THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — The 2017 CFL season continues to entertain with thrilling Week 2 games, overtime madness and #Canada150 celebrations. Week 3 promises to be a proving-ground for teams to put their stamp on the start of a new season.
Week 3 begins in Montreal as the Alouettes host the BC Lions on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. – Montreal will want to keep its perfect home record with a second win at Percival-Molson Stadium, but BC will be a threat coming off a road win over the Argos.
Friday Night Football continues in Winnipeg on July 7 as the Stampeders roll into town at 8:30 p.m. The first game of 2017 at Investors Group Field will hand either team its first loss of the season in what’s sure to be a tough fight for the West Division crown.
Saturday, July 8 features a double-header, with Toronto visiting the divisional rival Ottawa REDBLACKS at 7:00 p.m. as the home team looks for its first win of the season after two tight contests against the Stampeders. The offences are sure to shine as quarterbacks Ricky Ray and Trevor Harris each have one Shaw Top Performer nod under their belt in 2017.
The night continues at 10:00 p.m. as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats come off their bye week in Saskatchewan. There will be lots on the line as both teams look for their first win of the season including the Riders, who are 0-1 at brand new Mosaic Stadium.
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THIS WEEK IN THE CFL
– There have been 36 sacks in eight games for an average of 4.5 per game. This continues the declining trend since 2013, with a drop in frequency of 22.5 per cent:
– The other indicator out of this is that in 2017, no team giving up a sack has scored on that drive yet. There have been 36 possessions in 2017 in which a club has allowed a QB sack, and NONE have resulted in a TD.
– Montreal has yet to allow a sack in 2017, something no team has done since Hamilton in 2001 and that has occurred only two times across the CFL since 1996. Hamilton also did it in 2000 when they did not allow any sacks for the first four games.
– Toronto’s Victor Butler leads the league with four sacks. He is also tied for the lead with QB pressures with six (tied with Saskatchewan’s Willie Jefferson and BC’s DeQuin Evans). The Argonauts lead the league with 9 sacks followed by BC Lions and Edmonton Eskimos each with five.
IMPROVED QUARTERBACK PLAY
– Through the first two weeks and based on a 2-0 record alongside his 118.0 pass efficiency rating, Edmonton’s Mike Reilly leads the CFL with an overall QUAR of 92.9 (out of 100). His Week 2 rating was an astonishing 95.2 based on superior performances in all aspects of quarterback play on just 12 possessions.
– League-wide, the average QUAR has been very high at 76.2 — well above the 2016 average of 62.5. This rise is easily attributable to higher scoring on offence (52.4 points per game vs. 49.0 in 2016, an increase of seven per cent) and a league-wide gain in pass efficiency from an all-time high of 98.0 in 2016 to an even higher 103.2 in 2017). The CFL completion percentage of 68.6 is also an all-time record high.
AN INCREASE IN SCORING
– The average across the CFL through the first eight contests is 56.1 points per game, the highest it has been since 2008 (56.2). Teams are scoring on offence on 16 per cent of their drives, consistent with last year at 16.5 per cent (one TD every six possessions). Where scoring is REALLY up is on field goals at 6.4 per game – the most FGs made per game since the 1991 season (6.7).
– Two of the eight games thus far have gone into OT – the most in the first two weeks of any season since 1992 (when three of the first five games went overtime). Winnipeg went first in OT last week and won at Regina – that made it 18 for 30 (60 per cent) for teams going first and winning since 2004.
ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE
– DeVier Posey (TOR) leads the league in receiving yards in 2017 with 218.
– Blue Bomber Weston Dressler made the longest catch of his 10-year CFL career in Week 2, an 87-yard touchdown pass from Matt Nichols against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
– Calgary’s Tunde Adeleke and Ottawa’s Diontae Spencer each returned a punt for a touchdown in the same game in Week 2. The last time two teams earned a punt-return touchdown in the same game was on June 27, 2013 when Demond Washington (WPG) and Tyrone Carrier (MTL) each brought one back.
– Tunde Adeleke became the first national player to record a punt return touchdown since Nic Demski on Sept. 6, 2015.
– Greg Ellingson has the most targets this season with 23, followed by Bryan Burnham, Marquay McDaniel and Posey each with 20.
THREE MINUTE DRILL
– The record for most consecutive unbeaten starts in the regular season by a CFL quarterback is now 18, held by Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell.
