The first week of the 2012 CFL season is in the books and as expected, some of the results were surprising and raised a few eyebrows. Week 1 is always the hardest to predict because there is not much to go on. Every year there are teams that either surprise or disappoint. Now that I have a few games to work with, my picks should be a little more accurate.
Here are the week 2 matchups:
Friday July 6th
Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ Montreal Alouettes
Winnipeg’s offence was dreadful against the Lions last week, producing just 51 total yards in the first half.
That won’t get it done at any level of football. Buck Pierce’s latest injury and poor play have prompted Bomber fans to stir up a quarterback controversy after just one game. Pierce will start again this week but he may be on a short leash. On the bright side, the defence looks to have picked up where they left off last year which means that Winnipeg should be able to keep most games close even with their struggles on offence. Also, Auburn product Demond Washington looks like he could be that bona fide punt and kick returner that the Bombers have been looking for.
If you can believe this, Montreal suffered their worst loss in 30 years last week when they lost by 28 points. They’ll be hoping that it was just a blip on the radar. Their defense might suggest otherwise as they gave up a ton of yards last week and the early consensus is that the Als have the worst secondary in the league. Of even greater concern, QB Anthony Calvillo looked very average last week throwing for under 200 yards. It was an uncharacteristic performance for an offence that is widely regarded as the best in the league. Things won’t get much easier for Calvillo and company this week as they’ll be up against possibly the best defence in the CFL.
This is an intriguing matchup with both teams hungry for a win after brutal performances last week. If the Bomber offence is ever going to get on track, this might be the game to do it. They’ll have to establish the run game early and Pierce will have to prove that he is still capable of executing an offence effectively and consistently. But he is still banged up and playing behind a questionable offensive line. Left tackle Glenn January is expected to return from injury which should give the line some stability. I just can’t see Montreal’s offence stumbling again. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about Winnipeg’s offence.
Montreal 27 Winnipeg 17
Friday July 6th
Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ B.C. Lions
It’s back to the drawing board for the Tiger-Cats after getting blown out in their home opener. Just like Montreal, Hamilton’s defense struggled mightily. They’ll have to make some adjustments if they want to have any success against another powerful offensive unit in B.C. The offence will be fine, especially if tail back Chevon Walker can develop into an elite player. Now that they have gone through some adversity, we’ll see what Henry Burris and the Cats are really made of in these next few games.
Now that the receiving yardage record distraction is out of the way, Geroy Simon and the Lions can concentrate solely on football again. They put in a solid performance last week, but I still think this team can play a lot better. One area of concern may be the offensive line, a unit that gave up 3 sacks last week and had Travis Lulay scrambling more than he would have liked. They’ll be going up against a revamped Hamilton defensive line, so look for Lulay to be a little more comfortable in the pocket this week. That could spell trouble for the Ti-Cats secondary.
I think this will be the most entertaining game of the week. Hamilton will still have a sour taste in their mouth and I think Henry Burris will put up more points. I expect the Lions offence to also be better this week. If Chevon Walker can duplicate his performance Hamilton won’t spoil it two weeks in a row. But if the Cats don’t get a push from their d-line they’ll have to outscore the Lions which isn’t an easy task.
B.C. 37 Hamilton 34
Saturday July 7th
Calgary Stampeders @ Toronto Argonauts
The Stamps are coming off a very impressive week 1 win that saw them dominate on both sides of the ball. The win should give a lot of confidence to quarterback Drew Tate as he continues to evolve into a starting QB. There is really nothing to criticize about Calgary after just one game but we’ll see how they fare away from home.
Toronto lost a tough low scoring affair last week and they’ll be looking to be more consistent on offence this week for their home opener. Star running back Cory Boyd was held to just 48 yards against Edmonton and he’ll have to be more of a factor against Calgary if the Argos want to even their record. They’ll also have to establish a pass rush in order to prevent the Stamps offence from getting into a rhythm. The Argonauts defensive line registered a grand total of 0 sacks last week.
I expect this game to be tight as well. For Calgary, I am eager to see whether their offence can continue to move the ball efficiently or not. If they can once again establish the run game early they’ll have some success because it will set up the pass. For Toronto, it’s a work in progress and there were positives to take away from week 1 and I also think Scott Milanovich will be a patient coach. I think the Argos will play better, but I still think Calgary will win.
Calgary 23 Toronto 19
Sunday July 8th
Edmonton Eskimos @ Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Eskimos squeaked out a win last week and it should give the whole team a boost going forward. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. Quarterback Steven Jyles looks like he has developed some chemistry with his receivers which is good news for Eskimo fans. They looked sharp defensively as well, forcing two key turnovers last week and doing a good job of converging on the ball carrier. There is room for improvement along the ground, where Hugh Charles was limited to just 43 yards on 12 carries against the Argos.
Saskatchewan shocked everyone but themselves when they rolled to a 43-16 win last week. Darian Durant and Weston Dressler were simply unstoppable as they rekindled some old magic from previous years. In addition, the Riders may have found their new running back in Kory Sheets who rushed for 80 yards and also caught a pair of passes for 43 yards. They will want to clean a few things up defensively, particularly on the ground where they gave up a ton of yards last week.
If Edmonton can establish their run game, they will give themselves a chance. Although both teams are coming off a win, Saskatchewan showed a lot more to get excited about. I think the Riders are for real and I don’t think the Eskimos are yet. Fans in Regina will be fired up for this one and I think it will be very difficult for Edmonton to play in this environment. In my opinion, this is the only sure thing this week. Take the Riders.
Saskatchewan 32 Edmonton 13
My overall record: 1-3