Tuesday, July 14, 2009

CFL Preview Week Three: Expect the Unexpected

There were a few sure things fans of the CFL were expecting heading into the season.

They were expecting the Montreal Alouettes to be one of the dominant teams in the Eastern Division. Teams like Hamilton and Winnipeg were expected to struggle greatly, and even the BC Lions were expected to enter a rebuilding year.

In week one of the 2009 season, the script was followed nicely. Montreal handled the defending Grey Cup champions easily, Hamilton and Winnipeg both struggled and the BC Lions also lost.
In week two, there were a few surprises. Fans were expecting Montreal to beat the Eskimos, but the fact that Montreal put up 50 points was shocking.

In a pair of upsets, the Hamilton Tiger Cats outlasted the BC Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers handled the Calgary Stampeders.

If week two taught us anything, it is that we should expect the unexpected. There are a number of intriguing match-ups this week, that shou bvld make for some difficult picks.

Prediction TimeEvery week I will predict the winners of each game. Disagree with my picks? Comment down below with your picks and see if you can do better

Thursday July 16th

Game One: Edmonton Eskimos vs. BC Lions

In a battle of two struggling teams, the beleaguered Lions will stagger into Edmonton to take on the Eskimos. The 0-2 Lions have already lost two games they could have potentially won this season, and will look to take out their anger on the Eskimos.

Edmonton on the other hand is 1-1, but is likely still reeling from their 50-16 defeat at the hands of the Alouettes.

Edmonton has been having a lot of problems on the offensive side of the ball, and they will need to be more productive if they hope to beat the Lions. The running game can be an important part of the offense, and Edmonton’s has struggled all year long.

Whether it be Arkee Whitlock or Calvin McCarty, the Eskimos offensive line needs to do a better job blocking.

In the passing game, Edmonton needs to try and go deep. They tried to stretch the Alouettes defense on a few plays, but struggled. Unfortunately for Edmonton they are playing against a solid secondary.

On defense, Edmonton needs to try and throw Buck Pierce off of his game by applying pressure. When Pierce to throw the ball he can make good reads. But when he is pressured he struggles.
BC should also look to utilize the running game. Martel Mallet has improved each game, and if BC can get him going their offense could have success.

More importantly, Buck Pierce and the rest of the offense need to make smart decisions and take care of the football.

On defense, the Lions should put the pressure on Ricky Ray. The “immortal” Ray has struggled this year at times, largely due to pressure from the opposing defense.

It is always hard to win in Edmonton, but the Eskimos are struggling a lot right now. Though the Lions are 0-2, they have played decently in their first two games. Edmonton is doing alright on defense, but they are struggling greatly on offense.

If Edmonton can’t score a lot of points, Buck Pierce, Geroy Simon and the rest of the Lions just may steal the show.

My Pick: BC

Friday July 17th

Game One: Calgary Stampeders vs. Toronto Argonauts

Both the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders are coming off losses, but these two teams are heading in opposite directions. The defending champs are 0-2 on the season, and have looked nothing like the team who won the Grey Cup.

The Argos on the other hand, have looked solid like a team on the rise. Under the guidance of Bart Andrus, the Argos currently hold a 1-1 record.

Calgary will have a chance at home this week to turn their season around as the welcome Toronto into town.

Calgary has been struggling in all phases of the game.

For the Stampeders to improve, they will need to go back to the basics. On offense, they need to work at establishing the run with Joffrey Reynolds. Last year, Reynolds led the league in rushing and the Stamps had one of the best records in the league. In both games this year they have failed to get him going.

Henry Burris also needs to play better if Calgary hopes to best Toronto. Burris threw three more interceptions last week. Burris needs to go back to what worked for him last season and start living up to his contract.

On defense, the Stampeders will need to focus on stopping the run. Jamal Robertson has been nearly unstoppable for the Argonauts this season. When Saskatchewan started to shut down Robertson, the Argos offense struggled.

