Saturday, September 29, 2012

CFL Game Day: British Columbia at Saskatchewan (September 29)

Week fourteen of the CFL season comes to an end on Saturday evening in Regina, where the Saskatchewan Roughriders will seek to derail some of the BC Lions plans of western division domination.

The Riders looking to keep within striking distance of the Stamps and Lions will be hoping to add to last weeks success, by taking down the league leading Lions, a team which is currently on a 3 game winning streak and looking very much in control of its destiny.

The Lions arrive as one of the best rounded squads in the CFL this year, punishing on defence, explosive on offence and with special teams that can change the dynamic of a game in but seconds.

The Riders on the other hand have been a bit of an enigma this year, one game looking very much like a team with a solid plan for playoff ambitions, only to have it all come crashing down the very next week.

The home crowd played a huge factor in last weeks victory over Calgary, adding to the misery that their defence provided to Jon Cornish, clearly getting under his skin.

When it wasn't the fans getting on Cornish's nerves it was the Saskatchewan defensive unit  doing the job, shutting down the Stamps and Cornish in particular, heeding the advice of head coach Cory Chamblin that jobs were on the line, they face just as hard a task Saturday as Travis Lulay and the Lions aerial circus and dominating ground game take to the field.

As if that isn't enough, the Lions defence has made it a priority all year to inflict as much punishment on opposing offensive units, big time and timely sacks or interceptions have provided for more than one turning point this season, the Lions taking pride in how their defensive units have provided for a league low 222 points against thus far.

Which brings us back to the Mosaic crowd, they could very well be the Riders most motivating factor, the knowledgeable fans of the Rider Nation truly add to the pressure points on opposing squads when they arrive at Mosaic, however when the home side falters, they aren't afraid to let them know they're disappointed.

The Riders will be hoping for a bit more of the former and a lot less of the latter when they take on the Lions to wrap the week for the CFL.

Game Time  8 PM ST, 7 PT, 10 ET Mosaic Stadium TSN

British Columbia 21 at Saskatchewan 27 (32,690)

Pre Game

CFL Video Preview

Globe and Mail-- After shutting down Cornish, Riders defence faces tough task against Lions
National Post-- Lions always looking forward for improvements
Vancouver Province-- You call this an off year? Travis Lulay's offence leads CFL ...
Vancouver Sun-- Coach Mike Benevides making all the right moves on the field and ...
Regina Leader Post-- Bright lights ahead for Riders

Team Backgrounders

British Columbia Lions
Saskatchewan Roughriders

Post Game Game Recap Video Highlights

Globe and Mail-- Roughriders hang on to beat Lions
Vancouver Province-- Lions have mild start, wild finish in Regina
Vancouver Sun-- Lions miracle finish comes up short
Regina Leader Post-- Dressler plays through pain as Riders upset Lions

CFL Game Day: Toronto at Winnipeg (September 29)

Winnipeg will be hoping to keep their good times rollin', if one win last week in a season of woe (3-9) can be called good times, as the Toronto Argonauts arrive in town for a CFL East division match up that could bring life to the Bombers thoughts of playoff football, something perhaps nowhere near their radar but a month ago.

With the return of Buck Pierce last week, the Bombers looked very much like that swaggerin' bunch we heard a bit too much of last year, Pierce and his team mates pulled together as complete a game as one could hope for from a Winnipeg viewpoint, dismissing the Hamilton Tiger Cats quite impressively, stirring those playoff embers long thought gone cold.

And as providence might provide, this week's competitor, the Argonauts arrive in town very much a battered and bruised squad, the most worrisome thing from a Toronto point of view the fact that Ricky Ray will be on the sidelines if he travels at all, in street clothes most likely,  unable to take to the field owing to injury.

Ray went down in last weeks game against Montreal, a knee injury leaving him out of the Argo lineup for the foreseeable future, at the worst possible time, as Toronto battles Montreal for first place in the CFL East.

Jarious Jackson, acquired from the BC Lions in the off season, will make a rare appearance as a CFL starter, Jackson who was used mostly on second and short situations in BC, a role that seems to be his marquee value in Toronto as well, finally gets the chance to lead an offence from start to finish, the opportunity now here to show if he's ready to step into the spotlight of a Ricky Ray.

The bad news for Winnipeg however is that Jackson has a pretty good record when thrown into the fire, over the course of his CFL career, Jackson has a winning percentage, going 14 and 8 in his 22 CFL starts.

No wild eyed rookie is this guy, he understands the game and will be anxious to show his team mates that all is still well on the good ship Argo.

If the Winnipeg defence is truly engaged in this one, it could be long afternoon for Jackson, who will have to make scrambling a priority as he seeks out down field receivers. The Bombers D side showed some life against Hamilton, making life pretty miserable for Henry Burris, no doubt they would like to provide the same treatment to the Argos back up now tasked with keeping the Argos first place ambitions alive.

Game Time 6 PM CT, 7 ET, 4 PT  CanadInn Stadium TSN

Toronto 29 at Winnipeg 10 (27,169)

Pre Game

CFL Video Preview

Globe and Mail-- Bombers find Ray of hope as they prepare to host Argos
National Post-- Argos uncertain when injured quarterback Ricky Ray will return
Toronto Sun-- Boatmen have big respect for Bombers QB
Toronto Star-- Blue Bombers showing some swagger again for Argo game
Winnipeg Free Press-- This guy Burke could be a keeper
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers facing no ordinary backup

Team Backgrounders

Toronto Argonauts
Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Post Game Game Recap Video Highlights

Globe and Mail-- Blue Bombers' playoff hopes fade after loss to Argos
National Post-- Argos' backup quarterback Jarious Jackson holds his own in win ...
Toronto Sun-- Argos drop Blue Bombers - without Ricky Ray
Toronto Star-- Toronto Argos knock off Winnipeg Blue Bombers 29-10
Winnipeg Free Press-- Back to Situation Normal...
Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers return to Bumblers

Friday, September 28, 2012

CFL Game Day: Edmonton at Calgary (September 28)

Another weekend Battle for Alberta, this time with the northern cousins making the trek south to take on the kin from Calgary, always an intense affair, frequently entertaining and as more often than not a game that has ramifications for playoff spots as we head towards October.

The Eskimos arrive in Calgary in the midst of a horrendous losing skid, punctuated by blow outs and near misses, none of the points up for grabs heading to their side of the standings.

And while they made some progress in the bounce back last week against the Lions, their offence is still seemingly a work in progress, nowhere near ready it would seem to launch an attack on a Grey cup berth.

