CFL PREDICTIONS FOR THE 2018 SEASON: DOES THIS QUARTERBACK MAKE MY TEAM LOOK FAT?

Predicting what will happen in the CFL is a chump’s game, but I’m the King of the Chumps!  Look on my Predictions, ye Mighty, and despair! Or something.

What are we to make of the Johnny Manziel experiment?  Will he go the way of Doug Flutie and Warren Moon, or will he be another Vince Ferragamo, Cleo Lemon, Vince Young, Josh Freeman, Ryan Lindley, Terry Bradshaw and Skip McCorkendale?  I made that last one up and Mr. Bradshaw never played in the CFL, but he did win the Calder Cup playing goalie for the Toronto Marlies in 1968. None of that is true.

Anyway, Manziel.  He seems to be really good at scrambling for his life and throwing awkward off-balance cross-body passes that somehow end up in a receiver’s hands.  Perfect for the CFL.  He’s got kinda weird hair and I think his head is too small.  He’s not good enough to start yet, but I could see him accelerating to attack speed by mid-season if he can overcome the whole small head thing.

Here’s a solid prediction.  We’re all going to be stuck watching that pathetic canadadrives.ca guy whine all season about buying a truck. First, could they have picked someone who doesn’t look and sound like an alcoholic who is barely clinging to sobriety?  The whole story about not wanting to shop around for a new truck, which is probably the only fun part of owning a truck, sounds really fishy until he finally confesses that he has lousy credit, and then it suddenly makes complete sense. They should change the website from canadadrives.ca to soyourcreditsforshitbutyouneedacar.ca.  He looks like the half-brother of the Trivago guy, who’s got his shit together and travels all over the world while his total fuckup of a brother can’t even buy a truck. “Mom always loved you more!” “Maybe if you weren’t drunk all the time at Christmas!” “Shut up!” “No you shut up!” “No you shut up!”

EAST DIVISION

The only real question is which Mickey Mouse Semi-Pro team in the East Division will stumble around embarrassing the league for most of the regular season and then get hot in the last five games to advance to the Grey Cup and beat Calgary. I mean, they’ll all stumble around and embarrass the league (it’s now required under the new league bylaws), and we know they’ll beat Calgary in the Grey Cup (also a new bylaw), but which team will inexplicably pull out of the tailspin and get its shit together for no identifiable reason? I vote…

  1. HAMILTON TIGER-CATS

I would say something mean about Johnny Manziel but I feel bad about how small his head looks.  I’m not saying it actually is small; it maybe just looks small on TV, but still, I don’t want to pile on when he might be struggling with his small head.  Jeremiah Masoli seems to have a regular-sized head, so that’s probably a little intimidating, which can’t be good for Johnny Football’s confidence.

I believe that Hamilton’s regular-sized-head Head Coach June Jones decided to start Masoli based upon head size, so the question remains whether head size alone will be enough. If the Tiger-Cats are struggling at or below .500 after a few games, Coach Jones is going to have to consider replacing the regular-sized head guy with the guy who won the Heisman Trophy, which I understand is given to the NCAA college football player with the smallest head. You know what they say:  you can’t teach head size.

Actually, I don’t know how Mr. Masoli is able to function properly as a starting quarterback knowing the sword of Damocles is hanging above him. That poor bastard can’t win for losing, even when he’s winning.

By the way, does anyone else think it’s weird that a league with only nine teams has two head coaches named Jones?  It’s like if there were two teams with the same name, only if one of the Joneses spelled his name Jo Nes.

  1. TORONTO ARGONAUTS

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

Obviously, I don’t want to see any injury to Ricky Ray.  He seems like a decent and hardworking guy who deserves all the success he can get, and when I was wandering around the field with the Argonauts after they won the Grey Cup last year, he seemed like a very well-liked team leader.  However, I figure the Toronto Argonauts had a perfectly timed season last year.  Mr. Ray stayed healthy at the right times and the James Wilder explosion happened late enough in the season that other teams could not fully adapt their defenses to contain him.  I thought the Roughriders game-planned for the Ray and Wilder show as well as anyone (although Armanti Edwards is the not-so-secret weapon on that team), and they still couldn’t hang on to win.  This year, I could see Mr. Ray getting hurt in the latter part of the season, and teams will be ready for Mr. Wilder, so it will be one-and-done in the playoffs.

  1. OTTAWA REDBLACKS

The only thing I know about this team is it will be undefeated when it faces the Saskatchewan Roughriders in week two of the CFL schedule.

Why the Saskatchewan Roughriders were given the gift of playing all four Eastern Semi-Pro teams to start the first five games of the season is beyond me.  How the Roughriders will screw that up is also beyond me.  It is also beyond me what people see in Kevin Hart. He is not funny.

