Week 7 picks: All Johnny, all the time

Johnny, Johnny, Johnny.

There are three other games on the slate this week and some interesting storylines – the return of Zach Collaros, McLeod Bethel-Thompson starting in Toronto, Calgary’s unbeaten streak – but all the oxygen in the CFL universe will be consumed by Johnny Manziel’s first CFL start in Montreal.

Whether Manziel can revive the Alouettes’ sagging fortunes – can he play defence, too? – is very much an open question but the level of attention he’ll get while trying to do it certainly isn’t. A couple of our contributors even picked Montreal…

Here’s the picks.

McLeod Bethel- Thompson. Cathie Coward/ Hamilton Spectator

Thursday, Aug. 2
Ottawa at Toronto, 7 p.m.

At Toronto, McLeod Bethel-Thompson will make his first career CFL start for the Argos (1-5), who went 1-3 under backup James Franklin and were outscored 78-34 in dropping a home-and-home series to Winnipeg. Ottawa (4-2) tops the East Division but couldn’t score a TD last week in Hamilton. Consider, though, the lone blemishes on the Redblacks’ record are two losses to league-leading Calgary. Trevor Harris was 23-of-35 passing for 228 yards against Hamilton while Canadian Brad Sinopoli had nine catches for 82 yards. But Greg Ellingson had just three receptions for 34 yards and has finished under 50 yards receiving in four straight games.

Dunk: Redblacks like playing at BMO. REDBLACKS
Edwards: Ottawa looks pretty good, Toronto does not. REDBLACKS
Gasson: Tough times in Toronto. REDBLACKS
Hodge: Ottawa is rollin’ thanks to Noel Thorpe’s defence. REDBLACKS
Ballantine: Ottawa’s offence has looked good against anyone but Calgary. Toronto isn’t Calgary. REDBLACKS
Filoso: I’ll take a Noel Thorpe coached defence over a QB with two career passes any day. REDBLACKS
Smith: The Argos aren’t going to fall to 1-6 are they? Are they!? They are. REDBLACKS

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Zach Collaros (17) throws the ball during first half CFL action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Thursday, June 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Saskatchewan at Edmonton, 10 p.m.

At Edmonton, it’s becoming yet another solid season for Mike Reilly, the CFL’s outstanding player last year, He’s leading the league in passing yards (2,063), completion average (68.7), completions (147) and TDs (13) and tied for first in passing efficiency (108.1). Reilly threw for 415 yards and four touchdowns as the Eskimos (4-2) beat Montreal 44-23. Saskatchewan (3-3) activated veteran quarterback Zach Collaros (concussion) from the six-game injured list and he could see action. The Riders also are reportedly moving Duron Carter from the secondary back to the receiving corps.

Dunk: Saskatchewan nearly has their best roster together. RIDERS
Edwards: Riders are improved with Collaros. Esks still better. ESKS
Gasson: It’s a short week after a loss that angered the fan base? Seen it before. Something still feels off in Edmonton. RIDERS
Hodge: You can’t win without moving the ball. ESKS
Ballantine: Collaros and Carter not enough to battle Reilly et al. ESKS
Filoso: Having Duron back on offence and Collaros under centre keeps things respectable but still. ESKS
Smith: With Zach back and D.C. back chillin’ on offence, this has the feel of an upset. RIDERS
Totals: ESKS 4 RIDERS 3

Johnny Manziel.

Friday, Aug. 3
Hamilton at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats never had the chance to see just how good Johnny Manziel could be in a regular-season game. They’ll find out Friday night. The former Heisman Trophy winner will make his first CFL start when the Montreal Alouettes host Hamilton at Molson Stadium. Manziel made headlines in May when he signed with the Ticats, but never played a regular-season down with the club before being traded to the Als on July 24.

