2022-09-20 · 4 min read · CFL/Football

Source (Background Photo): Scott Grant/

It’s another short week in the CFL with just three games on the schedule.
Following some unpredictable results in Week 15, headlined by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats upsetting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Hall of Fame game, the playoff race has gotten fascinating in both divisions.
Out East, only two wins separate the Ottawa Redblacks in last from the Montreal Alouettes, who sit second, while the BC Lions and Stampeders are neck-and-neck in the battle to host the West Semi-Final, with the Lions narrowly ahead after a thrilling overtime win over Calgary last weekend.
Here is a look ahead to the Week 16 matchups and my predictions.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Montreal Alouettes
Perhaps it was the motivation of seeing so many Hall of Fame players in attendance at Tim Hortons Field last Saturday, but the Tiger-Cats looked like the team we all expected in what was easily their finest performance of the season, defeating the Grey Cup champions in convincing fashion 48-31.
If that doesn’t turn this 4-9 team around, I fear nothing will as quarterback Dane Evans looked spectacular, going 25/32 for 327 yards and five touchdowns with zero interceptions.
A team that ranks dead last in turnover ratio (-20) had three takeaways on Saturday, including a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Malik Carney.
Hamilton is the top team in the East for net offence (4566 yards), with most of their success coming through the air, as they are currently third in passing yards (287.4-yard average) and leading the league in completions (320).
This week’s goal will be to limit the damage that the opposition can do, as they are second in the league for points allowed (361), while they have struggled to keep drives alive, with a second down conversion rate of only 42.2%, the second-worst percentage in the CFL.
Montreal now has a race on their hands for a playoff spot in the East, and Danny Maciocia will want to ensure that his team is not rusty like they were the last time they came off a bye week when they fell 38-24 versus the Ottawa Redblacks.
Trevor Harris didn’t put up the big passing numbers that we are used to seeing in their 31-10 win over the BC Lions, going 16/23 for 163 yards, with one TD and one pick, but Maciocia won’t care as his QB made more intelligent decisions than we have seen from him in previous outings.
Offensively the Als have struggled to move the ball consistently, currently dead last in first downs (225), and allowing the highest second down conversion percentage in the league (52.1%).
Their lack of consistent productivity on offence, though, has been compensated by their solid defensive unit, who have allowed the second-fewest touchdown passes (14), while also posting 15 interceptions.
  • Prediction- Hamilton Tiger-Cats 28-24 Montreal Alouettes
In the CFL, it is rarely too late to turn your season around, and Orlando Steinauer’s group should grow in confidence from their last outing, notably Evans, who I believe will make fewer mistakes than his counterpart this weekend.
Toronto Argonauts at Ottawa Redblacks
It is back to business for Ryan Dinwiddie and his Argos, who can pad their lead atop the East Division with a fourth consecutive victory this weekend.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson is second in the CFL for passing yards behind Zach Collaros (3,427 yards), and he will want to clean up his mistakes, having tossed at least one interception in his last four encounters.
Defensively speaking, the Boatmen have done an excellent job of making their opponents earn every yard, allowing the second-fewest average yards per pass in the league (7.9), while only conceding 15 plays of 30 yards or more, the best among Eastern teams.
They are second in the league for passing yards, averaging 287.8 per game, and they have had to be highly efficient in that department as it seems like they have virtually abandoned the running game since Andrew Harris got hurt, sitting last in average gains per rush (4.2 yards), and rushing TDs (four), while also being the only team in the league with less than 1,000 yards on the ground (876).
Paul LaPolice and his Redblacks have had a week to plot their revenge on their Ontario rivals, who narrowly beat them 24-19 at TD Place Stadium in their last game.
Nick Arbuckle has done well to spread the ball around to a dynamic receiving crew, as the Redblacks are tied for second in the CFL for completions of 30 yards or more (22), though they have allowed 9.2 yards through the air defensively, with the Elks, the only team who’ve fared worse in that department this season.
Jaelon Acklin has become a go-to guy in the receiving game, as he leads the league in receiving yards (1,025), while their offensive line has done a nice job of protecting Arbuckle, allowing 23 sacks, the lowest among Eastern teams.
Ottawa has failed to capitalize on their solid kick returns, with an average field position over the 39-yard line and yet scoring the second-fewest points (249), while also tied with the Argos for last in touchdowns (20).
  • Prediction- Toronto Argonauts 24-30 Ottawa Redblacks
The big play ability of Ottawa and the intelligence of Nick Arbuckle should propel the Redblacks to a big win this weekend in a game that could put them right back in the mix for a playoff berth.
Calgary Stampeders at BC Lions
The Stampeders are never short on excitement, but they seem to fall just short in these tight games that could vault them up the standings, losing to the Lions in OT last week, 31-29.
Three of their defeats this season have been by two points or less, while their other two losses were by a single touchdown.
Jake Maier went 26 of 38 for 301 yards and three major scores without an interception in a losing effort last week, and he has only thrown one pick since taking over the starting role from Bo Levi Mitchell.
Maier has had the luxury of a dependable running back in Ka’Deem Carey, who leads the league in rushing yards (773), with the Stamps possessing the second-best net offence in the CFL (361.3-yard average), though they have had a hard time getting opposing offences off the field, allowing the most first downs in the league (294).
It wasn’t nearly as convincing as we saw through the early portion of the year, but Rick Campbell and the Lions will take what they can get, and they got back in the win column last week, ending a two-game losing streak.
Vernon Adams is still learning how to operate this offence, but he did probably as much as we could’ve expected on short notice, going 25 for 32 for 294 yards last week and zero interceptions, while Bryan Burnham and Dominique Rhymes came up big, combining for 191 yards through the air.
Without the swagger and talent of Nathan Rourke, this defence has had to continue its stellar play, allowing the least number of yards through the air (2811), while only conceding 12 completions of 30 yards or more in 2022, the fewest in the CFL.
The Lions have allowed the least number of first downs in the league (218), and throughout the year, they have had to be patient and methodical when it comes to moving the ball, averaging the third-lowest field position (37.1-yard line), but with the highest average time of possession per game (31:51).
  • Prediction- Calgary Stampeders 17-24 BC Lions
It may take some time for Adams to adjust to his new surroundings, but this BC defence has shown that they can shut down solid offences throughout the year.
I think the Lions will benefit significantly from the suspension of Stamps linebacker Cameron Judge who will not play because of his altercation with Lucky Whitehead last week.
That loss should enable the Lions’ playmakers to bust off some significant gains through the middle.
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By: Joel Lefevre


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