Kavis Reed will once again try to turn around that which had such a promising start but has evolved into a serious skid since August, though a trip to the heated rivalry offered up by the Stamps is perhaps not the best launching pad for the comeback.

The probabilities of success are even less one imagines with the Esks using their third string quarterback as the starter of choice in the Alberta showdown.

Calgary, which had a set back of their own last week with a loss to Saskatchewan, had been keeping pace with the Lions for a shot at first place, a win Friday night is essential if they wish to remain within striking distance.

The game agains the Riders provided a helpful guide as to where the Stamps may still require some focus, Saskatchewan revealed a few flaws in the Stampeder game plan, things that the Stamps no doubt were working on through the week, anxious no doubt to fix what needs to be fixed before the playoff stretch gets underway.

Game Time 8 PM MT, 7 PT, 10 ET McMahon Stadium TSN

Edmonton 15 at Calgary 39  (29,290)

Pre Game

CFL Video Preview

Globe and Mail-- Matt Nichols to start at quarterback for Eskimos against Stampeders
Edmonton Sun-- Eskimos fate could rest in hands of EWU alum Matt Nichols, JC Sherritt
Edmonton Journal-- Stamps back up can't help cheering for old college teammate
Calgary Herald-- Arthur looking to be a go against Edmonton on Friday
Calgary Sun-- CFL Calgary Stampeders try for three peat vs. rival Edmonton Eskimos

Team Backgrounders

Edmonton Eskimos
Calgary Stampeders Game Recap Video Highlights

Globe and Mail-- Cornish passes 1,000 yard rushing mark in Stampeders' win over Eskimos
National Post-- Eskimos suffer first winless September in franchise history
Edmonton Sun-- Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish eclipses Edmonton Eskimos defence
Edmonton Journal-- Reeling Eskimos search for answers
Calgary Herald-- Cornish hits rushing milestone as Stamps topple Eskimos 39-15
Calgary Sun-- Cornish, Stamps rout Esks

CFL Game Day: Montreal at Hamilton (September 2*)

As the CFL season moves through fall and on to the playoffs, time as they say will be of the essence for the Hamilton Tiger Cats to show that they're going to be a consistent participant in what remains of the season.

Things have not gone according to plan in the Steel City these days, very much a case of making one step forward, followed by three or four steps back, from the highs of a dominating performance over the Edmonton Eskimos a few weeks back, the Cats suffered perhaps their most damaging setback last week when they lost to the Bombers and offered up hope to that squad that the playoffs are still within their grasp.

George Cortez must be shaking his head in wonderment as to how each week offers up yet something new to try and sort out, whether it's once sure handed receivers who can't catch balls, a quarterback who still shows glimpses of what he once was, but now shows cracks in his confidence to a defence that allows points at any alarming pace.

And then he looks at the schedule and sees that Anthony Calvillo and the Cats are in town, riding Calvillo's hot hand, firmly holding their place on first in the East and getting ready for the stretch drive that could once again deliver them to a Grey Cup berth once again.

The Als very much go as their QB goes, when AC is on his game (which of late has been most nights) the Als are unbeatable, the only factor on that idea is should a team be able to rush Calvillo, shake up his game plan a bit, then there's hope.

The Cats will need their defence to rise to the occasion of playing one of the leagues legends tonight, looking to shut down his offence, allowing for Henry Burris and the Cats offence to try and recapture that rhythm that left the Eskimos in the dust two weeks ago, if they don't it may be a long, long night at Ivor Wynne.

Game Time 7 PM ET, 4 PT Ivor Wynne Stadium TSN

Montreal 28 at Hamilton 41 (23,784)

Pre Game

CFL Video Preview

Globe and Mail-- Inconsistent Tiger Cats target strong finish
National Post-- Ticats kicker lets his right leg do the talking
Toronto Sun-- Ticats - Alouettes Game Day 
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats have another shot at playoff spot
Montreal Gazette-- Als can't afford to take Ticats lightly

Team Backgrounders

Montreal Alouettes
Hamilton Tiger Cats

Post Game Game Recap Video Highlights

Globe and Mail-- Henry Burris throws five TDs to lead Tiger-Cats over Alouettes
National Post-- Henry Burris pulls Ticats out of funk with win over Alouettes
Hamilton Spectator-- Burris leads stellar cast of Tiger-Cats
Montreal Gazette-- Alouettes fall 41-28 to Tiger Cats

CFL Regular Season: Week 14

Any given weekend in the CFL offers up any number of themes that could change everything by November's end and week fourteen is no exception.

In the East we have the struggling Tiger Cats showcasing inconsistency in a whole new light, at the season's debut many considered the Cats as perhaps a walk away winner of the East, but as we have seen over the first thirteen weeks, the Cats are anything but a finished product, their loss last weekend to Winnipeg offering up hope in Manitoba that the season may not be lost as previously thought.

Benefiting from the return of Buck Pierce, the Bombers broke free from their own ineptitude of the season, gaining a huge victory that could very well signal a mad dash for the playoffs from the Blue and Gold.

Over in Toronto, a season that offered up much promise at Labour Day may very well start a spin downwards, as the team's leader and highest profile player Ricky Ray takes to the injury list with a return date yet unknown. Taking his place is Jarious Jackson, who while a CFL veteran has had little in the way of starting time or reps for that matter in his days of BC and now Toronto, yet it will be in his hands that the ball is provided, the destiny of the Argos perhaps residing in how he handles the pressures of starting down a playoff stretch.

Only the Als seem solid and on track heading towards Thanksgiving, the always reliable Anthony Calvillo once again keeping the Als calm and focused on their goal of yet another Grey Cup appearance.

In the West, the Riders have their eyes on the Stamps, the Stamps still are marking the Lions and the Eskimos just want to get back to winning football.

Saskatchewan's victory last week moves them within striking distance of the Calgarians currently holding down second, the Lions in the mean time having just escaped Edmonton with a victory last weekend are still the class of the league, holding their perch atop the CFL West and still considered the most likely to repeat as Grey Cup champs.

With those plot lines still in development, week fourteen will no doubt offer up a few new twists and turns.

Previews and reviews of week Fourteen can be bound below.

Friday, September 28-- Montreal 28 at Hamilton 41 (23,784)
Friday, September 28-- Edmonton 15 at Calgary 39  (29,290)
Saturday, September 29-- Toronto 29 at Winnipeg 10  (27,169)
Saturday, September 29-- British Columbia 21 at Saskatchewan 27  (32,690)

Ten Men Prognostications: Predicted Winners

British Columbia

Weekly Record

2 - 2

Overall Record

28 correct, 28 wrong

Gibson's Players of the Week (Week Thirteen) September 25, 2012

Some new names for the Gibson's Players of the Week as a pair of Bombers took their place on the recognition list heading out of week thirteen, the Lions and the Alouettes rounded out the four categories of note from the folks at Gibson's.

