After an eventful week 2 in the Canadian Football League, fans and players are excited for what week 3 might have in store. For some teams, there is a sense of urgency and desperation to get their first win while other teams are looking to keep win streaks alive. As a result, there are four intriguing matchups on the schedule this week.
Here they are:
Thursday July 12th
Calgary Stampeders @ Montreal Alouettes
The Stampeders will be facing some adversity this week as starting QB Drew Tate is out with a shoulder injury.
The extent of the injury is not yet known. This means that veteran Kevin Glenn will get the start under centre and be relied upon to execute the offence and keep the Stamps competitive until Tate returns. Larry Taylor looks like he could be a game changer and if he can continue to give his team good field position Calgary will be able to keep the game within striking distance. The defence will have to play a lot better than they did last week but things don’t get any easier against the handful of playmakers on the Montreal offence.
Speaking of that Montreal offence, they put up 551 yards of total offence last week and it appears they have found their groove. That’s a scary thing for the other seven teams in the league. The Als have QB injury concerns of their own with Anthony Calvillo nursing a sore shoulder. However, the team doctors have given him the green light and he’ll start this week. Linebacker Chip Cox is leading the way defensively with 18 tackles through two games. That’s tied for tops in the league.
Kevin Glenn will be able to move the ball down the field with the skilled receivers he has to work with, but he also has a tendency to throw interceptions at key points of the game. I expect him to throw a couple picks just like he did last week. Also, look for Larry Taylor to have another big game on special teams and for running back Jon Cornish to get a lot of touches. If Montreal plays like they did last week they should have no trouble beating the Stamps at home. But in this league, no team ever plays like they did the week before. Still, the matchup between the Montreal offence and the Calgary defence is all I need to look at in this game.
Montreal 32 Calgary 20
Friday July 13th
Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ Edmonton Eskimos
The 551 yards Winnipeg gave up last Friday is the most given up by a Bombers defence since the 2005 season. What’s more, the secondary that led the CFL in interceptions last year has just one pick so far in 2012, and it came on a nothing play at the end of the first half against the Lions. Playing the Eskimos might be just what the doctor ordered, a team that is in shambles offensively. The Bombers match up well against them. However, Winnipeg is a team that has been decimated by injuries with several starters still out of the lineup. But it’s desperation time in Winnipeg and a win this week is what most Bomber fans are expecting.
Edmonton is coming off a putrid offensive showing in which they only scored 1 point in 60 minutes of football. After being pulled not once but twice last week, Steven Jyles will start the game at quarterback. The former Bomber will have to prove that he is capable of commanding the offence otherwise he’ll find himself back on the bench in a hurry. The defence has been strong through two games and that should continue against a Bomber offence that is still struggling to find some consistency. Linebacker JC Sherrit, who holds a share of the league lead in tackles with 18, is quickly emerging as a leader on the Eskimos defence.
If you want to see an outburst of offence, it’s probably not a good idea to buy tickets to this game. It will likely be a tight low scoring affair with the kickers playing a prominent role. I’ll give the slight edge on offence to the Bombers just based on last week’s games. Winnipeg absolutely needs a win here and I think they’ll get it.
Winnipeg 15 Edmonton 13
Saturday July 14th
B.C. Lions @ Saskatchewan Roughriders
British Columbia took care of business at home and will now play their first road game of the season against a division rival. Surprisingly, quarterback Travis Lulay has yet to throw for 300 yards in a game. I think he’ll put a stop to that little streak against the Riders. The Lions have had other players step up, most notably tail back Andrew Harris, returner Tim Brown and linebacker Adam Bighill. Those players give B.C a threat in every phase of the game, not to mention the abundance of talent this team has at receiver. So far so good for rookie head coach Mike Benevides, but we’ll see if he has his troops ready for the hostile environment that is always the biggest obstacle for visiting teams in Regina.
The Riders won ugly last week but their still undefeated through two games. After flying out of the gate in week 1, Saskatchewan’s offence took a step back last week. Having said that, their defence has put two strong showings together and this unit is making a case for being considered one of the best in the league early on. Not a lot of experts predicted that. Rookie head coach Corey Chamblin has his team playing with confidence but more importantly, he has instilled confidence in himself as a coach. Slot back Weston Dressler may be the Riders best player thus far, as he leads the league with 213 receiving yards and is QB Darian Durant’s favourite target.
This is going to be a great game to watch with two undefeated teams going head to head. One of these coaches will have to deal with their first loss and I’ll be interested to see how they and their team will respond in the following week. As for who will win, I’m taking the Lions in a dog fight.
B.C. 27 Saskatchewan 26
Saturday July 14th
Toronto Argonauts @ Hamilton Tiger-Cats
After a lacklustre start to the year, Toronto came out and made a statement in their win last week. When they have all of their weapons on offence going, this team can compete with anyone. If I was an Argo fan (which I’m not) I would be very excited. It seems to me that QB Ricky Ray and head coach Scott Milanovich have developed some great chemistry in terms of play calling and strategy. It’s always important for the head coach and QB to be on the same page. I think the offence will continue to make strides this game and I also think speed demon Chad Owens will have a big day returning punts and kicks.
There’s trouble brewing in Hamilton, and not just on the field. There are rumours that head coach George Cortez has had issues with some of his veteran players and has had arguments with defensive coordinator Casey Creehan (their defence is ranked last in the league). That’s not something you want to hear in the third week of a season. To me, the Tiger Cats are the biggest mystery so far. They have talented players, but there just seems to be a missing ingredient. To be honest, I don’t like Cortez’s demeanour. He just doesn’t seem like a player’s coach. If he is the problem, I don’t think he’ll be around long if the Cats keep losing. Keep in mind, big things were expected from this team prior to the season.
Talk about two teams heading in opposite directions. The Argonauts are playing as a team while the Ti-Cats may have locker room issues. I’ll be watching Chevon Walker closely to see if he can pull off yet another big play for Hamilton. But if the first two games are any indication his influence might not be enough anyways. Hamilton might be destined to lose yet again. Ricky Ray should have his way against a defence that is full of holes. I say Toronto wins the first installment of the Battle of Ontario.
Toronto 35 Hamilton 29
My overall record: 4-4