Thursday, August 22, 2013
CFL Regular Season: Week 9
A Grey Cup rematch places at the top of the watch list, with the Stamps looking to make life difficult for the Defending Grey Cup champs when they meet on Friday night in Toronto.
Montreal will get another test this week, as they look to turn around a rather horrid start, the task not made any easier by a visit from the high flying BC Lions.
Two teams that need to figure it out quickly match up on Saturday as the Bombers travel to Hamilton to take on the Tiger Cants and the wrap to the weekend provides us with the always interesting match up of the Eskimos and Riders, one which can find almost as many Rider supporters as Eskimo fans up in the stands.
The West has proven to be a tight race as we move towards the fall, with Saskatchewan, Calgary and BC all offering up the prospect of a tough long haul towards the playoffs and positions in the standings.
A look at week nine can be found below.
British Columbia at Montreal (Thursday, August 22)
7:30 PM ET, 4:30 PT
The struggling Montreal Alouettes will be looking to turn around their rather horrid start on Thursday as the British Columbia Lions bring their well rounded attack into Montreal, looking to build on the momentum of last weeks huge victory over the Stampeders.
The Als head into the game without the services of Anthony Calvillo, the Als starter and team leader suffered a concussion last weeks game in Regina, as he seeks to return to full health, the task of finding some holes in the Lions offence most likely set to fall to back up QB Josh Neiswander, who was thrown into the mix early in the second quarter, took a bit of time to find his balance, surrendering two interceptions along the way.
Still, considering the circumstances, things probably went as well as they could have, with the Als still in contention for the win heading late into the game.
The Als recently signed one time Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL QB Troy Smith, a player the Als had been pursuing since 2005, but the prospect of him having picked up the nuances of the Canadian game in but ten days probably won't find him calling the signals just yet.
For Nieswander the task ahead on Thursday is pretty tough, he's going up against a B. C. Lions team that plays hard, tough football, making life a tad miserable for QB's, running backs and receivers alike.
On the Defensive side, the Als will have to contend with Travis Lulay, who has been a bit inconsistent at times (currently leading the league in interceptions), but for the most part can put together long running and in the end successful drives when the count the most.
The Lions play every game in the right mind frame, where each game could make the difference when it comes time to develop the playoff hosting rights, and considering the competitive nature of the West once again, that's probably a pretty smart strategy.
Keeping pace with the Riders and the Stamps is key to the road out of the West in November, adding two points in August against an injury riddled team in Montreal could be on the horizon for BC on Thursday night.
Some previews of Thursday's game can be found below.
Vancouver Sun-- Lions get big returns by following the blue print
Montreal Gazette-- Nobody's panicking on Alouettes team. Yet
CFL.ca British Columbia/Montreal preview
Twelve men on the Field Lions page
Twelve men on the Field Als page
Calgary at Toronto (Friday, August 23)
7:30 PM ET, 5:30 MT, 4:30 PT
Friday Night Football features a rematch of the 2012 Grey Cup, with the Calgary Stampeders looking to change the score from that late November game, while keeping their eye on the path to the 2013 version of the National championship.
Calgary heads into Toronto however, a bit more than a little beat up, big gaps have suddenly appeared with the Stamps offence, Nik Lewis, who was injured against the BC Lions is gone for most if not all of the year.
Jon Cornish suffered some ill effects of his bruising running attack agains the Lions as well and will miss the Friday night showdown with Toronto and the Stamps still have QB concerns, Drew Tate is out for the foreseeable future, leaving Kevin Glenn and Bo Levi Mitchell to carry the team offensively into the fall.
The Stamps of course are not alone when it comes to injuries, pretty well every CFL team is facing some key injury to the lineup as the CFL preps for the Labour Day push and on to the playoffs.
In fact, at the moment, the Argos may be the healthiest of the bunch and playing fairly good football to go with it, as Ricky Ray continues to show how important he is to the Double Blue, week after week he adds to the stats tables, the Argos picking up the wins to go along with their QB's success.
The West is so far this year the stronger of the two divisions, which would have probably had the Stamps with the edge heading into Friday night, however, their injury parade more than likely makes them the underdog heading into tonight.
Leaving the Argos, currently on a four game winning streak, with a good chance to pick up another two points on their Easter competition, building on a lead that could secure them with a Grey Cup return in November.
Some thoughts on the Argos and Stamps can be found below.
