2017 CFL Season Preview

Season Preview
Thursday marks the kickoff to the CFL season and I could not be more excited. I’ve decided to make some bold predictions and break down the league as I see it heading into Week One. Here we go!

West Division
#5. Edmonton Eskimos (Record: 7-11)
This is less a criticism of Edmonton as it is a testament to the strength of the West Division. I see Edmonton taking a step back, as other teams in the West Division take steps forward. The loss of Derel Walker will be felt heavily in Edmonton and their passing game will suffer as defences key on Bowman until another player can step up and fill those shoes. Brandon Zylstra, Vidal Hazelton, Bryant Mitchell and D’haquille Williams will all be looking to become the man and one should emerge as a star. On defence, the secondary has improved and the defensive line will be a force but I still don’t see them as an elite unit. Overall, the Eskimos will suffer in the tough Western Division but more importantly Brock Sunderland is putting the young Canadian pieces in place for future success.

Their Nominees:
Most Outstanding Player: Mike Reilly, QB
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Almondo Sewell, DT
Most Outstanding Canadian: Adam Konar, LB
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Sean Whyte, K/P
Most Outstanding Lineman: Colin Kelly, OT
Most Outstanding Rookie: D’haquille Williams, WR

#4. Saskatchewan Roughriders (Record: 9-9)
The Riders take a big step forward this year but they won’t make the playoffs… in the West Division. I see Saskatchewan as a crossover team with a ton of potential but not enough bite to make a huge impact this year. Their receiving corps will be lethal regardless of who’s playing quarterback but I won’t be surprised if the season ends with Brandon Bridge slinging the rock to Duron Carter. On defence, Chris Jones needs to find some gems in the secondary, where I still see a lot of question marks, but I expect a career year from Willie Jefferson and a big year from the whole front seven.

Their Nominees:
Most Outstanding Player: Duron Carter, WR
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Willie Jefferson, DE
Most Outstanding Canadian: Henoc Muamba, LB
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Cameron Judge, LB
Most Outstanding Lineman: Derek Dennis, OT
Most Outstanding Rookie: Erick Dargan, DB

#3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Record: 10-8)
The Bombers will continue to be competitive in the West and I see them as a legitimate Grey Cup contender. Kyle Walters has built a strong roster with quality Canadians throughout and Matt Nichols provides stability at the quarterback position. The Bombers defence is talented across the board, despite the question marks at the middle linebacker position, and the offence doesn’t have quite the flashy names as BC or Saskatchewan but the receiving corps will be sneaky productive.

Their Nominees:
Most Outstanding Player: Darvin Adams, WR
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: TJ Heath, HB
Most Outstanding Canadian: Andrew Harris, RB
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Justin Medlock, K
Most Outstanding Lineman: Matthias Goosen, C
Most Outstanding Rookie: Cory Johnson, DT

#2. BC Lions (Record: 11-7)
The Lions are poised to breakout this season. Jonathan Jennings is a future MOP and their receiving corps is absolutely loaded. This could be the Redblacks 2.0 in terms of passing offence. The defence however lost a lot of pieces to the NFL, most notably Adam Bighill, and that could prevent them from getting over the hump. The biggest question, though, is how Hunter Steward and/or David Foucault will handle Jennings blindside and the Leos’ Grey Cup hopes could hinge on that answer.

Their Nominees:
Most Outstanding Player: Jonathan Jennings, QB
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Solomon Eliminian, LB
Most Outstanding Canadian: Shaq Johnson, WR
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Chris Rainey, RB
Most Outstanding Lineman: Hunter Steward, OT
Most Outstanding Rookie: Micah Awe, LB

#1. Calgary Stampeders (Record: 14-4)
There is no question who the most dominant team in the league is and they reside in Cowtown. Calgary will keep trucking this year without missing a step fueled by the two stars in the backfield, Bo Levi Mitchell and Jerome Messam. The defence remains strong as well and with a return threat in Roy Finch its hard to find a fault with this team.

Their Nominees:
Most Outstanding Player: Bo Levi Mitchell, QB
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Alex Singleton, LB
Most Outstanding Canadian: Jerome Messam, RB
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Roy Finch, RB
Most Outstanding Lineman: Spencer Wilson, OL
Most Outstanding Rookie: Randy Colling, DT

East Division
#4. Montreal Alouettes (Record: 4-14)
The Als added a franchise quarterback in Darian Durant, an All-Star left tackle in Jovan Olafioye and the Grey Cup hero in Ernest Jackson but it won’t be enough. Montreal will fall victim to franchise dysfunction under a first time GM and Head Coach and suffer from the loss of arguably their three best defensive players in Bear Woods, Winston Venable and Alan-Michael Cash. Expect teams to put up big numbers on that defence while Double D tries to stem the bleeding.

Their Nominees:
Most Outstanding Player: Darian Durant, QB
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Gabriel Knapton, DE
Most Outstanding Canadian: Samuel Giguere, SB
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Frederic Plesius, LB
Most Outstanding Lineman: Jovan Olafioye, OT
Most Outstanding Rookie: Anthony Saroa, LB

#3. Toronto Argonauts (Record: 8-10)
Jim Popp and Marc Trestman are hailed as the saviours in Toronto and the roster they’ve assembled despite their late hiring is rather impressive. A strong defence headlined by acquisitions like Bear Woods, Alan Michael Cash, Marcus Ball and Cleyon Laing will keep the Argos in the playoff hunt until the end of the regular season but they will fail get over the hump in Trestman’s first year. This team will be set up for success in the future.