– Late Roar: The BC Lions have 55 points in two games, with 34 of those points (16 and 18, respectively) scored in the fourth quarter (62 per cent). League-wide, just 30 per cent of 2017’s points have been scored in the fourth quarter.
– Turnovers in 2017 are down from 2016, at just 2.9 per game. In 2016, the average game contained 4.3 turnovers, and in 2015 that number was 4.5 per game.
– However, teams are capitalizing on their opponents’ turnovers to a larger extent. In 2016, teams earned an average of 2.4 points on possessions following a turnover by their opponent – but in 2017, that number has risen 55 per cent to give teams an average of 3.7 points per drive following a turnover.
WEEK 3 GAME NOTES
– Ellingson and Sinopoli: The Ottawa duo ranks No. 3 (tied) in the CFL at 199 yards each on a combined 30 catches (on 41 targets).
Ellingson is the most targeted CFL receiver thus far with 23 passes his way and has 70 yards after the catch. Brad Sinopoli has caught
15 of 18 throws (83 per cent) and leads the CFL with 132 YAC yards.
– Victor Butler: No CFL defender has had a better year to date than Butler who has 19 total defensive plays including a league-best four sacks and six quarterback pressures. He also has two forced fumbles and a pair of knockdowns in the line. He also leads the CFL with five stops on opponent second downs.
– Diontae Spencer: Leads the entire CFL with 388 combined yards, including 96 on the third-longest Ottawa punt return TD in franchise history (OTT Record: Mariet Ford 101 yds in 1983). Spencer leads the CFL in punt return yards with 177 and is in the Top 20 with 115 receiving yards.
– Ray 833 Yards: He leads the CFL in passing yards in 2017, something he has done four times before … 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2014.
– Montreal vs BC Reunions: The Alouettes-Lions game this week will seem like a BC reunion as six current Montreal players have been
with the Lions in the past. Former Lions with Montreal now: (Total number of games with BC: 512)
Ryan Phillips (212), Jovan Olafioye (126), Jabar Westerman (85), SJ Haidara (34), Stefan Logan (29), Ernest Jackson (26).
– Clash of the RBs: Jeremiah Johnson comes into this game as the only player to score a TD in each week this season to date
and leads the CFL in rushing with 162 yards. His 7.0 yard average per carry is No. 1 for player with at least five attempts. Tyrell Sutton is
second, only six yards back, and at 156 in total is on pace for another 1,000 yard season.
– Solomon Elimimian and Kyries Hebert: Elimimian led all CFL tacklers last week with nine and is tied with Kyries Hebert at second in the league with 14 total. In total defensive plays made they are also tied at 16, ranked fourth behind Alex Singleton and Marcus Ball.
– Alouettes Defence: Montreal’s defensive unit comes into this week ranked second with just 19.5 opponent offensive points allowed. Overall as a team they are first in the CFL at 19.5 points per game ahead of Toronto and BC both at 21.5 per game against.
– Stamps at Investors Group Field: Calgary has won its last eight visits to Winnipeg by an average margin of 10.4 points. Since 2013 and the opening of Investors Group Field, Winnipeg’s home record is 11-25 in 36 games compared to a 15-21 road mark. Of the 25 home defeats, 11 have come by seven points or fewer and they have been close on most occasions.
– A great start/comeback: The Blue Bombers overcame a 14-point deficit last week (down 17-3 to Saskatchewan with just over a minute to play in the 1st Half) to win 43-40 in OT. It matched their largest comeback (from -14) since a 15-point comeback win over Montreal on Oct. 22, 2011 (29-26).
– QB Starters: Matt Nichols is 0-2 in his two starts for Winnipeg (0-6 overall) against Calgary while Bo Levi Mitchell is 8-1 in nine career
starts against Winnipeg. Mitchell has thrown more TD passes (18) against Winnipeg than any other club in his career and overall is 19-4-2 in 25 career road starts. Matt Nichols is 13-8 in 21 starts as a Blue Bombers since 2015.
– Dressler’s Fast TDs: In last week’s win over the Riders, Winnipeg turned a 17-13 half-time deficit into a 27-17 lead on the strength of two Weston Dressler TDs in a span of just 0:37 (at 3:08 and 3:45 of Q3).
– Winnipeg Offence: The Bombers were forced to kick or turn the ball over on their first eight possessions last week, then turned things around on offence scoring on six consecutive drives (four TDs, two FGs) to change the game completely. It was the highest-scoring Blue Bombers game since Sept. 24, 2010, a 44-40 loss to Montreal (84 pts).