June 5, 2023

Brandon’s Blitz Picks: Tackling Week 1

The Canadian Press

Welcome to the debut of Blitz Picks, where we bravely stand in the pocket and answer 10 questions pertaining to the week’s games. If you didn’t play last year, you can learn more by visiting CFL.ca’s Game Zone, where you can register to play Blitz Picks and the entire offering of the CFL’s free to play games.

Let’s get into the questions for Week 1.

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1. Will Vernon Adams Jr. or Jake Maier have more passing yards this week? 

The Lions have the flashier targets, in Dominique Rhymes, Keon Hatcher and Lucky Whitehead, so the thinking here is that VA can win this battle. Is it enough to win the war against the Stamps at McMahon Stadium on Thursday? Calgary has won 17 of the past 23 matchups against BC, including an 11-5 record at home. Adams should be good for the 300 passing yard range.

2. Will Malik Henry have over or under 75.5 receiving yards this week? 

Henry was the Stamps’ leading receiver last season, posting 1,023 receiving yards in a Calgary offence that underwent a mid-season QB change. Established as the top target and with a full camp with Jake Maier, going over the 75.5-yard mark feels very possible.

3. Will Dane Evans get a snap for BC in Week 1?

No, unless Vernon Adams Jr. is injured. Expect BC to go with Dominique Davis in short yardage/goal line situations.

4. Will Bo Levi Mitchell throw over or under 1.5 touchdowns?

Under. Mitchell’s Ticats debut might be the most intriguing storyline of Week 1, but even with a receiving corps that includes East Division All-Star Tim White and former 1,500-yard receiver Duke Williams, keep this one number in mind: Mitchell threw for two touchdowns in three of the nine games he played in for Calgary before he was benched. He hasn’t thrown for three touchdowns since Week 15 of the 2021 season.

5. Will the Bombers force over or under 1.5 turnovers against Hamilton this week?

Could Bo Levi Mitchell and a still-gelling Ticats’ offence be prone to turnovers against an experienced Bombers’ defence? (Ticats.ca)

Over. The Bombers forced 37 turnovers last year, good for sixth in the league and they return much of last year’s team. Their plus-14 turnover ratio was second in the league last year to Calgary’s plus-21. Against a Ticats’ offence that’s still building chemistry, a couple of turnovers is a distinct possibility.

6. Will Ottawa’s Lorenzo Mauldin IV get over or under than 1.5 sacks?

Less. Had new Als’ pivot Cody Fajardo still been in Saskatchewan, the answer might have been different considering he was sacked 61 times with the Riders last season.

7. Will Ottawa and Montreal combine for over or under 45.5 points this week? 

Whatever the over/under, take the under as the Alouettes have been under in each of their last five home games. Even more, the total has gone under in 10 of the last 12 times the REDBLACKS have visited Molson Stadium.

8. Will William Stanback have over or under 75.5 rushing yards this week?

More, and then some. Stanback faces an Ottawa run defence that allowed 105.5 yards rushing per game last season. Considering that Stanback has averaged six yards per carry in his career, it won’t take too many touches for him to even reach the century mark.

9. Will the Elks get over or under 4.5 sacks against Saskatchewan this week?

Under. Improving an offensive line that allowed 77 sacks last season was the top off-season priority for the Riders. At the same time, the Elks would love to see more life from a defence that managed a league-low 35 sacks.

10. Will Eugene Lewis or Steven Dunbar Jr. have more receiving yards this week?

Oh, the pleasant problem Taylor Cornelius will have in finding his targets this year. The Elks didn’t sign Lewis to be a decoy, so expect Edmonton’s new prized pass catcher to finish ahead of his talented teammates.

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