Close Games: Over the first 5 weeks of the season (20 games) no game was decided by less than 5 points. Since then 6 of the last 12 games have had margins of 4 points or less. Over the past two weeks, 5 games have been decided by 4 points or less including both BC games.
In 2013, 14 of the 32 games have been decided in the final 3:00 of play. In the 3-point game between Saskatchewan and Edmonton last week, the lead changed hands 7 times, far above the average of around 1 or 2 per game (1.5 per game: 47 lead changes in 32 games).
The last time that a CFL game had as many as 7 lead changes was on October 3, 2008 in Saskatchewan’s 37-34 win over Calgary.
Two Teams on the Rise: Hamilton is riding a 3-game winning streak and can make it 4 in a row for the first time since 2010 and only the second time in the 15 years since August 1998. They will be trying to post 3-straight road wins for just the second time since 2000. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, is having an historic season thus far having reached 7-1 for the first time since 1970 and second time ever. With a win over Winnipeg this week, they would reach 8-1 for the first time in club history.
50-yard field goals? This season in the CFL there has been just one field goal attempted from 50+ yards through Week 9 and only 14 from 45+ yards. Trying from 50+ has been in decline for some time, however, as there were only 13 attempts from 50+ taken in 2012 and 21 in 2011. It has been 48 years since the last CFL season in which there were no field goals made from 50 yards and beyond (1965). Here’s a look at the average length of FGs attempted by year:
Tanner Marsh’s Rare 300-yard game: The rookie Alouettes QB did what few players have ever done – come off the bench and throw for 300 yards. Despite throwing 4 interceptions, Marsh led Montreal to a comeback win over BC with 329 yards and a TD pass.
He is the first CFL QB to not start a game but throw for 300+ yards since Jarious Jackson had 362 and 4 TDs in a 40-22 win over Edmonton on July 16, 2009.
The last one before that was Marcus Crandell on August 4, 2005 for Saskatchewan with 303 yards off the bench in a 42-13 loss at Montreal.
QB Debuts: In 2013, 5 players have already made their first CFL start at quarterback: Justin Goltz and Bo Levi Mitchell together on Jul 26, Zach Collaros for Toronto on Jul 30, Max Hall for Winnipeg on Aug 16, and Josh Neiswander last week vs. BC.
The case can be made to add Tanner Marsh who subbed in early for Neiswander. Marsh can make it six this year if he starts this week, compared to just 4 new starters in total over 2011 & 2012. Only 3 clubs have had the same QB starter for all 8 games (Travis Lulay, Henry Burris, Mike Reilly).
The Field Goal Trend: Chris Milo has yet to miss a FG attempt this season (21 in a row) and is part of the historically best-ever success rate by CFL kickers. They have made 141 of 168 attempts for an 84% mark, 2% better than the 82% in 2011. A big part of that however is that just one attempt has been tried from 50+ yards or more in 2013.
Scoring Up in 2013: The 32 games in 2013 have produced an average of 54.0 points, up 4% over last year’s 51.8 points-per-game, with TD passes accounting for much more of the scoring. In 2009, passing TDs were only 51% of the major scores (188 of 367 total touchdowns) while in 2013 they have accounted for 61% of all TDs thus far (108 of 176).
Interceptions/Completions: In 2013 there have been just 52 interceptions in 2,051 pass attempts or one in every 39.4 throws. The long-term rate going back to 1954 is one in every 21 attempts. Tied to that is the CFL’s 2013 average completion percentage of 64.7%, the highest in league history. Toronto’s 75.7% mark is on pace to break the CFL record of 71.6% (MTL 2009). Saskatchewan and Toronto have each posted 8-game runs without an interception (the Argos’ dated back to 2012) with the Riders’ run still active. Those are the longest streaks without any in CFL history.
Interceptions II: No CFL defender has more than two thus far and defensive backs have accounted for only 31 of the 52 (By DB: 31, By LB: 16, By Other: 4). Two clubs (EDM & TOR) are on pace for their lowest ever total of 9 in one year while Hamilton and Winnipeg are on track for just 11, one more than their historic lowest totals of 10.
The Argonauts will venture into their important two-game set with the Alouettes sans Ricky Ray, as the veteran QB will miss 4-8 weeks with an injury to his throwing shoulder. Zach Collaros will start in his place.
In Montreal, the Alouettes have yet to make an announcement regarding their quarterback situation. Anthony Calvillo did not practice on Thursday and won’t practice on Friday.
Should he be unable to go, Tanner Marsh will make his first CFL start under centre.
After leaving last week’s game late, Kevin Glenn appears to be OK for the Stamps, meaning he’ll be behind centre when Calgary welcomes the Eskimos.
Receiver Maurice Price likely won’t play in the Classic, but should be good to go for the rematch one week later.
The Bombers, meanwhile, will have newly-acquired defensive end Greg Peach in the lineup when they take on the Riders. Peach was signed by Winnipeg on Thursday after being released on Wednesday.
Sticking with Winnipeg, the Bombers haven’t made a formal announcement, but it looks as though Justin Goltz will get the start at QB, with Max Hall still rehabbing from his hand injury suffered last week against Hamilton.
Eskimos running back Hugh Charles, meanwhile, will miss this week’s game with an apparent hamstring injury.