Football is a crazy sport. Players know they run a 100 per cent risk of injury during the course of their careers and every one of them is very grateful for the opportunity to completely compromise their good health so they can play the game.
Last weekend the Montreal Alouettes had eight players lose the injury lottery in their game against the Roughriders and tonight they host the BC Lions without quarterback Anthony Calvillo behind center.
The Alouettes are no longer the team that owned the first part of the 21st Century in the CFL. Quite frankly I doubt whether the fickle football fans in Montreal will suffer through a rebuilding process after a long history of success that began in 1996 when the Alouettes fed off the carcass of the dead Baltimore Stallion franchise and brought a CFL team back to Quebec.
This brief lesson in recent Alouette history brings me to my point: BC will destroy Montreal in this game. Montreal will start quarterback Josh Neiswander and he will not make people forget about Calvillo.
The Friday night game features the Calgary Stampeders at Toronto. The most successful sports team in Toronto will showcase their talents before another tiny crowd in a giant stadium. The Argos are not considered major league in a city chocked full of bush league fans who do not believe one of North America’s oldest sports franchises is worthy of their “cosmopolitan” sports tastes.
The people who actually attend the game will be treated to one of the most remarkable quarterback performances in any football league because Argo pivot Ricky Ray has been otherworldly this year.
However the Stampeders will not simply roll over in this game and I expect Calgary to give Toronto all they can handle at Rogers Center.
I also expect an Argonaut victory in the game because the Stamps have run into receiver injury problems and the loss of Nik Lewis is unquestionably the biggest receiver issue for the team. Lewis is the heart and soul of the offence. He has been that clutch guy more times than I can recall for the Stampeders and he is not easy to replace on the field or in the locker room.
Saturday’s first game is a rematch between Winnipeg and Hamilton. The most startling news is the quarterback for Winnipeg will be the same guy as last week, so the rumors about Kenny Ploen or Dieter (Ralph) Brock behind center for the Bombers proved to be false. The net result with presumptive Bomber starter Max Hall will be the same because I see another Ticat victory in this game.
Hall should be a little better in his second start, but Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris has moved into the elite 50,000 passing yards club in the CFL and will add to that total on Saturday against the Bombers. Personally I would start Bomber veteran quarterback Buck Pierce until his wheels fall off because the final playoff berth in the CFL East is well within the grasp of the 1-6 Bombers, despite the absurdity of that concept.
The final game of the weekend matches the Eskimos against the Riders at Commonwealth Stadium. The Eskimos are better than their woeful record and the Riders have begun to cool off after a red-hot start to the season. Saskatchewan nearly lost at home to the Montreal Alouettes, despite the fact the Als were a very banged-up team without Calvillo. Rider quarterback Darian Durant gave himself an F for this game and it was his second best decision of the day — the first was his late game pump fake for a game-tying TD.
Eskimo quarterback Mike Reilly has begun to come into his own as a starter and he will be a big factor in the game, both as a pass and run threat. I already see more of an upside to Reilly than I have ever seen in Durant and Reilly will be a big part of an Eskimo win on Saturday.