After taking a look at the CFL East last week, it's time to take a look at the CFL West and see how close this division will be this year.
No. 4—BC Lions
Even though the Lions will be starting a Quarterback they intend to stick with, for the first time in a while, the BC Lions will have some troubles that may not be overcome. I think it was a positive for Javier Glatt to leave BC, but I don't know if they have anyone significant to replace him, and while the D-Line is capable of putting up sacks, that could leave them open for lots of rushing yards against.
Casey Printers made people think he was back to his old form last year, but the Lions O-Line does look suspect and could be a problem for Printers. Printers did well for BC Originally, and again last year. What about Hamilton? That's right, he didn't have an O-Line. That could leave some problems for Casey up against a good defence.
BC won't be far behind the pack in the West, but the rest of the West is just a step ahead, leaving the Lions in the back. Unfortunately I don't think the East will leave an opening for a crossover, so it will be an early exit for BC.
No. 3 —Edmonton Eskimos
The Eskimos look like they could be making a push back to contention in the West. The offence will be strong once agin with Ricky Ray still in his prime, and having some great receivers back to throw to. Fred Stamps will be back, and Kelly Campbell will also be back after a small hiatus. Stamps was last year's leading receiver, and Campbell has a lot of speed, and showed he can be an elite level receiver. Kamau Peterson will be back, and even though he didn't repeat his stats of 2008, he had a solid year, and should be in the mix.
If Arkee Whitlock stays healthy, he could be in the top 5 running backs this year after some confidence, and a full season to compete in. The O-Line isn't bad, but could be a bit of a weak spot for the Esks.
The defence did get better this year, and although Lenny Walls was added to the secondary, I'm not sure they will be able to consistently shut down opposing Quarterbacks and Receivers leaving Ricky Ray to fight for Shootout victories.
No. 2 —Saskatchewan Roughriders
Saskatchewan is coming off the most disappointing loss to a Championship game ever. The motivation to avenge the loss and show they were worthy of winning the big game, will take them a long way in the 2010 season.
Darian Durant has come into his own and has become very calm, cool and collected sitting in the pocket, and doesn't tend to get happy feet. Durant runs when he needs to, and is really playing smart possession football not giving up the ball as much as he did earlier last year.
Durant, along with a very solid O-Line and Receiving core, will make the Riders contenders in every game they play. The only question mark on the offence is the running game. If Cates is the man, and can stay healthy, it shouldn't be too much of a problem, but health has been an issue with Cates. Hugh Charles has potential, but I don't know if he can be the feature back. Only time will tell.
The way the Riders can put points up with the passing game will win them a lot of games. But if any team can control the pass and corral the limited run they will have troubles, especially since the defense will have troubles in many areas this sesaon. Adding Barrin Simpson helps, but it can't replace the loss of Chick, Baggs and Eddie Davis.
No. 1—Calgary Stampeders
The Calgary Stampeders didn't get a whole lot better in 2010, if at all. They will however play back to what was expected of them last year. There were many players that left for many interesting reasons which had many people questioning how bad the team would hurt by the losses, and if there was an underlying issue with the Stampeders organization.
The addition of some veteran and youthful Offensive Linemen has brought a whole new face to the front five, but with Henry Burris and his ability to avoid pressure, a weaker O-Line will not have as big an impact as it would a Ricky Ray or Anthony Calvillo.
Burris and Joffrey Reynolds anchor a very strong offense that will see Ken Yon Rambo back after week one, Nik Lewis who will be looking for his seventh consecutive 1000 yard receiving season, and Romby Bryant who can thrive with a Quarterback who can get him the ball deep.
The offense combined with a defense that is seeing a lot of players return, and return to shape in the case of Mike Labinjo, will give them an edge on all the other teams in the CFL West.