The Bombers turned aside all that bad karma from 2012 with one spectacular performance at home, a game which some suggest may change their future in the 2012 season, giving hope for the home side's fan base, a long suffering group through the summer and into the fall.

Regardless of their fate in 2012, in week Thirteen the Bombers were the bomb as far as the folks at Gibson's were concerned. Press release

Offensive Player of the Week and Top Canadian

Chad SimpsonWinnipeg Blue Bombers, RB

In a season of woe for the Blue Bombers, week thirteen was like a tonic for a nagging cold, with Buck Pierce back at the helm of the Bombers offence, it seemed that all Bombers found an extra spring in their step, none more so than Chad Simpson who ran for 134 yards on 19 carries, adding another 58 yards on four pass receptions, all part of the Bombers attack in their 34-12 victory over Hamilton and more than enough to gain the Offensive Player of the Week award.

Defensive Player of the Month

Adam Bighill,  British Columbia Lions, LB

The BC Lions have carved out a pretty nice niche for themselves as a well rounded football team, both on offence and defence. Equal parts to a squad that is currently at the top of the CFL standings in 2012.  No Lion has had as big an impact on defence as Adam Bighill, who was key to the Lions close call in Edmonton,  Bighill picked up his third Gibson's of the year on the strength of three tackles, two sacks and one interception.

Special Teams

Trent Guy , Montreal Alouettes, KR

Special teams have been an Achilles heel for the Alouettes in 2012, a mixture of much promise which occasionally runs off the rails, though in week 12 the Als special teams more than rose to the occasion in a convincing 34-12 victory over the Argos. High among those contributing to the Als cause was Trent Guy, who returned a missed field goal attempt for 129 yards and a touchdown, a milestone as it were as it was the first kick return touchdown by the Als since August of 2010. 

Top Canadian

Henoc Muamba, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, LB

Five tackles, one sack and a forced fumble made the Bombers Henoc Muamba a force to be reckoned with in week thirteen, Muamba's contributions to the days work against Hamilton not only assisted his Bombers onto the winning side of the ledger but put him onto the Gibson's roster for 2012.

CFL Video Zone

Players of the Week highlights (view here)

Top Ten plays of Week  10 (view here)

Ultimate Replay of Week 12 (view here)

Gibson's Players of the Week Archives for 2012

Twelve Men Review (Week Thirteen) September 21-23)

Some surprises laid waste to our sage prognostications of week 13, a gulf between success and failure that is almost on par with the beating that bookmakers have taken on the weight of their NFL endeavours in the first three weeks.

A weekend of woe from our perspective that saw the Cats, Argos and Stamps all fail to meet up to our expectations.

Add on to the misery some injuries through the weekend (in particular a player absence in Toronto that may very well change their course this season) and all that is left is to review the games of the weekend that was.

Hamilton at Winnipeg

So much for the theory that the Tiger Cats had turned the corner. Hamilton who had convincingly handled the Edmonton Eskimos but a week earlier returned to some familiar patterns on Friday night.

Incapable of finishing drives, suddenly stymied at the prospect of offence from the other side.

Henry Burris, who looked very good in the Edmonton game, looked very average against Winnipeg, his receiving corps a collective that appeared to have turned a corner last weekend, made a u turn and disappeared down inconsistent avenue.

On the Winnipeg side of things, the return of Buck Pierce proved to be the rallying point of the season for a struggling team.

Pierce was more than just the inspiration for the Bombers, he was the General on the field who wasn't afraid to get into battle himself.

The Bombers appeared to have renewed confidence with Pierce behind the centre, it was only one game but for the home side fans who braved a miserable Manitoba night the 34 to 12 victory over Hamilton provided the chance to find something to cheer in a season of woe.

One wonders how Paul LaPolice is feeling these days, wondering how things may have gone oh so different if Pierce had not been sidelined for more than half the season.

It's still a long road ahead for the Blue and reality would suggest that there isn't much of a shot for a playoff spot, but in a league where winning and losing streaks come up at the most important times, the Bombers are feeling as though finally their stars have realigned again.

Not so much so in Hamilton we imagine.

The previews and reviews of the Cats and Bombers can be found here

British Columbia at Edmonton

The red hot BC Lions were heading into Edmonton on Saturday, a game against a very ice cold Eskimo squad that no doubt had those that watch trends in the CFL expecting an offensive showtime from the team from the coast.

However, the Eskimos having been embarrassed just last weekend in Hamilton were apparently in no mind to have the same thing happen on their own turf in front of their own crowd.

The Esks defensive unit rose to the challenge of Travis Lulay and his high flying offensive unit, shutting down the Lions to just 19 points, true in the end that is all that the Lions would require for an 19-18 victory, but keeping the Leos under 20 is at least a partial victory for the Defensive squad.

In fact, it took a late game field goal for the Lions to secure victory, trailing the Eskimos late into the final quarter, the consensus being that the Lions were lucky to come out of Edmonton with the victory and the grip they still have on first place in the West.

For the Eskimos the short comings this time were wholly on the offensive unit, which struggled to put any kind of points on the board in the second half.

With only five first downs and three points to show for their second thirty minutes of football, the game as one can see was completely dependent on the defensive unit, they more than held up their own end of the bargain, shutting down the Lions for the most part, though not quite enough.

They could have used just a little bit of assistance from the folks on the other side of the dressing room, just a few extra yards, a couple of extra first downs and hey, if you could manage just a few more points.

On a day where the Eskimo defence held one of the best offences in the league to just 19 points, their offence couldn't find twenty.

Until the Eskimos fix up that ratio, disappointment will no doubt continue on in Edmonton.

The look back at the Lions and Esks can be found here.

Toronto at Montreal

It was a showdown for first place in the CFL East, the team that seems to dominate the CFL year in a year out taking on a squad that finally seems to be showing some life in the largest market in the league.

It was a match up that the CFL must have been quite hopeful about when they cobbled together their schedule earlier this year, a measuring stick for both teams in their bid to return the east to at least a semblance of competence in the Canadian game.

The Als who have been almost a normal squad this year,  in that they no longer are considered the favourite in every game they play have had their struggles this year.  A defensive unit that at times was still very much a work in progress, a special teams unit that must surely leave the coaching staff scratching their heads at times, wondering if everyone was on the same page, or even reading the same book.

