2019 CFL Season Predictions

CFL kickoff is tomorrow and everyone has an opinion as to how the season will shake out. I’m no different and here is my 100% accurate prediction of how the season will go that totally won’t blow up in my face.

West Division

1. BC Lions
Predicted Record: 13-5
An offseason of major changes will pay off early for the Lions, but that’s what happens when you add the league’s top arm. Expect a few early hiccups for the Leos as the new team starts to mesh but smooth sailing down the stretch. Mike Reilly’s arm should reinvigorate Duron Carter’s career and take Bryan Burnham to new heights. Add in a defence that features a mixture of top end established talents and intriguing young talents under the league’s finest defensive mind and you have a recipe for success.

Why I’ll Be Wrong:
If the team full of new faces fails to become cohesive under an inexperienced coaching staff, the Lions could underperform spectacularly. Add the threat of Duron Carter implosion to that mix and things could get ugly.

 

2. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Predicted Record: 11-7
The Bombers have one of the best locker rooms in the league and added the league’s premier edge rusher in the offseason, while also upgrading the receiving corps. A polished team with incredible depth, its hard to find a real weakness on the Bombers even though they don’t have a lot of flashy players.

Why I’ll Be Wrong:
If Matt Nichols struggles and Chris Streveler doesn’t emerge then the Bombers would be in serious trouble. Winnipeg has enough quality depth to endure underperformance or injury at most positions but failure at the quarterback position is near impossible to overcome.

 

3. Calgary Stampeders
Predicted Record: 11-7
The Stamps underwent an offseason of massive loss and look poised for a downturn, but if I’ve learned anything about speculating about the CFL its to never underestimate the capacity of John Hufnagel to reload a roster and Dave Dickenson to coach it up. Expect lots of new names to step up for the Stamps and the wheels to keep turning in Cowtown.

Why I’ll Be Wrong:
There has to be a breaking point, right? If the newbies in the secondary and linebacking corps don’t emerge, the receiving corps continues to be a revolving door of injuries or god forbid something happens to Bo Levi Mitchell, then the drop off could be this season.

 

4. Edmonton Eskimos
Predicted Record: 9-9
The Eskimos majorly underperformed last year and you can’t say that they got better this offseason. Sure, they added a ton of big names, but most would be considered downgrades from last years team. The team will need an adjustment period and it is perhaps optimistic to expect them to break even.

Why I’ll Be Wrong:
Honestly, I like how the Esks’ defence looks on paper and that could power this team to a stronger season, but ultimately it all comes down to Trevor Harris. If he uses the weapons at his disposal and truly emerges as an elite CFL quarterback, then watch out! Conversely, if he struggles to adjust to the new environment and his incompetent alter ego appears for long stretches, the season could be lost.

 

5. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Predicted Record: 7-11
Defence was the engine that took the Riders to the playoffs last season, and while it remains largely intacted, and added Micah Johnson and Solomon Eliminian, they lost their mastermind in Chris Jones. That will be an adjustment and I can’t see the Riders winning as many close games this year by smothering opponents. I have nearly zero confidence in a Zach Collaros led offence to pick up that slack and expect William Powell to be the major engine for the team. Unfortunately, running the ball doesn’t take you to the promised land.

Why I’ll Be Wrong:
If Zach Collaros finally has that comeback we’ve been talking about for 5 years, or Cody Fajardo emerges, the Riders have enough intriguing young receivers to get them to the playoffs. That is what it will take, unless the defence plays at an otherworldly level.

 

East Division

1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Predicted Record: 12-6
Despite coaching turnover in the offseason, the Ti-Cats appear to be a team with simply too much talent across the board to fail, especially in the weak East Division. The Ti-Cats may have overtaken the Bombers as the league’s best offensive line, possess a bevy of offensive weapons and Delvin Breaux essentially limits opposing offences to half the field. Don’t overthink this, it just makes sense.

Why I’ll Be Wrong:
June Jones has left for the XFL and he took his offensive scheme with him. While Tommy Condell will no doubt include many of his concepts, its possible that we see Jeremiah Masoli take a step back without the full Air Raid that burst him on to the scene.

 

2. Toronto Argonauts
Predicted Record: 9-9
This comes down to my faith in James Franklin. He is too good a player not to succeed in the CFL and now Marc Trestman is no longer there to hold him back. Add in his favourite target from his Edmonton days, Derel Walker, and it looks like a recipe for an offensive break out season that has the ability to win some shootouts.

