My first prediction is that Zach (Zack) Collaros will be concussed exactly three plays into the first game of the season by Simoni Lawrence, and he will immediately be placed on the 6-game injured reserve. And the CFL Players’ Association will stop bitching about how the league doesn’t take concussions seriously enough just long enough to litigate Mr. Lawrence’s lousy 2-game suspension to the Supreme Court of Canada.
My 2019 CFL predictions are late because I am as incompetent and ignorant about technical WordPress issues as I am about football, so in this instance, the first area of incompetence aided the second area of incompetence by delaying the posting of my predictions by two weeks into the regular season.
The entire CFL East Division is doing its best to suck. Hamilton’s head coach bolted for the XFL. Ottawa’s management decided to let most of their top players leave. Montreal retained GM Kavis Reed and shitcanned head coach Mike Sherman (but waited to do it only after the pre-season had already begun). Toronto is Toronto; they didn’t do anything overtly dumb but they’re Toronto, so… you know.
- HAMILTON TIGER-CATS
What’s not to like? They’ll probably end up in first place at the end of the season but they’ll lose to the West Division crossover team in the East Division Final.
Hamilton’s next appearance in the Grey Cup will be the 2021 Grey Cup in Hamilton, when the West Division winners, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, will return the favour Hamilton did them in the 2013 Grey Cup in Regina.
2. OTTAWA REDBLACKS!
Here’s what I like about the Ottawa REDBLACKS!: their offensive line.
If I was a CFL general manager, I would build my team around a solid offensive line, all Canadians if possible. A strong offensive line makes a crappy quarterback look good and a good quarterback look great. And the same can be said for what it will do for receivers and running backs. You have an offensive line that gives a quarterback time to throw or blows big holes open for a running back, you got yerself a championship-calibre team.
I maintain that teams do not need to spend a fortune on a superior quarterback or load up on top skill position players since a strong offensive line will make any professional quarterback, receiver or running back look good.
At this point, any professional football player is going to have a certain minimum baseline competency that is very good. American colleges are pumping out top quarterbacks, receivers and running backs who will not make the NFL or will not be able to stick in the NFL. Canadian universities are also producing quality football players, even at skill positions. But regardless, even mediocre by today’s standards is good enough, if you have a good offensive line.
3. TORONTO ARGONAUTS
Terrible. Just terrible. This team will win two games this year, both against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. And maybe one win against the Montreal Alouettes.
4. MONTREAL ALOUETTES
With news of a new owner apparently imminent, this club will likely be around for at least two more seasons, until the new owners realize buying the club was a terrible idea. Then they’ll fold it up and retain the name for extortion purposes later on when Montreal tries to return to the CFL around 2030. Meanwhile, a pile of players from Montreal will end up on the Atlantic Schooners, who will go on to win the Grey Cup within three years of entering the league.
Montreal fans will not put up with a loser professional sports team unless its name is the Montreal Canadiens. Just ask the Machine, Les Expos de Montréal, the Concordes and the first iteration of the Montreal Alouettes.
If this football club was smart, it would change its name to the Montreal Canadiens. Or get rid of Kavis Reed. (Don’t worry about Mr. Reed. With his luck, he’ll be promoted to GM of the real Montreal Canadiens. Or appointed prime minister.)
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers should be the class of the West, with everyone else just kinda mucking around.
- WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS
What’s not to like? Solid all around. The only real question is how they’re gonna fuck it up.
My bet is that backup quarterback Chris Streveler will be sought by Saskatchewan and Toronto next season, but he’ll end up in Toronto, where that team will absolutely ruin him.
2. EDMONTON ESKIMOS
The only reason I’m placing Edmonton this high is because everyone else in the West will be so bad. Putting together a completely new team like this should not produce instant success, but so far, things are looking good.
I think quarterback Trevor Harris is a robot.
3. CALGARY STAMPEDERS
Bo Levi Mitchell is going to look like a mere mortal this year, albeit a 5,000-yard, 30 touchdown, 7 interception, all-star mortal, but it’s not going to be enough to repeat. The Stampeders need a better offensive line. And a defense.