Only on offence could be found that calm, professional approach to the game that has been the hallmark of the Als over the last decade or so, led by Anthony Calvillo, the Als never seem to panic, always bide their time and more likely than not pull off the victory.

In Toronto, their weekend guests a similar picture was starting to be painted in double blue colours, Ricky Ray had finally been showing just how valuable an acquisition he had been over the off season.

His leadership has provided a stable environment at the key QB position and while it has taken some time for he and the rest of the offence to get on the same page, success was very much in the wind this year, a new confidence that when the Argos take to the field a victory may not be far behind.

So we imagine that when Ricky Ray went down to injury on Sunday the collective call back in Toronto was oh why now...

The injury proved to be turning point for the Als  31 to 10 victory over the Argos, the ball may as well have been deflated at that point, as the Argos appeared to be so once their QB left the field.

Montreal which was already doing fairly well in the game, took full control once Ray was done for the day, there would be no rallying point as injury sometimes provides for, instead dropped passes, fumbles and sloppy coverage provided the Als with an opening to seal the game up, which they wasted no time taking advantage of.

The Argos lost the opportunity to stake a claim on first place in the east, but may have lost much more, as Ray may be gone for much of the immediate future, leaving the offence in the hands of Jarious Jackson, who spent most of his time in the CFL watching from the Lions sidelines, he has the ball now, but he'll need some help from a team that didn't look all that confident by the time Sunday's game came to an end.

The look back at the Argos and Als can be found here

Calgary at Saskatchewan

The wrap to the weekend came at Mosaic Field, a game that saw the Riders showed flashes of offence  that suggest they still have designs towards the top of the CFL West, while Jon Cornish flashed his own particular theme to the fan base on the Stamps side of the field.

Cornish was reprimanded for his breech of his britches, a distraction for head coach John Hufnagel who clearly would post game rather be discussing his defensive units inability to contain the Riders, who took advantage of their defensive squads field placement to make life miserable for the Stamps all game long.

Prior to kick off the Riders coach had vowed that the Riders D would hold Cornish to less than 100 yards, a task they took to with relish, shutting down the Stamps running back much to the delight of the  Riders fans and as events would provide for, not to the delight of the Stamps running back.

Mistakes, missed assignments and mental miscues played a key part in the Stampeders troubles, a team which had been riding high over the last few months quickly provided with a reminder that you take no opponent lightly at any time in the CFL.

The game a step back for a squad that had gone on a nice little 4 game unbeaten streak prior to its arrival at Mosaic.

Saskatchewan on the other hand, exorcised a few demons with the victory, keeping their eye on the prospect of a second place finish in the West, while adding some insurance of at least a playoff spot through a third place finish or crossover to the East.

Defensively the Riders were strong, harassing Kevin Glenn through the day, delivering punishing hits and rushing the Stampeder game plan quite nicely. There were some lapses in the latter stages of the game however that allowed the Stamps to launch the comeback that almost secured another win.

Offensively the Riders were solid through the game, capitalizing on the Stamp errors, gaining field position and scoring points when opportunity provided, that in the end was the key to the 30-25 victory for Saskatchewan.

The reviews and previews of the Riders and Stamps can be found here.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

CFL Game Day: Calgary at Saskatchewan (September 23)

The Stampeders will be playing to keep in the race for the CFL Western title, the Riders are playing for jobs.

That is the narrative, at least on the Saskatchewan side, that previews the Stamps and Riders at Mosaic Field on Sunday. Rider head coach Corey Chamblin, sending a shot across the bow of his squad that the lack of effort of some over the last month or so has been noted and change could be in the chilly fall winds of Saskatchewan.

The Riders have suffered a worrisome skid through August, with only a pair of victories over the struggling Blue Bombers as one of the few bright spots, an offense that went cold when the race in the West was a competitive war, the Rider having since fallen back of both the Stamps and Lions in the race for first.

Calgary on the other hand has grown stronger as the summer came to an end, a 4 game winning streak allaying the fears of Stampeder fans that the season was all but lost, the Stamps now nipping at the heels of the West leaders BC, Sunday they'll be looking to put a bit of distance between themselves and the Riders who at 5 and 6 on the year are now four points off of Calgary's second place pace.

The Riders should have Darian Durant back in the lineup, the Saskatchewan QB had been sidelined with injury for the last few weeks, leaving Drew Willy to gain his first start in the CFL last week, a 28-17 loss to Montreal a score that seems closer than the actual game provided for.

The Rider comeback was more a case of Montreal getting lazy and making mistakes than any kind of Rider gut check, still, for a rookie QB the valuable playing time could come in handy later on this year and on into the next.

The West is a two tier race at the moment, the Stamps and Lions looking very strong week in week out, the Riders and Eskies more of a hit and miss thing, one is never really sure which team is going to show up when kick off arrives.

The key thing for the Riders at the moment should be preserving third place and a playoff spot, a battle they seemingly will wage with the Eskimos through til November.

There is the chance of course for a crossover spot in the east, considering the struggles of Winnipeg and Hamilton of late, but a secure spot is clearly preferable than the seemingly lottery like odds of the crossover path.

The Riders can aid their own cause with a strong game Sunday in front of the usual packed house of the faithful.

Game Time 2 PM ST, 4 ET, 1 PT Mosaic Field TSN

Calgary 25 at Saskatchewan 30  (33,427)

Pre Game Video Preview

Globe and Mail-- Stampeders star Cornish not bothered by Chamblin's brash guarantee
National Post-- Roughriders coach Corey Chamblin putting jobs on the line against Stampeders
Calgary Sun-- Stamps expect Roughriders' Durant to be 100%
Calgary Herald-- Glenn has a case to be Stamps' MVP
Regina Leader Post-- Durant, Riders ready to roll against Stampeders

Team Backgrounders

Calgary Stampeders
Saskatchewan Roughriders

Post Game Game Recap Video Highlights

Globe and Mail-- Riders victory over Stamps tightens the race in CFL West
National Post-- Roughriders contain Jon Cornish en route to fulfilling victory
Calgary Herald-- Riders stymie Stamps, halt Horsemen's winning streak
Calgary Sun-- Missed call may have cost Calgary Stampeders against Saskatchewan...
Regina Leader-Post-- Defence comes through for Riders' head coach

CFL Game Day: Toronto at Montreal (September 23)

An eastern showdown opens up the final two games of week 13, the Montreal Alouettes looking to hold off the Toronto Argonauts and secure first place and a bit of breathing room should they prevail at Molson Stadium.

