June 11, 2024

Weekly Predictor: Leaning in on the Lions

Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

The 2024 season is underway!

Some of the things we learned in Week 1 are as follows; Montreal is set to defend their title, the Bombers need to knock some off-season rust off, Bo Levi Mitchell has fresh legs, Jake Maier is ready to prove the doubters wrong, Shawn Bane Jr. is prepared to best last season’s career best, Edmonton still knows how to cough up wins, Vernon Adams Jr. needs help up front, and Toronto’s defensive line is still ferocious!

Now, if you’re wondering where I was last week, well I thank CFL.ca for their patience as I was wrapping up an epic European adventure with the family and in true dedicated CFL reporter fashion, my plane arrived in Canada on Thursday night just in time to watch the opener of the season between the Alouettes and the Bombers.

As for my picks, 2-2 start to the year after overestimating the Tiger-Cats and underestimating the Argos with Cameron Dukes.

Here we go for Week 2.

RELATED
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» Bane scores three times in Riders’ comeback win over Elks
» Stamps spoil Mitchell’s homecoming, down Ticats
» Argos close out Week 1 with back-and-forth win over Lions
» Sign up and watch CFL games on CFL+ in the U.S. and Internationally

Winnipeg at Ottawa
Thursday, June 13
7:30 p.m. ET

The Bombers are likely to welcome back captain Adam Bighill to the defence for their matchup against their former backup quarterback Dru Brown.

Ottawa is of course hoping Brown can finally be the quarterback they’ve missed since Henry Burris and Trevor Harris were leading Ottawa to Grey Cup appearances on a consistent basis.

Winnipeg is just hoping it was only rust that slowed them down in Week 1, with many across the league pondering if the Bombers have finally hit a wall after four straight trips to the Grey Cup.

I doubt it. They’re still extremely talented and that’s why I see the Bombers ruining Brown’s debut and Ottawa’s home opener.

But if you’re picking based on Ottawa not having played yet, a word of caution. The team with the first week bye has won more than they’ve lost in their regular season debut in recent years.

PICK: WINNIPEG

Montreal at Edmonton
Friday, June 14
9:00 p.m. ET

The defending Grey Cup champions looked sharp in Week 1! Tyson Philpot looks like a great candidate already for top Canadian. Cody Fajardo looks sharp and confident in his second year in Montreal and that defence can still get after it!

Edmonton, meanwhile, looked the part of a team ready to turn the corner in the positive direction through the first three quarters of the opener last week. Then the fourth quarter happened and they looked like the same old Elks that have dropped to the bottom of the West standings.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s 300-yard passing day should bring some hope to Edmonton though. He was spreading the ball around to a talented receiving core. Running back Kevin Brown will be extremely frustrated with his debut, though now he faces a defence that was able to slow down reigning top Canadian Brady Oliveira.

Edmonton’s young secondary showed their lack of experience and I think Montreal will attack them again in Week 2.

PICK: MONTREAL

 

Calgary at BC
Saturday, June 15
7:00 p.m. ET

50 Cent is helping draw a monster crowd for the Lions home opener, as is a team that some are picking to take the next step to the Grey Cup in 2024.

Vernon Adams Jr.had a pretty good game in Week 1, except for the fact he was running for his life too often. The Lions will definitely be working on pass protection schemes this week as the Argonauts defensive line took them to school.

If Adams Jr. had a little bit more time, the Lions could have easily been victorious in their opener against Toronto.

Defensively, it’s a bit of a work in progress after losing some key pieces for BC. They did allow three touchdown passes against Cameron Dukes.

Jake Maier comes in after a decent Week 1 performance. The run game is strong in Calgary it appears with Dedrick Mills the lead back. He was over six-yards a carry and will be a major focus of the Stampeders to take some heat off their quarterback.

But the Stamps face a much more formidable offence this week. The o-line will be better. William Stanback will have more room to run.

PICK: BC

Saskatchewan at Hamilton
Sunday, June 16
7:00 p.m. ET

 

Bo Levi Mitchell has to feel the heat again in Hamilton after a lacklustre debut. I’m not sure the Tiger-Cats will have too much patience after investing in backup quarterback Taylor Powell this off-season.

However, Bo could also use a little help. Too many drops by his receivers in Week 1 make the stat line look even worse for last year’s big free agent signing in Hamilton.

Head coach Scott Milanovich sounds pleased with what he’s seen from the former MOP but there is a lot of room for improvement.

Saskatchewan comes in after an emotional fourth quarter comeback victory. Trevor Harris didn’t look like there was much hesitation from his knee injury last year and he and Bane Jr. have found some instant chemistry, carrying over from their short time together last season.

But where I see this game being won is on the ground. James Butler was over 100-yards in Week 1, while the Riders free agent signins AJ Ouellette was a disappointment in Edmonton.

The Tiger-Cats ran the ball well but also gave up a significant chunk of yards to Stampeders running backs in game one and we doubt starting guard Logan Ferland will get tossed early this week for the Riders.

I see Ouellette showing Saskatchewan there isn’t anything to worry about on the ground.

PICK: SASKATCHEWAN

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