Montreal played a solid road game and beat Edmonton 38-25. As did Toronto, who beat Calgary 22-14. The defending champion B.C. Lions rounded out the week with a convincing 24-5 thrashing of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Here’s a look at the games that make up Week 9:
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-4) @ Montreal Alouettes (4-3)
The Tiger-Cats turned the ball over a whopping six times in their loss to Winnipeg last week. No team can win when they do that. QB Henry Burris needs to hang on to the rock if he is going to run. They’ll try to turn the page this week when they visit the Alouettes. If they want to win, their defence will have to have their best game of the season. That unit as a whole has underperformed all year and it’s about time they make a difference in a game, such as knocking QB Anthony Calvillo around a little bit. With Chevon Walker out of the lineup, tailback Avon Cobourne will be making his season début. And expect returner Chris Williams to continue his hot steak in this one.
Montreal will look for their third win in a row after beating the Eskimos last week. Back up running back Victor Anderson filled in admirably for the injured Brandon Whitaker, rushing for over 100 yards. From an Alouette, standpoint, it’s good to know that you have depth in the backfield. Anthony Calvillo is getting protection right now and it’s making a big difference compared to the early stages of the season. Defensively, coordinator Jeff Reinebold is doing an excellent job of disguising multiple blitz packages that are keeping opposing offences off-balance.
This is a classic East division mid-season showdown between two pretty good football teams. You can bet Hamilton will be in a sour mood after dropping their last two, but at the same time Montreal will be looking to build on the momentum that they have created. The fact of the matter is that the Als offence matches up very well against the Tabbies defence. Bottom line: It’s Anthony Calvillo’s 40th birthday. How could he not play well?
Montreal 39 Hamilton 19
B.C. Lions (5-2) @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-5)
The defending champs are the class of the league right now and it should come as no surprise. I now rank their defence ahead of Edmonton’s for the best in the league. Case in point, the Lions have not given up a touchdown in three games. You read that right. Their going up against a young quarterback this week so I wouldn’t be surprised if they extended that streak to four. Travis Lulay and the offence are grinding out another productive season and are making big plays when they need to.
Quarterback Joey Elliott is the talk of the town in Winnipeg after throwing for 406 yards in the Bombers victory over Hamilton. It was a solid performance, but I’m not sold just yet. He made some errant throws that should have been picked off. The Lions defence will be a true test for the young pivot and now that they have some game film to work with, this one could get ugly for the Bomber offence. But Winnipeg will be fired up in front of their fans and will be determined to end the home stand on a good note.
This is bad timing for the Bombers. Just when they get a big win they have to get right back at it against the best team in the league. I just can’t see Joey Elliott having any success against that Lions defence. Still, look for the Bombers to keep it close. Bottom line: Once again, bad timing for the Bombers.
B.C. 28 Winnipeg 21
Calgary Stampeders (3-4) @ Saskatchewan Roughriders (3-4)
Stamps fans have to be getting frustrated by now. There’s just not much to like about this team heading into the second half of the season. Kevin Glenn and Jon Cornish have been inconsistent and the defence is nothing to write home about either. They are well coached, with John Hufnagel, Dave Dickinson and Rick Campbell as good as any in the league. The offence needs to put up more points and it starts this week in Regina.
The Riders, and their fans for that matter, are in shambles. They’ve lost four straight and desperately need a win this week. Fans are calling for a change at quarterback, but I’m not so sure that is the problem. Darian Durant has been throwing interceptions, but give him some time to work things out. I still believe this is a good football team that will be there in the end. It’s better to have these losing streaks now rather than in October.
I don’t care how early in the season it is; this is a huge game for both teams. The loser takes over sole possession of last place in the West. I could see Calgary winning this game, but I also have a vision of Kevin Glenn self-destructing under the intense conditions at Mosaic Stadium. Bottom line: Saskatchewan will be playing with more desperation.
Saskatchewan 21 Calgary 20
Edmonton was anemic on offence last week against Montreal, and most of that falls squarely on the shoulders of Steven Jyles. Hugh Charles was also held in check and Cory Boyd wasn’t even part of the game plan. It’ll be interesting to see if the Eskimos decide to give Boyd the ball more against his former team. I think the defense just had a bad game last week and will bounce back against the Argos.
Toronto played their most complete game of the season in Calgary last weekend. The new starting tailback, Chad Kackert, can do it all whether it is running blocking or receiving. He’s going to be a key piece for the Argos down the stretch. I also like what I see from the defense because they don’t give up that many big plays. And lastly, it’s always good to have the kicker with the strongest leg on your team. Swayze Waters as been nailing 60 yard field goals in practice and is 12 for 14 on the year.
To me, this is a no brainer. I like the direction the Argonauts are headed in and I think Edmonton is due for a few losses after their stellar start to the season. It’ll be fun watching Chad Kackert go up against Eskimo middle linebacker JC Sherritt. Something has to give there. Bottom line: Ricky Ray beats his old team.
Toronto 27 Edmonton 16
My record: 3-1 (last week) 13-15 (overall)