For much of the last month the Als and Argos have been trading spots atop the East Division, one jumping forward, one falling back, providing for a particularly interesting race for the East title.

The Argonauts have shown signs that they are finally pulling together all the various parts that were put in place over training camp, a defense that is the stingiest of the East holds the opposition point totals game in and game out, leaving the Argos in the running deep into the fourth quarter for most of the season.

Ricky Ray has generated some impressive stats over the course of the summer, finally settling into rhythm and making better use of his receiving corps and the running game.

Special teams have been a particular highlight for the Double Blue, punt and kick returns an edge of your seat experience that can change the game in the blink of an eye.

The one major problem for the Argos is a tendency to take far too many penalties, a situation that tends to shoot the team in the foot at a most inopportune time, something we imagine the coaching staff is eager to turn around before the Thanksgiving to season end stretch gets under way.

Montreal has been red hot over the last month, a rush up the standings after an early season of struggle, Anthony Calvillo once again appears to be in top form, late game spurts down the field becoming the specialty of the Als, where no deficit seems to much to overcome, when they have to.

Montreal's last month has been a reminder to the CFL that despite an aging roster and the realization that the Calvillo era may be drawing to a close, there is still a lot of life left in the rouge, blanc et bleu.

Beyond the Calvillo magic, the Als have benefited from a defence that seems to have overcome its early season struggles, the last few weeks providing a semblance of the consistency that the coaching staff was looking for during the darker days of the early season.

Sunday's match up obviously has major playoff implications, an Alouette win puts them in the drivers seat for the final stretch of the season, should the Argos prevail, then an already fascinating playoff race gets just a little bit more interesting.

Game Time 1 PM ET, 10 AM PT Molson Stadium TSN

Toronto 10 at Montreal 31 (23,209)

Pre Game Video Preview

Globe and Mail-- Alouettes running back Whitaker out for season
National Post-- Pass blocking key to Argos' success
Toronto Star-- Chad Owens could make bid for CFL MVP
Toronto Sun-- Argos treating Sunday like a "playoff game"
Montreal Gazette-- Emry delivering standout season - and solid hits

Team Backgrounders

Toronto Argonauts
Montreal Alouettes Game Recap Video Highlights

Globe and Mail-- Alouettes cash in on Argonauts' woes
National Post-- Alouettes coast to victory over Argos
Toronto Star-- Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray injured in 31-10 loss to Montreal Alouettes
Toronto Sun-- Argos take a step back
Montreal Gazette-- Pressure eases on Als' special-teams unit

CFL Game Day: British Columbia at Edmonton (September 22)

The league's most successful team of 2012 heads into Edmonton on Saturday to take on a team in free fall in the CFL west.

The  BC Lions are the toast of the CFL heading towards Thanksgiving, tops in the West looking to be a solid choice to return to the Grey Cup in November to defend their 2011 title.

With a strong defensive unit that punishes the opposition should they dare to contemplate scoring to an offensive unit that has QB Travis Lulay clearly at the top of his game, the prospect of playing the Lions is a daunting one at the best of times, never more so we imagine, than if you are in the midst of a month long losing streak and struggling to score points regardless of who is at Quarterback.

The Eskimos will probably turn back to Steven Jyles on Saturday, the hobbled Kerry Joseph having had a decent run, all be it without much success on a team basis, will get to rest his injuries as Jyles tries to turn around an Eskimo offence that has gone horribly cold of late.

Despite some of the top running backs in the game as part of a stable for the Eskimos, the running game hasn't been able to lead the Eskimos out of their current troubles, more than a few observers have suggested that perhaps the time for Eric Tillman to trade in on his riches in the running game has arrived.

For now however, it seems that the only change in store is to provide for an extra set of eyes for offensive coordinator Marcus Crandell, who has struggled to get the Esks offensive game plan into place.

The Eskimos recently added offensive adviser David Kelly to the Eskimo mix, Kelly, a visiting coach in the pre season training camp arrives from the University of Central Florida, a place under the NCAA microscope for alleged recruiting violations.

His appearance of course spawns any number of rumours that Crandell's debut as offensive coordinator may be in peril should things not turn around quickly.

Perhaps an unfair thing, considering the hand dealt him at the start of the season when his entire offensive scheme had to be changed owing to the departure of Ricky Ray, no one, if memory serves correct was calling for Crandell's head when the Eskimos got off to that remarkable start in July, the fans in Edmonton somehow not accepting that their team may have perhaps settled to where they more likely should be in a rebuilding year.

Still, a glance at the standings gives  hope in Edmonton, the Esks are but six points away from the Lions, despite their late summer slump, a turnaround heading into the fall could make things quite interesting.

Football of course is a business built on winning and losing, so the winning of course had best come if anyone seeks long term job security. The problem is that on this week, the team coming into town is the class of the league, providing for a mighty hard job order for a struggling squad to try to fill.

Game Time Pre Game 5:30 MT, 4:30 PT, 7:30 ET Commonwealth Stadium TSN

British Columbia 19 at Edmonton 18 (35,578)

Pre Game Video Preview

Globe and Mail-- Eskimos co-ordinator Crandell has adviser breathing down his neck
Vancouver Sun-- Eskimos' Eric the Red undeterred by trade fallout
Vancouver Province-- Lions, Eskimos rivalry heats up
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos confident heading into tilt against top-ranked Lions
Edmonton Sun-- Eskimos' Jyles to start against Lions

Team Backgrounders

British Columbia Lions
Edmonton Eskimos

Post Game Game Recap Video Highlights

Globe and Mail-- Late field goal lifts Lions over Eskimos
National Post-- Clock is ticking on the struggling Eskimos
Vancouver Sun-- BC Lions pick their moments to rise and shine in last minute win...
Vancouver Province-- Lions lucky to steal one in Edmonton...
Edmonton Journal-- Lack of offence in second half lets Eskimos down once again
Edmonton Sun-- Edmonton Eskimos offence not putting enough points on the board

Friday, September 21, 2012

CFL Game Day: Hamilton at Winnipeg (September 21)

Well, things it seems only get worse for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

A few weeks ago the Bombers perhaps looked at the September 21st date as a potential turning point for their season of woe, the visiting Tiger Cats were struggling as well, incapable of securing wins, finding new ways to lose games with each outing.

Almost a mirror image of the Big Blue, though with a lot less drama as it turns out.

Of course they may not be thinking that way any more, the Bombers as we all have seen continue to implode, breaking ten points a game seemingly a little to high a bar for them in the last few weeks.