Dunk: Johnny Football is capable of magic, but not enough, yet. TICATS
Edwards: Five practices. Five. FIVE. TICATS
Gasson: The Als will get a boost but I don’t see the Hamilton losing streak continuing. TICATS
Hodge: No, Johnny, no, no, no (Johnny no good). TICATS
Ballantine: Mr. Football practised against the Ticats Defense for weeks and weeks. Won’t be pretty but….ALS
Filoso: Get ready for the Jean Football hype to crank up a notch. ALS
Smith: No one really knows what Johnny Manziel can do, but his old team that watched him in practice for weeks probably knows him the best. I think he’ll be good eventually, but it’s too soon. TICATS
Totals: TICATS 5 ALS 2

Calgary Stampeders Lemar Durant (1) celebrates a touchdown with Kamar Jorden (88). THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Saturday, Aug. 4
British Columbia at Calgary, 9 p.m

At Calgary, consider the Stampeders (6-0) are unbeaten at home (3-0) while B.C. (2-3) is winless on the road (0-3). Granted, the Stamps have beaten up on East Division competition (5-0, 145 points for, 46 points against) but they did surge into a 24-0 lead last week versus Saskatchewan then were able to right the ship after the Riders scored 19 straight points. The Lions haven’t played since a 29-25 loss to Ottawa on July 20. Veteran Travis Lulay threw for 325 yards and two TDs and Brandon Rutley ran for 91 yards and a touchdown, but went down with a knee injury and is now on the six-game injured list.

Dunk: Lions are better with Lulay, but the backend concerns are too much. STAMPS
Edwards: Calgary is 637-0 at home against teams with a ‘B’ in their name over the last eight millennia (all numbers approximate.) STAMPS
Gasson: flip a single-sided coin. STAMPS
Hodge: Calgary at home. STAMPS
Ballantine: Another free space on the bingo card to try and keep pace with Edwards at the top of the standings. Stamps haven’t won by less than 10 yet. STAMPS
Filoso: Calgary will eventually lose at home, but not this week. STAMPS
Smith: If Calgary is at home I am taking Calgary. STAMPS
Totals: STAMPS 7 B.C. 0

2018 Records
Dunk: 20-7
Edwards: 19-8
Ballantine: 19-8
Smith: 18-9
Filoso: 18-9
Gasson: 18-9
Hodge: 17-10


43 Comments on Week 7 picks: All Johnny, all the time

  1. April Whine // August 2, 2018 at 10:21 am //

    Johnnie Le Football will dominate. Al by 3 touchdowns.

    • Best CFL Fan // August 2, 2018 at 10:51 am //

      A football team has 24 players on the field. JM can’t stop Hamilton from taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field for a TD. This Alouettes team has many more issues than QB. Statistically worst receiving corps in the league, revolving door O-line and lots of 9ths in defensive categories.

  2. Robbie Robertson // August 2, 2018 at 10:25 am //

    The differences argument is designed to protect CFL egos against the fact the over all talent level is lower than the NFL so you cook up this oh so special difference argument. Some guys make it quick and other guys go slow but there is no imperative of slowness due to rather minor differences. The speed of success is all dependent on the guy, the team, and the system fit. The flame outs were probably a bad fit in the wrong system with a lousy line. I put the differences at about the same as the AL VS the NL in baseball. With a DH the management of the game is far different then with a pitcher batting and every single ballpark has different dimensions. Pitchers determine how fast or slow the game moves so that is more different than just 45 second play clock vs 20 second play clock. Rugby Football has Union, League, Sevens, and Aussie rules. My down under friends tell me players jump back and forth among those four codes seamlessly. Each one has a different number of players, downs (if any), field dimensions and use of hands rules. Each of those is Waaaaay more different than CFL vs NFL. What is the same is all the Rugby codes have no pads, no helmets and no forward pass. CFL, NFL, NCAA, and Japan X league have pads, helmets, and forward pass. Same games. The list of quick successes in the CFL as a QB is very long. It starts with Frank Philchock and ends with that Streveler Kid who would still be starting but is behind a higher paid and established starter. We will see if the quick success list grows.

    • What the?

      • Paul Bomber // August 2, 2018 at 11:59 am //

        This is why it’s the law in Mb that kids under 18 must wear a helmet when riding their bicycle.

    • Oh, I get it.
      The yellow rabbit looks for a no vacancy sign.

      Thx Robbie Robertson!

    • Love the “Steveler kid.” Tons of heart. Makes me fell excited about football again.

