and they will be eager to get a momentum changing turnover.

Put the Pressure On: Whether it be Kevin Glenn, or Quinton Porter behind center, pressure will be the key to stopping Hamilton’s offense. Hamilton has developed a good receiving core this year with Chris Davis, Prechae Rodriquez and Dave Stala, so it will be key to not allow Hamilton’s quarterback time to get the ball to these playmakers.

Hamilton’s Keys to the Game:

Run Cobb Run: Montreal loves to put the pressure on opposing offenses, so Hamilton should go to DeAndra Cobb early and often. Running is a great way to counter the blitz, and if it successful, it will open up the passing game where stars like Rodriquez and Davis can take over.

Minimize Mistakes: Whether it be a missed tackle that leads to a long gain, or a turnover that leads to points, Hamilton can’t afford any mistakes against Montreal. Montreal is so good that if you give them a chance, they will bury you.

Don’t Sit Back: Since Anthony Calvillo and Montreal’s offense can hurt a team in so many, it might be tempting to sit back and not let any big plays go down. Hamilton however needs to be aggressive, blitzing and attacking Anthony Calvillo. If Calvillo has time, he will pick Hamilton apart.

Both Hamilton and Montreal have proven to be very good football teams this year. Montreal has been pretty dominate in every game, though they showed some weakness against the Rides. Hamilton is riding a high following two straight wins, and they will play hard for a chance at first place. Montreal however is just to good. If Hamilton is indeed the Cinderella team this year, then Montreal is the big orge who will stomp on Cinderella.

My Pick: Montreal

Friday July 24th
Game One: Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs. Toronto Argonauts

In another heated eastern rivalry, the Argos and Bombers will look to shake off last weeks losses and come up with a huge win. Winnipeg lost against the Hamilton Tiger Cats thanks to their old friend Kevin Glenn, and Toronto got stamped by Calgary.

Winnipeg’s Keys to the Game:

Put up Points: As obvious as it sounds, Winnipeg needs to score points to win the game. Winnipeg only put up 13 points last season, six of those on an interception return for a touchdown. Mike Kelly needs to prepare a better game plan, and Stefan Lefors needs to be sharper.

Run it Down Their Throats: Giles and Reid form one of the best running back combos in the league. Reid has a lot of explosiveness and Giles is very shifty. Toronto has some holes in their defense, and Winnipeg needs to wear them out with the running game.

Shut Down Robertson: We saw what happened last week when Jamal Robertson was shut down. Toronto became one dimensional. Winnipeg has a good front seven and they will need to focus on stopping Toronto’s running game, forcing Kerry Joseph to throw the ball all day long.
Toronto’s Keys to the Game:

Protect Joseph: Kerry Joseph is a very mobile quarterback, but he needs protection from his offensive line. Calgary got a lot of pressure on Joseph which forced him off his game. Joseph is best when he has time to set his feet and get in to his throw.

Establish a Running Game: When Jamal Robertson gets going, Toronto is usually very successful on offense. Rob Murphy, Dominic Picard and the rest of the line need to get a good push and spring holes for Jamal Robertson.

Stop the Run, Win the Game: So far, Winnipeg hasn’t had a ton of success throwing the ball. They have relied a lot on the run to win football games, and if Toronto could contain Fred Reid, they could win the game.

Winnipeg is always a better team at home. Stefan Lefors plays better and the crowd is behind them. Toronto has benched Arland Bruce for the game, taking away a big playmaker for their team. It is hard to have much faith in the Argos, especially with a big playmaker like Bruce out of the line-up. Winnipeg might not have the advantage of knowing Toronto’s plays in advance, but they should still do well.

My Pick: Winnipeg

*Game of the Week**
Game Two: BC Lions vs. Calgary Stampeders*

Two western teams fresh off big victories will square off in BC, as the Lions host the Calgary Stampeders. Jarious Jackson was the story for the Lions in week three, as he was came in for the injured Buck Pierce and helped romp the Eskimos. Calgary finally got back to their winning ways against the Argonauts. Always a bitter rivalry, this game should prove to be one of the best this week.

BC’s Keys to the Game:

Air it Out: BC needs to continue to air the ball out this week. With talented receivers such as Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon, the Lions have all the talent they need. Calgary’s secondary is still young and inexperienced, and BC could get some big plays.

Change it Up: As mentioned, Calgary’s defense is young and the Lions should take advantage of this. BC should use a lot of misdirection plays that could catch Calgary off guard and spring BC for some big gains.

Make Calgary Settle for Short Gains: Calgary went to the short passing game against Toronto last week and it worked effectively. Still, BC would be smart to let Calgary settle for these short plays because the more they do, the more chance there will be for them to make a mistake. If BC plays to close to Calgary’s receivers, players like Keynon Rambo could burn them deep.

Calgary’s Keys to the Game:

Run with Reynolds: Jofffrey Reynolds still hasn’t got going this season, but there is always a possibility he can take over a game. Reynolds has had success against the BC Lions before, and Calgary should try to get him going.

Avoid Turnovers: BC has a ball hawking secondary who loves to get interceptions. Burris needs to make smart throws and avoid turning the ball over.

Keep on Eye on BC’s Big Guns: Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon are both talented recievers, and they both killed the Eskimos last week. If Calgary loses track of either of these receivers in coverage, they could burn them for a big play.

Both Calgary and BC are coming of big wins. However, it appears that Jarious Jackson, the man who orchestrated the win for BC won’t be starting. Instead inconsistent Buck Pierece will get the start. I think this is a mistake personally, and it will swing things in Calgary’s favour.

My Pick: Calgary

Saturday July 25th
Game One: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Edmonton Eskimos

It is a homecoming party in the prairies. Former Rider Maurice Lloyd, Kitwana Jones and defensive coordinator Richie Hall are all returning to Saskatchewan to face the Riders. After leaving the Riders to coach the Eskimos this season, Hall has struggled so far. The Riders on the other hand started the season strong with two straight wins, and then faltered with a blow-out loss against the Alouettes.

Saskatchewan’s Keys to the Game:

Give Cates the Ball: Wes Cates returned last week but he was a bit rusty. With another week of practice in, Cates should be ready to go and the Riders should give him the ball. Cates always has success against the Eskimos.

Take Care of the Ball: The Riders cannot turn the ball over! It seems that the Riders have been very successful this season except for when they turn the ball over. The thing is, most of these turnovers have been fumbles, which shouldn’t be happening.

Where’s Clermont: The Rider have neglected to use Jason Clermont this season. Clermont is perfect for catching short passes and turning them into big gainers.

Edmonton’s Keys to the Game:

Protect Ray: Rick Ray has struggled during the season, but he hasn’t gotten any help from the offensive line. The o-line needs to give Ricky Ray time to get the ball out to his playmakers.

Run the Ball: The Eskimos have failed to run the ball at all this season. Saskatchewan is a bit weak against the running game, and Edmonton could have success in the game if they develop a running game.

Put Pressure on Durant: We all saw last week that Darian Durant isn’t good when he pressure on him. Edmonton’s defensive line has been there bright spot this season, and they should try to create as much pressure as they can against the Riders.

With plenty of former Riders returning to Mosaic Stadium, it should be a heated atmosphere. The Riders crowd is always loud and should cause problems for the Eskimos on offense. Ricky Ray always has the potential to have a big game, but the Eskimos are struggling a lot right now, and the Riders are still playing very well this season.

My Pick: Saskatchewan
My Record 6-6 (50%)

No comments:

Post a Comment