Hello, metaphorical toilet!  Guess what just dropped in to swirl around with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Montreal Alouettes, Toronto Argonauts, British Columbia Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  It’s the Hamilton Tiger-Cats!  Hooray! Goodbye, season!

Our friends in Hamilton are just on the cusp of discovering what more than half of the teams in the Canadian Football League have already learned this season.  You can’t win without your starting quarterback.  Maybe a few decades ago when the CFL occasionally resembled more of a semi-pro league (I’m looking at you, American expansion era) a team could bumble its way into the Grey Cup with a couple of well-timed wins using a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time quarterback (I’m looking at you, 1997 Saskatchewan Roughriders), or even win a Grey Cup (Hey look, it’s Sean Salisbury!) but the CFL has long since graduated to full adulthood.

Modern CFL teams need to be finely-tuned machines in all facets–coaching, scouting, draft picks, free agency, management, players, front office, systems, continuity–to seriously compete in a consistent way.  Otherwise, they will be eaten for lunch.

There are ways to temporarily mask the problem when your starting quarterback goes down: superior coaching (Toronto Argonauts), outstanding defense (Edmonton Eskimos), easy schedule (BC Lions).  However, this will only mask the problem.  They are like the Febreze of professional football.

Hamilton has the superior coaching and the outstanding defense.  But again, this only temporarily masks the problem.  They will not be able to Febreze their way into the Grey Cup.  I thought this might be Hamilton’s year.  It’s not going to be.  They are done.

Fortunately for the Tiger-Cats, they’re off this week, so they have one week before they begin their inevitable slide into Canadian Football oblivion.  Meanwhile, we have a packed schedule of gridiron incompetence this week, with Calgary and Edmonton representing the only teams worth the price of admission. (Maybe Ottawa, too. Maybe.)  Let’s get to the picks, shall we?

British Columbia Lions at Edmonton Eskimos

I don’t like the Edmonton Eskimos any more than any other fan of the CFL, but let’s face it.  Notwithstanding a poor performance last week by Eskimo quarterback Mike Reilly, and despite a bizarre prediction from Chris Schultz (who really seems to dislike the Edmonton Eskimos right now), the Eskimos will dismantle an incompetent BC Lion team.

Edmonton Eskimos over British Columbia Lions

Calgary Stampeders at Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The question is not whether the Stampeders will beat the incompetent Blue Bombers.  The questions is by how much.  I say a lot.  Bring back Sean Salisbury.

Calgary Stampeders over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Toronto Argonauts at Ottawa Redblacks

It is perhaps ironic that this will likely be the first year that an eastern team crosses over to the west in the playoffs, since the east is not particularly strong.  Hamilton was looking spectacular but, without their starting quarterback Zach Collaros (who I regard as being the same kind of quarterback as Darian Durant, particularly his role as low-key but rock-solid team leader), they suddenly turn into a very beatable and unremarkable team, even with Head Coach Kent Austin at the controls.  They will likely end up in second place in the east, with an undramatic exit at the hands of either Toronto or, more likely, Ottawa.

My point is that Toronto and Ottawa will realistically compete for first in the east, but right now, Ottawa is looking very good, so they will take this game.  And given the relative weakness of the other teams in the east, we can start talking about Ottawa appearing in the Grey Cup after only two years in the league, especially if Henry Burris continues to play at MOP levels this year.

Ottawa Redblacks over Toronto Argonauts

Montreal Alouettes at Saskatchewan Roughriders

TSN’s Chris Schultz is picking the Roughriders to get their second win of the season.  Last week it was Jamie Nye picking the Roughriders to get their second win.  What is the matter with these guys? Have they seen the Roughriders play lately?  And by lately, in mean in the last 12 months. And by play, I mean shit the bed.

Anyway, Jamie Nye seems to have finally conceded defeat with the Roughriders, stating this week:  “I don’t know what to say anymore about the Riders.”  Exactly.  None of us know what to say.  What is there to say?  They’re a lousy team.

One more time:  You’ll never go broke betting against the eminently incompetent Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Montreal Alouettes over Saskatchewan Roughriders

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