CFL Beat: Week 18

The Maestro
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The Maestro

The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn’t in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
The Maestro
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We’ve got just four weeks left of the season; the playoff picture is now mostly set, but the final playoff spot – which is almost certain to be a crossover berth – remains up for grabs. BC, Edmonton and Ottawa all remain eligible for it, but the REDBLACKS will need multiple miracles in order to clinch it. Realistically, it comes down to the LioUns and Eskimos – an Edmonton win and they’re in, but a BC win keeps the drive alive for another week.

In league news this week:

  • After being eliminated from the 2019 playoff race, the Toronto Argonauts fired GM Jim Popp, and replaced him with their own franchise legend in Michael “Pinball” Clemons. While Popp led the Argonauts to a surprising 2017 Grey Cup win over the heavily favoured Calgary Stampeders, the rest of his tenure with the franchise has been middling at best; despite making a splash in free agency previously, bringing in such big names as SJ Green, Chris Rainey, Derel Walker, and others, his biggest failure as a GM was not handling the succession plan at QB properly. Popp had banked on former Eskimos backup James Franklin to be ready as a CFL starter upon Ray’s eventual retirement, but injuries and misevaluation proved to be his legacy, as Franklin has been a bust. Clemons has previously been a legendary running back for the Argonauts, holding the all-time record for most combined yards gained in the regular season (25,438) while also winning three Grey Cups as a player. Clemons is also the second-winningest head coach in Argonauts franchise history, with 67 victories and a Grey Cup championship in 2004. Clemons has been a member of the Argos’ front office in various capacities since 2001, though his most recent role has been as vice chairman of the team.
  • As part of the rebuild in Toronto, the Argos traded QB Zach Collaros to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who are looking for some QB depth in the playoff stretch drive. Collaros didn’t play a snap for Toronto during his second stint with the team, and while he hasn’t looked like the player he once was ever since tearing his ACL in the 2015 season, he remains a solid roster addition, particularly for a team like Winnipeg, where QB Chris Streveler has been up and down with his play with every passing week.
  • The BC Lions announced WR Lemar Durant will miss the rest of 2019 with a foot injury, which he suffered in last week’s contest against the Toronto Argonauts. Despite his absence, the Lions will still have a productive receiving corps, with All-Star Bryan Burnham leading the way.
  • The Montreal Alouettes announced OL Tony Washington will miss the rest of 2019 with a broken leg, which he suffered in last week’s contest against the Calgary Stampeders. In some bad luck, Washington broke the leg when his own teammate, Vernon Adams, Jr., fell on him as he was tackled in the pocket. Washington’s absence will be felt – as the starting left tackle, he was one of the lynchpins for a resurgent Montreal offensive line, which has paved the way for their return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

WEEK 17 RECAPS

Edmonton 12 vs. Hamilton 42: Another week, another home win for the Ti-Cats. Even with Jeremiah Masoli out for the year, the Tabbies keep rolling on; Dane Evans continues to look more like a starting QB with every game. Evans had two more touchdown passes to help lead Hamilton to the win; Lirim Hajrullahu added four field goals, while the Tiger-Cats also did well on two-point conversions in this game. Logan Kilgore struggled for Edmonton, throwing three picks in this contest, including a pick-six by DB Richie Leonard. Staring down a 19-3 deficit at halftime, the Eskimos needed to show some urgency coming into the second half… which they absolutely did not do. It’s becoming clear that Trevor Harris is sorely needed in the lineup, but even that may not be enough for the Eskimos at this point.