Why I’ll Be Wrong:
I expect the defence to be middle of the pack, but if they exceed my expectation then the Argos could challenge for top spot in the East. But if I’m wrong about Franklin then they will be a rudderless ship and finish at the bottom of the league.

 

3. Ottawa RedBlacks
Predicted Record: 6-12
The Redblacks got worse across the board this offseason and lost almost all their stars (god bless Brad Sinopoli). Now they will play a first-time starter at quarterback behind an all Canadian offensive line that seems to have too many guards. That is not a recipe for success and William Powell is no longer there to lean on to pound the rock in the dark moments… Yikes!

Why I’ll Be Wrong:
If Dominique Davis is the guy that Marcel Desjardins thinks he is and a couple of their second year receivers take a corresponding leap forward then you can count on Ottawa to be in the mix in the East.

 

4. Montreal Alouettes
Predicted Record: 3-15
The Als look fairly decent on paper, as they did last year, but there is too much disfunction in that organization for a team to succeed on the field, especially one that is the oldest in the league with the according injury concerns. No owner, a buffoon GM, an interim Head Coach appointed Week One and still no real clarity at quarterback, it’s a wonder that the Alouettes can make it to the field, let alone try and win.

Why I’ll Be Wrong:
If a quarterback emerges, literally any quarterback, then the Alouettes may have something. Its either that or hope the rest of the league gets food poisoning.

 

Grey Cup Prediction
Hamilton Tiger-Cats over Winnipeg Blue Bombers
These seem like two potential teams of destiny this season who are poised to break long droughts. The Ti-Cats will simply be too loaded for a Richie Hall led secondary however and the legend of Orlando Steinhauer will blossom.

 

Awards

Most Outstanding Player: Mike Reilly, QB, BC Lions
Its safe to assume that Mike Reilly will continue to put up absolutely ridiculous statistics and turning around a football team should give him the storyline to knock off other elite quarterbacks.

Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Delvin Breaux, CB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
OK, perhaps its unrealistic to assume a shutdown corner will get his due, given that only one DB has ever won the award, but boy should he. He is probably the most impactful defensive player on a per play basis. When the Ti-Cats succeed, it will be in large part because of him.

Most Outstanding Canadian: Kwaku Boateng, DE, Edmonton Eskimos
Canadian players usually come into their own in Year 3 and Boateng is already an established star going into his junior year in the CFL. If his sack totals continue to grow and break into double digits, he’ll be hard to ignore for this award.

Most Outstanding Special Team’s Player: Lucky Whitehead, REC, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Sure, Whitehead hasn’t taken a snap in the league yet but I’m drinking the Cool-Aid. He is lightning quick and should be an explosive weapon for the Bombers.

Most Outstanding Lineman: Joel Figueroa, OT, BC Lions
Figueroa changed the nature of the Lions offensive line last season but was overlooked for more established names on flashier units. That won’t happen if BC is the league’s top team and Figueroa’s nastiness is keeping Mike Reilly clean.

Most Outstanding Rookie: Jake Wieneke, REC, Montreal Alouettes
The hardest award to predict, as the winner may not even be on an active roster currently. That said, Wieneke is my early favourite as he is a natural slotback who I’ve had my eye on since his college days.
All-Stars
Quarterback: Mike Reilly, BC Lions
Running Back: William Powell, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Receiver: Derel Walker, Toronto Argonauts
Receiver: Brandon Banks, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Receiver: Chris Mathews, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Receiver: Bryan Burnham, BC Lions
Receiver: Greg Ellingson, Edmonton Eskimos
Center: Sean McEwen, Toronto Argonauts
Guard: Brandon Revenberg, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Guard: Sukh Chungh, BC Lions
Tackle: Joel Figueroa, BC Lions
Tackle: Stanley Bryant, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Defensive End: Willie Jefferson, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Defensive End: Kwaku Boateng, Edmonton Eskimos
Defensive Tackle: Micah Johnson, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Defensive Tackle: Davon Coleman, BC Lions
Linebacker: Adam Bighill, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Linebacker: Henoc Muamba, Montreal Alouettes
Nickel: Don Unamba, Edmonton Eskimos
Halfback: TJ Lee, BC Lions
Halfback: Louchiez Purifoy, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Cornerback: Delvin Breaux, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Cornerback: Tre Roberson, Calgary Stampeders
Safety: Tunde Adeleke, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Kicker: Brett Lauther, Saskatchewan Roughriders
Punter: Richie Leone, Ottawa Redblacks
Returner: Lucky Whitehead, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

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