And now, after last weekend it would seem that the Tiger Cats are ready to roar after all, in what surely was a lining up of their planets the Cats had their best game of the year, taking out a season of frustration on the Edmonton Eskimos, a 51-8 thrashing of the Eskies that found everyone on the same page at the same time, a first for the Cats this year.

They will be anxious to keep up with that winning vibe as they head into Winnipeg, no doubt realizing that the Bombers struggles are weighing heavy on the squad, the home fans venting frequently as the season continues to find new ways to provide for misery.

Hamilton can still stoke their playoff ambitions with a victory, making the East race a little more interesting and beating back a challenge from the West for a potential crossover berth in the Eastern semi.

If they just reviewed the film of last weekend they should be good to go, as that was about as good as they have been this season.

Word out of Winnipeg is that Buck Pierce will return to the Bombers line up tonight, having missed most of the season through injury though we somehow don't think that he'll be the same Pierce that the Bombers were counting on as the season started.

It may be more of a case of offering up some hope for the home fans, though considering how awful the Bombers have been this year, one wonders just how wise it may be to put Pierce into a line up that offers little protection and less in the way of scoring.

Game Time 7 PM CT, 8 ET 5 PT CanadInn Stadium TSN

Hamilton 12 at Winnipeg 34 26,577

Pre Game

CFL Video Preview

Globe and Mail-- A healthy quarterback Buck Pierce tries to reverse the Bombers' slide
National Post-- Ticats try to bottle winning formula
Winnipeg Sun-- Buck Pierce gives Blue Bombers best chance to win 
Winnipeg Free Press-- Bombers looking to Pierce as they battle Tiger-Cats
Hamilton Spectator-- Digging must continue if Ticats want a playoff spot

Team Backgrounders

Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Hamilton Tiger Cats

Thursday, September 20, 2012

CFL 2012 Regular Season: Week 13

The competitive balance heats up in both the east and the west as Hamilton shows signs of life to perhaps raise a challenge for Montreal and Toronto.

The Tiger Cats finally unleashed all of that football skill in one game last week, taking out a season of frustration on both offence and defence on the Edmonton Eskimos. Their convincing 51-8 victory served a dual purpose, getting the team untracked perhaps and on towards the top of the standings in the CFL East and pushing back the Eskimos who have been stumbling of late, a much needed win that may very well scupper any cross over plans that the Eskimos may have had as Plan B to the playoffs.

The Cats can improve on their fortunes this weekend when they head to Winnipeg to play the struggling Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Calgary continues to nip at the heels of the Lions for first in the West, while the Argos and Als are trading spots on a weekly basis atop the CFL East.

That leaves Saskatchewan to try and figure out where they fit in as the CFL heads down the back nine of the season, so far they are a very secure third place squad in the West, however a few stumbles down the stretch or a bump into winning territory for Edmonton could change all of that.

Week thirteen could help sort out some of that, or murky the playoff waters for all, placement spots still up for grabs for both divisions.

The Lions are in Edmonton to take on a dis-spirited Eskimo squad, a team in for a rough time of it one would think with the league leading Lions in town.

The showcase games of the week could be from Montreal and Regina, the Als are in a showdown with the Argos, hosting the Boatmen with first place a prize still very much in the mix for both teams.

The Riders will be looking to get back on track as the Stamps come to town, Calgary of course still with designs of their own on first in the West, keeping pace with the Lions week by week, ready to strike should the Lions stumble.

Previews and reviews of week thirteen can be found below.

Friday, September 21-- Hamilton 12 at Winnipeg 34   26,577
Saturday, September 22-- British Columbia 19 at Edmonton 18 35,578
Sunday, September 23-- Toronto 10 at Montreal 31 23,209
Sunday, September 23-- Calgary 25 at Saskatchewan 30 33,427

Ten Men Prognostications: Predicted Winners

British Columbia

Weekly Record

1 - 3

Overall Record

26 correct, 26 wrong

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can the Cats claw their way back into contention?

When George Cortez crossed over the bridge at Niagara Falls into Canada this spring, we imagine he had a pretty impressive picture in his mind as to what the 2012 CFL season had in store for his new team the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

The Cats new head coach, steeped in CFL experience with more than a few years of NFL work under his belt has been a fixture in professional football for a number of years, considered one of the great coaching catches in recent CFL history, he arrived in Hamilton to a team that had gone on a signing spree that had brought some high profile CFL and NFL talent onto the Tabbies roster.

From the arrival of Henry Burris and Andy Fantuz from the west and the repatriation of Sam Giguere from the NFL, the offence that the Cats were expected to bring to the CFL East this year was the king of thinking that re-writes record books.

However, as is the case in these things, just because the names on the paper are impressive doesn't mean that the product on the field will shine and such has been the situation thus far in a frustrating 2012 campaign.

The Ti Cats on offence have been a perpetual work in motion, Henry Burris struggling at the helm, his high profile receiving corps the envy of the league at the start of the season having their troubles adjusting it would seem.

The defence, always a fierce thing to face when you travel to Ivor Wynne has had their troubles as well, surrendering points, collapsing in fourth quarters, not the menacing force of CFL legend.

It has been a horrid season so far in the farewell tour of Ivor Wynne, made worse by the fact that the hated Argonauts not only captured both ends of the Labour Day Classics, but now are competing and competing hard for first in the East, the chance to be the home side in this years Toronto hosted Grey Cup a very real possibility.

Dire times indeed for any Hamiltonian, though, perhaps a corner has been turned, last weeks total annihilation of the Edmonton Eskimos just the tonic for what ailed the Cats thus far in 2012.

If ever a game came along that showcased everything that the CFL thought would be the Ti Cats this year it was last weeks 51-8 smoking of the Esks, everything was clicking on the weekend.

Burris was hot, as hot as he's been all year, his receiving corps sure handed and spectacular, a running game that punished the Eskimo defence with every carry, special teams which have been the one real bright spot in Hamilton this year once again had a strong game.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cats were in full smash mouth mode, the Esks could not gain any traction, each set of downs ending in frustration and surrender, it was as though everyone found the magic potion at the same time.

The Cats who still have an uphill battle ahead of them, they've fallen behind the front runners in the East by four and six points, the prospect of a Western Crossover team is also there, though Hamilton did themselves a major favour by knocking Edmonton off on the weekend.

Some more ground could be made up with the  trip this weekend to Winnipeg, the Bombers as woeful as they've been in decades seem very confused and have lost all of that much talked about swagger of last year, they are once again ripe for a shellacking, the Cats having found their game last weekend can get back into the CFL East race with a convincing win on Friday night.