Calgary Herald-- Stampeders limp into defending champions' house
Toronto Star-- Red Hot Argos saying all the right thins ahead of rematch with Stamps
CFL.ca Argos/Stamps preview
Twelve Men on the Field Stamps page
Twelve Men on the Field Argos page
Winnipeg at Hamilton (Saturday, August 24)
1 PM ET, Noon CT, 10 AM PT
Two teams still trying to find their way in the 2013 season take to the field in Guelph on Saturday, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who have shown some signs of reversing their early season woes, take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a squad still mired in the midst of a rather unsettled year.
For the Bombers, Saturday brings a change in the playbook as newly installed Offensive Coordinator Marcel Bellefeuille seeks to create an atmosphere to gain success, something that has escaped the Bombers for most of the year.
The 2013 season has careened a fair bit off the road thus far, major changes took place in upper management at the start of the month, a sign to the fan base that the sliding squad was eager to address its many issues.
The move of Bellefeuille into the active play decision making provides some past CFL experience to a team that at times has seemed confused about the nature of three down football, that it will turn around the struggling Bombers this year seems unlikely, but to at least lay a foundation for next year would seem to be progress in a year when much has gone wrong.
And while many in Manitoba may be thinking that it's time to plan for next year, the Tiger Cats haven't written off the current campaign and there are signs that Kent Austin's team is beginning to get into the swing of what he wants accomplished this year.
The Cats have clawed their way back from the horrid start to the year, a win on Saturday would move them to a .500 record, something that most in previous weeks probably didn't think would be a fixture any time soon.
Two wins in a row have moved Hamilton towards the upper reach of the CFL East, the most recent against the very same Bombers last week in Winnipeg, in their recent wins, Hamilton has clearly begun to put into motion the offensive attack that Austin has created for his team.
A worrisome thing for the eastern competition, a collective most likely preferred the more confused version of the Cats, as they improve, not only will Winnipeg and Montreal feel the heat, but so to will the Argos who up until a few weeks ago, surely believed that the East was theirs to rule this year.
Hamilton seems on the cusp of making all of their efforts just a little bit harder moving into Labour Day and beyond.
A few glimpses of the first of the Saturday double header can be found below.
Winnipeg Free Press-- Time for an About Face
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats try to even record, as Bombers try to even scores
CFL.ca Bombers/Tiger Cats preview
Twelve Men On the Field Bombers page
Twelve Men On the Field Tiger Cats page
Saskatchewan at Edmonton (Saturday, August 24)
2 PM MT/ST, 4 PM ET, 1 PT
The wrap up to week nine will play out on the field at Commonwealth Stadium, as the Eskimos, still trying to find their way in this 2013 season will take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a team that a few weeks ago was the talk of the league but since their bye week has taken a few steps backward.
That break from the intensity of the early season has served the rest of the West nicely, cooling off a very hot Rider team, the Riders post break struggles started with Calgary where the Stamps overpowered Saskatchewan 42 to 27.
The next week brought the Riders a win, but not a very convincing one over the Alouettes, a team which with a bit better management of the game plan could have taken the Riders down, a feat that they nearly accomplished despite themselves.
Week Nine provides an opportunity for Saskatchewan to get their game back on, as they look for a return to offensive dominance that the first six weeks of the year brought.
For Edmonton, this is quickly turning in a year where evaluation is still going to be the focus, the repercussions of the Ricky Ray trade still looming large on the team, a squad that does not yet seem to have recovered from that seismic shift in their cohesion.
Eventually they have to move on from that now dark day in Green and Gold history, more to the point this current group needs to find the ability to not only remain in a game, but to grab the opportunities to win that have been their in the past, ones that slipped through their fingers.
The finale to the week will provide both teams with measuring sticks of different visions, one team looking to see if they can return to their dominating form of but a few weeks ago, the other seeking to find if they have enough to get back in the hunt, either in the West or through the crossover to the Eastern semi final.
Some pre game impressions can be found below.
Regina Leader Post-- Beware of the lesser lights
Edmonton Journal-- Rivals learn to fear Rider's awesome Kory Sheets
CFL.ca Eskimos/Riders preview
Twelve Men on the Field Roughriders page
Twelve Men on the Field Eskimos page
This weeks schedule with Reviews from CFL.ca can be found below
August 24-- Saskatchewan 30 at Edmonton 27 (41,868)
August 24-- Winnipeg 14 at Hamilton 37 (13,138)
August 23-- Calgary 35 at Toronto 14 (21,157)
August 22-- British Columbia 38 at Montreal 39 (22,465)
All Games on TSN