May 24, 2024

The Weekly Say: Making Preseason Futures picks

TORONTO — Who’s your pick to win the 111th Grey Cup? Who will post the best regular season record this year? Can Brady Oliveira take all of the magic he conjured up in 2023 and somehow top it?

These are just some of the questions that need answering in CFL Preseason Futures, which recently launched in the Game Zone. Sign up to answer the questions, submit your picks and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a CFL suite experience at a 2025 game.

Check out which way the writers went with their picks and head to the Game Zone to have your say. The contest is open until June 6.

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Who will lead the league in interceptions? 

Options: Demerio Houston, Marc-Antoine Dequoy, Jamal Peters, Brandin Dandridge, Other

Matt Cauz: Not since Winston Rose in 2019 have we seen a player repeat as interception champion and it should be noted that Rose tied for the league lead in 2018. For that reason, I am eliminating Houston from my list. I’m going off script and will take BC Lions veteran T.J. Lee to shock the league. Lee is a consistent interception producer having recorded at least three picks in each of the last six seasons.

Kristina Costabile: This one is a tough one to pick, but I think we’re going to see a back-to-back INT leader in Demerio Houston. Last year the cornerback had seven picks and he didn’t even play a full season (he missed three regular season games). I’m expecting that and more in his first year in Calgary.

Marshall Ferguson: Marc-Antoine Deqouy. While Peters and Houston adjust to new systems, the Als’ star National free safety will pick up right where he left off in 2023 giving him the early jump on all the other talented ball hawks.

José Ferraz: Leading the league in interceptions is a product of ball skills but also aggressive defences. Look for Dequoy to benefit from an Alouettes defensive unit that found its groove late last season and doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

Vicki Hall: Dequoy is my pick (pardon the horrible and unintentional, pun) to lead the CFL in interceptions this season. Still riding the highs of the 2023 Grey Cup victory, Dequoy is all about big plays and even bigger personality. He will no doubt visit more than one CFL quarterback in his nightmares before the season is through.

Don Landry: Other! How about Kabion Ento from the Alouettes? A pick-six against Toronto in last year’s Eastern Final and an absolute stunner of an end zone interception in the Grey Cup win over Winnipeg. His rookie year started slow, but by the end of the season Ento was sensational. He’s poised to top the charts.

Chris O’Leary: I’ll go with the popular choice here with Dequoy. He’s going into his fourth season and it feels like he’s just getting started as a playmaker. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of him this year.

Patrick Steinberg: Jamal Peters. Jamal feels like he’s ready to take over as the league’s dominant boundary corner and has racked up 10 interceptions over the last two seasons despite missing seven games.

Will Brady Oliveira rush for more or less than 1,299.5 yards in the regular season? 

Cauz: This is nothing against the game’s best running back but I will take the under. As a general rule I always take the under when it comes to season long rushing props as you never know when a minor injury can derail a month of any given season. Also, if the Bombers are the class of the West we may see Mike O’Shea limit Oliveira’s usage down the stretch.

Costabile: More. Oliveira is showing no signs of slowing down and despite losing Jermarcus Hardrick in free agency, the Bombers’ o-line is likely to pick up right where it left off last season. Solid play from the big men up front and the “bully ball” that Oliveria likes to play equals a whole lotta yards for the running back.

Ferguson: More. Chris Streveler will open pathways for Brady when used in packages and the Bombers’ base running game will not take a step back.

Ferraz: Yes. It can be a bit of a challenge to reach that number with the departure of right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick, but if there’s anything we’ve learned over the past two seasons is to never count Oliveira out. The 2023 Most Outstanding Canadian has shown time and time again that he’ll always find a way to get better.

Hall: Yes. His heart is in Winnipeg. He took a home-town discount to stay in Winnipeg. He’s openly brooding about “unfinished business.” There’s no reason to believe the CFL’s rushing leader in 2023 won’t pick up right where he left off.

Landry: I’d assume Oliveira will rush for fewer yards in 2024, simply because we will see more lugs from the quarterback position, with Streveler back in Blue and Gold. But here’s a bonus prediction: More receiving yards for Brady, to top the 482 he had in 2023.

O’Leary: I’ll take the under not because I think Oliveira will underperform this year, but because I wonder if Streveler eats into his ground yardage. The right tackle question will have to be answered, but I think the Bombers can figure that out. The offence should still be dominant in Winnipeg, but it might be spread around a little differently this year.

Steinberg: More. He might not go over 1,500 yards like last year, but over 1,300 feels like an easy over for an elite, durable back like Oliveira.

Will a QB throw for more than 5,000 yards in the regular season?’s writers think Vernon Adams Jr. could eclipse the 5,000-yard passing mark this season (Steven Chang/

Cauz: Yes, and it will be Vernon Adams Jr. to get it done. He led the league in passing yardage last year despite finishing second in pass attempts. With Jevon Cottoy, Alexander Hollins and Keon Hatcher as targets Adams breaks the 5,000-yard barrier.