PICK: Hamilton

RESULT: Hamilton

Calgary 17 vs. Montreal 21: Looking for revenge after a crazy back-and-forth double-OT Alouettes win a few weeks ago, the Stamps were forced to return from Quebec empty-handed once again. Montreal’s D stood stout in this contest, racking up three forced fumbles, an interception, and two sacks, bringing the heat all game long. With star QB Vernon Adams, Jr. back in the lineup having served his one-game suspension for his conduct in Week 15 against Winnipeg, Montreal put together enough offence in this contest to finally lock down a playoff berth – their first since 2014. With the Alouettes doing a good job of limiting Calgary’s run game, Bo Levi Mitchell was forced to throw a ton in this game – he finished 31-43 for 464 yards, a TD, and a pick; at the end of the day, despite tons of yards, the Stampeders couldn’t make this count when they mattered most.

PICK: Calgary

RESULT: Montreal

Winnipeg 6 vs. Saskatchewan 21: The Roughriders claimed sole possession of first place in the West thanks to their defeat of the Blue Bombers, coupled with Calgary’s loss; it’s heady times in Saskatchewan this year, who were expected to make the playoffs, but likely lag behind perennial powerhouses in the Bombers and Stamps. Thanks to another strong defensive performance, Gang Green slides into first place, having won nine of their past ten games. Both team’s offences started slowly, but Saskatchewan made the most of three Winnipeg turnovers; a spectacular 61-yard catch-and-run TD by WR Shaq Evans (7 catches, 193 yards) sealed the deal in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, vaulting the Riders over their prairie rivals. The Bombers still have a playoff spot locked up, but their road to the Grey Cup is suddenly looking a lot more difficult than before.

PICK: Saskatchewan

RESULT: Saskatchewan

Toronto 8 vs. BC 55: After beating the Argos in a nailbiter back in Week 4, solely thanks to Chris Rainey’s foot being out of bounds on a return, the Lions made no mistake this time, absolutely destroying the last-place team in the CFL and keeping their playoff hopes alive for another week. Mike Reilly threw five touchdowns in this one, setting a new personal best for him during his illustrious CFL career. BC had a 34-0 lead at halftime, thanks not only to some extremely effective work on offence, but also due to three brutal turnovers by the Argonauts as well. Toronto had one late touchdown by McLeod Bethel-Thompson to Armanti Edwards, but the outcome was already without question at that point. With the loss, the Argonauts were officially eliminated from playoff contention in 2019, and the franchise turns the page to look ahead to next year and beyond.

PICK: BC

RESULT: BC

BYE: Ottawa (3-11)

WEEK 18 PREVIEWS

Ottawa (3-11) vs. Toronto (2-12), Friday, October 11th, 7:00 PM EST (TSN, ESPNEWS) With GM Jim Popp gone and the team appearing ready for another rebuild, the Argos have nothing left to play for this year. Ottawa is still technically not eliminated yet from the playoff race, somehow, but they’re also pretty much in the same boat. QB Will Arndt will receive his first CFL start this week, and it’s probably just as well; neither Dominique Davis nor Jonathon Jennings have been up to the task this year. Hard to believe that the REDBLACKS got absolutely smoked in the second half the last time that these two teams met; considering that Toronto has won all of two games on the season, the way they played against Ottawa in that second victory, you’d have thought they were Grey Cup contenders or something…

PICK: Toronto

Saskatchewan (10-4) vs. Calgary (9-5), Friday, October 11th, 9:30 PM EST (TSN, ESPN+)The Riders need to keep on winning in order to ensure they hold on to sole possession of first in the West; that said, that’s always easier said than done – particularly on the road in McMahon Stadium. The Stamps got pummelled by a ferocious Montreal D that didn’t let them establish much of a run game at all; it’s likely they’ll get more of that in this one, particularly if Charleston Hughes has his Wheaties in the morning. The West is far from won as of yet, but Saskatchewan has had some stellar play as of late, particularly QB Cody Fajardo, who’s now gone three straight games without throwing an interception. I’ve probably cursed him now by including that stat, but it’s still an interesting one to dwell on this week.