It will tell much about whether their win over Edmonton was the beginning of the climb back into respectability, or just a mirage that quickly passed by.

Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats dig deep to stay alive
Hamilton Spectator- Reports of the Ticats' demise greatly exaggerated
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats special teams play has certainly been, well, special this season
Toronto Sun-- No rest for Tiger-Cats in their quest for CFL playoffs
National Post-- Ticats show brute strength in rout of Eskimos

Gibson's Players of the Week (Week Twelve) September 18, 2012)

The Lions roared in week 12, capturing three of the four Gibson's Awards, an achievement that was captured based on the strength of a first place showdown with the visiting Toronto Argonauts.

The Lions held off the late fourth quarter surge of the Argos, recording a 28-23 victory over the visitors from Toronto, only Ticat Defensive Back Brock Campbell kept the Leos from sweeping the Gibsons for the week, his work in Hamilton's 51-8 domination of Edmonton caught the notice of the Gibson's panel who for the most part were smitten by the Lions efforts on Saturday.

Travis Lulay, Tim Brown and Shawn Gore were the trio of Leos to pick up a Gibson's this weekend past, the full review of the Gibson's awards for week 12 can be found below. Press release

Offensive Player of the Week and Top Canadian

Travis Lulay, British Columbia Lions, QB

The Lions QB had another one of his offensive highlight games against the Argos on the weekend, throwing for 390 yards and two touchdowns on the way to the Lions victory of Saturday evening. He threw 24 completions on 40 attempts and when not throwing the ball, took the occasional ramble on his own two carries for 42 yards in the aid to the cause of keeping the Lions in first in the CFL West. Lulay's touchdown passes kept alive a streak at 22 consecutive games with at least one TD pass, a mark that is closing in on the legendary Sam Etcheverry, who set the CFL benchmark at 34.

Defensive Player of the Month

Brock Campbell,   Hamilton Tiger Cats, DB

With a 51-8 score, its safe to say that the defence had a strong afternoon, holding the visiting Eskimos off the scoreboard for the bulk of the day. While the TiCat offence finally found its game, the defence once again did its job, none more so than Campbell who recorded 7 tackles and 1 sack in the course of the Tiger Cats domination of Edmonton.

Special Teams

Tim BrownBritish Columbia Lions, KR

With 77 yards on three kick returns and 52 yards on five punt returns Tim Brown had a rather heavy workout as part of that Lions victory of Saturday night.  For good measure, Brown added another 22 yards on a missed field goal, all told Brown amassed 151 yards on special teams, a mark that gained him the Gibson's nod for Week Twelve.

Top Canadian

Shawn GoreBritish Columbia Lions, SB

For one week at least, the Gibson's panel was able to look away from the work of Jon Cornish, who has almost made the Top Canadian award his own this season.  In his place this week the Gibson's panel introduced Shawn Gore to the awards listings, with 96 yards and a TD gained on three receptions and 17 yards on a carry, Gore impressed enough to break the Cornish hold on the award, for this week anyways..

CFL Video Zone

Players of the Week highlights (view here)

Top Ten plays of Week  10 (view here)

Ultimate Replay of Week 12 (view here)

Gibson's Players of the Week Archives for 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Twelve Men Review (Week Twelve) September 14-16)

Two blow outs (one of them rather surprising), one game that was closer than the home side would have hoped for and a showdown that turned into a showdown, that was the weekend that was in week number 12.

Fans in Hamilton saw a glimpse of that team many thought was going to call Ivor Wynne home this year, the Eskimo fans saw a glimpse of a ghost they thought had left while in Montreal, the Riders gave away a game and then decided half way through it seemed to battle back for it.

Only in Vancouver, did the game go according to script, a very entertaining battle between the teams that held first place in each division going into the weekend play.

Our review of the week just past follows.

Winnipeg at Calgary

The opening game to weekend 12 went about as bad as a Winnipeg fan could have hoped for. the Bombers setting a new standard in ineptitude, topping even the Labour Day debacle in Saskatchewan in lack of interest to the task at hand.

The Bombers can change all the coaches they wish (and if the fans have their way they can send a GM packing as well), but it's the players on the field that dictate the fate of the game for the most part and it would seem that this collection of Bombers is just hoping for the season to end.

Granted winning in Calgary is never an easy thing for Winnipeg, a stretch of win less games going back to 2002 testifies to that, but Friday night's 44-3 slaughter is about the worst performance the Blue has provided for in a long time and just this year there have been a few candidates for that title.

Calgary was totally dominant, on offence, on defence, on special teams and in coaching, the Stamps made it all look far too easy, the Bombers all but running up a white flag by the time the opening kick off had been completed.

There are so many things that need to be addressed in Winnipeg one wonders where they will start, confidence though seems to be the biggest trouble now, they simply have none left. The only motivating factor left for Tim Burke is to try and get his players to play for next years jobs, though there's not much of a guarantee that even Burke will be there when all the reviews are done on this year of horror.

As for the on field attack, the Stamps found much success with Kevin Glenn to Nik Lewis, with Jon Cornish once again giving CFL GM"s cause to consider an all Canadian running game heading into 2013.

If Cornish is the new benchmark of Canadian running backs, then the future is very bright, unless of course you end up in Winnipeg...

The previews and then the reviews of the weekend opener can be found here.

Edmonton at Hamilton

The blowout fever moved east on Saturday, as Hamilton provided for their most complete game of the season, a timely arrival what past the halfway mark of the campaign as they destroyed the Eskimos 51-8, as unlikely a result as you might have considered heading into the game.

The Cats finally looked like that team we had been waiting for, Henry Burris on his game like the ancient days, finding a corps or receivers that finally not only hit their stride but held on to the football, a key two part approach to the Cats season it seems.

Defensively Hamilton was all over the Eskimos, making life a misery for Kerry Joseph, who after his third consecutive start with the Esks found that the day would be a memorable one, but for all the wrong reasons.

The Eskimos losing skid has taken the team from a challenge for first in the West to now hanging on to perhaps requiring the CFL's crossover rules to qualify for a playoff spot.

That in itself should not be surprising, the Esks weren't expected to be all that competitive when the season started and surprised everyone with a remarkable start to 2012, the mid season swoon in a way is just a levelling of expectation.

Still, when you have had glimpses of success and the giddy thought of dominating the West, the sudden decline probably provides for a bit of a shock for the supporters of the Green and Gold.

