Another CFL season is upon us and it is time to evaluate the teams.
The BC Lions (2011: 11-7) will remain the dominate team in the west. Travis Lulay has become an efficient quarterback. BC has re-signed Dante Marsh, Byron Parker, and Lin J-Shell on defence. Receivers Geroy Simon and Paris Jackson will also be back. In addition, the Lions have a very competent kicker Paul McCallum boasting a 2011 completion record of 94%. The only major change for the Lions is a new coach, Mike Benevides, an experienced former defensive coordinator. BC will post a 12-6 record.
The Edmonton Eskimos (2011: 11-7) traded their best quarterback to Toronto for QB Steven Jyles in December. I believe the move to be senseless and the results will show. Quarterbacks Kerry Joseph and Steven Jyles are mediocre at best. Edmonton will face a rebuilding year and show a 6-12 finish.
The Calgary Stampeders (2011: 11-7) promoted QB Drew Tate to first string after Henry Burris’ inconsistent efforts last season. Tate is a promising young passer with veteran Kevin Glenn to back him up. The Stamps also made changes at running back. Jon Cornish was made first string while Joffrey Reynolds was released in January. Calgary remains strong offensively and defensively. The Stamps will finish 10-8.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders (2011: 5-13) are coming off a disappointing season. QB Darian Durant will show improvements in his game this season, however I worry about the lack of depth at this position. The Riders have also made significant changes on offense and defense. RB Wes Cates was finally released by the team in November. Brandon West and Neal Hughes will easily amplify the Riders’ running game. The Riders will end the season 9-9.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2011: 10-8) had a banner year in 2011, largely in part to their expectional defense. This year will be entirely different for the Bombers. They have released RB Fred Reid, traded sack leader DE Odell Willis to Saskatchewan, and lost DT Doug Brown to retirement. With mediocre offence and special teams Winnipeg will finish 5-13.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2011: 8-10) continued to strengthen their team with the additions of QB Henry Burris, WR Andy Fantuz, RB Avon Cobourne, and P/K Luca Congi. Newcomers QB Dan LeFevour and RB Jame Berezik looked promising in their pre-season games and add to Hamilton’s depth. The Tiger-Cats will lead the east at 11-7.
The Toronto Argonauts (2011: 6-12) have also augmented their team offensively with QBs Ricky Ray and Jarius Jackson. RB Gerald Riggs and WR Jessie Hubbard will add to Toronto’s offensive. The Argonauts did lose a few strong defensive players, DB Lin J-Shell, CB Byron Parker, and LB Kevin Eiben to free agency. However, I believe Toronto will improve to 9-9 this season.
The Montreal Alouettes (2011: 10-8) had the league’s top passer, receiver, and rusher last year. Regardless, the Als only posted a 10-8 record and lost the Eastern semi-final to Hamilton. Montreal has made only minor changes this season and will continue to be a formidable team. The Alouettes will finish second in the east at 10-8.
BC 12-6 Hamilton 11-7
Calgary 10-8 Montreal 10-8
Saskatchewan 9-9 Toronto 9-9
Edmonton 6-12 Winnipeg 5-13
Calgary/Saskatchewan = Calgary Montreal/Toronto = Montreal
BC/Calgary = BC Hamilton/Montreal = Hamilton
100th Grey Cup
BC/Hamilton = BC