TORONTO — Things are heating up in the Canadian Football League as Week 10 gets underway.
It all starts on Thursday night when the BC Lions head to Ottawa to take on the REDBLACKS in a battle of two young dynamic quarterbacks. Jonathon Jennings and his Lions will be looking for a bounce-back performance after falling to the Stampeders last week as they fought for the top spot in the West. Trevor Harris is confirmed as the starting quarterback for Ottawa this week, giving the REDBLACKS a glimmer of hope that they can get back to their once league-leading offence.
Next is a Friday night CFL doubleheader starting in Montreal. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers visit the Alouettes looking to keep their winning streak alive after their bye week. Matt Nichols took the reigns of the Winnipeg offence and has won all three contests he’s started giving the Bombers a chance to get above .500. The Alouettes had their best offensive showing last week, blowing out the REDBLACKS 43-19. Led by Kevin Glenn’s five touchdown passes, it seems the Als offence has finally come alive.
The action then moves to Edmonton where the 1-7 Roughriders will visit the reigning Grey Cup Champions. The Esks’ dynamic trio of quarterback Mike Reilly and receivers Adarius Bowman and Derel Walker have been seemingly unstoppable lately and will be sure to give the Saskatchewan defence a headache. As for the Riders, they haven’t figured out a winning system just yet under new head coach Chris Jones and fresh off a thumping from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week, they will likely come out swinging.
Finally, the Tiger-Cats travel west for a tussle of two stellar offences. The Calgary Stampeders haven’t lost a game since Week 1 and hold a 6-1-1 record. Hamilton leads the league in sacks with 29 and will need to get to quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell quick, and often, if they want to shut down his offence. Zach Collaros had the best offensive showing of his young career last week – throwing for five touchdown passes – and five different Tiger-Cats found the end zone.
THIS WEEK IN THE CFL
Points on points on points: Week 9 play saw games average 59.3 points per game. It was easily the most points scored in a week in 2016 and the highest since Week 2 of the 2015 season, when teams combined for an average of 60.8. In the games last week, each contest’s points overwhelming came from one team. The average margin in Week 9 action was an astonishing 30.3 points per game. That was the largest margin since Week 4 in 2002 where the average margin was 32.3 points per game. Hamilton’s 46-point win over Saskatchewan on Saturday night was the largest since September 2, 2012 when Saskatchewan beat Winnipeg 52-0.
Road warriors: Road teams opened up Week 9 with three straight victories. Not only did the Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton win on the road, but they won by 23+ points. That’s the first-time that has happened since August 15 and 16 in 1996. Road teams continue to find ways to win. Through 36 games, road teams are 22-13-1 (.625%), the highest win percentage for road teams in CFL history.
Coaches challenge: Through nine weeks, CFL games are averaging 2.5 challenges per game. Last season, the league averaged 1.26 challenges per game. Jason Maas and Edmonton have been the most frequent and successful challengers. They have thrown the challenge flag on 14 occasions and have had six overturned rulings. Dave Dickenson and the Calgary Stampeders are the least frequent. They have challenged seven times and have had none overturned.
Second and long: Week 9 winning teams combined to convert 61% of second down conversions while the losing clubs only converted 39%. For the year, the gap of winning and losing teams when it comes to second down conversions is 53% versus 44%. Montreal Alouettes receiver Nik Lewis had five second down conversions last week alone versus the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Lewis has 18 second down conversion receptions on the season. CFL leader, and Calgary Stampeder, Marquay McDaniel has 22 second down conversions catches followed by: 20 (Adarius Bowman), 19 (Andy Fantuz) and 18 (Lewis and Ernest Jackson).
Young guns: 41% of players on Week 9 club rosters were either in their first or second year in the CFL. 110 of the 526 players on CFL rosters were playing in their first season in the CFL. The Saskatchewan Roughriders had 21 of 66 players (32%) on their roster playing in their first CFL season versus the Tiger-Cats. The second-place BC Lions only had seven first-year players in their game against Calgary. The average age of a CFL player is currently 27.4. The oldest team in the CFL is Montreal, who have an average roster age of 28.1. The youngest teams are Saskatchewan and Ottawa, who have an average roster age of 27.
» THE WEEKLY SAY: A QUESTION FOR EACH TEAM IN WEEK 10
WEEK 10 GAME NOTES
Winning ways: Seven of nine clubs have at least three victories this season and five of them are tied with four wins after eight games.
Up, up and away: CFL-wide field goal percentage from Weeks 1-5 totalled 74.4%. However, from Weeks 6-9 kickers are 86.5% (83/96). After going a perfect three-for-three versus the BC Lions, Paredes has increased his streak total to 23 consecutive field goals matching Paul McCallum’s and Dean Dorsey’s mark for the eighth longest streak in CFL history. Edmonton’s Sean Whyte leads the league with a field goal success rate of 91.7% (22/24) and currently has a streak of nine straight field goals made. Both of Whyte’s misses this campaign were from 50 yards. He is a remarkable 22-for-22 inside 50 yards. Justin Medlock owns the longest kick of the season at 58 yards. That ties the fifth-longest field goal made in CFL history.
A special, special-teamer: Jason Arakgi became the CFL’s all-time special teams tackler last week and did it right off the hop. On the opening kickoff, Arakgi flew down field and made the tackle on Troy Harrison for his 185th special teams tackle, surpassing Blue Bombers President and CEO Wade Miller.
Reilly, Reilly good: Mike Reilly passed for 362 yards in Toronto, increasing his season pace to 6,397 passing yards. That would be the second-highest season total, trailing only Doug Flutie’s magical 1991 season where he passed for 6,619 yards. The 6,000 passing yard mark has been hit five times in CFL history. The most recent player to eclipse the 6,000-yard mark was Anthony Calvillo in 2004 (6,041). The four other players to do it include Doug Flutie in 1991 (6,619), Kent Austin in 1992 (6,225), Doug Flutie in 1993 (6,092) and David Archer in 1993 (6,023).
Double trouble in Edmonton: Adarius Bowman hauled in three passes for 86 yards, and Derel Walker had three receptions for 37 yards. Bowman’s current pace has him knocking on the door of the 2,000 yard club. He is on pace for 1,969 yards while Walker’s pace is just a notch below at 1,883. Both Bowman and Walker have an average of 100+ receiving yards per game and both are tied for first in the league with five 100-yard games this season.
Calgary going streaking: For the first time since 2010, the Calgary Stampeders are undefeated in their past seven games. However, they haven’t gone undefeated in eight games since August 25, 1995, a span of 21 years.
Winnipeg streaking too?: When Winnipeg travels to Montreal for Week 10 they will be looking for their first four-game road winning streak since 2003.
Leaders become winners: Teams that lead after three quarters of play are 26-7 (.788). Last year teams who owned a lead after three quarters had a winning percentage of .709.
First starts: There have been only 15 different starting quarterbacks this season compared to 28 total in 2015. That total included 11 who made their first career CFL start last season. Of the 15 starting quarterbacks, only two have been first-time starters this year (Logan Kilgore and Mitchell Gale). They both won each of their first starts.
The Zach Attack: Since returning to action Zach Collaros has passed for 712 yards and seven touchdowns in two games. Collaros owns a passer rating of 127.8 and has led the Tiger-Cats to a touchdown on 31% of his drives. Ottawa’s Trevor Harris is second with a touchdown on 23% of his drives. Bo Levi Mitchell’s career record as a starter is the highest 34-7-1 (.821).
A century: John Chick and Rob Maver will play in their 100th CFL game in Week 10.