3DownNation’s fearless predictions for the 2017 CFL season

With the CFL season set to begin on Thursday, we asked the contributors at 3DownNation to offer their predictions on how teams would fare this year.

Drew Edwards

East Division
1. Hamilton: Every single one of these teams has questions but if Zach Collaros stays healthy (see what I mean) then the Ticats should be in good shape given their talent level.
2. Toronto: Marc Trestman and a healthy Ricky Ray could change the equation but I think the Argos will be better with a full off-season under the new regime.
3. Ottawa: We’re sure Trevor Harris is elite-level good, right? Like, really sure?
4. Montreal: The quarterback is old and their head coach is new. That’s a bad combo…

West Division
1. Calgary: The Stampeders are the team to beat in the West until somebody shows me different.
2. B.C.: I like Jonathon Jennings a lot and the Godfather is still the Godfather.
3. Winnipeg: The Bombers have made plenty of progress but the last hill is often the toughest.
4. Edmonton: The Esks are solid but the West is tough.
5. Saskatchewan: Are the Riders better than they were last year? Hard to see it at this point.

MOP: Jonathon Jennings, QB, B.C. Lions: He’s poised to go from excellent to elite.
DMOP: Simoni Lawrence, LB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats: He doesn’t post huge tackle numbers but his versatility and all-round game are unsurpassed.
Coach on the hot seat: Saskatchewan’s Chris Jones is too easy so let’s try Montreal’s Jacques Chapedelaine, who wasn’t hired by new general manager Kavis Reed. If they’re bad again, who pays the price?

Justin Dunk

East Division
1. Hamilton: Back end fixed up and Zach Collaros stays on the field for an entire season.
2. Ottawa: Grey Cup champs were mediocre in the regular season last year.
3. Toronto: In Trestman we trust is the mantra around the Argos.
4. Montreal: Wildcard is the best way to describe the Als at the onset of the campaign.

West Division
1. Calgary: John Hufnagel, Dave Dickenson and Bo Levi Mitchell nuf said.
2. B.C.: Explosive playmakers on offence, but the defence needs to improve without top pass rusher Alex Bazzie in the fold.
3. Winnipeg: Roster reconstruction has been stellar, but Matt Nichols leaves room for doubt.
4. Edmonton: Can Edmonton get enough stops on defence to be competitive with the top tier in the West?
5, Saskatchewan: Name one area where the Riders are markedly better compared to 2016…Waiting.

MOP: Zach Collaros, QB, Hamilton: If healthy for 18 games Collaros claims the award, especially playing in the East Division.
DMOP: Alex Singleton, LB, Calgary: Stud Canadian linebacker burst onto the scene as a rookie and follows that with a stellar sophomore season.
Coach on the hot seat: Chris Jones. When you’re getting booed at public outings in Regina, Riders fans have turned up the heat.

John Hodge

East Division
1. Hamilton: Zach Collaros needs to stay healthy, but the Ticats appear to have finally fixed their secondary.
2. Ottawa: Ironically, the Grey Cup champs improve their regular season record to .500.
3. Montreal: I love Darian Durant’s game, but there’s too much going on behind the scenes in Montreal to believe in this team.
4. Toronto: With the first overall pick in the 2018 CFL draft, the Toronto Argonauts select…

West Division
1. Calgary: The Stampeders are really good, guys.
2. B.C.: The Lions might have the best receiving corps the CFL has seen in a decade — and Jonathon Jennings is tossing them the ball.
3. Winnipeg: Continuity on offence and a revamped defensive line should allow the Bombers to rely less on turnovers in 2017.
4. Edmonton: Mike Reilly might have to score 35 points every week to win. Fortunately for the Esks, he does that a lot.
5. Saskatchewan: League-worst quarterbacking and a patchwork secondary will haunt this team all season.

MOP: Bo Levi Mitchell: Bo gonna Bo.
MODP: Solomon Elimimian: Solly gonna Solly.
Coach on the hot seat: Chris Jones be fired by Dec. 1.

Joel Gasson

East Division
1. Hamilton: A healthy Zach Collaros should make the difference.
2. Ottawa: Trevor Harris gets his chance as the guy and makes the most of it.
3. Montreal: The Als offence is better but their defence isn’t as good. They’ll improve but is it enough to avoid being passed by a crossover team? I don’t know.
4. Toronto: They might be competitive in most games but I think Popp and Trestman got too late of a start for this year. Ray needs to stay healthy.

West Divison
1. B.C.: I think Jon Jennings takes another big step forward this year.
2. Calgary: The Stamps are still good, very good, but B.C. just edges them out.
3. Saskatchewan: There’s always a team that’s better than expected in the CFL. The Riders might be that team.
4. Edmonton: I can see the Riders and Esks swapping spots and crossing over. The west is going to be tight.
5. Winnipeg: The Bombers are still a pretty good team but someone has to finish last in the West. Was last year for real or not?

