CFL WEEK 21 PREDICTIONS

2022-10-25 · 6 min read · CFL/Football
B.C. Lions and BC Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke

The Canadian Press/Larry MacDougal | Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

The final week of the CFL regular season is upon us, and although the standings have already been determined, teams will be looking to get some momentum heading into the playoffs, while others are hoping to build for next year.
Week 21 begins with a familiar face returning from the injury front, while the two division winners, Winnipeg and Toronto, will look to stay sharp, knowing they each have a bye week before the East and West Final.
Here is a look at the four matchups for Week 21 and my predictions.
BC Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
After an MVP-like season ended with a devastating foot injury weeks ago, Nathan Rourke is back behind centre for the BC Lions as they prepare to play their final game before the playoffs.
Despite being out of the lineup since Week 9, the 24-year-old is still second in the league for touchdown passes (25) which shows how much he meant to this team’s success offensively.
In his absence, the Lions have still managed to stay competitive, leading the CFL in net offence (6642 yards) and first down passes (231), while they have allowed the second-fewest completions of 30 yards or more (18).
While a victory will not change their second-place standing, another big outing from James Butler could see him take the rushing title, as he is currently second with 1,054 yards on the ground producing back-to-back 100-plus rushing yard games.
Staying fresh and healthy will be the primary objective you would think for Mike Oshea’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, whose comeback against the Lions two weeks ago fell short, losing 40-32.
Zach Collaros was notably absent from that encounter, and it is unlikely the reigning Most Outstanding Player will play the whole game on Friday even though he leads the league with 35 TD passes.
Against the Lions in their last outing, the Bombers were shaky in their special team’s coverage, allowing BC a short field throughout the contest.
Dalton Schoen is slightly ahead of BC’s Dominique Rhymes for the league lead in yards receiving with 1,357, and he is first in TD catches with 15, while the Winnipeg secondary have allowed fewer yards through the air than any CFL team this year (4326 yards).
  • Prediction- BC Lions 30-26 Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Rourke should present a tougher challenge for the Bombers’ secondary; however it’s doubtful he or Collaros will play a full game, so expect both teams to struggle with their offensive rhythm.
Both stellar defensive units this year could be stingy throughout this contest, and we are giving BC the slight edge because of their recent form, while the Bombers have been resting many regulars for the past couple of weeks.
Montreal Alouettes at Toronto Argonauts
Montreal’s road to the Grey Cup became a little longer last weekend as a furious fourth-quarter comeback from Danny Maciocia’s men against Toronto came up just short in a 24-23 loss.
Trevor Harris is second in the CFL for yards passing (4,157) as he threw for 413 yards and two touchdowns with one interception last week, while Jake Wieneke was outstanding, making five catches for 121 yards and a major score.
Penalties have killed this team all season long as they lead the league in penalty yards (1,474) and flags on the defensive front (77), including a backbreaking too many men call, which could have won them the game last week.
They have allowed more first downs on the defensive side of the ball than any team in the league this year (374) and have forced the second-fewest two-and-outs in the CFL (66).
Throughout 2022 the Argos have been the most consistent team in the East, so it’s only fitting that Ryan Dinwiddie’s unit are now just one step away from the Grey Cup, locking up first place last week.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson has put up some big numbers through the air all season, leading the league in passing yards (4,731), though his accuracy has been off and on, with Toronto possessing the second-worst completion percentage in the CFL (66.2%).
On the opposite side, they have allowed the lowest pass efficiency defensively this year (83.4) but have also conceded more completions than any defensive unit (402).
They have allowed the second-most first-down throws defensively (209) but have done an excellent job at keeping their opponents out of the end zone, conceding the second-fewest touchdowns in the CFL (29).
  • Prediction- Montreal Alouettes24-35 Toronto Argonauts
The Argos, across the board, have been sharper in all three facets of the game when compared to Montreal and even in a meaningless game, we anticipate their depth and consistency will overcome anything the Als might throw at them this weekend.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ottawa Redblacks
In the nick of time, the Tiger-Cats have turned their season around, officially clinching a playoff spot a week ago with a big second half, defeating Ottawa 30-27.
Over their three-game winning streak, they have become a much more formidable offensive unit thanks to a vastly improved running game, with Sean Thomas-Erlington carrying 13 times last week for 104 yards.
That solid production has enabled Dane Evans and the offence to be much more efficient and make smarter decisions throwing the ball.
Hamilton is third in passing yards (4745), while their offensive line have done a much better job protecting their QB, allowing the fewest sacks among Eastern teams this year (32).
The most substantial part of their success of late remains unquestionably their defensive prowess, allowing the fewest yards on the ground in the CFL this year (1419), forcing more two-and-outs than anyone in 2022 (88).
It may be too late for Ottawa to do anything this season, but in a short time, Bob Dyce has instilled hope and confidence into this unit, two things missing most of the year.
Their fight and compete level has been high since Dyce took charge on an interim basis, while Nick Arbuckle has not thrown an interception in three straight games.
Ottawa are third in the league for quarterback sacks (42), but they have struggled in numerous other categories on the defensive side, allowing more net yards of offence than any team this season (6207).
Through most of 2022, they have been a razzle-dazzle offence who have made numerous highlight-reel plays but have rarely been able to finish their drives with points, sitting dead last in the CFL for touchdowns (31) and second last in points scored (364), while they have allowed the second-most points (428) and touchdowns (48).
  • Prediction- Hamilton Tiger-Cats 24-27 Ottawa Redblacks
Hamilton may be the hotter team going into this game, but the Redblacks are playing for jobs next season so expect their intensity to be a little sharper than Hamilton’s, who are playing the long game and might try to pace themselves in their quest to return to the Grey Cup for a third successive season.
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Calgary Stampeders
A disappointing season in Saskatchewan will end this weekend, as Craig Dickenson’s men will be fighting to regain some respectability.
Mason Fine was behind centre in their 32-21 loss to Calgary last Saturday, throwing for 196 yards and a touchdown, but he did not get much help on the ground as Jamal Morrow averaged under five yards per carry.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done over the offseason to improve this team’s offensive line, which have allowed a league-high 71 sacks, including five a week ago.
Offensively, they have often found themselves in second and long situations, with the fewest first down average yards this year (5.5), while they have allowed an average of seven yards on first down to their opponents, more than any team in the CFL.
They fell short of their goal for a home playoff game, but the Stamps have still put together another solid regular season, scoring 32 points last week.
Jake Maier continues to make intelligent decisions with the football, going 15/24 in their victory against Saskatchewan with one touchdown and zero interceptions, while Ka’Deem Carey averaged 6.8 yards on the ground, as he leads the CFL in rushing yards this year (1,088).
While Carey generates a lot of attention, and rightfully so, Dave Dickenson has always been able to count on a well-balanced offensive unit, who have scored more points than anyone this season (526).
The Stamps also have the highest first-down yards average (7.6) and the second-best net offence (6301 yards), while also allowing the least amount of sacks (15).
Calgary have allowed the second-most passing yards (4706) and completions (397) but have made their opponents earn every yard gained, with the Stamps D conceding the lowest average yards per pass this season (7.8) and fewer completions of 30 yards or more than any team in the CFL (15).
  • Prediction- Saskatchewan Roughriders 18-34 Calgary Stampeders
It seems as though Craig Dickenson has lost the room in Saskatchewan, and plenty of questions will be surrounding them in the offseason, while their body language suggests they have packed it in for the year.
On the other hand, Calgary have always maintained a high-intensity level and been in every game played this year, so I expect another comfortable victory for them, no matter how long the starters play.
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By: Joel Lefevre

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