The CFL season kicks off tonight, yes, you saw that, it kicks off tonight! There’s a buzz in the air, and CFL fans around the country are excited to see their teams hit the field for a handful of reasons. Tonight’s kickoff also means that this is a deadline of sorts to make predictions and not be accused of cheating, so with that, here are five team-based predictions ahead of the season.
We have already released five player-based predictions earlier this week, so be sure to check that out. As we said there, these are merely opinions, so if you agree, disagree, or want to make some of your own, we encourage you to do so in a respectful manner either in the comments below or on any of our social media outlets. We want to hear from you!
Calgary Stampeders Squeak Into Playoffs
The battle for the playoffs in the West Division is going to be tight, this season. Everyone outside of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is hard to separate, but in this prediction, I have the Blue Bombers and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in as the first and second seed respectively, leaving the Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Elks, and BC Lions to scrap it out for third place. As evident by a prediction I made in my player predictions article (Jake Maier will end the season as the Stampeders starting quarterback), it could be a difficult season for the Stamps. That being said, their roster is still good enough, and they will return to the playoffs again in 2022.
It will likely come right down to the wire at the end of the season, when they play a home-and-home with the Roughriders in weeks 20 and 21. With the East Division being a little better on paper than it has in the past, it probably won’t take 10 or 11 wins to take third place in the West, and nine (or fewer) very well could be enough to squeak in as the third seed.
This isn’t the same team that would routinely make it to the Grey Cup every single season. In fact, these Stampeders have the chance to become the lovable underdog by the end of the season, believe it or not. They have some compelling pieces on their roster, with Ka’Deem Carey emerging as one of the better running backs in the league, Maier having the potential to take over, and of course, some cool stories with Derek Dennis and Reggie Begelton back on the roster. When this team gets into the postseason, they shouldn’t be slept on. Their dynasty may be on the tail end of its run, but they still have a roster capable of winning games.
Montreal Alouettes Narrowly Miss East-to-West Crossover
You may have noticed that the final playoff spot in the West is going to the number three seed. That, of course, means that there will be no crossover into the East this season, in fact, an East team will be close to crossing over into the West than any West team is crossing over into the East, at least in these predictions. We have never before seen an East Division team crossover into the West, but for the second consecutive season, there will be no crossover to speak of. The Alouettes will come close, but they will fall short in their final four games, with two against the Ottawa Redblacks, and two against the Toronto Argonauts.
The Alouettes roster has holes right now, particularly on the defensive side of the football. Outside of a pass rush that should be good enough, they don’t have too much else to be afraid of. That could also sink their pass rush as receivers could come open quickly. Offensively, the Alouettes are going to go as far as Vernon Adams Jr. takes them. Although I am a firm believer in Adams, many aren’t, and there was some speculation that Trevor Harris would be the week one starter.
With those justified doubts, it seems like a lot would need to go right for the Alouettes to make the playoffs. This prediction could be blown to smithereens if both the Edmonton Elks and BC Lions are better than they were last season, but on paper, the East is the better division right now. The battle will be close, it will be intense, and we should see more inter-division games being won by the East team.
Ottawa Redblacks Win 10 (Or More) Games
You can call this one bold if you want. The over/under for the Redblacks has been set at 7.5, well under .500 for the completely revamped offence, and improved defence. Many have kept their predictions for the Redblacks conservative, likely due to their past two seasons being completely disappointing, but this is a different team. On paper, they aren’t just good, they are legitimate Grey Cup contenders looking to make their way to Regina in November. There is a pathway to at least 10 wins for them this season, even if they lose their two games against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to open the season.
One of the reasons people are having a hard time predicting Ottawa to have at least 10 wins is the history of the two divisions. The West has long been the stronger of the two divisions, and routinely, the third-place team will finish with 10 wins. That often times comes when West teams lay a beatdown on the East Division teams during the season, who have had division winners finish below .500, just like the Redblacks in 2016. But once again, the East as a whole is better on paper than the bottom of the West.
Although the Redblacks get to 10 wins in my prediction world, they still won’t take home the East Division crown, finishing second behind the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Even still, you will be hard-pressed to find many fans who are upset about that, after a pair of seasons where they totalled just six wins, getting to 10 would be great for the team, but also for the fans who have watched some terrible football recently.
Saskatchewan Roughriders Make Home Grey Cup
This won’t ruffle any feathers in Winnipeg, will it? As you will see in my standings predictions later, I still think Winnipeg will finish the regular season as the league’s best team, and I think they will be really good once again. That being said, there is a target on their backs this season, and for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the importance of this campaign is unmatched with the Grey Cup being hosted in Regina. Anything can happen in a one-game playoff, and after losing in back-to-back seasons against the Bombers, the Riders will finally get over the hump.
Last season, everyone remembers the Blue Bombers as an unstoppable force that couldn’t be denied a Grey Cup, but it’s often forgotten just how close the West Final against the Roughriders actually was. The Riders held the lead going into the fourth quarter of that game, and while the Bombers did come back and win, it was close. The Bombers are still a great team, but sometimes, the best team doesn’t win the game. Winning a Grey Cup is hard, and repeating is even harder, but a three-peat? Now that’s exceptionally hard. We haven’t seen one since the Edmonton Elks won five in a row in the late 70s, early 80s.
The Riders’ season will ride on the shoulders of Cody Fajardo, and he needs a bounce-back season after a not-so-great 2021. If he can get back to the form he showed in 2019, the Riders’ Grey Cup odds will go way up. The inability to execute the deep ball hurt them badly last season, but after Duke Williams entered the fold, it got much better. The Fajardo to Williams connection is going to be great this season, and they will ride that to a home Grey Cup date with a win over the Blue Bombers in the West Final.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Break Grey Cup Drought
Who will the Riders face in that Grey Cup game? My prediction, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will make it all the way after taking down the Ottawa Redblacks in a home game in the East Final. They lost some great players during the offseason, including both Jeremiah Masoli and Brandon Banks, but they retained some promising youth that have been important to them. With Dane Evans under centre, they are still legitimate threats to win the Grey Cup, exactly what I’m predicting them to do.
You don’t need to tell Tiger-Cats fans that 1999 was a long time ago. That was the last time they won the Grey Cup, and in the past two seasons, they have been heart-wrenchingly close to finally standing on the top of the podium once again, but they just haven’t been able to get there.
It’s going to take a big effort to take down the Roughriders in their own stadium, packed nearly 40,000 strong. It will be green everywhere you look, and it will be loud. Just like the Bombers did to the Tiger-Cats last season, the Tabbies will rip the hearts out of the Roughriders’ faithful, and the part in Hamilton will be something else. They have waited a long time for it, and in 2022, they will finally lift the cup again. At least I think so.
Bonus: Regular Season Standings
|West Division||East Division|
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||Hamilton Tiger-Cats|
|Saskatchewan Roughriders||Ottawa Redblacks|
|Calgary Stampeders||Toronto Argonauts|
|Edmonton Elks||Montreal Alouettes|
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