Costabile: Yes. We haven’t had a passer throw for over 5,000 in quite some time (Michael Reilly led the league in 2018 with 5,562) but I think this will be the year for it. Who will that QB be? Vernon Adams Jr. is my front-runner after he passed for 4,769 last season.

Ferguson: Yes. I believe Vernon Adams Jr. has that potential if he remains healthy.

Ferraz: Yes. There are three active pivots who have thrown for more than 5,000 in a season (Bo Levi Mitchell, Trevor Harris, Jeremiah Masoli), but none of them have come close to that mark recently. Harris looks to be the most likely to do it again but look for Vernon Adams Jr. and Zach Collaros also potentially joining the 5,000 club in 2024.

Hall: Yes, Vernon Adams Jr. It’s a passing league and Adams plays half his games at BC Place, where weather need not be a factor. His receiving corps is dangerous with Alex Hollins, Keon Hatcher and Ayden Eberhart as targets. Provided he stays healthy, Adams will eclipse 5,000 passing yards this season.

Landry: No. We will not see a quarterback crack the 5,000 yard barrier in 2024, but we will see a clutch of ’em get over 4,000, including a few who were not on that list in 2023 in McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Trevor Harris and Cody Fajardo.

O’Leary: I’m saying yes because I want to speak it into existence. I think VA is a favourite to do it and I wonder if Cody Fajardo has something special coming this season, as he heads into his second year with Anthony Calvillo and Jason Maas.

Steinberg: Yes, and his name is McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who came close when he threw for 4,731 in 2022. With a great group of receivers in Edmonton, I think McBeth hits the 5,000-yard mark for the first time in his CFL career.

Which team will finish with the best regular season record?

Cauz: Winnipeg has more overall talent, but Montreal has a couple things in their favour, namely roster continuity with the team bringing back the majority of the starters who helped them win the Grey Cup last year. I expect the defence to be as good and with questions at quarterback for every other East Division team, give me the stability the Alouettes bring to the table.

Costabile: BC Lions. Motivated by hosting the Grey Cup this year, I think Adams and his Lions continue where they left off last year.

Ferguson: Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Until further notice that core still knows how to maneuver their way through the tricky dance that is the CFL regular season.

Ferraz: BC Lions. Adams enters his second season as the full-time starter and provides the kind of stability at the quarterback position that should catapult the Lions to the top of the West Division.

Hall: Winnipeg. The Blue Bombers are explosive on offence with Zach Collaros, Oliveira, Dalton Schoen and Nic Demski. The defence is strong and consistent with Willie Jefferson, Adam Bighill and Deatrick Nichols setting the standard of excellence for the group. The core is intact and ready for another run.

Landry: The BC Lions will be the cream of the crop, record-wise, in 2024. Some important, familiar faces are gone from last year’s 12-6 team, but plenty of vital core players are back and some new faces (William Stanback and Christian Covington to name a couple) will make the Lions even better. And I’m a believer in Vernon Adams Jr.

O’Leary: At the risk of taking some motivation from them, I like the Als as a dark horse to run up the league’s top record. They have the continuity and if they can build on what they did late in 2023, it feels doable for them.

Steinberg: BC Lions. I think this is BC’s year to finish on top of the league and I’ve got them going 14-4.

Which team will win the 111th Grey Cup? 

Cauz: Let’s go crazy to finish this off: the Edmonton Elks! Behind the best 1-2 punch at quarterback (McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Tre Ford) in the game, Edmonton goes from worst to first with the second-best passing game in the league behind Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Eugene Lewis and Kyran Moore. Kevin Brown continues to impress at running back and Javon Leake will continue to provide short fields for this loaded offence.

Costabile: BC Lions. What a storybook ending it would be for the team that is hosting the 111th Grey Cup to win the whole thing.

Ferguson: Winnipeg. Collaros and Co. complete a Calgary 2016-2018-esque quest and finally get back to the top.

Ferraz: This might be one of the most intriguing runs to the championship we’ve seen in a while. All five teams in the West have a reasonable bid to why they should be the last one standing while the East features the last two champions and ascending squads in Hamilton and Ottawa. That said, I’m going with the Lions winning it all at home.

Hall: Winnipeg. The best judge of future behaviour is past behaviour, and the Bombers qualified for the last four Grey Cups. Mike O’Shea will ensure his Bombers embrace the lessons from the 2023 loss to Montreal and translate that heartache into fuel for victory in 2024.

Landry: Nah, that’s alright. Grey Cup predictions in May are a dart board throw, y’all. Ask me again in mid-September and I’ll be happy to play. OK, OK. If you insist. Montreal, again. You hear that, Cody Fajardo?

O’Leary: I’m envisioning the turf at BC Place full of players and their families celebrating a Grey Cup win. The confetti bursts out of the cannons, covering everyone in red and black. For the first time since 2016, the Ottawa REDBLACKS are your Grey Cup champions. I don’t know, anything can happen in the CFL. It’s a weird league and that’s why I love it.

Steinberg: The Blue Bombers. The window won’t be open forever, but it’s still open now. After two straight heartbreakers in the Grey Cup, I think they bring it home this year.

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