2023-07-18 · 5 min read · CFL/Football
Edmonton Elks and Hamilton Tiger-Cats

TSN | Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

Week seven of the 2023 CFL season has much to live up to, given what we saw last weekend in some memorable showdowns.
The Elks are still seeking their first win of the campaign; the Bombers are reeling following an epic fourth-quarter collapse, we may have seen the birth of a new star in Dustin Crum, and Rene Paredes was clutch when needed as the Stamps and Riders produced another classic.
Here’s a look at this week’s games and my predictions.
Edmonton Elks at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
A third-quarter lapse proved to be the Elks’ undoing last Thursday as they gave up 24 points in that quarter, losing 37-29.
Kevin Brown was more efficient on the ground with 76 yards on 10 carries, Kyran Moore had a TD grab and 101 yards through the air, but they could not slow down the Ti-Cats run game, allowing James Butler to rush for 127 yards and a score.
Edmonton has the lowest net offence in the CFL, averaging 299 yards per game, while also giving up more first downs (123) and rushing yards (885) than anyone in the league.
Leading 25-6 after three quarters, no one could’ve seen Mike O’Shea’s group falter the way they did in the nation’s capital, as they were outscored 19-0 in the fourth before losing in overtime.
The usual suspects on this team are still near the top of the CFL statistical charts, with Zach Collaros leading the league in passing yards (1,615), Brady Oliveira first in rushing (416 yards), and Dalton Schoen second when it comes to receiving yards (431), but their defensive backs have been an Achilles heel all year with the Bombers allowing more completions than anyone this season (124).
Winnipeg leads the league in touchdowns through the air (11) and completions of 30+ yards, though unlike a year ago, their defensive unit has not stepped up when needed, with a turnover ratio of only +2.
Prediction- Edmonton Elks 20-35 Winnipeg Blue Bombers
I expect Brady Oliveira to have a massive game running the ball against that weak Elks defensive unit, while the Bombers should be in a foul mood and keen to unleash its frustrations on a helpless Edmonton squad.
Toronto Argonauts at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Toronto turned a close game with the Alouettes into a comfortable victory in the second half, as Chad Kelly threw three touchdown passes, AJ Ouellette rushed for 95 yards, and the defence registered four sacks.
The Argos continue to lead the CFL in average rushing yards per game (536), while they’ve also allowed fewer than anyone (261) and have also given up the fewest sacks (four).
Since the season began, the Boatmen have had the best average field position (41.5-yard line), making the most of those opportunities with a league-high 18 touchdowns, but they have been fairly easy to throw on, allowing a completion percentage of 71.8, the most in the CFL this year.
Another solid second half from Hamilton has Orlondo Steinauer’s team back in business, claiming consecutive victories, putting them in a three-way tie with Ottawa and Montreal for second in the East.
The run game, which often slowed them down in 2022, broke loose in Edmonton last week as James Butler was efficient all game long, while Matthew Shiltz did what was needed, going 10/17 for 184 yards and no interceptions.
They’re still not getting enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks, registering just two on the Elks last week, and with only 13 so far, while allowing the second-most first downs (114).
Prediction- Toronto Argonauts 30-24 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Sometimes the difference between wins and losses can boil down to finishing drives, and the Argos can match the Ti-Cats run game with a strong one themselves while they’ve been able to put the ball in the end zone with plenty of regularity.
Saskatchewan Roughriders at BC Lions
A narrow 33-31 loss to Calgary came at a cost for the Riders as Trevor Harris injured his right knee, leaving the offence in the hands of Mason Fine.
Their O-line was a question mark heading into the season, and that is still the case after six weeks, with Saskatchewan allowing the second-most sacks in the CFL (20) while they’re still struggling to generate pressure on opposing QBs with the fewest sacks made in the league (seven).
Without Harris, an aerial attack, which is third in the league for passing yard average per game (279.2) might have to lean on Jamal Morrow, who is third in the CFL in rushing yards (322) but struggled against the Stamps with just 37 yards on nine carries.
The Lions enter this contest on a five-game winning streak at BC Place in the regular season and playoffs and were back to their best against the Alouettes a couple of weeks ago, with Vernon Adams going 21/26 for 291 yards and a touchdown.
Rick Campbell’s crew have allowed an average of 6.4 passing yards to the opposition this season, the lowest in the league, and they boast the highest completion percentage (71.1%).
With 21 QB sacks, they are among the toughest defensive units to contain along the line of scrimmage, though they have been a little inconsistent at times running the ball, currently sixth in terms of rushing yards per game (94.4).
Prediction- Saskatchewan Roughriders 14-30 BC Lions
Adams was shockingly bad in Toronto a few weeks ago, but he should have plenty of time to find open receivers against a weak Riders secondary, and when those BC pass catchers get in the open field barely anyone in the league can slow them down.
Ottawa Redblacks at Calgary Stampeders
It’s only one game, but boy, oh boy, did Dustin Crum leave the Ottawa faithful with something extraordinary.
Given all the curveballs that this team have been thrown over the past couple of years, perhaps things are evening themselves out as the Redblacks scored 19 points in the fourth last week and kept one of the most dynamic offensive units in the league off the board in that quarter.
They’ve been moving the ball much better on the ground lately, averaging 118 rushing yards per game (second in CFL), while they are one of only three teams who’ve given up fewer than 100 completions (96).
When in doubt, Rene Paredes always comes through, as his last-second field goal propelled the Stampeders to its second win of the year.
Jake Maier had a big game through the air, throwing for 315 yards and a pair of scores, while the D-line smothered the Riders’ pivots with seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
That will be an encouraging sign for Dave Dickenson as his team has the lowest completion percentage in the league (59.6%), though they still need help in slowing down the run consistently, allowing the third-highest average rushing yards per game (107.8).
Prediction- Ottawa Redblacks 27-17 Calgary Stampeders
Something about that comeback last week tells me that it was not just a flash in the pan while Maier I believe will be facing a lot more pressure this weekend which could impact his accuracy.
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By: Joel Lefevre


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