The 2014 CFL season has seen more laundry from the referees than a Walton-sized family with a 20-year-old Maytag washer.
The general mood is zero tolerance for every infraction in the new kinder and gentler CFL, but the net result is frustration for both fans and players. The games take longer because the decisions take forever and there are plenty of penalties for the endless, painfully extended round table discussions for each penalty. Speed up the process gentlemen, particularly if you clowns plan to call every infraction this year.
Anyhow, back to football after that brief rant.
First up is a game between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Ottawa Redblacks. The Eskimos have found their stride in the early 2014 season and the Redblacks have regressed on both sides of the ball since the start of the season.
Ottawa quarterback Henry Burris was a free agent who decided to sign with the Redblacks after his former team Hamilton showed little interest in him. Hank now plays behind a turnstile O-line on a team with no receiver threats and his game has suffered. The Eskimos have one of the most aggressive defences in the league and I believe Burris will be under intense pressure once again in this game. The only way the Redblacks win this game is to lock the Eskimos in their dressing room and throw away the key.
Next up is a Saturday afternoon game between Hamilton and Calgary in the makeshift 5,000 seat home of the Ticats. Their new home is currently trapped in that somewhere-over-the-rainbow stage of completion, so Hamilton is still a hobo team. Despite their homeless state, I pick Hamilton to upset Calgary in this game because they have improved on both sides of the ball over the past few weeks. The Ticats have to cut down on the bonehead penalties to win this game and I expect Hamilton coach Kent Austin to lead by example with some self-control on the sidelines.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders host the woeful Montreal Alouettes in Saturday’s second game and the ’Riders will not be hospitable in any way to their guests. The sting of two Grey Cup losses to the Als will be enough to fire up the ’Rider veterans who remain from the ’09 and ’10 teams. The Alouettes have already announced they plan to use two backup quarterbacks in the game because it is doubtful any of them is worthy of a starter’s role.
I expect the ’Riders to blow Montreal right out of ancient Taylor Field and cause an Als crash-landing in the large excavation hole on the new stadium construction site next door. There will be no mercy rule and rumors abound that ’Rider quarterback Darian Durant may even play more of a role in touchdowns than the ’Rider defence in this game.
The last game of the weekend is a Sunday evening clash between the B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts at Rogers (We really wanted an NFL team) Centre. The Argos have the best quarterback in the league in Ricky Ray and he has been able to work with second string receivers on offence. The Lions have nursed quarterback Travis Lulay back to health and want him back as their starter much sooner than later. Interim quarterback Kevin Glenn has found his game with the Lion receivers, so there is no hurry on the Lulay front for B.C., but he may play against Toronto.
My spidey senses tell me to pick Toronto to win at home against the Lions. The Argos have tightened up on defence and Ricky Ray can more than run with any big dogs when it comes to quarterbacks. Look for the Argonauts to hit .500 in the win/loss column with a victory against the Leos.