CFL Previews - Week 3 - July 12-14Jul 11, 2012 - 6:33 PM Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
CALGARY STAMPEDERS (1-1) AT MONTREAL ALOUETTES (1-1)
DATE & TIME: Thursday, July 12, 7:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: It was touch-and-go there for a bit, but it now appears as though Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo is planning to start for the Alouettes on Thursday night as they host the Calgary Stampeders at Stade Percival-Molson Stadium.
Calvillo, who underwent an MRI on Monday for a shoulder injury suffered against Winnipeg last Friday, was quoted as saying he was feeling good and planned to play in the second game in the first three weeks of the campaign against the Stampeders.
The all-time leader in passing yards in professional football, Calvillo practiced on Tuesday but it was backup Adrian McPherson who took the snaps with the first team, possibly as a precaution.
Calvillo clearly isn't getting any younger and defenses are beginning to hit him more and more in his latter years. That was the case last week as the aging veteran out of Utah State matched wits with Winnipeg in the home opener and won, even though he was taken out of the game at one stage because of his injury.
Converting a stellar 10-of-11 passes for 205 yards in the first quarter alone, Calvillo finished the meeting 31-of-39 for 443 yards and three touchdowns. It was the 29th 400-yard game of Calvillo's career and perhaps even more remarkable was the fact that he wasn't sacked and did not throw a single interception.
Giving Calvillo reason to feel comfortable out on the field was running back Brandon Whitaker who not only carried the ball 16 times for 98 yards and a score, he also reeled in 11 catches for a game-high 137 yards and two majors as he was named the CFL Offensive Player of the Week. S.J. Green helped to stretch the field with five catches for another 120 yards as well.
As for the Stampeders, they lead the league in scoring with 74 points through the first two weeks, and yet the team is just 1-1 after bowing to Toronto on the road in a 39-36 final that was decided in the closing moments on a field goal by the Argonauts.
Calgary was at a disadvantage for much of the meeting after starting quarterback Drew Tate exited early with an injury. Kevin Glenn stepped in to rescue the Stamps and nearly pulled it off as he threw for 172 yards and a couple of touchdowns, but he also tossed a pair of interceptions.
Eric Fraser put a face on the Calgary defense as he returned an interception 61 yards for a major in the first quarter, giving the visitors a 14-7 advantage after one period of play. Unfortunately, the Stamps scored just seven points over the course of the second and third frames before exploding for 15 in the fourth.
Also making a name for himself was returner Larry Taylor who not only returned a missed field goal a whopping 125 yards for a touchdown (the third-longest missed-field goal return in club history), he amassed a total of 441 all- purpose yards which is the second-highest single-game total in league history. As if there was any doubt of his dominance during the second week of the season, Taylor was named the CFL Special Teams Player of the Week.
All indications have Glenn stepping in as the starter for this week's game which shouldn't be that much of a surprise given that he threw for 3,963 yards a season ago, his seventh consecutive campaign with at least 3,000 yards through the air. Glenn will certainly lean heavily on slotbacks Nik Lewis and Marquay McDaniel, the former leading the team in each of the first two games in receiving and ranks second in the league with 19 catches for 200 yards and three majors.
Calgary won the first game between these teams just 11 days ago with a resounding 38-10 final at home. In that contest Calvillo was limited to just 174 yards and one TD through the air and was intercepted two times. The Stamps controlled the action for more than 35 minutes and generated 465 yards of total offense, more than twice the 213 yards logged by the Als.
As far as the all-time, regular-season series between these two clubs is concerned, the Stamps own a slight 33-31-1 advantage over Montreal going back to 1946. Calgary has won three in a row and four of the last five matchups overall.
Montreal has been doing its best work at home over the last three seasons with a record of 22-5 in front of a favorable crowd.
Calvillo may not be 100 percent for this outing, but he still has a commanding presence on the field that forces defenses to scheme for his every move. As long as the famed signal-caller can remain out of harm's way, figure on the Als landing in the win column with revenge as a motivating factor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 36, Calgary 27
WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS (0-2) AT EDMONTON ESKIMOS (1-1)
DATE & TIME: Friday, July 13, 9:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: The team that competed in the 99th Grey Cup last season against the British Columbia Lions finds itself sitting in a tie for last place in the East Division after two games, as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hope to solve their problems before they hit the field against the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night.
Winnipeg, which has yet to put a tally in the win column, is on a four-game road trip to kick off the 2012 campaign so perhaps there's good reason for the rough start. But already the team has as many defeats as it did through the first nine contests of 2011 when it began 7-1 before struggling through the second half of the year.
Last Friday, the Bombers nearly doubled their offensive output from week one with a hefty 30-point effort against Montreal, but the defense simply was not up to the task as it allowed Anthony Calvillo and the Alouettes to generate 41 points in the meeting.
