2023-06-29 · 4 min read · CFL/Football
Argonaut QB Chad Kelly and Blue Bombers QB Zach Collaros

Official CFL Twitter (@CFL) via | Winnipeg Blue Bombers (@Wpg_BlueBombers)

Following week three of the 2023 campaign, we might be witnessing a power shift in the West division while the Riders have started 2-1 after a disastrous end to its 2022 season, and the Elks losing streak at home is now at 19 games.
Three teams remain unbeaten heading into week four, two in the East division (Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes), while either the Edmonton Elks or Ottawa Redblacks may be due for their first W when they square off at the beginning of this week’s action on Friday.
It’s a short schedule with just three games on the docket, all west versus east matchups, with the Riders, Stamps and Tiger-Cats all idle.
Here is a look at each encounter and my predictions.
Edmonton Elks at Ottawa Redblacks
The Taylor Cornelius experiment in Edmonton is over, at least for this week, after rookie Jarret Doege outshined him in relief last Sunday versus the Argos, going 9/11 with a pair of TD throws and a pick to earn the start this Friday.
While Edmonton moved the ball efficiently through the air against the reigning Grey Cup champs with 23 catches between six players, the Elks’ running game continues to disappoint as Kevin Brown only averaged 2.7 yards per carry last weekend, as this group have collected the fewest rushing yards among teams in the west this season (178).
Taking and making sacks has been a struggle for Chris Jones’ team early on, as they have allowed the most (12) and are tied with Montreal for the fewest accumulated (three).
With Jeremiah Masoli still on the shelf for at least another week, the Redblacks are also going with a rookie for this encounter, as Tyrie Adams will assume control from former Elks QB Nick Arbuckle as Ottawa are currently the only team in the league without a touchdown pass this year.
Their two games in 2023 have been there for the taking, but Ottawa has come out flat in the fourth quarter each time, scoring a combined six points in the final 15 minutes this season.
Edmonton’s ground game may be disappointing, but Ottawa’s has been perhaps its weakest link offensively, as they are the only team with fewer than 100 rushing yards.
It’s secondary, though, has been a pleasant surprise, allowing the fewest completions in the CFL this year (36) while they are in a three-way tie with Calgary and Hamilton for the most interceptions (five).
Prediction- Edmonton Elks 30-27 Ottawa Redblacks
This game could go either way, but I believe Doege has a deeper receiving corps than Adams, and I think the Elks big play ability down the field could tip the scales in their favour.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Montreal Alouettes
It’s been a while since Mike O’Shea’s Bombers played that poorly for nearly an entire game as they were manhandled at home by the Lions last week, with BC looking hungrier and sharper in every aspect of the game.
Zach Collaros has only lost six games behind centre for the Bombers, and that defeat last week was easily the worst that he’s experienced since arriving.
Winnipeg failed to find the end zone for the first time since their final regular season encounter of 2021, while the Bombers’ offensive line had no answer for the BC pass rush, allowing seven sacks.
It is just one game, and a lot can change from one encounter to the next; however, the Bombers’ defensive backs have been consistently poor against opposing receivers this year, giving up the second-most completions in the CFL (66), while conceding a league-high six score through the air.
After the 2022 regular season, perhaps no quarterback needed a change of venue more than Cody Fajardo, and he’s looked a lot sharper while making intelligent decisions in Alouette colours without an interception thus far, tossing a pair of touchdowns and running for one himself in a 38-12 triumph over Hamilton.
With Geno Lewis in Edmonton, Jason Maas needed someone to step up in the pass-catching department, and in two games, Austin Mack has delivered, averaging 100.5 receiving yards.
The Als lead the league in average gains per pass (12.3), while they are one of two teams that have yet to allow a touchdown pass and are the only ones who’ve given up fewer than 100 yards on the ground (92).
Prediction- Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23-27 Montreal Alouettes
Winnipeg’s cover unit has made it far too easy for opposing teams to move the ball against them, and with Brady Oliveira and Dalton Schoen questionable with injuries, Montreal’s defensive unit could get a big break.
BC Lions at Toronto Argonauts
Throughout the 2022 season, the Lions were second fiddle to Winnipeg out west, but Rick Campbell’s crew made quite the statement on the road against the three-time Grey Cup finalists last week.
Across the board, the Lions have looked splendid in 2023 as five different players caught a pass from Vernon Adams last week, with the Lions pivot tied for the CFL lead in TD throws (five), while BC are first in the league for sacks (12), burning among others the most outstanding lineman in the league last season Stanley Bryant countless times in week three.
While they have moved the ball efficiently on offence and have a dependable runner in Taquan Mizzell, who is second in rushing yards (224), if there is a criticism for this team at the moment, it’d be a lack of big plays down the middle, as they are tied for the fewest completions of 30+ yards this season (two), though when you are as stingy on all sides of the ball that statistic seems insignificant.
The Boatmen were tested in Edmonton throughout the opening half before busting loose in the third quarter to outscore the Elks 18-0 en route to another convincing victory.
Chad Kelly did make a few errors in his reads last Sunday, tossing a pair of interceptions, but the Argos’ defensive line stepped up with six sacks to keep the opposition at bay.
Toronto’s offensive line, meanwhile, has given Kelly plenty of time in the pocket, allowing just a single sack, the least among CFL teams this season.
In contrast, they’ve given the opposition the lowest average rushing yards as well (3.6).
Prediction- BC Lions 24-14 Toronto Argonauts
The Lions are firing on all cylinders right now, and even without Dominique Rhymes against Winnipeg, they still looked organized and efficient, while no one’s been able to match their physicality.
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By: Joel Lefevre


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