2023-10-11 · 6 min read · CFL/Football
Roughriders Jake Dolegala and Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Matt Smith/3DownNation | Getty Images

With three weeks left in the CFL regular season, the playoff picture is a little clearer as the Ottawa Redblacks and Edmonton Elks have been eliminated from postseason contention, while 18 years of playoff football in Calgary could end this weekend.
Saskatchewan has been in free fall, losing five in a row, and their playoff lives could well be on the line when they travel to McMahon Stadium in Calgary as a win earns them a spot in the West Semi-Final, but a loss would lead to some nervy moments for Craig Dickenson’s club as the Stamps would hold the head to head tiebreaker against them and would need to win one of their final two games to overtake them for that final playoff spot.
Meanwhile still to be determined is where the West Final will take place this year as the Blue Bombers reclaimed first place with an epic come-from-behind victory in Vancouver last week, and a BC loss to Hamilton this weekend would mean the road to the Grey Cup out West runs through the Peg for a third successive campaign.
In Steeltown, the Tiger-Cats are aiming for a home game in the East Semi-Final, though the Als can ensure that game takes place at Percival Molson Stadium with a win and Hamilton loss, while the Argos are just playing to stay sharp with Ryan Dinwiddie’s crew already assured of a third straight East Final in TO as they got back to winning ways last Friday against the Elks.
With all that being said, here’s a look at the Week 19 matchups and my predictions.
BC Lions at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
A spectacular offensive showing by the Lions last week was all for not in the end as Vernon Adams threw for 352 yards and a score, but Dominique Rhymes chose not to go down in the dying second with his team in field goal range, and the Bombers made the most of their second chance in OT, winning 34-26.
The BC offence did their job last Friday, but on the other side of the ball, despite registering six sacks and creating three turnovers when the Bombers were in scoring range, the Lions couldn’t shut down Winnipeg’s offence throughout the contest, giving up 389 yards through the air, while they’ve now allowed the second-most completions in the CFL (348) and have given up a rushing average of five yards per carry to the opposition.
Morale might be a little low in Vancouver following that blown lead but in Hamilton it’s the opposite story as the Tiger-Cats put up 38 points last Saturday against Saskatchewan, the most for them in a single game all season; while Bo Levi Mitchell returned from the injured list.
At the same time, James Butler hit the century mark for rushing yards in that encounter as he seems to be hitting his stride out of the backfield.
Meanwhile, the secondary has stepped it up, currently with the third-lowest completion percentage allowed in the league (65.4), while the O-line has been better in pass protection, allowing the fourth-fewest sacks (42).
Prediction- BC Lions 30-27 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Lions have been resilient all year, and although the Ti-Cats are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, I expect the BC offensive playmakers will enable them to overcome Hamilton in this one.
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Calgary Stampeders
Jake Dolegala’s been going through some growing pains in Riderville, throwing for fewer than 200 yards last weekend.
However, their defence hasn’t been much help either, allowing more net offence than anyone this season (6,099), while also ranked dead last regarding points allowed (496), offensive points conceded (462), opposition touchdowns (51) and offensive opposition TDs (46).
The passing game seems to be the only thing keeping them afloat at the moment as they rank first for completions (366), though the run game, anchored by Jamal Morrow, continues to sputter, averaging the second-lowest yards-per-game this year (84.8).
It’s now or never for the Stamps to save what’s been a nightmarish campaign for a club that’s not missed the postseason since 2004, and even if they win their final three regular-season affairs, Calgary will finish with a losing record for the first time since the 2007 campaign.
While Jake Maier’s cleaned up the mistakes, throwing an interception in just one of his last three contests, his accuracy has regressed, with the Stamps second from the bottom in terms of completion percentage (64.0).
At the same time, they can’t seem to slow down opposing rushing attacks, allowing a league-high 5.9-yard average to running backs per game in 2023.
Prediction Saskatchewan Roughriders 15-22 Calgary Stampeders
Neither team have been particularly sharp of late, but the Stamps have at least been able to keep their games close despite all of their losses, so that should give them an extra morale boost against a side suffering as much as they are.
Montreal Alouettes at Edmonton Elks
There’s nothing like back-to-back contests against the worst offensive and defensive unit in the CFL to cure your ills, and the Als have made the most of that easy schedule, putting up 61 points in the last two weeks versus Ottawa, while allowing fewer than 20 themselves (18 total).
Cody Fajardo threw for 272 yards in their victory versus the Redblacks on Thanksgiving (29-3), while the defensive line has come up huge with four or more sacks in each of their last three games, digging themselves out of last place in that department (35).
Another Elks season will end in disappointment as they have yet to make the postseason since the name change and were second-best last week against Toronto, with Tre Ford tossing a pair of interceptions, while Kevin Brown, the CFL’s third-leading rusher (1,032 yards) was held to just 10 yards on six carries.
When Chris Jones reflects on this season and where it all went wrong, he might want to look to their defensive frailties, particularly against the run, where Edmonton has given up more rushing yards than anyone this season (2,171), while the secondary has allowed the second-highest pass efficiency rating (101.3).
Prediction- Montreal Alouettes 17-20 Edmonton Elks
The Elks should be a lot looser between now and the rest of the season, and they might be able to move the ball more efficiently against a Montreal unit who’ve allowed 5.7 yards per carry on the season, while Edmonton should have the edge along the line of scrimmage with the Alouettes conceding the second-most sacks in the CFL (55).
Ottawa Redblacks at Toronto Argonauts
After Week 7, the Redblacks seemed to be turning a corner, but since their dramatic OT victory against the Stampeders in July (43-41), Bob Dyce’s group appears to have been permanently stuck in a corner while the opposition pummels them with metaphorical punches of all kinds.
The secondary has taken a beating all year, as they are the only unit in the league who’ve allowed over 300 yards through the air per game (310.3) while giving up an average of 9.9 yards per throw, and the O-line has allowed the most sacks in the CFL (59).
Perhaps showing a little rust after getting the week off in their defeat to Winnipeg, Toronto pivot Chad Kelly threw for a mere 165 yards versus Edmonton, but the Boatmen didn’t need him to be great as the defence added five more sacks to their league-leading total this season (54).
Easily, their most significant weak spot in 2023 has been in pass coverage, allowing the highest completion percentage in the league (71.3), but they were able to replicate that with some takeaways against the Elks, including a pair of picks.
Prediction- Ottawa Redblacks 19-Toronto Argonauts 30
Even a subpar Argos performance or Dinwiddie playing his second team should be enough for them to win this ball game, as the Redblacks haven’t been able to stop any offensive unit all year.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre


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