Buck Pierce was back under center for Winnipeg as he converted 18-of-26 passes for 255 yards and a score, but he was also intercepted once and sacked two times. Backup Alex Brink converted three of his four pass attempts for 57 yards and scored a major on a one-yard run as well.
Wideout Chris Matthews recorded eight catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, while Terrence Edwards responded with six grabs for 126 yards in the losing effort.
Winnipeg's pass defense allowed a hefty 445 yards to the Als, which might be why the club has signed import defensive back Jeremy McGee to the roster. McGee appeared in just one preseason game with the squad before being cut, but he obviously showed the staff enough to warrant a call-back.
While the Winnipeg defense has obviously struggled, special teams might be finding a leader in Demond Washington who was credited with an 82-yard punt return for a score against Montreal. Washington finished with more than 200 yards on kick returns versus the Als, and now has close to 400 combined return yards through two outings.
As for the Eskimos, the CFL has them fifth in the power rankings this week, but that's only because the team won its season opener. In a sport that sees outrageous scoring bursts on a regular basis, to have a team come up with just a single point through 60 minutes of action is abysmal, and that's what happened to the Esks in their 16-point road loss at Saskatchewan on Sunday afternoon.
Edmonton thought it could move on from the traded Ricky Ray with Steven Jyles at quarterback, but Jyles looked awful in the pocket in the second game of the season as he converted just 10-of-19 passes for 91 yards and was sacked three times before heading to the bench.
Kerry Joseph stepped in and tried to rally the troops and give them reason to think they could compete in the low-scoring affair, but he was equally as ineffective as he hit on just 4-of-8 attempts for 34 yards, was picked off once and sacked three more times. Because of those sacks, Edmonton was credited with fewer than 200 yards of total offense.
Kicker Burke Dales was credited with a single in the second quarter following one of his 10 punts in the meeting.
Adding insult to injury comes the news that Eskimos wide receiver Adarius Bowman will miss the remainder of the season after tearing both the ACL and MCL in his left knee. Bowman, who was coming off the best season of his five- year career after delivering 62 receptions for 1,153 yards with four majors in 2011, had nine catches for 145 yards through the first two games of this season before it was cut short.
Last season the teams split a pair of matchups, each winning on their home turf as the Bombers captured a 28-16 victory in early August, and the Esks returned the favor in the middle of October with a 24-10 decision.
Edmonton has won two of the last three meetings and owns a 91-79-3 edge in the all-time, regular-season series against Winnipeg as well.
The two are scheduled to meet once more during the regular season as the Eskimos drop in on Winnipeg in the latter's home opener on July 26.
Edmonton should have the advantage with being at home for this contest, but if Jyles continues to struggle a team like Winnipeg could steal a victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Winnipeg 28, Edmonton 13
BRITISH COLUMBIA LIONS (2-0) at SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS (2-0)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, July 14, 3:00 p.m. (et)
GAME NOTES: Expected to be a leading contender again this season after winning the 99th Grey Cup on their home turf in November, the British Columbia Lions find themselves fighting to remain undefeated against the only other perfect program after two weeks of action.
Saskatchewan has somehow managed to stay out of the loss column thus far, but the Roughriders will be seriously tested by the Lions at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
By no means a fashionable pick to dominate the league in 2012, the Riders did impose their will on visiting Edmonton on Sunday as they limited the Eskimos to a scant one point in a 16-point triumph.
The Saskatchewan defense suffocated an Edmonton offense which is still trying to figure out how to put all the piece together. The Esks registered just 11 first downs and generated a meager 188 yards of total offense which is generally what teams have by halftime in a league that is predicated so much on spreading the field and stretching defenses on every play.
Based on the scores produced by the other six teams in the league during the second week of action, the Riders would have easily lost to every other competitor because they were not all that impressive themselves. Quarterback Darian Durant converted a modest 20-of-32 for 203 yards, but he failed to record a major and was sacked four times.
Kory Sheets scored the lone major of the contest, a 34-yard run to the end zone in the fourth quarter. Other than that, the Roughriders counted on kicker Chris Milo to carry the load, which he did by knocking through a couple of field goals and singles.
Making slightly more sense was the 39-36 win posted by British Columbia at home versus Hamilton during the second week. The Lions took control of the meeting between the second and third quarters when they outscored the Tiger- Cats 26-0 and then held on in the final period to move to 2-0.
Travis Lulay converted 17-of-31 for 178 yards and a couple of scoring strikes to Shawn Gore, but it was the running game that controlled the action for the Lions and led them onto victory. After becoming the league's all-time leader in receiving yards in the first game of the season, Geroy Simon took a backseat from all the attention and tallied three catches for 33 yards.
Andrew Harris registered a one-yard TD run late in the second frame and finished the meeting with a game-high 147 yards on 13 attempts. Also not to be overlooked was kicker Paul McCallum who booted through three of his four field goal attempts and finished with 13 points for the home team.
