July 3, 2024

Costabile: 4 storylines to watch in Week 5


If you can believe it, it’s already Week 5 in the CFL.

The first month of the season has been nothing short of fantastic. It’s included walk-off wins, a ton of offence, games that went down to the final three minutes, and big plays on defence.

If July is anything like June, we’re in for some especially entertaining football.

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Week 5 kicks off this week with the Roughriders hosting the Argonauts on Thursday night. Things then move to Winnipeg as the REDBLACKS visit the Blue Bombers on Friday Night Football. Saturday will be a matchup between the Montreal Alouettes and Calgary Stampeders and the week ends on Sunday night in Hamilton as the Tiger-Cats welcome the BC Lions.

There’s lots to follow this week so I have one storyline (or a few, you’ll see) to watch in every game.


Toronto at Saskatchewan | Thursday, July 4 | 9:00 p.m. ET

I know, I know, this is supposed to be an article with one storyline per game. But I make the rules around here and there are just too many storylines to follow in Thursday night’s contest between the Riders and Argos to only mention one.

This will be Corey Mace’s first time facing his former club since taking over the head coaching duties in Saskatchewan. There’s surely to be some added motivation to best his old team in his new colours.

It’s also running back AJ Ouellette‘s first time matching up against the defence he called his teammates for four seasons. Ouellette will have to be at his best if he wants to break through that front seven as the Argos run defence is second-best in the CFL, allowing 40.0 yards per game. He had his best game as a Rider in Week 3, rushing for 98 yards on 20 carries and also adding 47 yards through the air, catching all four passes thrown his way, and will look to build on that at home this week.

Oh and to note, the team with the best run defence? The Riders, who have allowed just 32.7 yards per game on the ground. Ka’Deem Carey, who’s leading the CFL with 230 rushing yards, will also need to be at his best on the other side of the matchup.

Trevor Harris will miss this game as he deals with a knee injury, meaning Shea Patterson will get the start under centre for the Riders. Patterson went four-of-10 for 41 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions filling in for Harris after he was injured in Week 3’s contest against Hamilton. Let’s see how he does in his first start this year.


Ottawa at Winnipeg | Friday, July 5 | 8:30 p.m. ET

Adarius Pickett has called himself the Party Starter and while he’s gotten that party started on defence (15 tackles on defence, three on special teams, and an interception), it’s been a different story for his teammate Dominique Rhymes.

Rhymes returned to the REDBLACKS this off-season, signing with his former team as a free agent. The 31-year-old has notched two 1,000-yard seasons in his career, one with Ottawa in 2019 and one with BC in 2022. So we know he’s capable of being the No. 1 receiver, but three games into this season, he’s yet to add a big game to his stats page.

The pass-catcher has just 119 yards, including just four against Hamilton last week, on nine catches through the first three games of the campaign. But that’s not to say that Rhymes isn’t getting looks. He’s been targeted 19 times and all he needs is a breakout game to get back into the groove (just look at what happened with Tim White last week.)

Is this the week that Dru Brown and Rhymes sync up for a big outing? They’ll hope so as they get set to go against a Winnipeg defence that is giving up 282.3 yards per game through the air.


Calgary at Montreal | Saturday, July 6 | 7:00 p.m. ET

Well, well, well. Montreal really is that team. Sorry for picking against you all last week. I have learned my lesson.

The Alouettes have defended their championship title like, well, champions. Cody Fajardo is playing at an MOP pace and receiver Tyson Philpot has emerged as the league’s best, regardless of passport. Their offence leads the CFL in offensive points (31.8 per game), touchdowns (14), passing touchdowns (nine) and 30+ yard completions (10).

And that defence? Well, they lead the league in points allowed (18.3 per game), opponent offensive touchdowns (five), opponent net offence (332.0), opponent yards per play (5.72), opponent passing touchdowns (two), and sacks (10). Their turnover ratio, +8, is the league’s best and are tied with the most interceptions with five. That’s a lot of stats, I know, but it just means they’re really, really good.

Calgary has their hands full this week heading to Montreal to take on the Alouettes. The Stamps won in overtime last week and will need to carry that momentum into Percival Molson to take down the reigning champs.

Notable for the Stampeders was the absence of lockdown cornerback Demerio Houston at practice on Tuesday and Wednesday as he deals with an ankle injury. He’s tied with linebacker Cameron Judge for most tackles on his team (16) and has two interceptions, including a game-changing one in the end zone in overtime last week. If he isn’t able to go, whoever fills in for him will have some pretty big shoes to fill against Fajardo and the Als’ receivers.


BC at Hamilton | Sunday, July 7 | 7:00 p.m. ET

It took a few weeks to get going but Tim White was finally the Tim White we’ve gotten to know in last week’s contest against the Ottawa REDBLACKS. He hauled in eight of the 12 passes thrown his way for 118 yards and his first major score of the season. It was a breakout game for the Ticats star receiver and he’ll want to keep that going as we get deeper into the summer months.

Having he and quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell on the same page is great news for Ticats fans as Hamilton welcomes in the BC Lions this week. Hamilton is still looking for their first win of the season and will have quite the test against the 3-1 Lions.

The Ticats have been close to winning three of their four games so far this season. But as we know, close doesn’t count in the standings. Mitchell has his top target in newcomer Shemar Bridges (309 yards and three touchdowns), Steven Dunbar Jr. (236 yards and a touchdown), Canadian Kiondre Smith (224 yards and three touchdowns) and finally White to use this week as Hamilton looks to avoid going 0-5 to start the season.

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