And the Stamps’ other problem is they are paying Mr. Mitchell too much. There is not enough left over to pay for a good enough supporting cast. By mid-September, Mr. Mitchell is going to be wondering if a third-string position in the NFL wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Although I’ve been predicting this for about four years now, I believe this year is most definitely the year the wheels come off this franchise. That probably means they’ll still be appearing in the Grey Cup this year anyway… dammit.
4. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS
The Saskatchewan Roughriders will be better than the BC Lions, the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes. That’s all it will take to get them into the playoffs. The BC Lions should be better than the Roughriders, but this whole Mike Reilly experiment is going to go terribly awry.
Even after last week’s game against the Ottawa REDBLACKS!, I don’t see quarterback Cody Fajardo as being anything more than a one-hit wonder like Mitchell Gale or even a Joe “747” Adams. Cody “Boeing 737 Max 8” Fajardo. (I assure everyone I will be delighted to be proven wrong.)
I expect the Regina Leader-Post and the national sports media (those who pay attention to the CFL) to be breaking out the “Is it too early to panic in Riderville?” headlines after next week’s home opener loss to the doleful and moribund Toronto Argonauts. (Quick reminder: It is never too early to panic in Riderville. It can only be too late. And trust me, it’s already too late. I checked.)
(Second quick reminder: The Roughriders always lose games that they should not, in a million years, lose. Home opener: check. Playing the worst team in the league: check. Toronto just got blown out last week in an epic loss for the ages: check. Huge rabid Canada Day long weekend crowd: check. Offensive explosion just last game: check. High expectations: check.)
Prediction: Toronto 42, Saskatchewan 23 (all but 4 points scored in fourth quarter garbage time)
I would like to see more of Isaac Harker. Hear me out. Or not. I just think this guy has what it takes to be a CFL star. He’s small. He’s reckless. He looks like hell. His helmet doesn’t fit on straight. He doesn’t look like he knows what he’s doing. He’s a mess. Every throw looks like he is putting absolutely everything he has on it. When he’s in his uniform with his crooked helmet, he looks like a cross between Phil Kessel and the Hamburglar. I’m telling you… waste this season getting him experience, and he’ll take this team to the Grey Cup next year. And the best thing is, if he does turn into a star, he won’t be bolting for the NFL because no one’s gonna want him down there.
5. BRITISH COLUMBIA LIONS
Okay, here’s the problem for the British Columbia Lions: Mike Reilly.
Mr. Reilly played for a perfectly good 2018 Edmonton Eskimos football club last year, and they went 9-9 and missed the playoffs. Why is anyone expecting the 2019 British Columbia Lions to do better than that this year? Or next year, or the year after that?
The 2019 BC Lions have a couple of really good receivers in Bryan Burnham and Duron Carter (honourable mention to Lemar Durant); but the 2018 Edmonton Eskimos had Derel Walker and Duke Williams. Why is anyone expecting the 2019 BC Lions to better than 2018 Edmonton Eskimos, just because the Lions have Mr. Reilly?
The second part of this is the salary Mr. Reilly is sucking back. The 2018 Edmonton Eskimos could afford to build a team around 2018 Mr. Reilly without 2019 Mr. Reilly’s $800,000 millstone around their necks. The 2019 BC Lions can’t spend as much on the rest of their team as the 2018 Edmonton Eskimos. Why does anyone expect the 2019 BC Lions to be better than the 2018 Edmonton Eskimos when the 2019 BC Lions can’t spend as much as the 2018 Edmonton Eskimos?
Not good. The BC Lions will rue the day they decided to pay Mr. Reilly all that money, especially since Mr. Reilly wanted to play there anyway. They could have offered him sub-Bo-Levi-Mitchell-money and still gotten him, beard and all. (And what’s with that stupid hat? In five years we’re all gonna look back on Mr. Reilly the same way we look back on 80s guys with mullets and rugby pants.)