During the third period Tim Brown earned some recognition for the BC special teams as he returned a punt 81 yards to the end zone.
Linebacker Adam Bighill played big for the Lions defense, racking up nine total tackles, one sack and one forced fumble as he earned CFL Defensive Player of the Week honors.
With 194 yards on the ground to this point, Harris leads the league in rushing which is rather important since Lulay hasn't exactly lit up the sky with a dominating passing attack. Granted, running the ball has never been a huge indicator for winning in the CFL, but as long as Harris and the Lions can force opponents like Saskatchewan to have to plan for such an attack, Lulay may find some holes in the defense further down the field.
The same could be said for Sheets of the Riders, seeing as how he is tied for third in the league with 149 rushing yards. Durant can swing to the extremes as much as any player, so getting an extra moment in the pocket because of the presence of Sheets could be the difference between completed passes to teammates like Weston Dressler and lost opportunities
In a relationship that dates back to 1954, the Roughriders own a 90-80-4 advantage in regular-season matchups with BC. However, the Lions not only won the most recent meeting, 29-18, here in Regina last October, the squad has also captured four straight over Saskatchewan and six of the last nine battles.
There are three more dates remaining on the schedule between the teams following this week's encounter, with BC entertaining on August 19 and November 3 (the regular-season finale) and the Riders hosting a September 29 date.
The Roughriders were lucky to escape with a win last week given the circumstances and by no means should they expect a team like the Lions to be quite as accommodating.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 36, Saskatchewan 22
TORONTO ARGONAUTS (1-1) AT HAMILTON TIGERCATS (0-2)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, July 14, 7:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are one of two teams in the league who have yet to put all the pieces together in 2012 and earn a win, something they hope to remedy on Saturday, when they take on the Toronto Argonauts at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Hamilton, which is set to play three of the next four games at home, has allowed an average of 41 ppg thus far and while the team went from posting just 16 points in the opener against Saskatchewan to 36 versus British Columbia on Friday, the 'Cats still had to deal with a three-point setback on the road.
The Tiger-Cats opened the game last week with a 95-yard touchdown pass play between Henry Burris and Chevon Walker, the two combining on a two-yard major in the fourth frame as well when Hamilton was frantically trying to gain some momentum. Burris connected on 26-of-39 for 359 yards and four touchdowns, but was intercepted once (returned for a touchdown) and suffered four sacks along the way.
Chris Williams continued to show his worth as he caught four passes for 28 yards and a score and also returned a punt 67 yards for a major in the third frame.
Unfortunately for the Tiger-Cats, the run defense was less than effective against BC as the Lions rolled up 208 yards and a score of 24 attempts.
As for the Argonauts, they were involved in a similar matchup against Calgary on Saturday, but in their case they came out ahead in the 39-36 final at home thanks to kicker Noel Prefontaine who broke the tie with a 28-yard field goal as time expired.
Prefontaine, now the league leader in kicking points with 30 through two games, converted 6-of-8 field goals and all of his PATs in pushing the Argos into the win column.
New Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray broke out in a big way as he threw for 407 yards and a couple of scores, although he also tossed two interceptions in the tight matchup. Andre Durie led all receivers with 10 catches for 118 yards, while Dontrelle Inman turned his three catches into a hefty 107 yards and both aerial TDs for the hosts.
Running back Cory Boyd scored the first points of the game for the Argonauts as he crossed the goal line from five yards out in the first quarter, just a small sample of his game-high 101 yards on 20 rushing attempts in the meeting.
The Toronto defense took Calgary starting quarterback Drew Tate out of action during the team's second possession with an apparent left wrist injury. Tate, who remained on the turf for several minutes before heading to the bench, put his hand down on the turf as he attempted to elude a hit by Toronto's Derrick Summers. However, even with the Stamps being forced to go to their backup at quarterback, Kevin Glenn, they still managed to rally and make the game competitive against Toronto.
Toronto, just 6-12 last season, lost the first two meetings between the clubs a year ago before delivering a surprising 33-16 victory in the regular-season finale on November 3.
Even with that most recent victory, the Argos are still far behind in the all- time, regular-season series, as Hamilton maintains a 122-87-2 edge dating back to 1950. The 'Cats have captured six of the last seven matchups and seven of nine, overall.
Being in the same division, Hamilton and Toronto are set to face each other three more times during the regular season. The squads are set to battle during back-to-back weeks in early September, the dates separated by just five days, while the Argos will host Hamilton in the last game of the regular season.
Clearly Ray can put up some very strong numbers when it comes to yardage totals, but he'll also need the Toronto defense to play a more pivotal role this weekend or the visitors are going to keep Hamilton in the loss column.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toronto 27, Hamilton 18
2012 Sports Network Predictions: 4-4. Last Week's Selections: 3-1.
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