This is the week that the Saskatchewan Roughriders can make their move into legitimate Grey Cup contender status, not to mention vault themselves into second place in the CFL West Division.
The table is set.
The Edmonton Eskimos are stumbling around, having lost to an East Division semi-pro team last week and now facing the perpetual winning machine known as the Calgary Stampeders. The Winnipeg Boo Bombers (Get it? Boo Bombers, not Blue Bombers, because… ah forget it) are a bit of a mess, diving into a shame spiral from which they will likely recover at some point, but likely to lose (historically speaking) the Labour Day Classic.
So will the Roughriders seize the day? Probably not. Circumstances are lining up a little bit too neatly. The Roughriders only win when they are supposed to lose and they never take advantage of favourable circumstances, and they are supposed to win this weekend in circumstances that would likely lead to second place in the CFL West Division.
Here is my review of the CFL Nissan Titan Power Rankings prepared by the Holy Staff at CFL.CA, in no particular order:
- CALGARY STAMPEDERS
McMahon Stadium is still a dilapidated dump. That’s about the only bad thing you can say about the Calgary Stampeders Football Club. And they’re a bunch of poopy-faces.
- EDMONTON ESKIMOS
Here is what’s gonna happen.
Edmonton is going to stumble around for the rest of the season, winning some and losing some (definitely losing the approaching Labour Day game). Then they will get their shit together in the West Division Final and beat the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium to advance to the Grey Cup in Edmonton.
Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will also stumble around, including two nasty losses to Winnipeg in the next two weeks and trading Zach Collaros to Montreal for Johnny Manziel, ending up with just enough wins to cross over to the East Division playoffs, but getting their shit together during the playoffs to advance to the Grey Cup in Edmonton.
Then we will have the most epic Grey Cup weekend in the history of the CFL, with footage of a sold-out 60,000 seat Commonwealth Stadium showing up all over U.S. sports media throwing around names vaguely familiar to the American football audience like Mason and Marshall. Johnny Manziel and Chris Jones will both use the game to catapult themselves into the NFL.
- OTTAWA REDBLACKS
The Ottawa REDBLACKS! should have film on one Antonio Pipkin, and a gentleman named Johnny Manziel appears to be ready to resume playing. Neither of these developments bode well for Mr. Pipkin. And, generally speaking, no developments ever bode well for the Montreal Alouettes these days. Meanwhile, the REDBLACKS! are quietly building a very impressive win-loss record.
I predict that a 7-3 Ottawa REDBLACKS! team will appear at number two in next week’s CFL Nissan Titan Power Rankings.
- SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS
Notwithstanding my insane fantasy prediction above, I want the Saskatchewan Roughriders to pound the reeling Winnipeg Blue Bombers so badly that the league revokes Winnipeg’s last three Labour Day Classic wins. I want Zach Collaros to light Winnipeg up for five touchdowns, with both Cameron Marshall and Tre Mason running for over 100 yards, and Charleston Hughes breaking the professional football single game sack record, and so on.
Last week I said that the game against the British Columbia Lions would determine what kind of season the Roughriders were ultimately going to have. The problem was, I did not realize how well this week was lining up. It just looks too good right now for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the next two weeks might end up being a better indicator.
Dare I get my hopes up?
Has Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach, general manager, defensive coordinator, Vice-President of Football Operations, and guy who looks more angry at post-game press conferences when he wins than when he loses, built a Roughrider team that can overcome its historical tendency to shit the bed at exactly, precisely, undeniably, most assuredly and definitely, THE worst time?
- WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS
Fear not, Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans, this Sunday in Regina may turn out to be a turning point in your season. Don’t get me wrong. Your team is not going to the Grey Cup this year, and if it wins the Labour Day Classic it will be the result of Roughrider incompetence rather than Blue Bomber competence, but there is hope for a half-assedly entertaining second half of the season for your team, starting this Sunday.
It may be time for Winnipeg Blue Bomber defensive coordinator Ritchie Hall to pull a rabbit or two out of his hat. Or ass. My recollection of Mr. Hall during his lengthy tenure as the defensive coordinator of the Saskatchewan Roughriders was one of unexpectedly staunch defensive efforts when people started to question his fitness to coach.
No, I don’t like how things are lining up for the Roughriders this week, not one bit.
- HAMILTON TIGER-CATS
I think it’s cute when two CFL East Division teams play each other in games that they think are important. It’s like two babies fighting over a soother. I expect Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field and Drinking Emporium to be 80% sold out this Monday and fans talking about the good old days when a young Angelo Mosca fought a spry Joe Kapp during an already weird 2011 Grey Cup week press conference (or whatever the hell was going on).
- BRITISH COLUMBIA LIONS
The British Columbia Lions get a little rest this week so they can sit back and reconsider their life’s priorities.
- TORONTO ARGONAUTS
I cannot believe that a team coached by Marc Trestman, having just finished winning the Grey Cup less than a year ago, will go gentle into that good night. Unless that team is the Toronto Argonauts. Then it totally makes sense. (Surprisingly, a disgusted Dylan Thomas wrote that poem as an ironic homage to the Argonauts after watching the 1971 Grey Cup in Vancouver. The original version of the poem contained an additional final verse that was just a lot of cursing with “Argos Suck!” peppered throughout.)
There is a reason “Argos Suck!” is one of the most common refrains among CFL fandom, and people don’t realize they are quoting Dylon Thomas when they say it.
Now, as longest they can keep themselves within striking distance of a playoff position, the Argonauts might do some damage in November. So the question is: will Duron Carter help things or hinder? I can see him having some major temper tantrums on the sidelines during typical Argo games, and I doubt that will go over well with the aforementioned Mr. Trestman.
- MONTREAL ALOUETTES
Matthew Cauz apologizes to the Montreal Alouettes in an article up this week at CFL.CA. Okay, first rule of the CFL: never apologise to the Montreal Alouettes. They’ll just get a big head and move to Halifax.
Everybody seems to be talking about some kind of quarterback controversy now that Antonio Pipkin played so well recently. It reminds me of the quarterback controversy in Saskatchewan when Rocky Butler played so well in the 2002 Labour Day Classic. Or the love affair everyone had with Rakeem Cato or Jonathon Crompton, or even Brandon Bridge, just because they played well for a few quarters in Montreal.
I hope Mr. Pipkin does become a big star in the CFL, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As always, once CFL teams get a little film on Mr. Pipkin, then we find out if he’s the second coming of Anthony Calvillo or Vince Anthony Ferragamo.
Ferragamo. That never gets old.