- FREE AGENCY
TORONTO — After Thursday’s thrilling comeback win over Edmonton, Ticats receiver Luke Tasker said that when his team wins the Grey Cup, Week 11 will be viewed as the moment everything changed.
The 2018 Ticats have frustrated their loyal fans, flashing their promising potential often but mostly failing to deliver on high expectations. Yet behind the veil of a 4-5 record sits a team that seems to possess the traits of a contender, boasting the league’s top-ranked offence, third-ranked defence and No. 1 pass defence.
Against the Eskimos, widely considered one of the league’s top Grey Cup contenders, the Ticats possessed the ball for 35:23, piled up 552 net yards and shut out the leading candidate for Most Outstanding Player in Mike Reilly for three out of four quarters.
And, for just the fifth time in his career, Jeremiah Masoli led a late game-winning drive to deliver the Tabbies their fourth win of the season.
The turning point the Ticats needed? We’ll find out soon as Mark’s Labour Day Weekend approaches.
More in this week’s Nissan Titan Power Rankings:
Even without Eric Rogers the Stamps may just have the most dominant receiving corps in the CFL. DaVaris Daniels, Marken Michel, and Kamar Jorden make as dangerous a trio as any, with the latter setting a franchise record with 249 yards in a win over Winnipeg. The loss to the Riders is well in the rear-view mirror.
The Eskimos have played down to their opponents this year, with all four of their losses coming against teams below .500. With a strong defence led by Mike Benevides and the league’s most productive quarterback, the Esks have all the tools to compete with Calgary in the West. We’ll find out on Labour Day whether or not that will actually happen.
Idle both on the league schedule and the Nissan Titan Power Rankings, the REDBLACKS could see themselves at 7-3 with a meeting against last-place Montreal on tap. Trevor Harris is the hottest quarterback in the league, averaging more than 400 yards per game over the last three, while his team has a chance to become the powerhouse the East has been looking for.
After a slow start, the Riders are starting to peak at the right time. The duo of Charleston Hughes and Willie Jefferson is keeping opposing offensive coordinators awake at night, while Shaq Evans and Jordan Williams-Lambert are forming a powerful young duo at receiver. Chris Jones’ team can make a statement in a home-and-home with Winnipeg.
It appears that Matt Nichols is starting to feel the pressure that comes with playing quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Nichols has yet to break the 300 passing yards mark this season, while opposing defences are figuring out how to slow down the usually-dynamic Andrew Harris. The Bombers need to break out of their slump, and fast.
Labour Day marks the one year anniversary of June Jones and Jeremiah Masoli taking over the Ticats. They’ve gone 10-9 since then: not spectacular, but a far cry from the 0-8 start that was overcome in 2017. With the top-ranked offence and league-leading pass defence — the same one that stifled Mike Reilly last week — the Tabbies are a dark horse to win the East.
The bye week comes at the right time for the Lions, who are licking their wounds after losing by a combined four points to the Riders and Argos. While Travis Lulay’s recent play offers hope of a turnaround, he’ll have to operate without top receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux, who’s been placed on the six-game injured list.
The Argos’ momentum came to a crashing halt over the weekend with a loss to the last-place Alouettes. That turns up the heat heading into a Labour Day home-and-home with the hated Ticats, with the season quite possibly hanging in the balance. Recently-signed receiver Duron Carter can’t get here soon enough.
Friday’s win over the Argos was inspirational, but doesn’t come without fallout. The recent play of Antonio Pipkin has caused quite the dilemma in Montreal, where Head Coach Mike Sherman must decide between the hot hand and Johnny Manziel, who his team gave up so much to acquire.