    • smarmydog // August 2, 2018 at 11:10 am //


    • riderontheisland // August 2, 2018 at 11:30 am //

      Robbie Robertson, is that the name your parents gave you or is the name on the bottle beside your computer. WTF?? I’m thinking this is a joke, but no punch line and isn’t funny.

    • So…. I assume you are a Manziel fan… good for you?

      I assume you are an american, and a recent joining watcher of CFL ball, so welcome! Most of Canada does not use baseball analogies, just a heads-up, I have no idea what that part meant.

      On ESPN, and with most U.S. commentators, they emphasize the number of players and size of field as the major differences between the games. They are wrong. The biggest difference (particularly for QBs and defensive backfield), is unlimited pre-snap motion.

      As a QB, you have never had plays as complex because more can happen before the snap, your sense of timing is different, and watching the defense adjust to the motions of your players makes reading them a different task. It takes time.

      The list of QBs who have come up and won a game in their first few starts is long, the list of ‘quick successes’ as in adjusted well, and played well for a season or more is much shorter, and Streveler is not on it (I say this as a Bomber fan). With the modern game (post head-sets calling in plays) there has been one success story of a rookie QB: Ricky Ray.

      Manziel is young, and just from neuro-plasticity, has an advantage over guys who come up after a longer NFL career for learning new things, but he has neither been in the league long enough, nor on his team long enough to really be ready. He is also on a team with a horrid GM, clueless HC and worst O-line.

      Hope you enjoy the game, but don’t expect much.

      • Absolutely fantastic post! I rarely if ever say that. But this time it is deserved, on almost all points.

        The O-line has a lot of talent (less since they dealt Bomben, of course. They haven’t had the time to gel, and have suffered some unfortunate injuries all season.

        Kavis Reed as “horrid” may be underselling his incompetence. And I’m still uncertain about Sherman. He’s definitely “headset challenged”, and his clock management, losing the Alouettes an important 3 points before halftime against the Eskies, was inexcusable.
        Still…there remains the possible “synchronicity” with Manziel, and hope for the future.

        Oh, and you forgot the Wetenhalls – ownership change in Montreal is a definite “must happen”.

    • If I understand the points you are making:
      1. the difference between CFL and NFL football is overrated; and
      2. American QBs can start well in the CFL.
      Not sure I agree with the argument for the former. As for the latter, sometimes it happens.

  3. Huh…

  4. margaret marshall // August 2, 2018 at 10:41 am //

    where is the Rosetta Stone when you need it?

  5. Drew L O V E S Johnny.

  6. B-T not to be underestimated. he Tor QB looked good pre-season. I predict an upset over an anemic Ottawa Offence

  7. “Week 7 picks: All Johnny, all the time”
    Clickbait…. only 2 of 7 columnists picked the als.
    No shame.

  8. Corky Jones // August 2, 2018 at 11:10 am //

    Jeanny football. !!

  9. Chantale Chevreaux // August 2, 2018 at 11:23 am //

    Yes, it takes 24 guys…. but listen carefully to what Coach Sherman has been saying sinc Jean Luc Football got to Party Citi “The truly great ones make everybody better around them. I have coached two of them Brett Favre and Reggie White. John has that same ability. And “I was waiting to see what happened in practice on Tuesday and everybody was flying around..He was making everybody better. That’s when I knew to start him.

    • Leo Lewis // August 2, 2018 at 12:13 pm //

      I wouldn’t put too much stock in anything Coach Sherman says. He is by far the worst coach in the CFL.

    • Good take on that comment. If Manziel can start to motivate a defense that has, up to now, looked like a bunch of overpaid free agents playing for a team they don’t care about (and you ca ad Inaction Jackson to that number), maybe there’s more sense to starting Manziel than I’d considered.
      Extra motivation might just make up for a lack of preparation.

  10. Michael Florio // August 2, 2018 at 11:24 am //

    Grey cup prediction.
    Riders beat Als. Zach and Johnny share mvp award.
    Ticat fans jump off Burlington bridge holding scott Mitchell’s hands.

  11. McLeod Bethel-Thompson it’s your turn to step up to the plate , its your turn to shine. Good luck to the Argos.

  12. Paul Bomber // August 2, 2018 at 12:03 pm //

    No surprises in the predictions but I thought at least one of them would pick T.O.
    That said, I’m picking the Saskatchitonians.

