The Saskatchewan Roughriders did something weird and unexpected last week. They won when they were supposed to win, and in doing so, took advantage of favourable circumstances that existed outside of their control. Unusually they fail in both regards.
As a result, the Roughriders were rewarded, correctly in my opinion, by being moved up to second in the CFL Nissan Titan Power Rankings (in addition to the not inconsequential matter of moving into second place in the CFL’s West Division).
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are for real, and they are clearly, right now, the second best team in the Canadian Football League. And they play the same kind of game that the Calgary Stampeders play. More on that below.
Here is my review of what the Mighty and Holy Staff at CFL.CA had to say this week in its CFL Nissan Titan Power Rankings.
- CALGARY STAMPEDERS
The Calgary Stampeders are the kind of team that is so good, they can win games any number of ways: defense, offense, passing game, running game, special teams, good luck, dumb luck, opponents’ mistakes, opponents’ bad luck, opponents’ self-destruction, forced or otherwise, happenstance, whatever. The Edmonton Eskimos found that out last Monday, and they were complaining about it after the game.
The only real problem for the Stampeders has been that, on the most important game of the year for the last two seasons, they have run into teams that, for one game, were immune from Calgary’s omnipotence. And let’s face it, the Stampeders were one holding call away from losing their last three Grey Cups appearances.
This year, I believe the Edmonton Eskimos will be the team that is mysteriously immune from the Stampeders’ omnipotence for one game: the West Division Final. (Unless the Saskatchewan Roughriders mess everything up for everyone.)
One other thing. In the course of berating the Edmonton Eskimos for what could be uncharitably characterized as whining, Calgary starting quarterback and guy who looks like the giant in the lottery commercials on television, Bo Levi Mitchell, took a completely gratuitous shot at the Saskatchewan Roughriders:
“(The Saskatchewan Roughriders) proved the critics wrong because they came out and beat us by 20 points,” Mitchell said. “They’re not as bad a team as people were saying they (were). Don’t tell me you proved anybody wrong when you came out and lost.”
“They’re not as bad a team as people were saying they were?”
Talk about damning a team with faint praise. Not as bad. What did the Saskatchewan Roughriders do to deserve that? (Other than beat your team by 20 points.)
Well, it will make for a fun game at McMahon on October 20th.
- SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have reached the same plateau as the Calgary Stampeders. They might (might) not be quite as good as the Calgary Stampeders right now, but they win games the same way as the Calgary Stampeders; basically with whatever happens to be lying around: defense, offense, passing game, running game, special teams, good luck, dumb luck, opponents’ mistakes, opponents’ bad luck, opponents’ self-destruction, forced or otherwise, happenstance, whatever.
Both teams are like MacGyver. They have enough brains, skills and good luck to build an atomic weapon out of a couple of paperclips, toothpaste and that bag of ammonium nitrate that just happened to be stored in the old abandoned warehouse basement that the terrorists tied up special guest star Heather Locklear in (pre-mental breakdown). And by the way, I’m talking about the old MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson, not that little imposter on TV right now. And don’t get me started on the new Magnum P.I.! He’s five feet tall, for chrissakes!
Anyway, this Saskatchewan Roughrider team is like the Calgary Stampeders in the sense that it is a well-oil machine with all facets operating at peak proficiency. Obviously, the main Roughrider weakness is the offense, a weakness that the Calgary Stampeders do not share. But with a defense and special teams playing at nearly superhuman levels, the offense really only needs to play competent and steady football.
I happen to think that just as the 2007 Roughriders were built to beat BC, the 2018 Roughriders were built to beat Calgary. If you can get past the Calgary Stampeders, you should be able to get past every other team in the CFL, and you ain’t getting to the Grey Cup if you can’t beat the Calgary Stampeders. So you build a team that can beat the Calgary Stampeders. Period. The Saskatchewan Roughriders have done that. Now we’ll see what happens.
- EDMONTON ESKIMOS
The angst, anger and frustration expressed publically by C.J. Gable and Mike Reilly this week was understandable. The brazen confidence expressed by Duke Williams at half time last Monday on TSN, as well as his comments after the game, was equally understandable. The Edmonton Eskimos are a good football team and will probably get to the Grey Cup this year. However, they are currently suffering from overconfidence.
If they think that, because they are a really good football team, perhaps even better than the Calgary Stampeders, they are going to beat the Calgary Stampeders this week, they are wrong. There may also be a feeling among the Eskimos that the rematch this week is destined to be a victory given that they are playing at home and almost beat the Stampeders at McMahon last week. That would also be wrong.
For their own good, the Edmonton Eskimos need to lose to the Calgary Stampeders this week to cure them of their own overconfidence. If Edmonton beats Calgary this week, Edmonton will not get to the Grey Cup. The Eskimos need to learn humility the hard way.
- OTTAWA REDBLACKS!
