Way-too-early predictions for the 2016 season

It seems the thing to do this offseason is to make way-too-early predictions on how the 2016 will play out. We saw Rod Pedersen create a stir with his picks, we saw Jamie Nye post a predictions piece on the CFL’s website and we have seen fans from around the league give their opinions on who will be vying for championship glory come November.

On a recent Podskee Wee Wee, myself and my co-host, Mike Graham, decided to jump into the game and make our own way-too-early predictions. For those that do not listen to podcasts, I will reprint my picks here and I will add my awards picks as well.

The season is fast approaching, and a lot can happen in a month when the season actually kicks off, but as of now (and this will likely change), this is how I see things playing out in 2016. I am prepared for your wrath.

Note: I decided against picking an outstanding rookie. As much as I think all these picks are too early to make, it is really too early to pick someone to be the top rookie when we don’t even know who some of those rookies will be or where they will be playing.

East Division

1. Toronto
2. Hamilton
3. Ottawa
4. Montreal

Choosing between the Argos and Ticats is not easy. Both teams look about as even as possible on paper, but the Argos have one advantage: a healthy starting quarterback. That gives the Argos the slight edge over the Ticats. The Redblacks far exceeded expectations last year and a crash back down to earth is inevitable. The Alouettes have a veteran-heavy team, but as long as Jim Popp is patrolling the sidelines, the Als are going to be pulling up the rear in the East.

West Division

1. Calgary
2. Edmonton
3. Saskatchewan
4. Winnipeg
5. BC

With all the changes in the West, picking anything is difficult. That said, while Calgary lost some good players (Eric Rogers, Jon Cornish, Juwan Simpson, Keon Raymond) and perhaps the best head coach of the last 10 years, they picked up some good players in free agency (Jerome Messam, Bakari Grant, Taylor Reed) and stayed in house in finding Jon Hufnagel’s replacement. For that reason, I give the Stamps the slightest of edges right now over their western counterparts. We all know what the Esks lost, but this is still a very talented team and one that will be in the Grey Cup hunt once again. The Riders made a ton of changes and even if I am not drinking the watermelon Kool-Aid just yet, it will be hard for them not to be better than they were last year. Winnipeg once again spent in free agency, but the jury is still out on QB Drew Willy and head coach Mike O’Shea. A lot of prognosticators are picking BC to finish at the bottom, and while that has rankled the feathers of Lions fans, there is merit in seeing them take a further step back in 2016.

Playoffs
East Semi-Final: Hamilton over Winnipeg

The Bombers do just enough to edge out the Redblacks for the final playoff spot, but their reward is a date with the playoff-tested Ticats.

West Semi-Final: Edmonton over Saskatchewan

The Esks strike the first major blow in the renewed Edmonton-Saskatchewan rivalry and stick it to their old coach.

East Final: Toronto over Hamilton

The two best teams in the East play to decide who plays in Toronto in the Grey Cup. Once again, Ticats fans end up disappointed as the Argos advance to another hometown Grey Cup.

West Final: Calgary over Edmonton

The battle of Alberta closes out the western portion of the CFL schedule with the Stamps doing just enough to end the reign of the 2015 champions.

Grey Cup: Toronto over Calgary

In a rematch of the 100th Grey Cup, the Argos once again find a way to foil the folks from Cowtown and win another Grey Cup on home soil.

Awards

Most Outstanding Player: Bo Levi Mitchell (QB, Calgary Stampeders)

With both Cornish and Rogers gone, Mitchell becomes the undisputed face of the franchise and puts up the best numbers of his career.

Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Simoni Lawrence (LB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Lawrence becomes the leader of the team in Zach Collaros’ absence and it propels him to the best season of his career.

Most Outstanding Canadian: Jamaal Westerman (DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers)

The award voters right a wrong and give top Canadian to the man who should have won it last year.

Most Outstanding Offense Lineman: Josh Bouke (OT, Toronto Argonauts)

The Argos made a splash by signing Bourke away from the Als, and his addition will be a key reason why Ray stays healthy for a full 18 games.

Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Brandon Banks (KR/PR, Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Until proven otherwise, this is his award to lose.

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