Their Nominees:
Most Outstanding Player: SJ Green, SB
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Bear Woods, LB
Most Outstanding Canadian: Cleyon Laing, DT
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Llevi Noel, WR
Most Outstanding Lineman: Sean McEwen, C
Most Outstanding Rookie: Mason Woods, OG

#2. Ottawa Redblacks (Record: 9-9)
The Redblacks are basking in the glory of last year’s Grey Cup victory and hoping to repeat at home this season but the roster has changed dramatically since the champagne flowed in November. Trevor Harris is the man behind center with no reason to look over his shoulder, while gamebreaker Chris Williams and dependable Ernest Jackson have been replaced by Kenny Shaw and Diontae Spencer. The Redblacks remain a solid team that can threaten any team in the league.

Their Nominees:
Most Outstanding Player: Trevor Harris, QB
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Khalil Bass, LB
Most Outstanding Canadian: Antoine Pruneau, S
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Nigel Romick, DE
Most Outstanding Lineman: SirVincent Rogers, OT
Most Outstanding Rookie: Anthony Gosselin, FB

#1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Record: 10-8)
After a two year absence, the Ti-Cats will return to the top of the East Division. Zach Collaros, Luke Tasker, Terrence Toliver, and CJ Gable form a talented offensive unit but the defence is the real strength in the Hammer. The addition of Abdul Kanneh solves some problems in the secondary while the front seven remains one of the league’s finest. The Ti-Cats also have fantastic ratio flexibility and are expecting the return of one of the league’s top receivers late in the season in Andy Fantuz.

Their Nominees:
Most Outstanding Player: Zach Collaros, QB
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Simoni Lawrence, LB
Most Outstanding Canadian: Ted Laurent, DT
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Brandon Banks, WR
Most Outstanding Lineman: Ryan Bomben, OG
Most Outstanding Rookie: Connor McGough, DE

Playoff Predictions
West Semi-Final: BC Lions vs Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Victor: BC Lions

East Semi-Final: Ottawa Redblacks vs Saskatchewan Roughriders
Victor: Ottawa Redblacks

West Final: Calgary Stampeders vs BC Lions
Victor: BC Lions

East Final: Hamilton Tiger Cats vs Ottawa Redblacks
Victor: Hamilton Tiger Cats

Grey Cup: BC Lions vs Hamilton Tiger Cats
Grey Cup Champions: BC Lions
The big spending this off-season will pay off for the Lions with a championship ring. Wally Buono will be able to retire on top and Jennings will earn the status of an elite CFL quarterback.

League Awards
Most Outstanding Player: Jonathan Jennings, QB, BC Lions
Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Solomon Eliminian, LB, BC Lions
Most Outstanding Canadian: Andrew Harris, RB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Roy Finch, RB, Calgary Stampeders
Most Outstanding Lineman: Ryan Bomben, OG, Hamilton Tiger Cats
Most Outstanding Rookie: Cory Johnson, DT, Winnipeg Blue Bomber

All-Star Selections
Tackle: Derek Dennis, Saskatchewan/ SirVincent Rodgers, Ottawa
Guard: Spencer Wilson, Calgary/ Ryan Bomben, Hamilton
Center: Matthias Goosen, Winnipeg
Quarterback: Jonathan Jennings, BC
Running Back: Andrew Harris, Winnipeg/ Jerome Messam, Calgary
Receiver: Adarius Bowman, Edmonton/ Emmanuel Arceneaux, BC/ Bryan Burnham, BC/ Duron Carter, Saskatchewan
Defensive End: Shawn Lemon, Toronto/ Willie Jefferson, Saskatchewan
Defensive Tackle: Almondo Sewell, Edmonton/ Ted Laurent, Hamilton
Linebacker: Solomon Eliminian, BC/ Bear Woods, Toronto/ Simoni Lawrence, Hamilton
Halfback: TJ Heath, Winnipeg/ Emmanuel Davis, Hamilton
Cornerback: Tommie Campbell, Calgary/ Abdul Kanneh, Hamilton
Safety: Taylor Loffler, Winnipeg
Kicker: Justin Medlock, Winnipeg
Punter: Rob Maver, Calgary
Returner: Roy Finch, Calgary

League Leaders
Passing Yards: Jonathan Jennings, BC
Passing Touchdowns: Bo Levi Mitchell, Calgary
Rushing: Jerome Messam, Calgary
Receiving: Adarius Bowman, Edmonton
Touchdowns: Andrew Harris, Winnipeg
Tackles: Solomon Eliminian, BC
Sacks: Shawn Lemon, Toronto
Interceptions: Emmanuel Davis, Hamilton
Points: Justin Medlock, Winnipeg
Return Yards: Roy Finch, Calgary
Return Touchdowns: Chris Rainey, BC/ Roy Finch, Calgary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s