For chrissakes REDBLACKS!, I hate you, but the moment I predict your season will start to take off (as I did last week), you get beat by the worst team in the league. If you can’t beat the worst team in the league, you are the worst team in the league.
- WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS
Former Winnipeg and Saskatchewan General Manager, and guy who looks like a 7-11 night manager who hates to hand out the key to the washroom to teenagers, and who is also the most underrated former or current General Manager in the CFL likely because he looks like a 7-11 night manager who hates to hand out the key to the washroom to teenagers, Brendan Taman, writes this week in the Regina Leader-Post and Real Estate Advertiser that the Blue Bombers need Weston Dressler back. You are correct, sir!
Mr. Taman, who does nothing but quietly and methodically build Grey Cup contenders or winners, but doesn’t look, talk or act like a professional football team general manager, is absolutely correct when he writes that Weston Dressler could be a catalyst for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
If Mr. Dressler is back playing this week, and is 100%, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a good chance to beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders. His return will take the pressure off of human battering ram and violent Weeble-Wobble Andrew Harris, who is going to easily win the CFL rushing title but be a pulpy bashed up wreck of a human come playoff time if the Bombers continue to lean on him like they are now. Already, it appears as if he is starting to break down, having missed at least one practice this week.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are not going to allow Mr. Harris to run wild for two consecutive weeks, whether he is healthy or not. The Blue Bombers need another reliable and powerful weapon. Mr. Dressler is that weapon. The Roughriders will have difficulty focusing on Mr. Harris if Mr. Dressler is running around in the Roughrider secondary.
Mr. Jamie Nye over at CFL.CA, who looks like he could be Brendan Taman’s pesky younger brother and work at the local World Gym toweling down the equipment, predicts a Roughrider victory this week with a CFL Pick ‘Em-related but always-weird confidence rating of 25%, is correct that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers need more than Andrew Harris to win. If Weston Dressler plays on Saturday, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win. If not, the Roughriders will shut down the Blue Bombers and win a low-scoring squeaker. Or blow them out completely.
And may I say, I don’t understand why Mr. Taman has remained unemployed for so long. He clearly knows what he’s talking about and what he’s doing. Again, I strongly suspect that if he was introduced to the media as the next General Manager in the big-shot cities like Vancouver or Montreal, he would not be taken seriously (and would be asked for the key to the 7-11 washroom). But he would be able to drag those pathetic teams, perhaps kicking and screaming, back into Grey Cup contender/winner status.
- HAMILTON TIGER-CATS
Cure Mr. Masoli of his unfortunate penchant for throwing rookie-level bad passes trying to make somethin’ outta nothin’ and you got ‘yer self a pretty good team that is likely to end up in the Grey Cup. Of course, that bodes well for whichever West Division team makes the game. Or at least it should.
- BRITISH COLUMBIA LIONS
The British Columbia Lions will win this week only because the Ottawa REDBLACKS! will be jetlagged into oblivion, travelling across the country to face a half-decent Lion team that generally relies upon opposition teams being a little logey from the travel to Vancouver. If the Lions can’t win this game they are doomed. Doomed!
Normally, a team stumbling this badly would be looking to replace its long-time and elderly head coach and making personnel moves to get ready for next season, but with the team on the selling block and Mr. Buono being legitimately owed the right to walk out on his own terms, they will continue to muddle along until this season mercifully ends with a unremarkable loss at Mosaic Stadium on the last game of the regular season. The best they can hope for is Mr. Lulay not getting injured again.
- MONTREAL ALOUETTES
For only the second time this season, the Montreal Alouettes are out of the basement in the CFL Nissan Titan Power Rankings. I think General Manager Kavis Reed should resign to spend more time with his family and take credit for Montreal’s resurgence. The way Mr. Reed’s career trajectory goes, he will probably be hired as the New England Patriots’ general manager next year.
As far as I can tell, Johnny Manziel appears to be a player who brings success to any team that does not let him on the field. He’s some kind of lucky charm as long as he doesn’t actually play in the games.
Maybe that’s how the Alouettes should have used Vince Ferragamo.
Seriously. That never gets old.
- TORONTO ARGONAUTS
Argonaut head coach and guy who looks like he might be related to Larry David, Marc Trestman, is facing a bit of dilemma. His team is not playing well and he has one of the best receivers, but wildest wildcards, in the league available to him. It is the same dilemma that Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach, general manager, defensive coordinator, Vice-President of Football Operations, and guy who looks good in green, faced a scant few weeks ago.
Should Mr. Trestman leave Duron Carter off the game day roster for this week’s rematch against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats?
The problem is that Mr. Carter strikes me as the kind of guy who might let the issue go to his head. Keeping Mr. Carter off the field for another game delivers the message to Mr. Carter that he is just another cog in the machine. Playing him earlier than you said you would play him might send an unintentional message to Mr. Carter that he is some kind of savior who deserves special treatment. That’s just a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll start out just fine. It’s the ending you have to watch out for.