Anyway, it is entirely possible the Roughriders could be 5-0 by the time I watch them, in person, at Mosaic Stadium, on July 28.  If so, they will be destroyed by the Calgary Stampeders that evening.  If, as is more likely, the Roughriders are 1-4 (having beaten only Montreal, c’mon now), they will take down the Stampeders in an emotional lump-in-the-throat last-play victory rivalling the end of The Natural and Hoosiers (combined).  Maybe even with a little Star Wars: A New Hope thrown in.  I have spoken.

I don’t know how I got talking about the Roughriders again, but to be clear, third place in the East will not be enough to make the playoffs.  There will be a crossover again this year. Now, let’s get talking about the Roughriders again.

  1. MONTREAL ALLOUETTES

Last season I predicted that Montreal was two seasons away from being moved east and becoming the Atlantic Schooners.  This season I predict that Montreal is one season away from being moved east and becoming the Atlantic Schooners.

By the way, I believe Darian Durant made a pact with the devil to win the 2013 Grey Cup; one of those deals with unanticipated consequences.  He now curses every team that touches him.  First, he got injured in 2014 and 2015, bringing to an end the 2007-2013 Roughriders Golden Age.  Then he moved over to the Alouettes, won just the one game he was interested in winning, and then was more or less useless beyond that.  Next he took a job with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers just long enough to secure his bonus, but retired before Matt Nicholls got injured, which othrewise would have installed Mr. Durant as the starter for at least four games.  However, without Mr. Durant, the Blue Bombers season is already over (but they have $70,000 counting against their salary cap for no reason).

And who are the Alouettes counting on to lead them in 2018?  Drew Willy, the former Saskatchewan Roughrider backup to Mr. Durant who lead Winnipeg to disaster.  I like Drew Willy as a quarterback, and I hope he turns things around, but he went from up-and-comer directly to has-been without the middle part. Montreal ain’t goin’ anywhere with him as quarterback and Kavis Reed as General Manager. Give Mr. Willy some receivers (you can’t throw every pass to Ernst Jackson), or an offensive line, maybe he goes somewhere, but with this team… nope.

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

I just read over at TSN.ca that Bob Wetenhall has passed the team on to his son Andrew.  Andrew is 12 years old and currently really into Roblox and Overwatch, but his mom thought he needed to spend less time online so they decided to give him the Montreal Alouettes.  When asked about his philosophy for running a professional football team, Andrew initially was non-responsive due to the headphones he was wearing, but once he was tapped on the shoulder, he answered without looking up from his Ipod: “I used to play more Minecraft, but I can hardly wait for Fallout 76.” Andrew then announced he wanted two hot dogs for lunch and clarified that he did not want them “over-boiled again”.

WEST DIVISION

Trying to figure out which Eastern team will bumble their way into the Grey Cup (and probably win it) is what makes that side of the league interesting, or at least less not uninteresting.  On the professional (West) side of the CFL, the interesting part is watching legitimate professional football teams with fan bases of more than 5,000 (not including BC, of course) pound on each other like it’s a matter of life and death (which it is).  This year, by the way, I am granting the British Columbia Lions honourary CFL East Division Semi-Pro status until further notice.

As is often the case, the West Division is stacked with at least four teams that could end up in first place.  In no particular order…

  1. EDMONTON ESKIMOS

I’m not really sold on these Eskimos, but they have some guy named Mike Reilly playing quarterback who is apparently quite good, so I have to go with that right now. Unlike Mr. Willy over with the Alouettes, Mr. Reilly does have receivers.  Lots of ‘em.

I don’t think the Eskimos are going to have much of a defense, and defenses win championships, right?  I see this team lighting it up with exciting high-scoring affairs or blowouts throughout the season, but alas, no championship.

  1. CALGARY STAMPEDERS

I’m not really sold on these Stampeders, but they have some guy named Bo Levi Mitchell playing quarterback who is apparently quite good, so I have to go with that right now. I keep waiting for the franchise to start stumbling, but it just keeps winning (except Grey Cups).

The 2012-2018 Calgary Stampeders are now the 1966-1976 Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Arguably the best quarterback in the league, no obvious weaknesses anywhere, can beat any team in the league blindfolded with one hand tied behind their back on any given day, strong fan base, absolutely the worst stadium in the league, multiple Grey Cup appearances, multiple kick-to-the-nuts Grey Cup losses, and one lousy Grey Cup to show for it.