MOP: Jonathon Jennings, QB, B.C. Lions
DMOP: Solomon Elimimian, LB, B.C. Lions
Coach on the hot seat: Chris Jones

Ian Busby

East Division
1. Toronto: Anthony Calvillo had a late-career swoon thanks to Marc Trestman. Ricky Ray is his next project, and expect the same results.
2. Hamilton: Ticats will live and die with their quarterback, but Zach Collaros hasn’t given me enough signs he’s elite quite yet.
3. Ottawa: There will be a Grey Cup hangover. Things went quite well for the Redblacks over the past two seasons but they won’t live a charmed life forever.
4. Montreal: There are so many things that are ready to go wrong in Montreal, and we’re all just waiting for breaking Darian Durant injury news, although we hope we’re wrong about that.

West Division
1. Calgary: Solid team up and down the lineup. Getting kinda boring how many regular-season games they win.
2. B.C.: The Lions are a team on the rise, but they still will lose too many close games to overtake the Stamps.
3. Winnipeg: There’s not much faith that the Bombers are for real, and it’s always just a minute from unravelling there.
4. Edmonton: They will be in the hunt for a playoff spot, but there’s nothing really special about what the Eskimos are doing nowadays.
5. Saskatchewan: New stadium and season but similar results as Chris Jones’ act is wearing thing.

MOP: Ricky Ray, QB, Toronto Argonauts: Voters love a sentimental choice and the comeback story.
DMOP: Charleston Hughes, DE, Calgary Stampeders: Long overdue recognition for one of the most consistent players for quarterback pressure.
Coach on the hot seat: Chris Jones … That seat will be hot all year long.

Santino Filoso

East Division
1. Ottawa : For every Grey Cup starter they lost, Marcel Desjardins brought in an equally good player. Trevor Harris IS elite and it’ll show in his first full season as a starter.
2. Toronto: The Argos’ off-season got off to a rough start, but since Jim Popp took over the helm at GM, he’s quietly assembled a talented squad. Underestimate Marc “The QB Whisperer” Trestman at your own risk.
3. Ticats: As long as Zach Collaros is healthy, Hamilton will be in every game. That said, Orlondo Steinauer’s departure looms large on defence.
4. Montreal:The Als have an incredibly talented receiving corps, but who will be throwing them the ball when Durant goes down?

West Division
1. B.C.: The Jonathon Jennings show sets the league ablaze.
2. Calgary: Bo Levi Mitchell and company will be really good (again).
3. Edmonton: Jason Maas and Mike Reilly will put up tons of points, which is a good thing because they’ll need to.
4. Winnipeg: I’m not convinced that 18 games of Matt Nichols makes the Bombers a better team.
5. Saskatchewan: Biggest change for Rider Nation in 2017 is that they’ll have nicer seats to sit in as they endure another year of sloppy football.

MOP: Jonathon Jennings, QB, B.C. Lions
DMOP: Bear Woods, LB, Toronto Argonauts
Coach on the hot seat: Chris Jones

Josh Smith

East Division
1. Hamilton: I don’t trust any team in the East, but when in doubt pick the team with the best quarterback. That’s the Ticats.
2. Montreal: There is always one team that exceeds expectations and one that will fall short of them. I think Montreal, with a veteran team and an actual capable QB for the first time in nearly half a decade are the former.
3. Ottawa: Kenny Shaw and Diontae Spencer are not Ernest Jackson and Chris Williams, and three-fifths of their vaunted D-Block (Abdul Kanneh, Mitchell White and Forest Hightower) decided to D-Part. They have less talent than last year while their division rivals have more. Not a recipe success.
4. Toronto: If Popp and Trestman had been hired in January instead of March, the Argos are competing for first. But they weren’t, so they aren’t. And relying on Ricky Ray to play 18 games is a gamble I am not willing to take.

West Division
1.B.C: Arceneaux, Burnham, Williams (when healthy), Moore, Rainey… need I say more? The Lions are loaded and will finally find a way to unseat the Stamps as best in the west.
2. Calgary: Slight fall off from their incredible 15-2-1 record from a year ago, but the Stamps are still going to win a lot of games, just not as many as B.C.
3. Edmonton: As long as they have Mike Reilly, they have a chance. But the Esks feel like a middle-of-the-rad team, so a .500 record just feels right.
4. Saskatchewan: The Riders will show enough improvement to be in the playoff hunt, via the crossover, all season, and that will be enough to give Chris Jones a third year in Riderville.
5. Winnipeg: Remember when I said a team will fail to live up to expectations? Say hello to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. I don’t believe in Matt Nichols and I don’t believe they will have plus-29 turnover differential like they did last year. Winnipeg falls and falls hard.

MOP: Jonathon Jennings, QB, B.C. Lions: Bo won’t be able to top what he did last year and Jennings will have better numbers than a year ago to become the third Lion since 2011 to be named the league’s best player.
DMOP: John Bowman, DE, Montreal Alouettes: This is as wide open a race as there is for any award, so why not give to the most underrated player in the CFL who will also probably have another 18 or 19 sack season.
Coach on the hot seat: I don’t think any really are, but if forced to pick one I will say Chris Jones.