CFL 2017 PREDICTIONS: ROUGHRIDERS ARE DOOMED

I have a theory:  I don’t know anything about football.  Let’s test that theory with a bunch of stupid and uninformed predictions about the 2017 Canadian Football League season (except for my predictions for the Roughriders; I’m feeling pretty good about that).

My first prediction is that I am going to be driven crazy with all the terrible GMC commercials I’m going to be forced to watch this season.  I have nothing against terrible truck commercials, and I really appreciate GMC’s support of my favourite professional football league, but they run the same two or three dumb commercials for the entire season. It’s enough to make a man want to go out and buy a truck.  Or hang himself.  Those are your only two options.

EAST DIVISION

Every so often, some clown suggests that the league should abandon the two-division system and go with one national division.  Then none of the eastern teams would make the playoffs, ever, and you could kiss the entire league good-bye.  Having a bunch of Mickey Mouse semi-pro eastern teams scrapping amongst themselves keeps the monkeys in those markets interested, sort of.

  1. HAMILTON TIGER-CATS

Both Chris Schultz and Milt Stegal agree that Hamilton is the favourite in the East.  One of them is correct.

Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young calls himself the “caretaker” of the team.  I suppose he’s making some point here (which escapes me), but all I can think of when I hear “caretaker” is the creepy guy who skulked around in the basement of my elementary school.  I hope that’s not what Mr. Young is getting at when he calls himself the caretaker because, well… just because.

  1. TORONTO ARGONAUTS

It’s not that I think that the Argos are any good, but the rest of the division after Hamilton is going to be terrible this year.  Toronto is making a big mistake by reuniting Popp and Trestman.  You can never go home again.  We found that out the last time Coach Don Matthews returned to coach in Toronto.

Speaking of the recently departed Coach Matthews, I would be remiss if I did not recount my own personal encounter with that all-time great.  It was the summer of 1993.  Coach Matthews had resurrected the fortunes of the Roughriders and was in the middle of an 11-7 season that ultimately ended on the frozen tundra of Commonwealth Stadium when Dave Ridgway fell down on the last play of the West Semi-Final.

Anyway, it was some time in July and I was walking through a Regina restaurant located in the hotel on south Albert Street that used to put up a monstrous giant paper mache statue of a Roughrider player on its front lawn during the season (it’s now a Travelodge and the paper mache monster is long gone).  The Don was sitting at the bar drinking by himself. That’s it. So, yeah.  Not a life changing moment, for me at least.  I can’t speak for Coach Matthews; maybe I really made an impression on him.

It was like when I saw Saskatchewan Roughrider Head Coach Joe Faragalli having Sunday brunch at the Sherwood Motor Inn restaurant, another Regina motel on Alberta Street, about a decade earlier.  I also saw Head Coach Ray Jauch eating an ice cream cone once near Taylor Field, and Head Coach John Gregory appeared to wave at me during the 1989 Grey Cup parade, but it might have only been in my general direction.

I also ran into Coach Matthews at a Grey Cup and he was with his wife.  She was an extremely hot blonde and way too young for him.

  1. MONTREAL ALLOUETTES

The easy and obvious thing to do here would be to predict a season-ending injury to Darian Durant, so I predict a season-ending injury to Darian Durant.  Whew.  That was easy!  My job is done here.

Actually, I hope he doesn’t get injured. I hope he wins 16 games (losing twice, only to the Roughriders) and I hope he gets to the Grey Cup and wins the Grey Cup MVP award in a losing effort against the Roughriders.  But that’s not gonna happen.  Montreal will win one game (against the Roughriders to open the season) and then do a nosedive into oblivion.  Meanwhile, Riderville will lose their shit and start burning Head Coach Chris Jones in effigy (see below).

Montreal is two seasons away from being moved east and becoming the Atlantic Schooners.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Montreal does not put up with sports incompetence unless the team is named Canadiens.  Montreal is on a downward spiral the likes of which we have not seen since the heady days of Joe Galat and the mighty Montreal Concordes.  The addition of Mr. Durant is like what tired old sitcoms do when they want to punch up the show after seven seasons.  They add a new character, like a sassy robot or a quirky cousin from Canada.  The scripts practically write themselves.  Or not.  Anyway, Mr. Durant is a sassy robot from Saskatchewan.

I don’t understand how Kavis (The 13th Man) Reed stays employed in the CFL.  What did he show in Saskatchewan and Edmonton that suggested he was General Manager material?

His Wikipedia entry states he “finished his professional playing career with 205 tackles, 20 interceptions, and five interceptions in 67 games played.”  20 interceptions and five interceptions, you say? My math is not so strong, and neither is my grammar, but I believe you could shorten that sentence by adding together the “20” interceptions with the “five” interceptions, and just state he had 13 interceptions.  Or wait… no, that would be 13 men on the field for what should have been the last play of the 2009 Grey Cup! Ah, who cares?  I don’t.

