Games I’ve circled on my 2021 CFL calendar

FINALLY. After a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 Canadian Football League season, the league announced it will officially be hitting the field on Aug. 5. Following the announcement on June 14 that the CFL is planning to go ahead, they have released its 2021 schedule. Each team will play 14 games over 16 weeks beginning on Aug. 5 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats visiting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a 107th Grey Cup rematch. The season will end with the 108th Grey Cup game in Hamilton on Dec. 12. Let it be known, I am excited for all 63 games on the schedule, but I will be highlighting some of the games that I am most looking forward to this season. 

Entire Week 1 Schedule
OK, so I kind of cheated on this one but the entire Week 1 schedule looks perfect to me. A Grey Cup rematch to start the season, followed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders hosting the BC Lions in the first Friday Night Football game of the season on Aug. 6. The week gets wrapped up with a doubleheader on Aug. 7 that begins with the Toronto Stampeders … I mean Argonauts visiting Calgary and the Ottawa REDBLACKS taking on the newly named Edmonton Elks. With football gone for so long, I don’t think many CFL fans cared about who played who, but I do believe the schedule makers knocked it out of the park with this one. 

Hamilton at Saskatchewan – Week 2
The first-place-finisher in the East versus the first-place-finisher in the West in 2019 square off in the final game of Week 2 on Aug. 14. This game will have a ton of star power with the likes of Jeremiah Masoli, Brandon Banks, Simoni Lawrence, Cody Fajardo, Shaq Evans and Micah Johnson representing the two teams. The last time the Ticats and Riders played, was a thrilling game with a walk off rushing touchdown from Fajardo that resulted in a 24-19 victory in favour of Saskatchewan.  Simoni Lawrence has built a pretty nice rivalry with Rider Nation so expect fire works on and off the field. 

Edmonton at BC – Week 3
The new look Elks will be the guests for the Lions home opener on Thursday NightFootball on Aug. 19. BC fans will get their first look at the revamped Lions, with head coach Rick Campbell prowling the sidelines against his former Ottawa tandem in Trevor Harris and Greg Ellingson, who will be sporting new antlers on their helmets. 

Labour Day Weekend – Week 5 
This one is obvious as the schedule makers gave us fans all the classics to celebrate before the kids go back to school. Montreal and Ottawa will kick off the weekend on Sept. 3, which will be followed by the Blue Bombers and Roughriders meeting on Sunday, Sept. 5 in their annual meeting. Toronto will visit Hamilton and Edmonton will visit Calgary on Labour Day Monday. Just the way we like it. 

Saskatchewan at Winnipeg – Week 6 
Another obvious one as the Riders and Bombers tangle in the Banjo Bowl game for the 17th time on Sept. 11. Ever since the game became a mainstay in 2004, it has been circled on every CFL fans calendar no matter what team you cheer for.  Winnipeg currently leads the all-time series with a 9-7 record after a convincing 35-10 victory over the Riders in 2019. 

Montreal at Hamilton and Saskatchewan at Calgary – Week 9 
With the 14-game season, these two games should have massive playoff implications. Montreal is pegged by many to finish second behind the Tiger-Cats in 2021, but have the chance to leapfrog them with wins in their head-to-head matchups on Oct. 2 and their early season matchup on Aug. 27. The Oct. 2 game for the Riders and Stamps will begin a string of a three consecutive (!!!) games for Saskatchewan against the Stamps, while Calgary will be playing Saskatchewan three times in four weeks with a game against the BC Lions on Oct. 16 thrown in the mix as well. 

Week 10 – Thanksgiving Weekend
Week 10 will probably go down as the weirdest week in CFL regular season history. Ottawa and Toronto play on Wednesday (no that is not a typo) Oct. 6.The REDBLACKS will then play Montreal on Thanksgiving Monday, followed by the Argos and Ticats in the afternoon, which will be the third of four meetings between the two rivals. Ottawa and Toronto play two games in six days, which sandwiches games between Edmonton and Winnipeg on Oct. 8 and Calgary and Saskatchewan on Oct. 9. This week might be hectic for the players and their bodies, but a week with five games in it? That’s heaven for fans. 

Winnipeg at Calgary – Week 16
The final game of the 2021 regular season will take place between Winnipeg and Calgary on Nov 20. This game will be monumental for two reasons. One, this game could determine seeding heading into the Grey Cup playoffs and two, it would signify that the league, its players, staff members and fans all made it to the finish line without any major COVID-19 outbreaks. I think that would be a reason to celebrate in itself as the league would be able to prove that they could get through a season coming out of the pandemic. At that point we can turn our attentions to the playoffs and look forward to crowning a 108th Grey Cup champion in Hamilton. 

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