Nine thoughts on nine teams coming off a week that saw each winning team score over 35 points.
B.C. Lions: In a contest where more than 1,000 offensive yards were produced, one play made by B.C.’s defence sealed the victory. Craig Roh pressured Trevor Harris and forced an early throw that Anthony Gaitor nabbed for an interception touchdown. That late pick-six ensured two teams are better than .500 at home to this point in the season.
Edmonton Eskimos: A quarterback controversy always piques interest, of course with Mike Reilly that won’t happen for a long time in Edmonton. That said, there is an intriguing competition for the Eskimos’ No. 1 running back spot. Shakir Bell had been announced as the starter, but then he suffered an injury last week at practice, so John White took the role against Winnipeg. White was dynamic in racking up 168 total yards and two rushing touchdowns in The Peg. Two productive backs 25 and under is quite a luxury.
Calgary Stampeders: Playing with heavy hearts, Calgary went out and got a win for their fallen teammate, Mylan Hicks.
The Stamps handled an unexpected passing with class and grace. Jamar Wall began wearing Hicks’ No. 31 in Hamilton.
Saskatchewan Roughriders: Rider personnel men were busy during the team’s bye week. Signing receiver Jeff Fuller, defensive playmaker Willie Jefferson and inking Canadian offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte while releasing returner Kendial Lawrence. Those moves will certainly help the green and white, but all attention should be on quarterback Darian Durant, who Montreal recently inquired about.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Terrence Frederick’s wrong-sided tackle attempt possibly cost Winnipeg a shot at completing a fourth quarter comeback. The CFL rookie defensive back attacked Derel Walker’s inside shoulder instead of outside and that allowed the explosive receiver to speed down the sideline for a 61-yard game-clinching touchdown. If Frederick takes a better tackling angle he at least forces Walker back inside and likely gets him down short of the first down on what was a second-and-six play.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats: Injuries continue to pile up for the Ticats. Zach Collaros took a jarring hit from Charleston Hughes that eventually knocked him from the game.
With a bye week on tap for Hamilton, that could give the franchise pivot time to recover. Fortunately, if the Ticats have to go with Jeremiah Masoli, he’s started six games already this season. Back-to-back meetings in Week 17 and 18 against Ottawa could decide what happens atop the East Division. Kent Austin would like to have Collaros behind centre.
Toronto Argonauts: Scott Milanovich’s bunch actually outgained Montreal in terms of offensive yards, but turning the ball over fives times to the Als’ zero ultimately did the double blue in. Drew Willy threw an interception and lost a fumble. Overall Toronto, who has a league-worst 38 giveaways including 20 interceptions thrown, and their quarterbacks need to take better care of the football.
Ottawa Redblacks: Ottawa seems like the favourite to claim the East Division and the performance late at night, three times zones from home in B.C. was impressive despite the loss. Producing more turnovers would likely be atop the Redblacks’ to-do list. Ottawa has managed just 20 takeaways with a minus-seven turnover differential – both last in the East Division.
Montreal Alouettes: A reportedly sold out Percival Molson Stadium and dominant Alouettes victory, Sunday may have felt like it was the good old days in Montreal. Jacques Chapdelaine has clearly infused a fresh energy and different vibe since taking the head coaching duties. The Als are just two games out of first in the East with five games left, but only one against an East Division opponent the birds are chasing (Hamilton).