2023-09-20 · 4 min read · CFL/Football
Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Edmonton Elks

13th Man Sports |

As we reach week 16 in the 2023 CFL schedule, the race for first in the East may be over after the Argos locked up first-place in dramatic fashion against the Alouettes, but out West, the Blue Bombers loss to Hamilton has made the race for first a lot more interesting.
Winnipeg is idol this week, opening the door for the BC Lions to draw even with them this weekend, but BC will be facing an Elks team suddenly in playoff contention, while the Tiger-Cats have a chance to win three in a row when they battle the Boatmen.
The Ottawa Redblacks have now dropped seven straight games as they sit three wins shy of the playoffs; Hamilton and Montreal are deadlocked for second in the East with identical 6-7 records, while the Stamps and Elks are two games behind the postseason mark currently held by the Tabbies.
Here is a look at my week 16 predictions.
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Ottawa Redblacks
In the CFL, it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish, and the Riders learned that the hard way in week 15 as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the opening quarter but were schooled by Tre Ford and the Elks in the fourth quarter where they were outscored 16-0 and ultimately lost 36-27.
Jake Dolegala had three TD passes in the loss as he continues to showcase his capabilities, but they can’t seem to get Jamal Morrow going, with Saskatchewan dead-last in the league for average yards per gain on the ground (4.5) while their average run defence was scorched by Elks running back Kevin Brown, who racked up 175 rushing yards on 19 carries.
The Redblacks got themselves out of some messy situations in the early portion of this season, and lately, closing out a game has been their problem, with Ottawa allowing 23 fourth-quarter points to BC last Saturday and ultimately falling 41-37.
Dustin Crum and Devonte Williams have been the focal points of the run game, with the Redblacks third in the league for rushing yards (1,707), though their secondary can’t seem to get it together, allowing more TD passes than anyone this season (24), while also giving up the highest average yards per pass (10.3) and completions of 30+ yards (33).
Prediction- Saskatchewan Roughriders 33-27 Ottawa Redblacks
The Riders’ biggest offensive strength lies in their passing attack, while Ottawa’s biggest defensive weakness is pass coverage; that should tell us a lot going into this game, but at the same time, low morale and inconsistent play won’t help the Redblacks, so when you put that all together it smells like an eighth straight loss is coming their way.
BC Lions at Edmonton Elks
There’s a reason the CFL is perhaps the most unpredictable league in professional sports, and the Lions discovered that last week, as they were given a lifeline when the Tiger-Cats beat Winnipeg and then BC saved their best for last versus Ottawa, erasing a 38-18 deficit to claim a big victory.
Vernon Adams has posted a strong campaign in his first full season as the Leos starting QB, second in TD passes (23), but he does have the odd time where his decision-making is questionable; case in point, three interceptions against a weak Redblacks secondary.
A team that looked dead and buried just a few weeks ago have suddenly become one of the hottest teams in the CFL, with the Elks having now captured four of their last five games, with another outstanding performance from the revamped offence last week.
Whatever issues Kevin Brown and the Edmonton running game had earlier this season, they seem to have repaired it as the Elks running back reached the 1,000-yard plateau in the victory over Saskatchewan (1,004), though they’ve struggled to stay consistent defending the pass, allowing the highest pass efficiency rate in the league (102.5).
Prediction- BC Lions 25-28 Edmonton Elks
If you’d have asked me this in August, I’d tell you the Lions were a lock to win this game, but a lot has changed in Edmonton as the offence has consistently moved the ball, while the pass rush is starting to generate more pressure.
BCs had some lopsided victories over the Elks lately, and you can bet Chris Jones will remind his team of that heading into this encounter.
Montreal Alouettes at Calgary Stampeders
A lack of a killer instinct in critical moments has held Montreal back throughout the campaign as they have the fewest touchdowns in the CFL (22), and that came back to bite them against Toronto last week as they were beaten 23-20.
The ordinarily dependable David Cote missed two field goals, including one which was blocked at the end of regulation time, but they’ve struggled in the trenches on both sides of the ball, as Cody Fajardo was sacked five times, putting Montreal at 50 allowed this year, the most in the CFL.
After a bye week, the Stamps begin the stretch run in an unfamiliar position, on the outside of the playoff picture with a record of 4-9.
Jake Maier’s been much better with his decisions, with just one interception in his last three games, but their run defence has made it too easy for opponents to convert second downs as the Stamps lead the league regarding average gains per rush (5.9 yards).
Prediction- Montreal Alouettes 13-20 Calgary Stampeders
This one could go either way, but ultimately, we think a well-rested Stamps squad and some improved quarterbacking play will give Calgary the edge.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts
Whatever assistant coach Scott Milanovic has been working on with Taylor Powell, it’s working as the Ti-Cats’ young pivot went toe-to-toe with two-time Most Outstanding Player Zach Collaros and made a statement, marching Hamilton down the field plenty of times and giving his team another W last week.
While the secondary has been susceptible to a deep ball, allowing the second-most completions of 30+ yards (27), they have also allowed the second-fewest completions (245) and have been better on the ground, with James Butler rushing for 82 yards and a score last week.
An Argos offence that was relatively inefficient for three quarters came up big when needed as they sealed a bye into the East Final with Chad Kelly throwing for 275 yards and a score in the victory over Montreal.
The offensive line was a little weaker than what we’re used to, allowing two sacks, though their defence kept them in that ball game as they registered five sacks of their own and had an interception.
Prediction- Hamilton Tiger-Cats 24-21 Toronto Argonauts
The Argos have nothing to play for now until the East Final, and it’s only natural to expect a drop-off in play, and you can bet that Ryan Dinwiddie won’t want to risk his key contributors taking too many hits.
The Tiger-Cats offence has been sharper and is moving the ball with plenty of regularity, and I think they’ll benefit from an Argos team who are likely to be much less motivated than them.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre


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