Anyway, to be clear, third place in the East will not be enough to make the playoffs.  There will be a crossover again this year.

  1. OTTAWA REDBLACKS

I don’t want to make a huge deal about this since the RedBlacks did win the 2016 Grey Cup, or something, but they had a losing regular season record.  And now Grey Cup MVP Henry Burris is retired.  Their leading receiver and East Division MOP nominee Ernest Jackson is gone.  Playoff wunderkind Kienan LaFrance is gone.  And Chris Williams, who was on course to smash all sorts of records in 2016 before getting injured, is gone. This team is going nowhere this year.  The only thing that will keep Ottawa fans interested is if Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Duron Carter sucker-punches Ottawa Head Coach Rick Campbell.

Truthfully (because I am nothing but truthful) I want to see a 2017 Grey Cup between the RedBlacks and the Roughriders, just so the Roughriders can win the game on a last-minute broken coverage touchdown, right in front of the home town fans.  No reason.

WEST DIVISION

It’s not fair that all the good teams are in the same division.  One of them is gonna miss the playoffs.  Y’know what they should do—get rid of the two divisions and just have one division.  Then all the western teams would make the playoffs every year.  That would be awesome.

  1. CALGARY STAMPEDERS

It’s very difficult to think of any reason why the Stampeders might shit the bed this year.  The situation reminds me of the 2010 Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The only way this team does not end up in first by the end of the season is if quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell gets kidnapped by aliens.  Or gets injured. By aliens.

Everybody seems to think that Saskatchewan or BC has the best receiving corps, but I think Calgary does.  That Kamar Jorden fellow is a gamer.

Calgary is still the most boring team in the league.  That’s all I got.

  1. BRITISH COLUMBIA LIONS

I still don’t know why the Lions were so good last year and I still hope they suck this year.  But they probably won’t, with 107-year old Wally Buono at the helm, doing whatever it is that he does.  He just seems to stand around on the sideline squinting like he’s trying to remember if he left his patio door open at the house.  Actually, I think he got better glasses this year because he doesn’t even squint anymore.

I think Coach Buono looks like actor Paul Sorvino, except with crazier hair.

  1. WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS

I don’t really think Winnipeg will do well this year, but I can’t say they will be so bad as to be worse than the Roughriders and Eskimos.

Winnipeg is the second most boring team in the league.  They used to have those mouthy obnoxious linebackers back in the 80s and 90s, and then there was Swaggerville.  Now the whole team is a bunch of quiet and polite gentlemen.

I don’t have much to say about Winnipeg.  They need to do something stupid and give us all something to talk about.  Until then, I’ll use the opportunity to say I think TSN did a “CFL Around the Table” with Rick Campbell, Jason Maas and Ricky Ray just to prove they are three different people.  Otherwise, you’d swear they were the same guy. Look at them!  Same guy.

  1. EDMONTON ESKIMOS

Meh.  Not a bad team.  Quarterback Mike Reilly has an awesome beard.

  1. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

The team has a swell new stadium, a spectacular set of receivers, a motivated Head Coach who can see his career flashing before his eyes, and an army of lemmings called Rider Nation frothing at the mouth for a return to the playoffs.  And no secondary.

This team is doomed.  A really good team can have a major weakness and still do well, but a mediocre team cannot have a major weakness and expect any real success. This is a mediocre team and this secondary is a major weakness.   I can see Coach Jones being punted around week 14.

Vince Young, making what is likely his last mention in Discombobulated, played the role of Darian Durant this year, tearing up his hamstring on an innocent-looking play in training camp. Say what you will about Mr. Durant, at least he made it out of training camp before suffering inexplicable career-threatening injuries.  Can you have a career-threatening injury after you’ve already retired?

Wait!  What’s that you say?  Vince Young was cut this weekend?  Make that a career-ending injury.

I wish I had something better to say about the Roughriders, but seriously, Ed Gainey can’t be everywhere, and there is no one else in the defensive backfield.  I’m not even sure there are any linebackers.  Last year, I thought Saskatchewan’s new Head Coach and General Manager Chris “Dark Helmet” Jones had made most of the right moves.  The team seemed stacked at all positions.  And then one or two key injuries later, I was wrong.  This year, I think I feel the same way about the pending season as most other members of Rider Nation.  The receiving corps is stacked, but Kevin Glenn just doesn’t cut it.  He’s Marcus Crandell without the Grey Cup.  Jones is a smart defensive mind, but there is no sign this defense is any good and the defensive backfield is non-existent.   If this team was in the East Division, they would have the entire season to figure things out and sneak into the playoffs.  Out west, they’re doomed.

And, in closing, that was one ugly preseason game in Vancouver.  Always darkest before the dawn?

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