2022-09-28 · 5 min read · CFL/Football
The Calgary Stampeders quarterback Jake Maier

Larry MacDougal/3DownNation

As we head into week 17 of the CFL season, the playoff picture in both divisions has gotten a little clearer as the Toronto Argonauts, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers are assured of a postseason berth, while the Montreal Alouettes put a little distance between themselves and the bottom two teams in the East last weekend.
This week the Argos and Bombers have a chance to secure home playoff games, but they will each be facing teams who are in the thick of some heated races.
The Calgary Stampeders meanwhile are right on the heels of the BC Lions for second after an impressive win in Vancouver last weekend, and the Edmonton Elks will try to avoid making the wrong kind of history, while also maintaining their slim playoff hopes.
Here are my predictions for week 17 in the CFL.
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Currently on their longest losing streak since 2016 (three games), Craig Dickenson’s Riders return to Investors Group Field on Friday to face their prairie rivals.
Winnipeg has been a thorn in their sides, knocking them out of the past two West Finals and winning both games against Saskatchewan this year, including a 54-20 blowout in the Banjo Bowl.
The running game, which has been the focal point of their offence, never got going two weeks ago, as Frankie Hickson only had 14 yards on 10 carries in their loss to the Elks, while Cody Fajardo went 20/27 for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
That impressive pass rush which was dominant in the early portion of the year has struggled of late, managing just two sacks versus Edmonton.
They have also had a hard time protecting their quarterback, allowing the most sacks in the league (59), including eight in their previous outing.
Throughout 2022 the Riders have failed to move the ball consistently on offence, with the fewest first downs among Western teams (253), while they have the second-worst net offence, not to mention the worst second down conversion percentage in the CFL (39.7%).
It is back to work for Mike O’Shea and the Bombers, who are fresh off a bye week, which seemed to come at a good time, as they were not themselves in week 15 when they were beaten 48-31 by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
We saw their worst performance of the season on that occasion, and Zach Collaros was among those Winnipeg players who had a rough go of it, tossing two picks while also fumbling the ball, which led to a Ti-Cats major score.
With a victory on Friday, the Bombers would assure themselves of at least one playoff game at Investors Group Field.
Collaros has been able to count on a solid receiving crew all season, as Winnipeg has the second-highest competition percentage (70.3%), thanks in part to the sure hands of rookie Dalton Schoen who is tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns (10) and is 12 yards away from reaching 1,000.
Nick Demski has had the Riders’ number this year, posting three TD grabs in two games against them.
Winnipeg has the best passing efficiency in the CFL (112.0) but has allowed the third-most completions (308), as the Bombers' secondary gave up five touchdowns in Hamilton.
  • Prediction- Saskatchewan Roughriders 17-37 Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Even though they have only lost twice all season, the 2022 campaign in Winnipeg has not exactly been smooth sailing, as they have had to pull several rabbits out of their hat to win ball games.
However, Saskatchewan seems to have lost its mojo as opposing teams are figuring out how to solve the most substantial aspects of their game.
Winnipeg knows better than most how to get their act together and put the past behind them so expect them to put forth a much stronger outing on all three sides of the ball.
Ottawa Redblacks at BC Lions
The excitement of a potential turnaround in the nation’s capital has turned to desperation for Paul LaPolice and his Redblacks who remain in the East Division basement after being trounced at home against Toronto.
Both Nick Arbuckle and Caleb Evans struggled behind centre last week, tossing five interceptions between them, while their secondary allowed 245 yards through the air, as that group has allowed an average of 9.2 yards per pass defensively in 2022, the lowest average in the East Division.
Friday will be their final outing against a Western team this season, and Ottawa has only captured one game against their opposing division this year, though they gave Nathan Rourke and the Leos all they could handle in a narrow 34-31 loss in week four.
Big plays have been the calling card of this offensive unit in 2022, with the second-most completions of 30 yards or more (23), while they have allowed the fewest completions in the CFL (263).
After a strong showing in Calgary in week 15, the BC offence led by Vernon Adams was held in check at home to the Stampeders last week, managing just 11 points, their second-lowest tally in a game all season.
Adams has yet to throw a pick since being traded from the Alouettes earlier this summer, but his numbers have not been nearly as good as what Nathan Rourke put up before his injury, with Adams completing only 50% of his throws last week (12/24) for 151 yards.
This season, Rick Campbell has attempted the third-fewest rushes in the CFL (247).
At the same time, they sit in the middle of the pack for yards allowed on the ground (fifth with 1208 yards), which is worth noting, as they are still in first or near the top of virtually every other offensive category.