  13. Robbie Robertson // August 2, 2018 at 12:23 pm //

    Mcavity… good tip. Robbie Robertson BTW is a First Nations guy (Iriqois or Algonquin) who grew up not far from the Greater Montreal area. His fame was with backing up Dylan and then having own band (called the Band of course). Hockey analogies. The field difference would be roughly equivalent to going from a smaller NHL rink to a larger Olympic or Euro league rink. Some adjustment but Canada and the USA have dominated the Olympics recently with the pros in it so it can be done with just a few warm up games against Slovenia or something. Yes, I agree the motion is the toughest but a training camp should do that. Manziel was actually the best Ticat QB in preseason from an efficiency standpoint (no picks) with the motion and all. I think he got it. I don’t think there is any Hockey analogy for the down difference. Maybe you can help out here. And the in-between play clock is best handled with a Basketball shot clock analogy… NCAA 35 seconds and NBA 24 seconds. No such Hockey reference available…unless you know one. Actually a good hockey analogy primer showing differences between CFL and NFL would be good. NHL vs AHL or both VS Olympics etc.

    • Macavity // August 2, 2018 at 3:03 pm //

      Oh, the play-clock is a nonsense difference, since the CFL waits to start it, that’s for sure! NFL plays go faster half the time at least. Manziel in pre-season is tough to eval, based on opponents, but I expect he has a chance to do better than most first-time CFL QBs, just not this soon.

  14. Going all in this week. I predict the Bombers aren’t even going to show up!

  15. Lindsay Wilcox // August 2, 2018 at 1:11 pm //

    Joe Zuger, in his first pro start October ’62 threw 8 TD passes before being taken out early in the 4th quarter for Frank Cosentino.

    IF Manziel beats or equals that mark…

  16. riderontheisland // August 2, 2018 at 2:28 pm //

    know very well who Robbie Robertson is, but what you have seen from Johnny in the preseason was against 2nd and 3rd string players, many of which never even made a CFL team and now he sees the starters who have been playing for a month and 1/2 so it’s going to be a world apart.

  17. Dan Bombers // August 2, 2018 at 3:34 pm //

    Let’s see no pressure this week
    Riders Argos stamps and als
    Enjoy the games everyone

  18. Pennyrocker // August 2, 2018 at 3:35 pm //

    Frankly I don’t like the idea of Collaros being the savior of the Riders. He has to prove he not a dud before I give him any credit.

  19. Willy McCoy aka Slim // August 2, 2018 at 4:30 pm //

    Robbie Robertson…
    Somewhere down the Crazy River…

    She said, “There’s one thing you gotta learn
    Is not to be afraid of it”
    I said, “No, I like it, I like it, it’s good”
    She said, “You like it now
    But you’ll learn to love it later”

    Was she talking about watching football.
    Doubt it!
    Maybe it’s taking a trip way above the clouds.
    Or what?

    • Maybe it was Manziels wife telling him about Poutine while they were floating down the Lachine Canal

  20. easy picks this week, toronto, Bc, Als and sask

    • Blue rules // August 2, 2018 at 7:50 pm //

      Good for you Ryan, your optimistic view is fantastic, please don’t buy sport select Tix. lol

  21. Evil Empire // August 2, 2018 at 7:48 pm //


    Bradbury’s crew is working the Ott vs Tor game. They can’t be screwing Edm against SK tonight.

  22. William Shatnered // August 3, 2018 at 7:13 am //

    Mcleod BT is another example of an NFL-NCAA guy having quick success like Steveler. In fact his path is similar to Manziel’s. From Wikipedia.. Ucla red shirt. Appeared in 5 games for Bruins. Transfer Sacramento State (Ricky Ray Alma). Kicked around NFL. Like John played in Spring league but 2017. Signed with Argos may 2017. Two pre-season games 2017. He has sat for a year and a half but still in initial contract. Lets see if Manziel can follow him from Spring league, two pre-season games and watching a veteran on the bench to success. I hear John cherry picked through Als playbook to find stuff he ran at [email protected] and Browns.

  23. Wish Manziel well in his first start. My prediction is four interceptions before they pull him, but hope I am wrong.

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