CFL Week 3 Musings and Recap

Road favorites improved to 3-0 SU/ATS with the Lions 17-3 win at a rain-drenched Commonwealth Stadium


 

Periodically we’ll revisit the previous week’s CFL games and look to see if they may indicate an emerging trend.

 

Saskatchewan 39 @Toronto 28

The Riders proved one old adage: Generally the more physical team will prevail on most nights. Saskatchewan is powerful, tough and physical. If they can stay away from injuries they should continue to be a formidable squad. Certainly Kory Sheets epitomizes this style but he is not alone. As a group they approach the game the same way, starting from the head coach Cory Chamblin. All business, physical with a healthy dose of talent and leadership throughout the line-up. The injury to Darian Durant will be a concern; however he is expected back next week. It appears to be an ankle sprain but may hinder his mobility and that has been a key to their success.

 

The Argonauts look to be a precision based squad that can be pushed around at this stage. Ricky Ray has improved his mechanics since arriving in Toronto. What was sometimes perceived as lethargy in Edmonton has lessened. He’s getting to the line more promptly, the snap is not floating back and his footwork seems more precise. However, while he is accurate, Ray can put his receivers at risk with soft tossing on crossing routes. The offensive line was bullied all night long. Defensively their game was soft and confused. Chris Jones, Toronto’s defensive coordinator, looked perplexed and frustrated as receivers were left wide open throughout the game. That speaks to scheme confusion at best, talent deficiencies at worst. To see that performance was a shock to many.

 

The turning point was the ‘pick six’ interception that was called back due to pass interference. That would have put Toronto up 18-7.  The Riders quickly regrouped and marched in for a major. The Argos seemed to lose total confidence after that 14-point swing which perhaps can be traced back to a lack of team toughness. That area needs to be addressed as they move forward. Power, toughness and focus will almost always defeat finesse.

 

Betting Line: Bettors saw the line move from ‘Pick em’ to Toronto-2. Saskatchewan backers cashed easily.

 

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Calgary 22 @ Montreal 14

There is great turmoil in Montreal. Take your pick as to where to lay the blame. Inexperienced coaches forcing an ill-fitting change onto an offense or the inability to adapt by a 41-year-old slow footed quarterback. It’s a messy situation. Clearly there is continuing discord. A telling camera moment was Arland Bruce’s open disregard of offensive coordinator Mike Miller’s approach to talk on the sideline.

 

Calgary was very efficient. Defensively they seldom rushed more than three or four and concentrated on coverage. The approach was effective and Calvillo was seemingly uncomfortable and certainly inaccurate in his throws, outside of his first drive. One wonders why that first drive was so effective, resulting in an early Montreal lead and then nothing thereafter. Calgary adjustments or Montreal’s inability to adapt after their first scripted series of plays? Offensively the Als seem to be a team that lacks speed and clarity. Defensively they are better than they have been in years. Discipline remains an issue on that side of the ball with the likes of Cox, Emry and Hebert roaming around, sometimes recklessly.

 

Kevin Glenn was ….well…Kevin Glenn. Effective and efficient. He had to contend with a depleted roster due to injury and he managed that well. It would not be a surprise to see him remain behind centre. Much credit goes to offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson’s game planning. Many would say he’s the best in the game in that role. He has talent and a team toughness to work with. One concern with the Stamps has been a proclivity to react and take retaliatory penalties.

 

Betting Line: The line opened at Montreal -2 and moved to -3.  Calgary backers had some early and late anxiety but were rewarded. The score flattered Montreal somewhat due to a late blocked punt that was taken in for a sudden score.

 

If you missed ‘Office Politics’ last week, it’s still worth a read!

 

Winnipeg 20 @ Hamilton 25

Penalties totally disrupted the flow of this sack-fest. The Tiger-Cats were in a good situation for this one being at home on consecutive weeks against a squad travelling for two straight.

 

There were some positives that both teams can take from this battle. Hamilton’s defense played a much more cohesive game and put constant heat on the Bombers. Henry Burris showed poise in evading enough of the rush accumulating over 350 yards in passing. The fact he was able to do that without receiver Andy Fantuz while facing this pass rush was impressive.

 

Winnipeg got through their game with only one turnover compared to double-digits in their two previous outings. Running back Chad Simpson had a strong performance which is essential for this team. In many ways one can argue that this was their best game of the year because of these improvements. However be careful about raising these opinions to frustrated Bomber fans. Buck Pierce is under the gun and many want to see immediate changes at the quarterback position. Stay tuned.

 

One can certainly see the attention to detail that Ti-Cat head coach Kent Austin is placing on team discipline and smart decision making. Late in the game, with the lead, Samuel Giguere took the ball out of bounds, stopping the clock. It could be easy to ignore this error especially after making a crucial first down. However Austin was adamant that it was mentally lazy to stop the clock and he let them know that. When you go back and look at Hamilton’s performance over the past several seasons one can see the need to change the culture. Austin is well on his way on doing that. And Giguere is under the microscope as his performance and effort have been uneven at best. But this was his strongest game in a Ti-Cat uniform.

 

Betting Line: The number fluctuated with Hamilton -4 to -5.  This was one of those sharp lines that created a lot of pushes for both sides of the wicket.

 

The top three teams in Pick Sixty’s CFL Power Rankings went 3-0 SU/ATS last weekend!

 

BC 17 @ Edmonton 3

To be frank, there was not much to draw from this waterlogged event. The downpour was the big winner. One has to feel a bit for Edmonton as this was their second straight monsoon game. It’s hard to imagine that either game has led to a sharpening of their planning, evaluation or performance.

 

For what it’s worth Edmonton appears to be lacking determined punch in their offense. Be that weather or fact it is a concern. Having Fred Stamps out of the lineup certainly shows a lack of depth in their receiving corps.

 

The Lions can take away very little from this tilt as well. Travis Lulay was their leading rusher and that cannot be relied upon going forward. Regardless of the weather, BC has not shown a great deal of offensive prowess in any of their first three games. They got some garbage points against Calgary, managed 24 against Toronto and now 17. It’s early yet but they are not well-oiled. The loss of centre Angus Reid along with new holder Thomas DeMarco has caused trepidation in Lions backers with the snap and hold on every kick. Terrifying.

 

Betting Line: The line held at Lions -3.5 for most of the week, some outlets moving to -4. BC backers were pretty much on easy street in this one.

 

Pat Archibald

July 15, 2013

 

Look forward to more CFL predictions from the Pick Sixty team in Week 4!

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