September 19, 2023

Weekly Predictor: Hangin’ with Hamilton

Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

After Week 15, I’m excited to see what is going to happen the rest of the way in the CFL.

Hamilton, Ottawa, and Edmonton were all struggling to find their way and two of three pulled off upsets while Ottawa was so close to one in BC.

The bad news for people trying to predict games going forward, it is getting harder and harder as all the teams have figured it out and I truly believe going forward anyone is capable of beating anybody.

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Earlier in the season, that wasn’t the case.

At least for this prognosticator, I’m having a hard time to figure out how Week 16 is going to look. More upsets are on the way, I’m thinking.

Saskatchewan at Ottawa
Friday, September 22
7:00 p.m. ET

After a 3-3 start to the season for Ottawa, the REDBLACKS have lost seven straight games. In five of those games they’ve lost by four points or less. Ottawa is telling themselves how close they are but close doesn’t matter.

Wins matter and the REDBLACKS are running out of track to try and get back into the race. Last week was a disheartening loss for Ottawa, who looked like they were going to shock the CFL with a road win in BC.

Ottawa likely watched the last two Roughrider games and may be salivating at the opportunity to ground and pound. Ottawa’s ground attack is one of the best in the league with mobile Dustin Crum and Devonte Williams having a dynamic one/two punch.

The Riders got schooled by the Elks QB/RB duo of Tre Ford and Kevin Brown. The green and white were furious after the game with their lack of discipline on assignments in run defence.

The 6-7 Riders are trying to avoid a similar end of season slump that left them out of the playoffs last year. I’m expecting a much better effort from the Riders defence and Jake Dolegala to take some shots against an Ottawa defence who have given up the most big plays in the league.

PICK: SASKATCHEWAN

BC at Edmonton
Friday, September 22
9:30 p.m. ET

Tre Ford is different.

We are finding that out and so to are opposing defences. The dynamic quarterback has the Elks winning four of their last five games and all of a sudden the playoffs don’t seem like such a long shot, although still unlikely.

After losing so many home games in a row, the Elks will try to win a third straight.

The Lions were put on the ropes by the REDBLACKS last week and were able to fight back after a few knock downs and survive a -3 in the turnover ratio.

The one thing the Lions need to improve on is the run game. The worst run offence in the league isn’t going to get it done down the stretch.

The Lions, however, have owned the Elks this season. They’ve shutout Edmonton twice this year. Yes, the Lions have not allowed a point in two games against Edmonton. That’s a crazy stat. But as the Roughriders found out, it’s hard to beat the same team three times in a single season.

Of course, the last shutout was the last game Taylor Cornelius started.

Again, Tre Ford is different.

PICK: EDMONTON

Montreal at Calgary
Saturday, September 23
4:00 p.m. ET

The Montreal Alouettes are the definition of a streaky team. Their season has been two straight wins, three straight losses, four straight wins, and four straight losses.

Cody Fajardo is 0-4 since returning from his shoulder injury and they were better at protecting the ball last week but it still wasn’t good enough. In fairness to Fajardo though, the did play the top three teams in the league over the last four weeks and all seven losses have come against Toronto, BC, and Winnipeg.

Against all other teams they are 6-0.

Another record I’m going to throw at you is 12-4. That is the record so far for teams coming off a bye and teams at home after a bye are 10-3.

The Stampeders took the week to re-evaluate themselves and know they have a chance to chase down Saskatchewan for third spot in the West Division.

I believe the Stampeders need to find a more consistent run game to allow Jake Maier the ability to run an efficient play action offence.

But I’ll take the rested team at home over the team on game nine of a 12 week stretch without a bye.

PICK: CALGARY

Hamilton at Toronto
Saturday, September 23
7:00 p.m. ET

Is it just me or is Taylor Powell maturing before our eyes? Whatever Scott Milanovich is doing with Powell it is working. He’s comfortable running this offence and is making the right decisions. Heck, Powell leads the league in completion percentage.

Being able to stare the Bombers defence down and come away with the win was one of the more impressive performances from the newby quarterbacks this season.

Yes, Zach Collaros was making some uncharacteristic mistakes but Powell did a good job of insuring he didn’t make many mistakes right back.

Now comes the test of the Argonauts. The Argos have already clinched the East Division, which is impressive with a full third of the season still ahead.

This is the fourth meeting between the two rivals and the Argos have won all of the first three games. In game one, Bo Levi Mitchell went down to injury. In game two, Taylor Powell was making his first career start. In game three, there is no excuse to lean on for the Ticats in that one, the Argonauts were impressive in a Labour Day victory.

My concern for the Argos, is the mental side of the game to stay 100% focused when you already know you’re into the Eastern Final. Also, it’s hard to beat a team three straight times, but four!?!

Yeah, no.

PICK: HAMILTON

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