CFL: All Gloves Are off in Banjo Bowl Rematch; Alouettes to Rebound

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CFL: All Gloves Are off in Banjo Bowl Rematch; Alouettes to Rebound

We have officially entered the second half of the Canadian Football League season and it is still anyone’s game in both divisions. A win for Hamilton and a loss for Winnipeg puts Hamilton a game ahead of Montreal and a game behind Winnipeg.

Saskatchewan earns their second win of the season and will look to make another season sweep over Winnipeg. Meanwhile, Calgary will need an answer for Ricky Ray and the Eskimos after faltering all game and scoring only seven points.

Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Eskimos
Date: Friday, September 9, 2011
Time: 8:00PM CST
Team Record: 6-3 | Team Record: 6-3

Part of a back-to-back series with Calgary, Edmonton has already won the season series following their 35-7 win on Labour Day earlier this week. In that game, it was clear that Henry Burris was unable to get in sync with his receivers, throwing two interceptions and just 132 yards.

Ricky Ray on the other hand, while having similar yardage, threw two touchdowns and handled the game properly and will look for that same tenacity Friday night. A new weapon emerged from returning receiver Adarius Bowman who led the Eskimos with 81 yards.

Looking at the re-match Friday night, Edmonton will need to stay poised and focused. They can't do too much and allow plays to develop for Ray, as witnessed earlier in the season. When Ray is standing upright and given enough time he will make defenders pay with the long pass.

Henry and the Stampeders must get back to the basics and try to contain the ball. In both games, Calgary lost the fumble battle and ultimately lost both games. More production on getting first downs and getting Jon Cornish and Joffrey Reynolds involved will be key.

I don’t expect the same results Friday, but with Fred Stamps on the return shortly and Ray’s game picking back up; I don’t see Calgary winning this game.

Toronto Argonauts at B.C. Lions
Date: Saturday, September 10, 2011
Time: 3:00PM CST
Team Record: 2-8 | Team Record: 3-7

With things already at a low in Toronto, you would think things couldn’t have gotten any worse.

Low and behold Toronto comes through as they announced Tuesday morning that Cleo Lemon’s services were no longer required.

This is coming after their 29-16 loss to the B.C. Lions Friday night which saw Lemon pulled at half and Dalton Bell struggling the rest of the game, throwing four interceptions. Cleo Lemon was filmed making faces and laughing on the sidelines during the game, which most likely contributed to the release.

This is the second of two major moves made so far this season, as earlier we saw the team release Chip Garber from the reins of defensive coordinator. It’s believed that things happen in three and the next person on the chopping block will ultimately be Head Coach Jim Barker.

During their game at home, Lemon completed 11-of-15 passes. Four passes were drops and should have converted as catches. The overall picture does not have Lemon at fault for the latest string of failures and he was simply used as a scapegoat in Toronto.

This move now hastily puts Steven Jyles as the number one guy, a guy who hasn’t taken a snap in over a year. This is a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders of Jyles, however, he has had ten weeks to get to know the play book and will ultimately just need to work off the game rust that has accumulated.

As for the Lions, Travis Lulay and company just need to continue their game and good things will happen. B.C. has outscored their opponents the last two games 65-17. Lulay has thrown five touchdowns on one interception and 652 yards.

Playing on the road in B.C. hasn’t favoured Toronto, who has yet to win in B.C. since week two of the 2002 season, winning by a score of 30-22. B.C., on the other hand, is 1-3 at home this season and will look to finish out their time at the old stadium on a winning note.

B.C. takes it.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Montreal Alouettes
Date: Sunday, September 11, 2011
Time: 12:00PM CST
Team Record: 5-4 | Team Record: 5-4

Hamilton have won both games against Montreal at home, outscoring the Alouettes 78-47, but things will quickly change as they head to Molson Stadium on Montreal turf.

This is where Montreal is 3-1 so far this season while Hamilton has struggled on the road, losing three of their four games.

Kevin Glenn continues to demand respect and rightfully so, throwing eight touchdowns on two interceptions over the last five games and 1,404 yards. His No. 1 target, Dave Stala, has been his go-to guy, while he has a new member in his arsenal in the name of Chris Williams.

Chris Williams has come out of nowhere and has instantly become a credible target for Kevin Glenn.

So far this season, Williams has caught 41 catches for 694 yards and four touchdowns. Williams has continued to be a go-to guy for Glenn and was on the verge of a huge touchdown last week in Winnipeg when he was stripped at the goal line.

For Anthony Calvillo, he is once again faced with a three-game losing streak, which is now familiar after earlier in the season when Montreal lost to Saskatchewan and Hamilton before beating Toronto.

You can expect the home crowd will be fired up and bring the noise as Anthony continues his quest for the all-time leader in passing yards.

You can say that Montreal is not the once dominant team they used to be, however, there’s no question the team has experience and will do what they need to stop from losing three in a row.

I expect Montreal to full-out win the rematch.

Saskatchewan Roughriders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Date: Sunday, September 11, 2011
Time: 3:00PM CST
Team Record: 2-7 | Team Record: 7-2

Winnipeg and Saskatchewan: whenever these two teams meet each other, their records and all that surrounds their season goes out the window and they hold their own mini-season.

So far Saskatchewan has held it tight the last six years, winning four of the last eight banjo bowls.

Last season saw a game like none other when Steven Jyles came in and the Winnipeg defense held Saskatchewan to just two points and kept them away from the end zone. This season, that will change, and although I do not expect a blow-out like last season, Winnipeg is on a downward spiral and will need to make changes quickly in order to stay afloat.

At home, Winnipeg has won three of their four matches, losing by one point to Calgary earlier in the season.

The stadium will be packed to the roof once again with an expected 30,033 fans in attendance. This will be nothing new to Saskatchewan, and with Darian Durant expected to call his own plays once again, anything is possible.

While watching the Labour Day game, one could clearly see that tensions were at an all-time high as both Brandon Stewart and Cory Watson were ejected from the game. You know that they will want retribution and will be fired up. Kito Poblah will return once again for his third game of the season and looks poised to continue where he left off last week.

Expect a dog fight, grudge match and all things dirty Sunday afternoon between these two teams.

Buck Pierce and the offense will look to make a statement after putting up small numbers, while the defense will look to rebound and be hungrier than before to put down the Roughriders.

Winnipeg will take the rematch at home decisively.

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