  1. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

I’m not really sold on these Roughriders, and four days before their first regular season game they have not even named their starting quarterback, so I can’t place this team higher than the aforementioned Eskimos and Stampeders without losing the immense amount of credibility I have built up over the last three years writing THE FINEST CFL BLOG ON THE INTERNET! YEAH!  So despite what looks like, on paper, another powerhouse Roughrider team build by Roughrider Head Coach, General Manager and Vice-President of Football Operations, and guy who starts every sentence with “Well you know what”, Christopher Jones, who knows what the hell we are going to end up with.

Seriously, I don’t know what to do with this team.  At the start of every year of the Chris Jones era, it looks like he has made all the right off-season moves, and yet… nothing. I cannot see Chris Jones remaining in power in 2019 if this team does not at least get to the Grey Cup this season, and this whole quarterback thing is not looking good right now.  Sometimes, when a quarterback is ripping it up in training camp, word makes its way out and buzz starts to build.  This year, I don’t hear anyone suggesting either Zach Collaros or Brandon Bridge are burning anything up but the team salary cap.  I wonder what Darian Durant is doing right now? I mean, other than spending his $70,000 bonus. Hot Dog!

The first thing about Callaros is that he spells his first name wrong.  “Zach” is spelled Zack, as in Zack Evans, or even Zack Morris.  Zach would be pronounced Zach as in snatch.  At least Brandon Bridge knows how to spell his own name.  Both men seem likable, so we’re all rooting for them, and I get that the pass protection offered by the offensive line thus far has only been notable in its absence, but no one is suggesting that these quarterbacks would be able to do anything even if they weren’t running for their lives or getting pounded into the turf.

Things aren’t totally hopeless.  In his June 8 Leader-Post article, Rob Vanstone, writing about the 39-12 preseason loss to the Calgary Stampeders, stated: “Honestly, I cannot remember a worse display of Canadian professional football….”  First, really, you’ve been following the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the last, what, 40-45 years, and you can’t remember a worse display of Canadian professional football?  Really?  Second, may I remind everyone that the Roughriders lost 42-10 to the British Columbia Lions in their final 2017 preseason game, and the Roughriders ended up being two minutes away from a Grey Cup appearance at the end of the season? And yes, I also remember that the Roughriders started the 2017 regular season off with two losses, including one to the doleful and moribund Montreal Alouettes.  And who did the Roughriders finally beat for their first win of the 2017 season?  The Hamilton Tiger-Cats lead by some quarterback named Zach Collaros.  So, uh… damn it!

And I just read that the Roughriders have hired Anthony Partipilo as their new “chief brand officer”.  Previously, he worked for the Toronto Blue Jays and, uh… Radio Shack?  Any sentence with the words “Radio Shack” in it cannot be about anything good.  Well, I suppose it sometimes feels like the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the Radio Shack of the Canadian Football League.  And this blog is the Radio Shack of CFL blogs. Anyway, good luck to Mr. Partipilo, and remember, sir, you can never have enough Saskatchewan Roughrider oven mitts.  Keep pumping those babies out and your job just does itself.

  1. WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS

The easy and obvious thing to do here would be to predict an inexplicable non-contact injury during practice to Matt Nichols, so I predict– ah shit, already?  Come on, man!

I bet Darian Durant is kicking himself for retiring.  If there is one guy who could have predicted an inexplicable non-contact injury taking down a starting quarterback, it would be Darian Durant. Why am I still talking about Darian Durant?

This season the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will learn what the 2014 and 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders learned:  once your starting quarterback goes now, so too does your chances of winning.  Look for the Bombers to start the season with a series of close low-scoring losses, followed by the illusion of competence through the middle of the season, finishing with a quick first-round playoff loss out East and the team cleaning house at the end of 2018.

  1. BRITISH COLUMBIA LIONS

This team has the stench of death hanging over it (much like my personality).  They are just going through the motions right now, pretending to be a real live CFL team (or at least, an Eastern CFL team).  The owner wants to sell, the coach is waiting to retire and the General Manager can’t be thinking he’ll be around too much longer since he’s got to know that when the new owners take over, whoever they may be, they are going to explode the team and rebuild from the top down.

Head Coach Wally Buono promised to be a “little more reckless” this season, even going as far as asking “what are they going to do — fire me? If they do, God bless ’em.”  This is a Coach Buono I can get behind. You’re basically taking one of the smartest and most experienced football minds in the history of the league and giving him the fatalistic mindset of a Japanese Kamikaze pilot.  It may not be pretty, but it might be a lot of fun.  At the very least, I look forward to a lot of weird offensive formations (bring back the double wishbone!), third down gambles from their own 35 and field goal attempts from 70 yards out, but after spending the last 25 years or so coaching, I am sure there are plenty of completely insane ideas Mr. Buono has been itching to try for decades.  Release the Kraken!

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