The Cats on the other hand were supposed to be the dominant team of the East this year, all those pre season changes designed to make the final year at Ivor Wynne a party atmosphere with the Cats marching all the way down the QEW to the Grey Cup.

It hasn't exactly gone to plan this year, the Tiger Cats have struggled in every facet of the game throughout the year, loss after loss without an answer to their problems.

Saturday provided some much needed therapy for a team that seemed to have lost its way, something as coaches would say for the team to build on, a reminder that when they put it all together on the field, they are very much still in the mix for a playoff spot, that Grey Cup dream not quite extinguished yet we would suspect.

The preview and review of the Cats and the Esks can be found here.

Toronto at British Columbia

It was the marquee match up for the weekend and for the most part the Argos and the Lions delivered on those lofty expectations.

The two top teams of the CFL heading into week 12 offered up an entertaining late afternoon of football at BC Place, the Lions holding off the last minute surge of the Argos to take the two points in the standings on the strength of their 28 to 23 victory.

The Lions for the most part looked to be in control of the game, while struggling through the first quarter they started to get it all going into the second and nursed the lead it into a fourth quarter nail biter, a quarter that showed up a few flaws for the BC coaching staff to work on.

Turnovers provided for some of that Argo comeback, the Lions apparently in a giving mood through interceptions and fumbles,

Ricky Ray once again rallied his squad for a late game march, getting oh so close to providing the Argos with their first win in BC since 2002, however, when needed most, the Lions defence rose to the occasion, forcing a fumble as the Argos where edging closer to the Lions end zone, a pivotal play that secured victory and kept the Lions atop the CFL standings for another week.

While a loss is never easy to digest for a team, the Argos had a better measure of themselves after their trip to the West, once again exhibiting that never say die mentality that seems to be their domain this year and while the comeback came up short once again, the mechanics of it were spectacular to watch.

In the end, the owner went home happy, though in this case it was a natural, David Braley owner of both the Lions and the Argos had a large crowd at the turnstile, a win for the western branch office over the eastern one, with the eastern collective showing that they have every right to think that a challenge for the East title and a Grey Cup berth may just be within reach after all.

Previews and reviews of the Lions and Argos can be found here.

Saskatchewan at Montreal

For the majority of Sunday's week 12 finale, the Riders looked very much like a team that had enjoyed their stay in Montreal so much that they didn't want to offend their hosts with something so tawdry as taking two points home with them.

The Riders were in a very accommodating mood with their Montreal hosts, providing them with the football almost by request and clearing a path for Anthony Calvillo to throw more than a few points up on the board for the home side fans to celebrate.

For the majority of the game the Riders stumbled for back up Drew Willy, who was making his first CFL start for the injured Darian Durant. They took too many penalties for their own good against a Montreal team that tends to capitalize on such things, providing for a healthy lead for the Als after thirty minutes.

Then, the undisciplined and sloppy play settled over the Alouettes as well, giving life to the Riders who  took those miscues as a sign that the Als were possibly still there for the taking.

A horrid third  and fourth quarters left the Als reeling a bit as the Riders mounted their comeback, though in the end, despite all the drama and such, the score was what most likely was anticipated prior to kick off, a 28-17 victory for the home side, their fifth win in six and combined with the Argos loss in Vancouver on Saturday a win that moved the Als back into first in the CFL East.

However, the warning signs are clearly there for the Als, a sputtering offence in the second half, a nasty hit to Anthony Calvillo that perhaps rattled him a bit more than the Als were letting on, sets the stage for the battle for first with the Argos.

The Toronto squad suddenly looking to perhaps have a little more potential for a Grey Cup berth now than their competition in Montreal.

For Saskatchewan, the first half struggles gave way to a half decent comeback, providing much in the way of game time experience for Drew Willy to draw on should he be required to take charge from Darian Durant once again down the stretch.

The second half for the most part provided Saskatchewan with something to build on, the knowledge that despite a terrible effort at the start, it's how you finish it up that makes the difference. The Riders could very well make use of that in the weeks to come.

The previews and reviews for Sunday's wrap to Week 12 can be found here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

CFL Game Day: Saskatchewan at Montreal (September 16)

Sunday brings a wrap up to week twelve of the CFL schedule, a point where the Riders and Als have surveyed the numbers from the previous games of the weekend and can make up some ground in their respective divisions with a victory.

For Montreal, the opportunity to regain the top spot in the east is at hand, the BC Lions having eked out a victory over Toronto on Saturday night, clearing the way for the Als to reclaim their top perch should they come out on top in Sunday's match.

The Riders too can make a move up in the West, with Edmonton getting demolished by Hamilton on Saturday, Saskatchewan can move up a notch claiming third as their own, building on last weeks surprise gift wrapped victory from the Bombers.

Saskatchewan perhaps can put that one out of their collective minds, we somehow doubt that the Als will be so generous, not as afflicted with the troubles of the Bombers, Montreal is very much full value for their quest for first in the East, last weeks troubles in Vancouver more the exception than the rule this season.

True, the Als have not been as dominant as in past years, but coming off a loss such as that from last week, we imagine they will not be in a particularly hospitable mood.

The Riders also face the prospect of facing the Alouettes using back up QB Drew Willy, who will apparently be getting his first CFL start Sunday as he fills in for Darian Durant once again, Durant was injured in last weeks Banjo Bowl game, leaving Willy to take charge of the offence.

He had a decent game, calming any nerves quickly and holding his own, Sunday will be a much sterner test for the Riders rookie backup.

But make no mistake about it, the Riders were basically given the game by the Bombers, Willy led the drive down the field for the winning field goal, but the Riders should never have been in that spot in the first place.

The Als we imagine won't be quite so accommodating to their guests.

Game Time 1 PM ET, 10 AM PT, Molson Stadium TSN

Saskatchewan 17 at Montreal 28 (23,147)

Pre Game

CFL Video Preview

Globe and Mail-- Rookie Willy to get first CFL start as Roughriders visit Alouettes
National Post-- No need to rush Darian Durant back into Riders lineup
Montreal Gazette-- Time for Montreal Alouettes to suck it up against Riders
Regina Leader Post-- Saskatchewan Roughriders ready for Montreal's Calvillo

Team Backgrounders

Saskatchewan Roughriders
Montreal Alouettes

Post Game Game Recap Video Highlights

Globe and Mail-- Calvillo out duels rookie Willy as Alouettes top Roughriders
National Post-- Alouettes avoid major scare in win over Roughriders
Montreal Gazette-- Butter fingers nearly cost Als a sure thing