CFL Week One Preview: Calgary-Montreal Headlines Exciting Opening Week
With the CFL season started, tune in to Bleacher Report often for complete coverage. I will be coming out with two articles on the CFL per week during the regular season. In one, I will preview the games to come and offer my predictions and in the second, I will recap the games, hand out some awards and display power rankings.
If you are looking for in-depth coverage of the CFL, you are in the right place. If you are looking for a place to learn ballroom dancing… well then you are in the wrong place.
The wait is finally over!
The long heated off-season has withered down, the gruelling training camp has winded down, and the final rosters are set for a new season. Seven teams will be trying to dethrone the defending Grey Cup Champion Calgary Stampeders.
The quest for the Grey cup will begin this Wednesday, when the CFL opens up with a double header. It doesn’t matter how you did last season or what your record was—every team is undefeated and has a chance to become the next Grey Cup Champions.
We have all heard the headlines heading into the season.
“Will Tiger Cats finally make the playoffs?”
“Will Calgary repeat as Grey Cup Champions?”
Now, it is time to find out the answers to these questions.
Every 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
Wednesday July 1
Game One: Hamilton Tigercats vs. Toronto Argonauts
Another instalment of the Hamilton-Toronto rivalry—what a perfect way to start the season.
Two underachieving teams last season, the Tabbie and the Argos will both have something to prove this season. A win over their biggest rivals would be a welcome start to the season for both teams.
Both teams retooled a lot over the off-season, with Toronto adding Zeke Moreno, Rob Murphy and Dominic Picard; and Hamilton adding Alexander Gauthier, Dan Goodspeed and Brandon Guillory.
It is also the debut of two new head coaches. Bart Andrus will look to right the Argos sinking ship and Marcel Bellefuile will begin his first official season as Tabbies head coach.
For Toronto, a big key to the game will be shutting down the run. Hamilton has bulked up on the offensive line and have talented running back Terry Caulley carrying the rock.
If Toronto does this, they will put more pressure on Hamilton’s starting quarterback, be it Kevin Glenn or Quinton Porter. On offense, they need to try to establish some sort of running game. If they are successful in this, Kerry Joseph will have less pressure on him and settle into his grove.
For Hamilton, a big key to the game will be containing Kerry Joseph. Joseph is known for scrambling with the football and it is usually bad for the defense when he does.
If they do this, it will force Joseph to settle in the pocket and throw the football, which he struggles with. On offense, Hamilton should look first to establish the running game. Hamilton ran all over the Argonauts last season, and should be able to do so again.
This game really could go either way. Both teams have a different look and will be desperate for a win. Hamilton is at home however, and they will have a faithful crowd behind them hoping for the start of something great.
My Pick: Hamilton
*Game of the Week*
*Game Two: Calgary Stampeders vs. Montreal Alouettes*
The second game of the doubleheader is the Grey Cup rematch from last season, when Calgary traveled into Montreal and claimed victory.
With both teams rosters pretty much intact, this game should prove to be a very heated one—and undeniably the game of the week.
Anthony Calvillo has returned for another season, determined to lead the Alouettes to the Grey Cup.
The Stampeders however, will be celebrating their Grey Cup victory and won’t want the Als to spoil the party.
For Calgary to win, they will need to attack Montreal’s defense through the air and on the ground. Montreal has the ability to put up a lot of points and Calgary may need to score a lot of points to win.
On defense, it is really hard to stop the Alouettes offense, but if Calgary can shut down the run and get pressure on Anthony Calvillo then they may be able to hold Montreal in check.
For Montreal to win, they will need to also put up a lot of points. Sometimes the best defense against Calgary is a good offense, and the more Montreal has the ball, the less time Henry Burris will be able to go to work.
When Calgary does have the ball, Montreal will need to contain Henry Burris and get pressure on him, or else he will torch their defense.
Common knowledge would say that Calgary would win this game.
They are the defending Grey Cup Champions and are playing at home. But Montreal is angry following their Grey Cup defeat, and while Calgary is celebrating their Grey Cup victory, Montreal will be there to play football.
My Pick: Montreal
Thursday July 2
Game One: Edmonton Eskimos vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
In an intriguing third game of the season, the Blue Bombers will travel into hostile Commonwealth Stadium.
Stefan Lefors, Edmonton’s third string quarterback last season, is now the starter for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He will square off against quarterback Ricky Ray—one of the best in the business.
What makes this game so intriguing is that we don’t know what to expect from either team. Winnipeg has question marks at the quarterback position, and Edmonton is being lead by former defensive coordinator Richie Hall.
For Winnipeg, as hard as it may sound, the key is to get Ricky Ray off his game. Ray can pick a defense apart, but if Winnipeg can put pressure on him, it will force Edmonton to turn to the running game, where they don’t have many proven options.
On offense, Winnipeg should attack Edmonton’s front seven with rising star Fred Reid. If the running game is working, it will open up the passing game where talented receivers Derrick Armstrong, Romby Bryant, and Terrance Edwards will look to reek havoc.
Edmonton on the other hand, will look foremost to stop the run. Fred Reid is one of the rising stars in the game and if they stop him, it will put pressure on the inexperienced Stefan Lefors. On offense, Edmonton should try to establish the run, but if all else fails, they should make sure Ricky Ray is protected then air the ball out.
Stefan Lefors may have success in the league, but it will likely take him a while. He is competing against one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and an improved Eskimos defense.
If Lefors plays solidly, the Bombers could pose a challenge to the Eskimos, but if not it could be a long day.
My Pick: Edmonton
Friday July 3
Game One: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. BC Lions
Returning to the stage of the Western Semi-final, the Riders will look to avenge last season's loss at home.
The game will have plenty of hype going into it, as former Rider Anton Mackenzie will return to Saskatchewan and former Lion Jason Clermont will face his former team for the first time.
It is always a bitter battle when the Lions come into Regina, and with the question marks surrounding both teams, it should be interesting to see how the game plays out.
For Saskatchewan, getting Buck Pierce off his game will be key. BC doesn’t have a proven running game, so if Pierce is put off his game, the Lions will be in trouble.
On offense, Saskatchewan should look to get the ball to their playmakers. If Darian Durant can get the ball out to playmakers Weston Dressler and Andy Fantuz, it could be a long day for the Riders.
For the Lions, pressure will be the key. Darian Durant could be thrown out of his game—and into bad reads and turnovers—if the Lions put consistent pressure him.
On offense, if the Lions can develop a running game, it would shift the momentum in their favour. And of course, if all else fails, Buck Pierce just needs to get the ball out to Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon.
Both teams have a lot of question marks heading into the season, and this game could go a long way to determine the answers. Saskatchewan does have the home field advantage, though it hasn’t always been an advantage in this series.
My Pick: Saskatchewan
My Record: 0-0
If you missed any of my season previews, they can be found here. Calgary Stampeders, Saskatchewan Roughriders, BC Lions, Edmonton Eskimos, Montreal Alouettes, Hamilton Tiger Cats, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Toronto Argonauts
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