The Best Game From Every Week of the 2021 CFL Season – Part 2

After eight weeks of the season, there was still plenty to play for. As the playoffs were inching ever closer with each passing week, the drama was on show for all and the games wouldn’t disappoint. We’ve already looked at the best games week to week in the first half of the season, it’s time to look back on weeks nine to 16 in the 2021 Canadian Football League.

Week 9 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats 20 – Montreal Alouettes 23

Now, this was a game! Montreal and Hamilton gave us the first overtime game of the season in a close-run thing at the donut box. Montreal came into the game with a 2-4 record desperate to keep pace in the playoff race and they faced the tall task of trying to be the first away side to win at Tim Hortons Field since the Als won there in week 21 of the 2018 season.

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Hamilton, spurred on by the return of Jeremiah Massoli, Brandon Banks and Bralon Addison started the game strongly and were looking comfortable with a 17-3 lead going into the fourth quarter. Montreal made it a game with 10 unanswered points and was marching down the field looking to complete the comeback with just over two minutes left at the Hamilton 26 yard line, but it looked like Hamilton defender Ciante Evans sealed the game with an interception.

HAMILTON, ONTARIO – OCTOBER 2: 2021 Canadian Football League game between Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes at Tim Hortons Field on October 2, 2021 in Hamilton, Ontario. (Photo by Ryan McCullough/Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

A quick two-and-out gave Vernon Adams Jr. and the Als’ offence one last chance, and the quarterback would have arguably the best drive of his season, facing a third and 20, Adams Jr.’s pass found Geno Lewis in traffic for a touchdown with just 29 seconds left, giving Montreal a 20-17 lead. Hamilton came roaring right back and got into field goal range with just two seconds left, and there was just enough on Taylor Bertolet‘s 55-yard effort to send the game to overtime.

Related: The Best Game From Every Week of the 2021 CFL Season – Part 1

Hamilton had the chance to win the game first but blinked when a Sean Thomas-Erlington fumble was recovered by Montreal giving the Als the chance to win. Montreal made no mistakes on a David Côté 36 yard field goal sealing a stunning comeback win for Montreal.

Week 10 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23 – Toronto Argonauts 24

Well, at least you can’t accuse the Ti-Cats of being boring. This is the fourth time they’ve been on the losing side in a game of the week, more than any other team through the first 10 weeks but this game really was a classic and perhaps season-defining. The second of a Thanksgiving double bill in the East, Toronto was looking to get their first away win the season and have an edge on Hamilton in any potential playoff tiebreaker. It looked like another away day disappointment for the Argos after Hamilton went up 20-8 with just 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but after two consecutive drives resulting in McLeod Bethel-Thompson touchdown passes, the Argos had stunned the home crowd to go up 21-20.

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Jeremiah Massoli lead a long drive down to the Argos red zone, but Hamilton had to settle for a field goal after stalling at the four-yard line, but with just over a minute on the clock, it was 23-21 Ti-Cats. Time for even more drama, once again Bethel-Thompson rallied the offence and got the ball to Hamiltons 44 to set up a game-deciding field goal for Boris Bede who made no mistake from 51 yards out to seal an important win for Toronto.

Week 11 – Edmonton Elks 16 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 26

With only a three-game slate, week 11 was going to struggle to live up to the drama of previous weeks, but credit to the Edmonton Elks who despite a very challenging season, managed to play the best team in the CFL much harder than many would’ve anticipated after a 30-3 beatdown laid down by the Bombers against Edmonton the previous week.

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Going into the fourth quarter, the Elks’ defence had managed to hold the Bombers to just 16 points, even managing to intercept Zach Collaros early in the first quarter and sacking him three times and once more in the fourth. After recently usurping Trevor Harris at the number one QB for the Elks, Taylor Cornelius had managed to pass for a touchdown against a stingy Bombers defence, and his offence had also put up 16 points for Edmonton.

Photo courtesy: George Fourlaris/Edmonton Elks

Edmonton would fall short, however, as Winnipeg would pull away thanks to 10 unanswered points, but in a season with little to show for, Edmonton could at least look to this game as a moment where they at least showed some fight against the league’s best.

Week 12 – Calgary Stampeders 17 – Saskatchewan Roughriders 20

Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back at the season, I think we can look back at this fixture as effectively the decider for home advantage in the West Semi-Final these two will contest. The Riders were going into this game desperate to change the narrative, head coach and quarterback tandem Craig Dickinson and Cody Fajardo had failed to beat Calgary in four attempts including two losses to Calgary in their last two games.

