CFL Preview Week Six: Playing For Schultz

Jonathan HamelinCorrespondent IAugust 6, 2009

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 25:  Andy Fantuz #83 of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders tries to break free from Cam Hall #40 of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the third quarter in the 95th Grey Cup on November 25, 2007 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The Rough Riders won 23-19.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Week five was a typical week in the CFL, one full of surprises.

From the unexpected debut of Michael Bishop for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, to Edmonton’s impressive victory of the then undefeated Montreal Alouettes. The Hamilton Tiger Cats ran over the BC Lions at home and Saskatchewan silenced a lot of doubters by going into Calgary and stealing a win.

Well these surprises made for an entertaining week, it certainly was not favourable for my picks. Thanks to Montreal’s collapse, Winnipeg’s narrow victory, and Saskatchewan finally waking up, I went 1-3 with my picks last week.

My record is now up to 9-11, but I refuse to believe that I will stay in this funk! We all heard the saying before, ‘it’s not how you start but how you finish.” Well I plan to prove that from now on by making some solid picks.

Prediction Time

Disagree with my picks… well you’re probably right. See if you can do better by commenting down below.


Friday Double Header


Game One: Toronto Argonauts at Montreal Alouettes


The Montreal Alouettes showed us one thing last week; they are human, not all mighty super gods. And, contrary to Chris Cuthbert’s beliefs, will not go 18-0 this season. The Alouettes will welcome in their bitter rivals to town, the Toronto Argonauts.

A couple of questions will factor into the result of this game. Is Toronto’s offense capable of playing like they did earlier in the season, or have they reverted back to last year’s offense? And was last weeks loss to Edmonton the wake-up call that Montreal needed, or are they going to have a hangover from the loss?

The only thing that will prevent this game from being a blow-out in Montreal’s favour, is Toronto’s suddenly impressive defense. The front seven, lead by Adriano ‘the kissing bandit’ Belli, Ronald Flemons and an impressive linebacking core have helped make Toronto’s defense one of the top defense’s in the league. Toronto will likely send the house at Anthony Calvillo, blitzing like crazy to throw the crafty pivot off his game. It will also give Anthony Calvillo less time to throw the ball, which will in effect eliminate the deep game.

Toronto may have a decent time stopping Montreal on offense, but the Argo’s offense is porous. Kerry Joseph is struggling and Jamal Robertson’s productivity has all but disappeared. Without Arland Bruce, Toronto is lacking a deep threat at receiver.

As mentioned, Toronto’s defense will likely prevent this game from being a blow-out, but it won’t deliver them a win. Toronto will have to move the ball consistently against Montreal to win the game, but this has been easier said than done for Toronto. Montreal is going to be angry, and playing in front of their home crowd.

My Pick: Montreal

Game Two: Saskatchewan Roughriders at BC Lions


With long time defensive tackle Scott Schultz’s surprising retirement earlier this week, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be thinking of Schultz as they travel to hostile BC Place to take on the Lions. After a two game losing streak, the Riders seem to have things back on track, whereas the Lions are in a funk.

In all honesty, this game may well be a blow-out for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Riders have played well in recent years at BC, much like the Lions have played well in Saskatchewan. The Lions run defense is porous, and Saskatchewan will attack them with a healthy Wes Cates. The Riders were lacking an effective running game in their first game against the Lions, which resulted in a close game.

A solid running game should tire out a talented Lions secondary, and open up the passing game for Darian Durant and receivers Weston Dressler, Chris Getlzaf and Jason Clermont.

As I said, the Riders should very realistically win this ball game, but they were supposed to win against Edmonton too. Saskatchewan needs to be focused going into the game and get the job done.

If the Lions want any chance to win this game, they need to get Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon more involved. Simon and Jackson are the Lions best players on offense, but their success has been limited. Establishing the running game with talented rookie Martel Mallet could help.

It is always a close contest when these bitter rivals face off, but BC has lost their spark this year. With so many veterans released, and not enough quality players stepping into their place, Wally Buono has had his hands full making this team a winner. Saskatchewan has the momentum on their hands, whereas BC is coming off of two humiliating losses in a row.

My Pick: Saskatchewan


Saturday Double Header


Game One: Edmonton Eskimos at Hamilton Tiger Cats


The Eskimos and Hamilton Tiger Cats have both had their struggles in recent years. Hamilton has not had a winning season in ages and Edmonton just came off a two year drought from the playoffs last year. Yet, both of these teams find themselves in a good position so far this season. The Eskimos are tied for first in the West and the Hamilton Tiger Cats are in striking distance of first in the East.

Both sporting identical 3-2 records, this game should show which of these teams has what it takes to go to the next level.

Ever since there comeback victory in Saskatchewan, the Eskimos have been playing great. They handed the Montreal Alouettes their first loss of the season, and are starting to look like contenders.

Edmonton is having success on the ground with Calvin McCarty and Arkee Whitlock, and Ricky Ray is back on track in the passing game. Edmonton’s defense is also looking much better under the guidance of Richie Hall.

But Edmonton is facing off against a Tiger Cat team that is equally impressive. Star running back DeAndra Cobb has been eating defense’s alive, and Quinton Porter is improving each game. This game may very well be won in the trenches. The team that can run the ball and protect their quarterback the best, may be the team that wins the game.

Both Edmonton and Hamilton are fairly equally matched on paper, but Hamilton does have home field advantage. In a game that appears to be this close, that may be the advantage they need.

My Pick: Hamilton

Game Two: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Calgary Stampeders


In week two, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers got their first win, in the process dropping Calgary’s record to 0-2. Calgary will look to exact revenge as they welcome the Bombers into town.

I have to give Bomber’s head coach Mike Kelly credit. After the horrible play from all three of his quarterbacks, Kelly brought in Michael Bishop and got him ready to play on short notice. Bishop threw for 213 yards with one touchdown and interception, and did enough to get the Bombers the win.

It would appear that Winnipeg has it tough against the Calgary Stampeders, but the CFL is hardly predictable. With Stefan Lefors at the helm in week two, the Bombers handled the Stampeders quite easily. The Bombers have a talented running game, and Michael Bishop seems to play well against the Calgary Stampeders.

The Stampeders offense is still playing well this year, even without Kenyon Rambo in the line-up. Henry Burris still has plenty of tools at his disposal, such as Joffrey Reynolds, Jermaine Copeland and Nik Lewis. But they are matching up against one of the top defenses in the league, led by the fierce Doug Brown, Barrin Simpson in the middle, and the ball hawking outside linebacker Shideq Shibazz.

While the Stamps may have the advantage on paper in this game, I think it is time to stop piecing Calgary to win just because they are the defending Grey Cup Champions. It’s a new year, and Calgary will have to show they still have what it takes to win this year. Calgary’s defense is not as good as the Bombers defense. If Michael Bishop can put up some points on the Calgary defense, the Bombers may pull off yet another upset in the CFL.

My Pick: Winnipeg


My Record: 9/20 (45%)


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