I recently wrote to expect the unexpected on CFL.ca, but now it’s time for my crystal ball.
My fearless (I’m actually quite fearful – but that’s another matter) predictions on what could come in this the year of perfect vision.
But in review of these same predictions from last year, I do want to make note of three things I got right and three things I got terribly, terribly wrong.
First, the Bombers winning the Grey Cup was a correct prediction for 2019. I also predicted Brandon Banks to be MOP as well as the Roughriders finding their next franchise quarterback.
But with every, albeit small, victory comes terrible defeat like saying Jonathon Jennings would be the comeback player of the year or Corey Chamblin winning coach of the year or there not being a cross-over for 2019. Fail, fail, fail.
So here goes another round of things I believe could come true for 2020.
After a bad season with quarterback injuries, I’m going to predict a few QBs play 16-18 games this season, which opens the door for something we haven’t seen in the CFL for a while. Anthony Calvillo in 2004 was the last to accomplish it.
A quarterback throwing for 6,000 yards means you have to average about 350 yards per game. My most likely candidates are Dane Evans in Hamilton, Trevor Harris in Edmonton or Cody Fajardo in Saskatchewan.
LAPOLICE RIGHT PICK IN OTTAWA
Paul LaPolice returns to the sidelines as a head coach. Not only will he put a charge into the REDBLACKS offence with a new quarterback, likely either Zach Collaros or Matt Nichols, but he’ll also bring in a championship culture after what he’s seen in Winnipeg and learning from his own mistakes as a head coach.
LaPolice did take the Bombers to the Grey Cup as the head coach in 2011, only to lose to the host BC Lions.
REDBLACKS REVERSE FREE AGENCY FATE
Last year saw an incredible purge from the nation’s capital, with losses on offence at quarterback, running back, receiver and offensive line.
GM Marcel Desjardins and the aforementioned new head coach are going to be aggressive in free agency with a busy session of big names heading to Ottawa to regain their power in the East Division.
I feel a few offensive weapons from Winnipeg may be among those heading East, but Ottawa bolsters their entire team with more than a handful of big name free agents.
It was a great party for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to end the drought but as I predicted them to win it all in 2019, I feel the Grey Cup champs repeat is very unlikely.
We are already seeing the hardship that comes with a championship as talented players are already being plucked for NFL opportunities and we’re still six weeks away from seeing what other free agents leave.
How big is the fall from the top for the Bombers? They’ll make the playoffs but it won’t be easy as they may need to rely on a crossover to be there with Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan looking to be strong again and who knows what comes for the BC Lions with Rick Campbell now in charge and Mike Reilly still at the helm.
Scott Milanovich arriving in Edmonton will mean nothing but good things for the quarterback of the Eskimos. As I mentioned, I have him pegged as a quarterback who could throw for 6,000 yards.
With elite play by Harris at the helm of the Eskimos, the team will rise in the West and become one of the favourites to win it all in Saskatchewan in November. And I expect an incredible Battle of Alberta for the Western crown in 2020.
Harris takes home the MOP award at the end of the year.
NEW RB TAKES THE TITLE
Here is a long shot prediction.
A player, yet to be signed in the CFL, becomes the CFL rushing leader and gives us a rookie of the year in a season reminiscent of James Wilder Jr.
Could we see it in BC? Montreal? Ottawa? Toronto? There are a few options where there is room for a new face to take over a backfield in the CFL.
RIDERS ROUGH RIDE
After a 13 win season and first place in the West Division, things don’t go according to plan for the Roughriders in a season they hope to be in the Grey Cup in their own stadium in November.
While I do believe Cody Fajardo will benefit from the new vision with Jason Maas as the offensive coordinator, I don’t believe it’ll equate into a similar amount of victories as the Riders needed to pull a few comebacks out of their cap to win. Plus, I foresee a stronger East Division and again, things won’t be easy in the West Division.
As I mentioned, I believe Edmonton and Calgary will be the West teams hosting the playoff games this season. A 10-win season may seem like a disappointment today for the Riders, but teams will make life a little more difficult for Fajardo in year two but better things are ahead.
ALS MAGIC RUNS OUT
The Alouettes season last year was a phenomenal move up the rankings with Vernon Adams Jr. at quarterback but it also was a rise thanks to poor play by two teams in the East and some miraculous moments in the season to pile up some wins.
While there is a tonne of reason to be optimistic, the Tiger-Cats are still going to be great and the REDBLACKS and Argonauts should be improved from last year. I’m bullish on the REDBLACKS returning to the playoffs, which means unless there is no crossover (which I’m not predicting this year) Montreal has a hard path to make the playoffs again.
My comeback player of the year is the talented receiver out of Calgary, who surprised many to even return to the field at the end of 2019. While still hampered a bit from a devastating knee injury in 2018, a full off-season of strengthening the knee will allow Jorden to reach the 1,000-yard threshold again and pull the Stampeders receiving corps back into one of the more impressive in the CFL.
HAMILTON WINS IT ALL
This isn’t a bold prediction but after a 15 win season last year and a disappointing performance in the Grey Cup, the Tiger-Cats have suffered enough to learn from mistakes in 2019 to win the big one in 2020.
Dane Evans has Jeremiah Masoli back to push him when the veteran is healthy enough to play. They also should have more stability in the backfield and still have incredible playmakers in the receiving corps.
It’ll be incredible to see some players that were on the Tiger-Cats in 2013 at a Grey Cup in Regina to comeback and change their fate and end another long drought in the CFL after the Bombers ended their own last year.