Canadian Football: Battle of the Top CFL Teams in the East and West

Dorian McLean@Quartz87Contributor IIIJuly 31, 2011

Entering Week 6, two teams who found themselves at the bottom of their respected divisions just a season ago are both on top, as the Edmonton Eskimos are undefeated at 5-0 while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are 4-1 after beating the B.C. Lions, and the two teams match up this Friday night for a big show down.

Following last Saturday’s one-point loss to the Calgary Stampeders, trouble still looms in Saskatchewan, and the fans want answers. Out East, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were able to get a big win over divisional rivals Montreal Alouettes, and Toronto continues to struggle behind center as they lost to the Eskimos.

Montreal Alouettes at Toronto Argonauts
Date: Thursday, August 4, 2011
Time: 6:30PM CST
Team Record: 3-2 | Team Record: 1-4

For the Toronto Argonauts, they have had trouble getting a rhythm going under center as quarterback Cleo Lemon was starting to come into his own against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Week 4, but a big hit knocked him out of the game and brought back-up quarterback Dalton Bell for relief.

Through two games, Dalton Bell has thrown for 325 yards, completed 53.6 percent of his passes and has one touchdown to four interceptions.

As for the Montreal Alouettes, Anthony Calvillo left the game against the Roughriders early, and again the backup, Adrian McPherson, took over for the remainder of the game.

Adrian would complete 63.1 percent of his passes, throwing one touchdown and a pick and finished with 98 yards. Anthony Calvillo returned last week in a loss over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and appears to be slowing down.

Montreal’s receivers have not been the productive players that we are normally seeing, with several drops or overthrows, and Anthony Calvillo has been pressured a little more than he is probably used to.

Key here for the Alouettes is to keep the pocket intact and allow the routes to play out, otherwise it’ll be a long game for Montreal.

Toronto will go with Dalton Bell under center should Lemon’s nagging tooth injury keep him out of action once again, which can only be good for Dalton Bell to get more reps in practice as they prepare for the Alouettes.

Chad Kackert will be a key to their offense as Chad Owens has struggled as of late and Cory Boyd has yet to return to the field. Look for Kackert to make good on returns and put less pressure on Dalton Bell.

Verdict: Montreal by seven.

Edmonton Eskimos at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Date: Friday, August 5, 2011
Time: 6:30PM CST
Team Record: 5-0 | Team Record: 4-1

When these two teams meet this week, no one around the league expected them to be at the top of their divisions, the Eskimos undefeated and Winnipeg dominating most stats.

But Friday night will showcase these two teams as head coach Kavis Reed returns to his former team that he has spent the last season with.

Buck Pierce and the Winnipeg offense will need to click on all cylinders, as Edmonton has scored an average of 30.6 points per game through five weeks, while the Bombers have only mustered 24.8.

Winnipeg’s defense through five weeks has been outstanding and should continue their dominant play, and it will be key for them to shut down Fred Stamps, who has averaged at least one touchdown a game.

Look for Ricky Ray and the Eskimos to go deep and test Winnipeg’s secondary while keeping it balanced with Jerome Messam on the ground, averaging five yards a carry. Through five weeks, Winnipeg has given up 103.60 yards on the ground compared to Edmonton’s 87.40.

Verdict: Winnipeg by three.

Saskatchewan Roughriders at B.C. Lions
Date: Friday, August 5, 2011
Time: 9:30PM CST
Team Record: 1-4 | Team Record: 0-5

Things continued to get worse for Wally Buono and the B.C. Lions after their 25-20 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week, and it appears it will stay that way for the time being.

The Lions have had relatively great success at home against the Roughriders, winning the last four of six contests, however, breaking down the numbers, each team scored the same amount of points and should be no easy contest.

The Roughriders offense has struggled for the majority of the season, hinting that the loss of Rob Bagg and Andy Fantuz has hurt tremendously. The continuity for the offense has not been there, as receivers have dropped catchable balls.

As for the Lions, they have all the tools there, just waiting for the rookies to get on the same level. Travis Lulay is playing some of his best football and is a surprise to see them at 0-5.

Verdict: B.C. Lions by four.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Calgary Stampeders
Date: Saturday, August 6, 2011
Time: 8:30PM CST
Team Record: 3-2 | Team Record: 3-2

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are on a high right now following their 34-26 win over the Montreal Alouettes, a team that has given Kevin Glenn and company problems for years.

Through the last six meetings in Calgary, the Tiger-Cats have struggled to find a way to win and that will continue to be difficult Saturday evening as Henry Burris looks to continue their winning ways.

Right now the Stampeders defense is averaging a league low 84.60 yards through the ground and 229.20 through the air, second in pass-defense.

Avon Cobourne stated he would run hard against his former team last week and did just that, rushing for 67 yards on 15 carries and picked up key first downs. He will need all the holes he can find Saturday if he wants to beat the Stampeders.

Kevin Glenn has managed the game well enough as of late, throwing for seven touchdowns and zero interceptions along with an average of 277 yards. Henry Burris’ experience will be key here in stopping Kevin Glenn and the Tiger-Cats.

Verdict: Calgary by seven.


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