TORONTO — Week 10 means we’re almost halfway through the season and teams are starting to look ahead to possible playoff implications as they take the field starting Thursday night.
The Edmonton Elks will turn to National pivot Tre Ford to try and jumpstart their season as they host a Winnipeg Blue Bombers team that is firing on all cylinders after beating the BC Lions in Week 9. The Bombers have won eight straight games against the Elks, with quarterback Zach Collaros registering a 10-6 record against Edmonton. Teams coming off a bye are 9-1 so far this season and the Green and Gold will try to make it 10-1 after being off last week.
On Friday we’ll have a matchup between two teams coming off important wins. The Montreal Alouettes took down the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on the road in Week 9 while the Saskatchewan Roughriders defeated the Ottawa REDBLACKS at home. Quarterback Cody Fajardo and head coach Jason Maas will meet a lot of familiar faces on the Roughriders sideline after being in Regina prior to joining the Alouettes. Both teams are looking for win number five to stay in pursuit of the top teams in their respective divisions.
The weekend features two exciting matchups with three of the four teams looking to rebound from a loss in Week 9. The sole winner of that group was the Calgary Stampeders who visit the BC Lions on Saturday looking to reinsert themselves in the battle for a playoff position. Quarterback Jake Maier is coming off a 91.7 completion percentage performance in the win against the Argos that also had a 27-carry game from running back Dedrick Mills. Veteran pivot Vernon Adams Jr. is taking first-team reps in practice for the Lions and might return in time for the game.
Finally, Sunday’s matchup between the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa REDBLACKS closes out Week 10. Dustin Crum and the REDBLACKS took a late lead against the Roughriders in Week 9 but were unable to hold on to it as Brett Lauther kicked the game-winning field goal for Saskatchewan. The Argos meanwhile had an uncharacteristic performance against the Stamps in Calgary, while quarterback Chad Kelly had to leave the game with an injury. Toronto is 7-1 in their last eight games against Ottawa but that one loss was exactly at BMO Field in 2022, same place where the two teams meet up on Sunday.
One stat that stands out as we approach the halfway mark are the kickers being on pace to make 39 field goals from 50 yards or more this season, 10 more than the record 29 set in 2018. The single season record of eight was established by J.T. Hay in 1986. René Paredes leads the league with six.
- Turnovers are up 23 per cent from 2021 (4.9 per game), leading to a reduction in scoring chances, but creating substantial field position.
- In 2022, only 12 teams that committed more turnovers emerged victorious; in 2023, seven teams have tallied wins. Saskatchewan and BC are the only teams this year to win multiple times when losing the turnover battle.
- 77 per cent of games have been won by teams with a higher second down conversion rate.
- The average conversion rate for winning teams is 50 per cent vs. 41 per cent for losing teams.
- Teams that take fewer penalties have won 21 times; teams that take more have won 10 times.
- Teams with better average field position to begin a drive have won 60 per cent of games (21-14).
OL’ STOMPIN’ GROUNDS
- On Friday, Cody Fajardo will take on his former team for the first time. He was 27-17 (.614) in 44 starts as a Rider.
- He totaled 10,632 passing yards and 48 TDs through the air, while adding 1,436 rushing yards and 22 majors on the ground.
- In 2019, he was the West nominee for Most Outstanding Player – the first time a Rider had been a finalist since Kerry Joseph in 2007.
- He is 4-3 with Montreal, averaging 268 passing yards, while scoring 9 TDs (6 pass and 3 rush).
- The West Division went 2-0 in interdivisional play last week to improve to 6-8.
- Over the previous six weeks, sacks averaged 6.2 per game; last week, they dropped to 4.5.
- Winnipeg has won eight straight against the Elks, including a 28-14 decision in Week 7. Edmonton’s last victory in the series was on November 3, 2018.
- Zach Collaros is 10-6 against Edmonton – his most wins against any opponent.
- Kenny Lawler notched a league-wide season-high of 200 receiving yards last week. It was his second time reaching the 200-yard mark, following a 205-yard effort on October 2, 2021. Both came as a Bomber while playing BC.
- Dalton Schoen (137) had his second 100+ receiving yard game of the season last week, and the seventh of his career. Through eight games in 2022, he had 583 yards on 32 catches. This season, he has 610 on 34.
- Through eight games last year, Brady Oliveira had 368 rushing yards; this season he has 593.
- The Elks are coming off a bye. Teams this year are 9-1 following a week’s rest.
- Niagara Falls, Ont., native Tre Ford will make his fourth career start (1-2) this week. This will be his first start against Winnipeg. It also marks the first time a Canadian QB has started this season.
- Saskatchewan has won five of its last six games against Montreal.
- The Roughriders are 4-1 this season in games decided by four points or less.
- The Saskatchewan defence has only allowed two touchdowns in its last three games (45 total possessions).
- Anthony Lanier III matched his single-game career-high with three sacks last week.
- In his last three games, Shawn Bane Jr. has recorded 26 catches for 306 yards and two TDs.
- Montreal’s Shawn Lemon registered two sacks in Week 9. With 94 in his career, he is two shy of passing Hall of Famer Mike Walker (95.5) for 14th all-time.
- William Stanback had his first 100-yard game of the season (106 yards on 19 carries) last week. It was the 11th time he has reached the mark in his career – good for sixth in team history. He averaged 9.8 carries in his first four games of the year, but he has averaged 15.3 in his last three.
- Last week, Jake Maier set a Calgary record with a 91.7 completion percentage (22-of-24).
- Dedrick Mills recorded a league-high and personal-best 137 rushing yards on 27 carries last week, while adding 18 receiving yards. It was the highest number of rushes since Andrew Harris also notched 27 on July 21, 2018.
- Kickers are on pace to make 39 50+ yard field goals this season; the record is 29 set in 2018. The single season record of eight was established by J.T. Hay in 1986. René Paredes leads the league with six.
- Ottawa’s Dustin Crum leads all quarterbacks with 367 rushing yards.
- Jovan Santos-Knox recorded nine tackles and a pass knockdown in his return to the Ottawa lineup last week for his second game of the season.
- Richie Leone leads the league in net punting, averaging 41.2 yards.
- Toronto is 7-1 versus Ottawa in their last eight contests. However, that loss came last season at BMO Field with the REDBLACKS winning 23-13.
- The Argos’ Robertson Daniel had 16 defensive tackles last week – one shy of the CFL record set by Simoni Lawrence in 2019.