CFL WEEK 15 PREDICTIONS

2023-09-14 · 5 min read · CFL/Football
Edmonton Elks and Saskatchewan Roughriders

Timothy Matwey/3DownNation

Coming off a series of nail-biting results from the Labour Day long weekend, we saw a mixture of games that were close and not in week 14 of the CFL campaign, beginning with a back-and-forth contest between Hamilton and Ottawa and ending with a narrow victory by the Elks over Calgary with a pair of blowouts in between.
Ultimately, we are only assured of two things: the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be in the postseason, having each pulled off convincing victories last Saturday.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, meanwhile, are quietly creeping up the East standings, just a game behind the Alouettes for second and a guaranteed playoff spot, the Stampeders are close behind, just a game back of the Tabbies for a potential crossover position, while the Elks and Redblacks are at the bottom of their respective divisions with three wins each.
It seems like a foregone conclusion, but with a win on Friday over Montreal, the Argos would clinch a bye into the East Final for a third successive season, while a loss and a Tiger-Cats defeat would assure them a home playoff game.
The Lions, meanwhile, will have a chance to put some pressure on Winnipeg in the race for first out West with the Bombers two wins above them, though the Leos have a game in hand, while Saskatchewan is nicely positioned in third, two wins above Calgary.
There is much to unpack and plenty still to be determined as we begin week 15.
With all of that in mind, here is a look at the matchups this week and my predictions.
Toronto Argonauts at Montreal Alouettes
It all seems to be way too easy for Ryan Dinwiddie and the Argos, who are piling up the points, scoring 35 or more since the start of week 10, with Chad Kelly throwing for 278 yards in their 39-10 victory versus the Als last Saturday, while AJ Ouellette was a force, running for 105 yards and two scores, as he inches closer towards 1,000 yards on the ground for the season (815).
The offence has been aided by the fine work of this group’s special teams, as Toronto leads the league regarding average field position (41.3) and has the second-highest average gains on first down (7.37 yards), plus the best second down conversion percentage in the CFL (53.4%), with all of that adding up to the Argos being far and away the best team in their division.
Montreal may be the best hope for a team in the East to unseat the Boatmen, but even that feels like a stretch with the Als currently on a three-game losing streak, while their defence has given up over 30 points in each of those defeats.
Unlike Toronto, who has been stellar in the pass-blocking department, allowing fewer sacks than anyone in the CFL this year (10), Cody Fajardo has constantly been flushed out of the pocket since coming to Montreal, as his O-line has given up the most sacks in the league (44) while their D-line has registered the fewest (19).
Prediction- Toronto Argonauts 31-19 Montreal Alouettes
The Als should have a lot more intensity and be able to correct some of the mistakes they made against Toronto a week ago, but the fact remains that on talent alone, the Argos are the superior team and should be able to disrupt Fajardo and make life very difficult for a Montreal offence who’ve struggled to finish drives all year.
Edmonton Elks at Saskatchewan Roughriders
In the opening 10 weeks of the season, everything seemed to be going against the Elks, but it’s been a completely different story since Tre Ford took over behind centre, as Edmonton have won three of their last four games, ended a lengthy losing spell at home and are now in the playoff conversation.
Ford has a TD pass in his last four starts, and he’s been helped by running back Kevin Brown, who went off on the Stamps last week, racking up 143 yards rushing with a touchdown on 15 carries.
Coming off an embarrassing 51-6 loss to the Bombers at the Banjo Bowl was perhaps the first humbling experience for Jake Dolegala in his CFL career as the quarterback out of Central Connecticut State was sacked three times and couldn’t move the ball all game long, finishing with a mere 113 yards through the air.
He was far from the only reason they were manhandled by the Bombers, though, as the defence, which has allowed fewer completions than any this season (210), couldn’t stop Winnipeg through the air, conceding five touchdown passes, while their second-worst rushing attack (85.3 yards per game) failed to put the offence in many second and manageable situations.
Prediction- Edmonton Elks 19-21 Saskatchewan Roughriders
This may be the most challenging game to call this weekend as both teams have been revitalized offensively with new quarterbacks, despite the Riders’ dismal performance last week.
Even with their improved play, though, the Elks’ defence has still looked vulnerable over the middle, allowing the second-most completions in the CFL (252), and if that trend continues, I have to think fatigue will unsettle their defence and enable the Riders to put enough points on the board to win this one.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Another statement win after a disappointing loss has been one of the storylines around the Bombers this season, and they made a big statement in the Banjo Bowl, as Zach Collaros showed once again why he’s the frontrunner to claim a third straight Most Outstanding Player Award, with five TD tosses, three to the league leader in receiving touchdowns this year, Dalton Schoen (10).
As lethal a combination as those two have been, though, Brady Oliveira is a big reason why they are so successful on offence, as he leads the league in rushing yards (1,144), while Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat have been a force along the line of scrimmage, combining for 13 sacks between them, helping that unit climb up to second in the CFL in that category (37 sacks).
An end-to-end contest in the nation’s capital went the way of the Tiger-Cats last week as Taylor Powell had another solid outing, throwing for 326 yards and three scores, as Orlondo Steinauer’s team are starting to make a push up the standings in the East.
The secondary has done its job, allowing the second-fewest completions this season (224), though they have regressed on the ground with James Butler only averaging 2.5 yards per carry in the victory over Ottawa, while the Ti-Cats are back to having the worst rushing attacking among East division clubs, averaging 87.7 yards per contest.
Prediction- Winnipeg Blue Bombers 40-17 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The last time the Bombers and Tiger-Cats faced off, Winnipeg were humbled at Tim Hortons Field, losing 48-31 and just like the BC Lions and Riders this season, you can bet that defeat will be in the back of the minds of Bomber players come Saturday, and having to contend with an angry and talented offence like Winnipeg’s will be difficult for any CFL club to contain.
Ottawa Redblacks at BC Lions
A game which was there for the taking a week ago ultimately ended in a heartbreaking defeat for Ottawa, with Bob Dyce’s men having now lost six in a row, as their once Cinderella story has become a bit of a nightmare.
Dustin Crum was decent behind centre versus Hamilton with 265 yards passing.
In contrast, their rushing attack, currently second in the CFL regarding average yards per game (132.8), went off with Devonte Williams running for 146 yards, though their play through the air, both offensively and defensively, has continuously let them down, with the Redblacks last in terms of pass efficiency (78.9) and bottom of the league in passing yards allowed (3,910) and completions conceded of 30+ yards (33).
The Lions may have lost two of their previous three encounters, but Vernon Adams is certainly not to blame, with the BC pivot throwing for 300-plus yards in his last four games, as Rick Campbell’s side lead the league in passing yards per game (307.8).
As efficient as they’ve been through the air, though, the Leos have been anything but that on the ground, last in terms of rushing yards (957) while they have often had to start deep on their side of the field, dead-last in the CFL regarding average field position (34.4-yard line).
Prediction- Ottawa Redblacks 16-45 BC Lions
Ottawa may have the weakest secondary in the CFL, currently bottom of the league regarding average passing yards allowed (10.4) and going up against an efficient passer like Adams, and a dangerous receiving crew from Keon Hatcher, Lucky Whitehead and Alexander Hollins to name a few, it’s hard to imagine seeing Ottawa drastically improve in that category overnight.
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