PICK: Calgary

Montreal (8-6) vs. Winnipeg (9-6), Saturday, October 12th, 4:00 PM EST (TSN, ESPN+)Chris Streveler will go again for the Bombers this week, despite remaining maddeningly inconsistent during his time as their de facto starting QB, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Zach Collaros get some action in a limited playbook down the stretch over the last few weeks if the offence continues to run cold. The Alouettes remain unlikely to win the East, but they do have a home playoff date locked up already – the biggest priority will be to make sure that everyone stays healthy during the stretch drive. Unfortunately, the Als have lost starting LT Tony Washington to a broken leg, which hurts – the O-line is good, but he’s a valuable contributor all the same.

PICK: Winnipeg

BC (5-10) vs. Edmonton (7-8), Saturday, October 12th, 7:00 PM EST (TSN, ESPN+)Despite the Eskimos remaining two games ahead of the Lions in the standings, these teams appear to have reversed fortunes from the first half of the season. BC has won four in a row and looked fantastic, while the Eskimos have shrivelled down the stretch drive; at one point, they could have clinched a playoff spot much earlier, but they’ll need to beat BC here in order to ensure it. The LioUns aren’t dead yet, true, but this is the biggest game of the season for them; they’ll need to pull out all the stops here if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

PICK: BC

BYE: Hamilton (12-3)

STANDINGS AND STATS

East Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Points For Points Against
x-Hamilton 15 12 3 459 288
x-Montreal 14 8 6 360 356
Ottawa 14 3 11 238 422
e-Toronto 14 2 12 264 484

West Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Points For Points Against
x-Saskatchewan 14 10 4 382 300
x-Calgary 14 9 5 366 301
x-Winnipeg 15 9 6 411 320
Edmonton 15 7 8 350 344
BC 15 5 10 370 385

x – clinched playoff berth
c – clinched division title
e – eliminated from playoff contention

Passing Yards

  1. Reilly, BC – 3891
  2. Harris, EDM – 3706
  3. Fajardo, SSK – 3439

Passing TDs

  1. Reilly, BC – 20
  2. Bethel-Thompson, TOR – 20
  3. Evans, HAM – 16

Rushing Yards

  1. Harris, WPG – 1088
  2. Gable, EDM – 997
  3. Stanback, MTL – 956

Receiving Yards

  1. Burnham, BC – 1300
  2. Banks, HAM – 1233
  3. Begelton, CGY – 1070

Sacks

  1. Hughes, SSK – 15
  2. Davis, HAM – 12
  3. Jefferson, WPG – 11

Interceptions

  1. Rose, WPG – 8
  2. Roberson, CGY – 7
  3. Rolle, HAM – 5

Field Goals

  1. Whyte, EDM – 42
  2. Hajrullahu, HAM – 40
  3. Ward, OTT – 34

PICK POOL

A bunch of leapfrogging going on this week; we’re now just four weeks to go in the pool, and Litre_Cola has a four-point lead on the field. Will it be enough for him to hang on?

Remember to submit your picks here! https://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=168258 

Rank Total Points Weekly Score Win Percentage
Litre_Cola 48 3-1 73.85%
SonOfSpam 44 2-2 67.69%
Game Time Decision 43 4-0 66.15%
The Maestro 43 3-1 66.15%
Beerguyrob 42 3-1 64.62%
BC Dick 42 4-0 64.62%
Ballsofsteelandfury 41 3-1 63.08%
Sharkbait 36 2-2 55.38%
blaxabbath 26 1-3 40.00%
Dolph Ucker 0 0-4 0.00%
nomonkeyfun 0 0-4 0.00%
Spanky Datass 0 0-4 0.00%
Wakezilla 0 0-4 0.00%

Enjoy the games, everyone.

The Maestro
The Maestro
The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn't in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
https://www.doorfliesopen.com/index.php/author/the-maestro/
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Game Time Decision

Wonder if Pinball is any good at player evaluations and trades.

ballsofsteelandfury

How the fuck are the Liouns still in playoff contention?

Also, how the fuck did Ottawa fall so far so fast? I mean, to go from Grey Cup to 3-11 in such as short time is crazy!