Nine thoughts on nine teams with some running games showing out and close contests featured in an entertaining week.
B.C. Lions: Manny Arceneaux and Bryan Burnham are forming a dynamic tandem at receiver. Each man made long gains on B.C.’s game-winning touchdown drive in Ottawa. Arceneaux shook a tackler, stiff-armed another and burst down the sideline for a 24-yard pickup on second and six. Then two plays later, Burnham used pure speed to get around the corner for 34 yards on second and 13. If those two plays aren’t made, the Lions would have lost.
Edmonton Eskimos: Shakir Bell saw his first extended action of 2016 and carried the ball 18 times for 138 yards. That’s the first 100-yard rushing performance from an Eskimo this season. And it came in the same game which saw Mike Reilly attempt less than 30 passes for the first time all year. Those results are correlated.
Calgary Stampeders: When a team is on an unbeaten streak there are lots of positives to point out. One flying under the radar might be Rene Parades. The CFL record holder for consecutive field goals made (39) went a perfect five-for-five against Hamilton and he’s now booted 28 in a row through the uprights.
Saskatchewan Roughriders: Big plays continue to hurt Saskatchewan. The Riders have allowed a league-worst 27 big plays on defence (rushes of 20 and receptions of 30 yards or more). Opposing teams are capitalizing on mistakes for chunk yardage plays and points. That has to be frustrating for defensive guru Chris Jones.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers: The last time the Winnipeg Football Club won four games in a row the team made it to the Grey Cup. With the Labour Day weekend and Banjo Bowl games against rival Saskatchewan on the schedule, the win streak could easily hit six games.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats: When Hamilton wins nobody talks about the lack of a running game. But if the Ticats lose, pundits and fans begin to question why the team isn’t running the ball more. 53 passes and 12 rush attempts, that’s how Hamilton’s offensive snaps broke down in the setback to Calgary. Hamilton’s per pass attempt average of more than eight yards compared to 4.5 on the ground against the Stamps shows that it was much more efficient. If the numbers in the box are in the Ticats’ favour they will run the football.
Toronto Argonauts: Veterans were given pink slips in Toronto during the team’s bye week. Keon Raymond was released and later in the week quarterback Adrian McPherson and returner Larry Taylor were let go too. That means there will be a new face starting at strong-side linebacker and primary return man. Expect Devon Wylie and Diontae Spencer to see expanded roles on returns.
Ottawa Redblacks: After beginning the season 3-0-1, Ottawa has gone 1-4 in their last five games. There’s no reason to panic yet. The Redblacks were blown out in only one of their four losses, and the others were close defeats – one, three and six points. Trevor Harris put in a strong performance in his first action since getting injured in Week 5. Add a strong contingent of Canadian content and expect the team to get going in the right direction.
Montreal Alouettes: Coming off a 43-point explosion in Ottawa, Montreal was not able to keep the positive mojo going on offence, even with reinforcements Tyrell Sutton and Kenny Stafford came off the six-game injured list. Six turnovers – four interceptions from Kevin Glenn – did the Alouettes in.