2023-08-15 · 6 min read · CFL/Football
Argonauts McLeod Bethel-Thompson and BC Lions

John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images | Geoff Robins/

A week which began with a crazy finish at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton concluded with the Argos getting back in the win column with not much changing at the end of it all in the East or West standings.
The Elks were as close to a win as we’ve ever seen this year but blew it in the second half, the Alouettes eased past Saskatchewan, BC crushed Calgary, and the Argos held off a late Ottawa surge.
Starting quarterbacks are dropping like flies this season, the latest being two-time Most Outstanding Player Zach Collaros, who suffered an upper-body injury and is questionable for this week.
In Edmonton, changes continue as the club parted ways with president Victor Cui this week, just over a week after the team promoted Jarious Jackson to offensive coordinator but kept Stephen McAdoo in an advisory role.
The Alouettes’ winning streak has put some distance between themselves and the other teams in the East for second place, while out West, the Bombers and Lions are deadlocked for first, and the Riders and Stamps are separated by one victory for third.
Here is a look at the week 11 matchups and my predictions.
Edmonton Elks at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Everything looked so easy for Tre Ford and the offence in the opening half last Thursday, as they jumped out to a massive 22-0 lead with Kevin Brown putting up 98 yards on the ground with a score and the Elks defensive unit managing a pick-six.
It all came crashing down, though, in the second half as it often has for Chris Jones’ team, as they gave up 28 points in the final two quarters, with the defence currently tied with Ottawa for the most offensive scores allowed in 2023 (22).
Although their home game versus the Bombers ended in disappointment, there are lots of positives for them to take away on both sides of the ball, namely their pass protection, only allowing one sack to a Winnipeg unit which has the second-most this year (28) with the Elks fifth in the CFL in terms of sacks allowed (23).
Hamilton is coming off a bye week with a lot of things for Orlondo Steinauer and the team to work on after QB Taylor Powell tossed a pair of picks and the second-lowest scoring offence in the league (142 points) only managed 14 points in a loss to Montreal (27-14).
Bo Levi Mitchell is likely a couple more weeks away from returning after injuring his right lower leg, and his replacements have been struggling with accuracy, with Hamilton putting up the second-lowest completion percentage (62.1) in the CFL.
Their effective pass rush (24 sacks) and tight coverage over the middle has kept their games close despite a sputtering offence, with the Ti-Cats giving up the fewest completions (151) this year.
Prediction- Edmonton Elks 24-14 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Elks are due for a break, and although they should’ve finished the job last week, Hamilton doesn’t have the personnel to hit you nearly as hard as that Winnipeg offence did in the second half last Thursday.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Calgary Stampeders
Things couldn’t have gone any worse for Mike O’Shea’s Bombers in the opening half last week, but the reigning three-time West champions showed plenty of resolve in the second half, keeping pace with BC atop the standings.
The status of Zach Collaros remains up in the air for Friday, but Dru Brown’s performance in relief should give Winnipeg fans plenty of reassurance that the offence will be ok as the Bombers backup threw for 307 yards and four scores versus the Elks, including an insane one-handed grab by Kenny Lawler to turn the tide.
Brady Oliveira continues to be a force out of the backfield, running for 110 yards in Edmonton as he leads the league in rushing yards this season (703).
However, there’s room for improvement when it comes to stopping the run, with the Bombers allowing a league-high 6-yard average.
From start to finish, the Stampeders were nowhere to be found at BC Place last weekend, as they dug themselves a 17-point hole in the opening quarter and were beaten handily by the Lions.
Jake Maier is second in the league regarding passing yards (2,208), yet he’s still struggling with his accuracy, putting up a completion percentage of 62.6 in 2023, the third-lowest average in the CFL.
On the defensive side, this group isn’t getting off the field quick enough, allowing the second-most first downs (179), and they’ve eventually been worn down with long drives against them, tied with Edmonton and Ottawa for the most touchdowns conceded (24).
Prediction- Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27-20 Calgary Stampeders
The Stamps have been vulnerable against the run all year and having to stop Brady Oliveira is the last thing they need.
At the same time, the secondary has allowed 67.4% of passes against them to be completed, the most among West division teams, and even if Collaros can’t go, those stats should give Winnipeg plenty of opportunities to score points.
Montreal Alouettes at Ottawa Redblacks
Based on the final score of their previous encounter (41-12), you might have forgotten that arguably Montreal’s two biggest offensive weapons, Cody Fajardo and William Stanback, were not in the lineup as Jason Maas’ team looked just as good without them against Saskatchewan.
Caleb Evans wasn’t all that spectacular, throwing for 149 yards, along with a score and an interception; however, the defence stood tall as it has all year to limit the damage, allowing only one touchdown, with the Als having given up the fewest major scores in 2023 (12) and the second-fewest points (155).
The CFL leader in receiving yards, Austin Mack, only had one catch last week, but every time he touches the ball, something significant seems to happen, as he scored a 56-yard TD on that only grab, as the deep ball has been a big part of this offence in 2023, with the Als posting the second-most completions of 30+ yards (19).
As has been the case throughout the campaign, the Redblacks dug themselves an early hole last week, but this time, Dustin Crum and company had no fourth-quarter magic.
Crum put up some solid numbers through the air for a change, completing all but five throws and tossing three touchdown passes, but that secondary couldn’t contend with the Argos receivers, giving up over 400 passing yards, including four scores, as they are the only team in the CFL this year to have conceded an average of over 300 yards through the air in 2023 (326 per game).
The Redblacks have run the ball well all season, leading the league in rushing yards (1,104) and are among the best at stopping the run, conceding just 3.6 yards per carry (first), but they can’t seem to find or keep opponents from entering the end zone, scoring the fewest offensive scores (12) while tied for the most allowed (22).
Prediction- Montreal Alouettes 20-13 Ottawa Redblacks
Montreal’s receivers seem to have a habit of making game-changing plays, and should Fajardo and Stanback be unavailable again, we don’t think the Als will have much difficulty containing a Redblacks offence that seems to be one-dimensional.
BC Lions at Saskatchewan Roughriders
A week after being dominated by the Bombers, it was back to regularly scheduled programming for the BC Lions at home to Calgary as they took control early and never looked in danger, allowing fewer than 10 points for the fifth time this season.
Vernon Adams was back from injury and looked like his old self, tossing four touchdown passes, as he and Keon Hatcher are developing quite the partnership for the Leos.
While Rick Campbell’s crew have scored the third-most points in the CFL (233), they’ve had to work hard to get those points, as they have the worst average field position in the league (34.9-yard line) and have given up the second-most sacks among teams out West (24).
The injury bug has bitten the Riders hard over the past few weeks, and it’s been evident that Craig Dickenson’s squad lacks overall depth, losing four of their previous five contests.
Without Trevor Harris, they’ve scored less than 15 points in two of their last three games, putting up just 127 yards through the air against the Als the previous week, though Jamal Morrow and their dismal run game (seventh in rushing yards) improved as the 28-year-old Washington State product averaged 4.5 yards a carry versus Montreal.
Saskatchewan leads the league in completions this year (212) but has not been balanced enough offensively and has struggled in the red zone, with a mere 16 touchdowns this season.
Prediction- BC Lions 27-10 Saskatchewan Roughriders
Vernon Adams and that dynamic receiving crew should find their share of openings this weekend, while the Riders are still missing that killer instinct when arriving in scoring territory.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre


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