2022-10-13 · 6 min read · CFL/Football
BC Lions

Toronto Star

As we head down the home stretch of the CFL regular season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers earned a bye in the playoffs and eliminated the Elks from postseason contention last weekend.
There is still plenty to play for however for the other teams in the league as the Tiger-Cats inch closer to Saskatchewan for a playoff spot, while the Stampeders and Lions are neck and neck for second place in the West and Nathan Rourke is back on the field after his early season injury.
Lots of storylines to discuss heading into Week 19; here is a look at all four matchups and my predictions.
Montreal Alouettes at Ottawa Redblacks
Danny Maciocia’s Alouettes lost some ground in the race for first place in the East Division, losing 24-18 to the Ottawa Redblacks on Monday.
Trevor Harris had a solid outing, going 30/38 for 338 yards and a touchdown, but they were worn down defensively when the fourth quarter arrived, giving up 11 points and dropping below .500 with a record of 7-8.
The ground game was largely ineffective versus Ottawa as William Stanback had just eight carries for 20 yards, and defensively they have allowed the highest average rushing yards per carry in the CFL (5.2 yards).
They have also conceded the second-most first downs in the league (311) and made the least (268), though they have shown more discipline on the field of late, having been flagged for the third-most penalties this season, which is an improvement from a few weeks ago.
Bob Dyce had a lot to be thankful for on Monday as he won his head coaching debut with the Redblacks, ending a three-game losing streak for Ottawa.
It has been a difficult season in the nation’s capital yet again, with this team littered with injuries and the defence struggling to contain opposing offensive units, allowing the most completions of 30 yards or more (26) this season, alongside the Riders.
They only allowed one offensive touchdown against the Alouettes, which is something to build on, seeing as this defensive unit have conceded the second-most touchdowns in the league this year (38), while putting the ball in the end zone fewer than any team in 2022 (22 touchdowns).
Finishing drives will be the message this week, as the Redblacks have allowed the third-fewest sacks (28), are third in time of possession, and second in average field position (38.4 yard line) yet they have scored the fewest points in the league.
  • Prediction- Montreal Alouettes 24-20 Ottawa Redblacks
The Redblacks had the classic new coaches bump last week, but the Als defence still made some plays, while Harris is doing a better job of recognizing coverage.
I look for Geno Lewis to have another big game offensively, while Montreal should be hungry, knowing that a playoff spot is there for the taking.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Calgary Stampeders
The Tiger-Cats are back in the hunt for a playoff spot, holding the Saskatchewan Roughriders to just 14 points last Friday and moving to within a game of them with an 18-14 triumph.
Their running game, which ranks second last in total yards (1170), finally woke up last week as Wes Hills had 11 carries for 132 yards, while their D-line was all over Cody Fajardo, sacking him seven times, and the secondary picked him off twice.
If they can maintain that consistency down the stretch of the season, it should relieve some pressure off Dane Evans, who tossed a pair of interceptions last week.
Defensively this team have done the job lately, allowing the second-lowest net offence in the CFL (338.2 yards) and the second-fewest amount of first downs (263).
Dave Dickenson’s Stampeders come out of the bye week looking to win their third consecutive outing and keep pace with the Lions for a home playoff game.
Ka’Deem Carey, the league’s leading rusher, is 51 yards away from hitting 1,000 for the season, helping his team average 6.1 yards per carry on the ground this season, the highest average in the CFL.
Their Achilles heel on the defensive side of the ball has been an inability to shut down opposing receivers, with Calgary allowing the most completions (362), pass attempts (548) and passing yards (4266) in 2022.
They are in the middle of the pack regarding passing, sixth in yards through the air (274.8-yard average) and fifth in completions (315), while they lead the league in turnover ratio at +20.
  • Prediction- Hamilton Tiger-Cats 22-30 Calgary Stampeders
The Stamps may give up a lot through the air, but they come up with big turnovers when needed, and against a quarterback like Evans, who still makes his share of bad decisions, I expect they’ll be able to cause problems for him.
Hamilton has allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league (1133), but Jake Maier has more offensive weapons to count on, and the Stamps have just been a little cleaner in their play on all three sides of the football this year.
Toronto Argonauts at Edmonton Elks
A week after suffering their worst defeat of the season, the Argos offence was a lot livelier in BC last Saturday, winning their ninth game of the year, 23-20.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson is back in the lead for most passing yards this season (4,218), going 27/40 against the Leos for 325 yards and a TD, with zero interceptions.
You have to give Bethel-Thompson a ton of credit for putting up the numbers that he has given the fact that their running game has been non-existent most of the year, dead last in rushing yards (1087), rushing attempts (241) and rushing touchdowns (five).
On the other side of the ball, though, there is still work to do as they have allowed more completions than any team in the East Division (338), but they have made their opponents work for every play, allowing the fewest average yards per pass this season (7.7).
Another lopsided defeat for the Elks last week eliminated them from playoff contention, as they have now given up 40 or more points in five games this year, falling 48-11 against the Bombers.
While Taylor Cornelius did not throw an interception in Winnipeg, he did not have a lot of help offensively as Kenny Lawler is out through injury, while Kevin Brown missed the second half last week and could be sidelined for a while.
The Elks have two more chances to try and end their record-long losing streak at home, having dropped 15 in a row at Commonwealth Stadium.
They have allowed the third-fewest passing yard average defensively this season (269.4), but when teams decide to attack their secondary, they have been relatively successful, as Edmonton have allowed a league-high completion percentage of 73.1.
  • Prediction- Toronto Argonauts 30-21 Edmonton Elks
The Elks have been decimated with critical injuries offensively in 2022, and while I expect they will be tougher on the defensive end than a week ago, I don’t think they have the personnel on offence to trouble a secondary who have posted 16 interceptions this year.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at BC Lions
The Bombers took care of business last week, clinching first place in the West Division with an emphatic victory against the Elks.
Zach Collaros tossed another three touchdowns, leading the league with 35, throwing for a career-high 4,115 yards so far in 2022.
Safe to say that he has earned a rest and Mike O’Shea will sit his veteran QB on Saturday, likely in favour of Dru Brown, who is 5/7 behind centre this year for 127 yards.
The Bombers lead the league in touchdowns with 50, 24 of which have been scored between Nic Demski (10) and rookie sensation Dalton Schoen (14), while they have conceded fewer major scores than anyone defensively (26) and are the least penalized team in the CFL (767 yards total).
The presence of Nathan Rourke on the practice field will give the Lions reason for optimism on Saturday, though his replacement Vernon Adams was solid in his place last week, throwing two touchdowns in a losing effort.
Even though Rourke has been out for several weeks, they still have the best net offence in the league (5701 yards) with more offensive touchdowns than anyone in the CFL in 2022 (49).
Dominique Rhymes has been neck and neck with Schoen for the most receiving yards this season, with the Lions’ pass catcher second in that department (1,241), while BC have allowed fewer first downs defensively than anyone in the CFL (262).
They have also allowed the fewest passing yards in the league (3468) and have the third-highest completion percentage (67.2%).
  • Prediction- Winnipeg Blue Bombers 20-27 BC Lions
Collaros is probably not the only Bomber player that we’ll see on the sidelines this weekend as a first-round bye is already assured, and given the hard-hitting, aggressive Lions defence, I would be surprised if a lot of Winnipeg’s stars played much this weekend.
BC should benefit from that and get at the inexperienced Bombers QB, whoever it may be, and their desperation level, I believe, will propel them to a victory in this one.
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By: Joel Lefevre


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