Dominique Rhymes is tied for first in the league for touchdown receptions (10) and second in receiving yards (1,062), helping his team lead the CFL in passing yards (4255) and completion percentage (73.4%).
  • Prediction- Ottawa Redblacks 14-20 BC Lions
Ottawa has regressed over the past couple of weeks and seems to be relying a little too heavily on the deep ball, while having a hard time moving it consistently themselves, with the second-lowest average yards per gain through the air this year (7.9).
BC is not the same juggernaut unit that we saw when Rourke was at the controls, but their defence has kept them in games when the offence has sputtered, and we expect them to help Adams out with a few takeaways and some short fields on Friday.
Montreal Alouettes at Edmonton Elks
Danny Maciocia returns to Edmonton, where he got his first head coaching opportunity, winning the Grey Cup in his rookie season in 2005.
His Montreal Alouettes have faced setbacks and been challenged by teams in the East all season, but they have managed to fend them off at almost every turn, putting up a big fourth quarter last Friday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with Trevor Harris throwing for 244 yards and a pair of scores.
While they have the fewest first downs made in the league (248), their defence has not given up much, allowing a competition percentage of 65.7, which ranks first in the CFL.
Eugene Lewis continues to make big plays, sitting second in the league for targets (115) and catches (70), while their defence has the third-most interceptions this season (15).
A week removed from a strong showing in Saskatchewan, the Elks have another chance to get an albatross off their back this weekend as they look to end a 14-games losing run at home, which is tied for the longest streak in CFL history.
Should the Riders upset the Bombers on Friday, Chris Jones and his team would find themselves in a do-or-die situation as a loss would eliminate them from playoff contention for a second successive season.
Taylor Cornelius had another adequate performance in their victory over the Riders, going 13/24 for 237 yards and a touchdown, while Kevin Brown has been tearing it up on the ground, averaging 7.8 yards per carry versus Saskatchewan, helping the Elks move up to fourth in that statistical category.
While they still struggle when it comes to pass protection, allowing the second-most sacks in the league (44), they’ve been able to get more pressure on opposing QBs with 29 sacks.
Their most significant turnaround defensively has been their ability to create turnovers, with 16 in 2022, second only to Hamilton.
  • Prediction-Montreal Alouettes 24-17 Edmonton Elks
The Als are not the most potent offensive unit out there, but they have a game breaker in Geno Lewis, while Edmonton are short on big-play receivers since the injury to Kenny Lawler, which should enable Montreal to focus on stopping Edmonton’s running attack.
Toronto Argonauts at Calgary Stampeders
The Toronto Argonauts are on a roll, having won three straight games convincingly, including a 45-15 beatdown in the nation’s capital last week.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson had another solid outing, going 21/29 versus the Redblacks with three touchdowns and an interception, but it was the defence who did a lot of the damage, with five interceptions, led by Maurice Carnell with two.
They have not been able to punch the ball into the end zone as much as Ryan Dinwiddie would like, posting the second-lowest total for touchdowns in the CFL (24), but they have managed to limit the damage done to them, allowing the fewest major scores in the league (24).
Toronto has played well against the run all season, allowing an average of 4.9 yards per game, second only to Hamilton, though they have looked vulnerable through the air, with the second-highest completion percentage allowed this year (68.2%) and conceding the second-most completions (321).
Dave Dickenson’s Stampeders finally managed to get a W against one of the top teams in the league and are now even with BC in terms of wins (nine) after beating them 25-11 last week.
Jake Maier was very efficient, going 27/33 for 294 yards and zero interceptions, while Ka’Deem Carey was a load to bring down yet again, averaging seven yards per carry, to go along with one touchdown as he leads the league with 857 yards on the ground this season.
Their secondary, who have allowed the most completions (342) and passing yards (4065), were a lot better in Vancouver, only allowing Vernon Adams to complete half of his passes.
They continue to do a great job winning those battles in the trenches, as the league leaders for sacks allowed (12) did not concede any against BC, while they are also first in the CFL in sacks with 42, and they will need to get more pressure this weekend to slow down the league leader in passing yards (Bethel-Thompson).
  • Prediction- Toronto Argonauts 27-30 Calgary Stampeders
I expect this will be the best game to watch this weekend as the Stamps have perhaps the most potent ground game, while the Argos is one of the best at plugging those holes.
For me, this will come down to who wins the battle at the line of scrimmage, and I don’t see the Argos beating Calgary offensively or defensively in that department, as the Boatmen have allowed the third-most sacks in the league, while also creating the fewest (26).
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By: Joel Lefevre


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