If Toronto wants to get a tough win on the road, they will need to continue their tough play. Expect a healthy dose of Jamal Robertson and Kerry Joseph on the ground, as the Argonauts will try to wear out the Stampeders defense. Toronto shouldn’t be afraid to test the Stamps pass defense, as their secondary has struggled.

On defense, Toronto need to be aggressive, but not take bad penalties like they did against the Riders.

If Toronto can shut down Joffrey Reynolds, it will make the Stampeders one dimensional on offense.

Calgary has failed to live up to expectations so far this season. If I had looked at the schedule before the season had started, I would have never picked Toronto to win this game. But this isn’t the Calgary team that won the Grey Cup, and this isn’t the Toronto team that only won four games last season.

My Pick: Toronto

Saturday July 18th

*Game of the Week*

*Game One: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. Montreal Alouettes*

In a battle of the titans, the 2-0 Saskatchewan Roughriders will face the 2-0 Montreal Alouettes. Montreal is averaging 45 points a game this season, and Saskatchewan broke out for 46 points last week.

Both Montreal and Saskatchewan are playing well on offense, defense, special teams, and are well coached. What a matchup!

Darian Durant cut down on the turnovers against Toronto, and the Rider offense was effective. Avoiding turnovers will be crucial against the Montreal Alouettes, as they will pounce on any mistake.

Saskatchewan should try to develop the run with running back Hugh Charles, who had a pair of touchdown and showed a wicked back-flip against the Toronto Argonauts. The Riders should also look to big time targets Andy Fantuz and Weston Dressler.

On defense, the Riders need to try and disrupt Anthony Calvillo. Calvillo isn’t often sacked, but if the Riders can get some pressure on him, it could put him off his game. If not, Calvillo could torch the Riders defense all night long. Luckily, Gary Eteceverry is known for bringing new defense to the game. Stevie Baggs should be a force to reckon with.

Montreal will likely use a balanced attack on offense like they’ve been doing so far. Calvillo will spread the ball around to multiple players and use Avon Coburne when they need to,
The best way to stop Sasktchewan is to put pressure on Darian Durant, but the young offensive line has been giving him a lot of protection. Montreal will also need to key on slot backs Andy Fantuz and Weston Dressler.

This game is also really hard to call. Montreal has been the hottest team so far, but Saskatchewan hasn’t been bad themselves. They have played aggressively on defense and Darian Durant is coming into his zone.

Anthony Calvillo is always solid, but he is going into a hostile Mosaic Stadium where the fans will be loud and proud. If this game was in Montreal I would definitely pick Montreal, but you can’t count the Riders out at home.

My Pick: Saskatchewan (Tough Call)

Game Two: Hamilton Tiger Cats vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Fan or not, you had to be happy for the Hamilton Tiger Cats last week, as they not only won a game, they won a game on the road in a different time zone. Winnipeg also has something to cheer about, as they dethroned the defending Grey Cup Champions on the road.

Both teams will look to continue their success and the winner will move up in the Eastern Division.

Hamilton got a much better effort out of Quinton Porter in week two, and new running back DeAndra Cobbs. They will need a continued effort from both of these players in week three.
Hamilton needs to utilize their stars on offense. Quinton Porter needs to manage the game for Hamilton. Also expect a healthy dose of DeAndra Cobbs and Prechae Rodriquez.

On defense, Hamilton needs to focus first most on the running game. Fred Reid and Lavaerus Giles have been solid on the ground for the Bombers, and shutting them down will put pressure on Stefan Lefors.

Winnipeg on the other hand, will try to use the running game as much as they can. Terrance Edwards should also be a go to guy for the Bombers, as he stepped up last week with Derrick Armstrong’s absence.

On defense, Winnipeg needs to continue to be aggressive. They need to flow to the ball prevent the Tiger Cats from getting a big play.

This is really a hard game to predict, as both teams were so bad in week one and good in week two. There will definitely be a lot on the line as both teams play in the East. The game really could go anyway, but I am always hesitant to pick the Tiger Cats.

My Pick: Winnipeg (Another Tough Call)
My Record: 5-3 (63%)

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