One of the concepts that never crossed my mind is any scenario where a battle for first place overall in the CFL between the unbeaten Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos would occur in Week 4 of the 2014 season.
People would have good reason to accuse me of wholesale abuse of hallucinogenic drugs if I envisioned this particular scenario, but I am faced with the choice of a winner between these two 3-0 teams as we head into the weekend.
I was at the game in Edmonton last week where the Eskimos hung one on the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks. There was a local Eskimo fan/folk hero named Diesel sitting in front of me who inexplicably decided to include himself in my conversations with a former Golden Bear linebacker sitting next to me at Commonwealth. Diesel and I will never be close friends based upon our first and only conversation, but at least he is a loyal Eskimo fan in a city where everything seems to come up Oiler.
The question for me and Diesel this week is whether his beloved Eskimos can beat the host Bombers this week. All signs point to no for me and I apologize for my lack of consultation with Diesel about the game, although I would guess he would not agree with me — just a hunch.
The Bombers won a close last second game against Montreal and survived heavy pressure from an Alouette defence along the way. Winnipeg has established a strong run game with newcomer Nic Grigsby, while quarterback Drew Willy has proven to be the real deal thus far in the season. The Esks face their stiffest challenge of a young season in a noisy enemy stadium and it will not go well for Edmonton.
The Ottawa RedBlacks host the Toronto Argonauts in their newly re-furbished stadium and want to win this game in front of the newest crop of hometown faithful in the nation’s capital. Ottawa will face pressure from both the Argo offence and defence in this game; too much for the expansion team to handle in my opinion. Look for Toronto to spoil this housewarming party.
The winless and homeless Hamilton Tiger-Cats will still be winless and homeless after their game in Calgary against the Stamps this weekend. The 2-0 Stampeders are the only other undefeated team in the CFL and they are the most legitimate team with a perfect record of the three choices.
The Stamps are well-coached and won their last game on the road, despite the absence of 2013 MOP Jon Cornish, as well as receivers Nik Lewis and Maurice Price. They are a force on defence and people should remember Calgary lost the West final with a gutted front four because both starting Stamp tackles were injured in the last game of the regular season.
This game will not be pretty because backup quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will start for the ‘Cats. Starter Zach Collaros has not recovered from the cheap shot he received from Eskimo Odell Willis in the last game, despite a bye week to nurse his head and neck injuries.
The final game this weekend rematches the B.C. Lions and Montreal Alouettes in Vancouver. These teams have already faced each other and the allegation surfaced that Montreal tried to run up the score.
The allegation has less traction if one considers the futility of the Montreal offence and their need to dial in their game under new quarterback Troy Smith. Regardless, B.C. will win this game at home because Montreal does not win on the West Coast, even when they had quarterback Anthony Calvillo in all-star form on the team. See you next week.
Jim Sutherland is a Red Deer freelance writer