The Canadian Football League season is a marathon, not a sprint… but running uphill for most of the season makes it much more difficult.
Two West Division squads are trying to avoid an 0-2 hole and the scrutiny that comes with it. There is just a three-game slate this weekend as the Alouettes, Bombers and Stampeders are all on bye, but the match-ups are intriguing.
Thursday, June 20
Saskatchewan at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m. EST
Despite losing Zach Collaros on the controversial hit from Simoni Lawrence in the early goings, Saskatchewan managed to stay within striking distance in Hamilton. Some felt after watching the film the Riders left one on the table.
Everyone except for select Redblacks followers expected a loss in Calgary, but Rick Campbell’s squad found a way to pull off a stunning upset. The nation’s capital played to the Redblacks advantage in 2018 and it’s about time to see if the trend continues this season.
Dunk: Just like that everyone is on the Redblacks… but Saskatchewan is desperate. RIDERS
Hodge: If you can beat Bo, you can beat Cody. REDBLACKS
Alfieri: Too much uncertainty at quarterback with the Riders. REDBLACKS
Ballantine: Ottawa’s defence was strong last week against the run, which is all Sask has left. REDBLACKS
Filoso: Ottawa’s home opener features a rookie QB going against a veteran defence. REDBLACKS
Gasson: Fajardo freed? Powell power? RIDERS
Smith: Ottawa may have fluked one out in Calgary, but I don’t think the William Powell revenge game goes his way. REDBLACKS
Friday, June 21
B.C. at Edmonton, 9 p.m. EST
If you didn’t know, Mike Reilly is returning to Edmonton.
His Lions lost to a deep Bombers roster which has lots of continuity in Week 1. However, there were chances for B.C. to win, especially if Reilly took more care of the football (he threw two interceptions).
Reilly’s replacement Trevor Harris shredded the Alouettes for over 400 yards in an impressive green and gold debut. B.C. provides a much stiffer test.
Dunk: The Mike Reilly return game. LIONS
Hodge: The Leos ain’t no Alouettes. LIONS
Alfieri: Reilly goes back to Edmonton but I don’t think the Lions have the chemistry down yet. ESKIMOS
Ballantine: Reilly rubs it in against his former club. LIONS
Filoso: Edmonton’s defence looked leaky against Montreal. Reilly is on another level. LIONS
Gasson: Lions lost to a good team last week, they’re still good. LIONS
Smith: Edmonton barely survived the Als, and B.C. is much better than Montreal. LIONS
Saturday, June 22
Hamilton at Toronto, 4 p.m. EST
First Battle of the QEW in 2019. The Ticats come off a sloppy victory in Week 1 while Toronto had a bye week.
Hamilton needs to be more disciplined — not just Simoni Lawrence — and expect Jeremiah Masoli to be better than a week ago.
Toronto’s maiden voyage under Corey Chamblin offers plenty of upside. The players love playing for Chamblin and the Argos roster has been retooled and overhauled since Marc Trestman was fired.
Dunk: New energy on the good ship Argo. ARGOS
Hodge: Hamilton keeps rollin’. TICATS
Alfieri: Hopefully the Ticats don’t have to knock more quarterbacks out of the game to win. TICATS
Ballantine: Hamilton is deeper and better. TICATS
Filoso: An extra week of prep pays off. ARGOS
Gasson: Hamilton is better. TICATS
Smith: Gut feeling, nothing more. ARGOS