A busy week is ahead of us in the CFL with eight of the nine teams in action.
Week three begins with the Eskimos traveling to Winnipeg for the Bombers’ home opener. I know it’s early in the season but these are the only two teams in the west with wins so far and the Esks are trying to stay hot by ruining the party at IG Field.
The Bombers are the favourites for a lot of people to win it all this year and they looked good in week one. Matt Nichols threw for a few touchdowns and Andrew Harris was his usual dominant self with 148 rushing yards. The Bomber offense gets a boost this week with Chris Matthews returning from an injury suffered in training camp and they look to stop the red hot Eskimos after a bye week.
The Eskimos look to stay undefeated and take an early stranglehold on the West division. Trevor Harris has been exceeding expectations and is making fans forget about Mike Reilly early on in the season.
My prediction: Winnipeg is favoured by 3.5 points but I’m going to pick the Eskimos to win and continue rolling into their first bye week.
The Friday night game sees the Montreal Alouettes travel to Steel City to take on the first place Ti-Cats. Hamilton is coming off a 50-point thumping of the Argos and look to stay undefeated atop the East.
The Als only lost by a touchdown to the aforementioned Eskimos in week one but they lost so much more than that. Starting quarterback Antonio Pipkin went down late in the third quarter with an ankle injury and will not play this week. Instead, backup and former Rider Vernon Adams Jr. will get the start against Edmonton. He showed promise in week one going 7 for 10 with a touchdown and averaging 13.4 yards per attempt.
Hamilton running back and Montreal native Sean Thomas-Earlington will look to continue to build on his already strong season. He was named one of the CFL’s Top Performers for week two after 12 carries for 109 yards and adding 3 receptions for 56 yards. He is already second in the league in rushing with 177 yards.
My prediction: No surprise here that the Cats are favoured by 13 points and I would be an idiot not to pick them.
The Saturday night game showcases two Western teams who have not won a game yet. Yes, I know that’s a little weird to say after just two weeks but who would have thought that after those two weeks that both BC and Calgary would be looking for their first W.
The defending champs took a hit on defense in the offseason. 2018 tackles leader and Canadian Alex Singleton was released in January to pursue the NFL and would eventually sign with the Philadelphia Eagles. Jameer Thurman would also go to the NFL, signing with the Chicago Bears. Micah Johnson left for the Riders, Ja’Gared Davis ended up in Hamilton and Ciante Evans would also go east to Montreal.
Despite the changes to the d-line, it always seems to be a “next man up” mentality for the Stamps and new defensive coordinator Brent Monson. They look to bounce back after a somewhat shocking loss to Ottawa at home in week 1. Calgary is fresh off the bye and any team led by Bo-Levi Mitchell is a threat to beat you.
The Lions are going to need to find a way to protect Mike Reilly better than they did last week. Yes, Calgary has lost some big names on defense, but the Stamps always find a way to replace those impact players with more capable guys. The Lions offensive line needs to shore up that Calgary defense so Reilly can do his thing or they run the risk of falling into an early hole in the standings.
My prediction: The Stamps are favoured by 10.5 points and I expect the defending champs to have a bounce-back game and get their first win.
The final game of the week is a Canada Day game as the Argos travel to Regina to take on the Roughriders in their home opener. Mosaic is always a tough place to play no matter how good or bad of a team you are, so expect the 13th Man to make an impact.
These are another two teams who are looking for their first win as Argos head coach Corey Chamblin makes his return to Regina for the first time since being fired by the Riders in 2015. The Argos are coming off an embarrassing 50-point loss to the Ti-Cats and need to tighten up that defense if they want to turn things around. James Franklin needs to have a better game this week and expect receiver Derel Walker to again be a favourite target for Franklin.
The Riders defense had an uncharacteristically bad game last week, allowing 44 points in their loss to Ottawa. I wouldn’t expect that two weeks in a row but the real question is whether the offense can put on an encore performance after putting up 452 total yards last week. Quarterback Cody Fajardo had a breakout game and will undoubtedly get the start but if he struggles in this game, we could see Isaac Harker take over.
My prediction: The Riders are the favourites by 11.5 and the defense will have a bounce-back game, helping to carry them to their first win.