2023-08-29 · 6 min read · CFL/Football
Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts

The Canadian Press | Timothy Matwey/3DownNation

Week 13 of the CFL campaign will be all about rivalries, beginning with the Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan facing off on Sunday and concluding with the traditional Labour Day Classic doubleheader as the Tiger-Cats clash with Toronto, while the Elks are in Calgary for a battle of Alberta matchup against the Stampeders.
The big story last week was Edmonton’s sudden resurgence, winning for a second successive encounter while ending the longest losing streak at home in North American sports history (22 games) with a victory over the Ottawa Redblacks (30-20).
A victory for Winnipeg this weekend would officially book their place in the postseason, while the Lions are looking to end a two-game slide and get back into the race for first in the West.
Here is a look at this week of games and my predictions.
BC Lions at Montreal Alouettes
After 10 weeks of solid play, the BC Lions hopes of claiming first place in the West has taken a hit, with the top team in the league regarding points conceded (217), giving up at least 30 in losses to Saskatchewan and Hamilton.
Since returning from the injured list, former Alouettes QB Vernon Adams, who is second in the CFL in passing yards (2,651), has thrown an interception in three straight contests, while the secondary has allowed over 450 yards through the air during their losing skid.
While the offence has had no trouble moving the ball through the air, it’s been a different story on the ground, with the Leos bottom of the league in terms of rushing yards (835) and average gains per rush (4.4 yards).
Football is a game of two halves, and the Als learned that lesson the hard way in Winnipeg last week, registering a pair of pick-sixes in the opening half but being outscored 27-0 in the final 30 minutes.
Cody Fajardo was not at his best in his return behind centre, throwing for only 137 yards with an interception, while the league leader in receiving yards, Austin Mack (828), was relatively quiet, with five catches for 55 yards.
As good as the secondary has been for Montreal this season, allowing the second-lowest completion percentage in the CFL (62.5%), the pass rush has not made it all that difficult on opposing QBs, with the Als registering a league-low 19 sacks.
Prediction- BC Lions 27-24 Montreal Alouettes
Given how much Montreal has struggled with their pass-rush, I expect Vernon Adams to be a significant threat running the ball, while he should have plenty of time and good looks to find his dependable receivers.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Saskatchewan Roughriders
As the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have shown in recent weeks, it’s not how you start but how you finish, and the three-time Grey Cup finalists once again turned a close game at half-time into a comfortable victory a week ago.
Zach Collaros had about as bad a first half as one could have imagined in his return to the lineup last week but still wound up with four touchdown passes, while the league’s leading rusher Brady Oliveira (902 yards) had another big outing, averaging 6.6 yards per carry with a receiving score and one on the ground.
A secondary that had been susceptible to big plays over the middle in the early portion of the campaign has cleaned up its act, with an interception in each of their last eight games, while allowing the lowest pass efficiency rating in the CFL (74.5).
The injury to Riders starter Trevor Harris has opened the door for a new star to emerge behind centre, and two weeks ago, Jacob Dolegala took that opportunity well, throwing for 239 yards and three scores, as Saskatchewan moved two games above Calgary in the race for third place.
While they stepped up offensively in week 11, we saw a rejuvenated defensive line as well, as a team that has registered the second-fewest sacks in the league to date (24) had five against BC.
Pass protection also drastically improved in that encounter as a club that has given up more sacks than anyone in the West this season (31), only allowed one the last time out.
Prediction- Winnipeg Blue Bombers 30-20 Saskatchewan Roughriders
Zach Collaros has never lost to Saskatchewan when starting against them for Winnipeg, and although he’s made his share of mistakes this season, that Bombers’ offensive unit always seems to find a way to overcome the odds and emerge with a comfortable victory.
Toronto Argonauts at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Things looked a little dicey for the Boatmen in the opening half last week, but the reigning Grey Cup champions came up big when it mattered most as Chad Kelly tossed three touchdown passes in a 39-31 victory versus Calgary.
The top-rated passer this season (118.7) has thrown for over 300 yards in his last two starts, while the defence has stepped up at critical moments, tied with the Stampeders for first in sacks (32), while they have not conceded a single point in the fourth quarter of their last three encounters.
On the opposite side, they continue to manhandle opposing defensive lines, allowing the fewest sacks in the CFL (10), including none to the top-rated Stamps.
Throughout the 2023 campaign, the Tiger-Cats have been soaked in mediocrity, winning just four of 10 games, but they are coming off perhaps their best performance of the season, scoring 30 points or more for just the third time.
Taylor Powell has not put up jaw-dropping numbers since taking over at quarterback for the injured Bo Levi Mitchell, but he is making smart decisions with the football, failing to throw an interception in his last two starts.
James Butler has picked up his game on the ground, with over 100 yards rushing in back-to-back contests, though this team have not been consistent throwing the ball, with the lowest pass efficiency rating in the league (76.5).
Prediction- Toronto Argonauts 35-17 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Hamilton has not been sharp regarding pass coverage all year, allowing the second-highest pass efficiency rating (101.2), and if Chad Kelly has as much time to throw the ball as I expect, it could be a long afternoon for the Tabbies on Monday.
Edmonton Elks at Calgary Stampeders
Who’d have thought two weeks ago that a once-winless Elks squad would enter the Labour Day Classic as one of the hottest teams in the CFL?
Tre Ford has been a critical contributor to their recent success, throwing for over 300 yards against the Redblacks while tossing at least one touchdown in three successive encounters.
If they can continue to flourish offensively and improve against the run, they might find themselves in a playoff position very soon, with the Elks allowing a league-high for rushing yards (1,552) and average gains per rush (5.9).
Four touchdown tosses and 387 yards passing for Jake Maier still wasn’t enough to get Calgary back in the win column last week as the Stamps find themselves a game behind Hamilton in the race for that final playoff spot, with the Elks nipping at their heels, just one win back for fourth.
Reggie Begelton has been a monster for Calgary in the pass-catching department, with a pair of TD grabs last week and 203 receiving yards on nine catches as he leads the league in targets (80) and has 814 receiving yards, good for second in the CFL.
When needed, though, this defence has struggled to make a play, allowing the second-most first downs (215), while their passing accuracy continues to flounder, currently with the lowest completion percentage in the league (61.2) despite allowing the second-fewest sacks (21).
Prediction- Edmonton Elks 19-20 Calgary Stampeders
A game that looked like a dud a few weeks ago all of a sudden has plenty of intrigue, with the surging Elks looking like the favourites based on recent performances.
On the other hand, I expect to see a highly motivated Calgary defensive line on Monday, who are among the best at getting to the quarterback and will be keen on improving from their subpar display last week against Toronto.
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By: Joel Lefevre


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