Thursday, July 23, 2015

Week Five Picks

Season record: 7-9
Last week: 3-1

Calgary (3-1) at Ottawa (2-2)

The opening game of week five features two teams trending in different directions. The Redblacks are starting to look more and more like the 2014 expansion team while the Stampeders just keep finding ways to win. Calgary finally got running back Jon Cornish going against Winnipeg and after seeing Ottawa give up 140 yards on the ground to Eskimos' rookie Shakir Bell in week four, the Stamps will undoubtedly feed the ball to the league's top Canadian early and often. They'll need Cornish to make the most out of his increased touches as Ottawa likely has the league's best secondary, in my opinion, and quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell simply hasn't been all that impressive through four games. Calgary will likely take over this game on defence, where they'll look to force turnovers from Henry Burris and shut-down his supposedly dynamic group of receivers, which in the last two games has looked anything but. If Ottawa loses the turnover battle due to multiple Burris interceptions, they'll stand no chance against the overpowered Stampeders.

Pick: Calgary

Toronto (2-1) at BC (2-1)

Part two of Friday night's doubleheader is likely the toughest game of the week to predict. Both of these teams are exceeding expectations to start the season thanks to two quarterbacks doing just the same. BC's Travis Lulay is re-gaining his 2011 M.O.P. form as shown by his six touchdowns to one interception ratio, while Toronto's Trevor Harris has done a remarkable job filling in for the injured Ricky Ray and has had an extra week to prepare for the Lions' defence. This game could come down to which signal-caller has the better game and, fortunately for them, they'll be going up against two questionable defences with BC's being ranked last in total defence and Toronto's inexperienced group struggling against the pass. With a new system in place being run by two offensive masterminds in George Cortez and Jeff Tedford, the Lions are improving every week and I think we've only started to see what this offence is capable of. They'll take the next step against the Argonauts.

Pick: BC

Winnipeg (2-2) at Edmonton (2-1)

The Bombers are coming off a heartbreaking loss against Calgary and haven't had any success against Edmonton recently, losing handily to the Green and Gold in both games last year. Winnipeg outplayed Calgary on both offence and defence but learned that against Calgary, that is not enough. Numerous errors on special-teams cost the Bombers the win and they'll have to clean those up against Edmonton. Winnipeg's much-improved offensive line will be tested against the Eskimos' ferocious pass-rush and should they bend but not break, they'll have done enough for quarterback Drew Willy, who's quietly had a fantastic season, to get the job done. The Eskimos should lean on running back Shakir Bell against Winnipeg's awful run defence after seeing the rookie and the offensive line surprisingly dominate Ottawa on the ground last week. Quarterback Matt Nichols has been unimpressive in his two starts and he'll have to protect the ball against Winnipeg, where another performance with multiple interceptions will cost his team against the Blue Bombers.

Pick: Winnipeg

Hamilton (1-2) at Saskatchewan (0-4)

While mathematically it might not be, this game in many regards is a must-win for Saskatchewan. Their schedule gets much more difficult after this and a loss to the Tiger-Cats will give them an 0-5 record despite starting the season with four of five games at home. Unfortunately for the Roughriders, Hamilton's defence is too good for Saskatchewan to simply win by putting 40 points on the board. They'll need to put together their first solid defensive effort of the season and will have to do so while missing several key contributors to injury. For that reason, I think Ti-Cats' pivot Zach Collaros will rebound from his poor showing last week with a stellar performance against a depleted Saskatchewan secondary. He also should have running back CJ Gable in the lineup to provide some sort of rushing attack against the Riders' seventh-ranked run defence.

Pick: Hamilton

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