With a home playoff game at stake, Saskatchewan was desperate to finish their season trilogy with Calgary with a win at McMahon Stadium. Their defence certainly rose to the occasion. On a night where Bo Levi Mitchell became Calgary’s all-time leader in pass completions, the Riders’ secondary came up with three interceptions.

Jacob Dearborn, Saskatchewan Roughriders

On the offensive side, Sask held a slender 13-10 lead going into the fourth quarter but had the ball at Calgary’s three-yard line, they could’ve settled for three, but decided to go for it on third and goal, and the gutsy call paid off as Cody Fajardo found Kyran Moore in the endzone.

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Late on, Calgary would punch in seven points to make a game of it late on, but a final drive with 10 seconds left came up short as Saskatchewan held on for an important win, enough to keep Calgary at arms reach away from second in the West, paving the way for a home playoff tie at Mosaic Stadium.

Week 13 – Toronto Argonauts 31 – BC Lions 29

Do you ever watch a game and think to yourself, do either of these teams actually want to win? Toronto held on to win a game that easily could’ve gone the other way against a BC side desperately trying to keep their season alive. In a close-run thing, Toronto looked like they would take a 20-14 lead into the fourth quarter, and they even had the ball with the chance to increase that lead late in the third.

Step forward Obum Gwacham, who picked off Bethell-Thompson and ran the ball back to make it 21-20 BC with just a quarter to go. The fourth quarter would then be a story of field goals and clock (mis)management. Toronto struck next with a field goal to make it 23-21, but BC had their own field goal attempt, Jimmy Camacho would miss to the right however but would at least score a rouge to make it a one-point game.

The B.C. Lions could have a new kicker Friday when they visit the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after Jimmy Camacho missed on field goals of 37, 50 and 37 yards in the fourth quarter of the Lions’ 31-29 overtime road loss to the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday. PHOTO BY GRAHAM HUGHES /PNG

BC again got into field goal range with just a minute left, but this time Camacho comes up short as the Argos blocked the kick and Toronto looked to have sealed the win. All Toronto had to do is run out the clock but instead after two kneel-downs, they are forced to punt from their own nine giving BC one more chance with seven seconds left on Toronto’s 37-yard line.

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Camacho would get a third chance at a field goal from Toronto’s 30, but again, he misses, fortunately, he managed to get another rouge forcing the game to overtime. Toronto would strike first, scoring a touchdown on the first possession of overtime and go one further to score a two-point conversion. BC would respond with their own touchdown and had a two-point conversion to tie the game and give their playoff push some life. The conversion effort came up short however as Toronto held on to keep their own push for an East Division title on track.

Week 14 – Ottawa Redblacks 20 – Toronto 23

While it’s been far from a vintage season (to put it lightly) in the nation’s capital, they have had their fair share of close games this season and easily could’ve laid a glove on their East Division rivals in this week 14 matchup. Having initially deferred the opening kick-off, Ottawa was going to get the ball to start the second half with a 9-13 lead and wasted no time increasing that lead.

Kick returner DeVonte Dedmon ran the ball back 100 yards on a touchdown kick-off return and suddenly it was 20-9 to Ottawa. Toronto would bring it back to a score game with a field goal, but two back-to-back plays in the third could’ve changed the whole complexion of this game.

DeVonte Dedmon at Ottawa Redblacks training camp 2021 – Frankie Benvenuti/13th Man Sports

Firstly, a Bethell-Thompson interception was controversially overturned, meaning Toronto could punt the ball instead of Ottawa having possession at midfield. On the ensuing punt, Dedmon again pulled off a big return this time going 86 yards. But instead of being deep in Toronto territory, a penalty pinned the Redblacks back to their own 10, killing the momentum they would’ve had.

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Toronto made the most of their good fortune, scoring 11 unanswered points to go up 23-20 with just four minutes left. Devlin ’Duck’ Hodges and the Ottawa offence fail to muster a comeback and after quite a scare, Toronto held on for yet another close and dramatic win.

Week 15 – Saskatchewan Roughriders 29 – Edmonton Elks 24

In Saskatchewan’s final home game of the regular season, the Riders knew a win would guarantee one more home game for Rider nation in the West Semi-Final. Standing in the way were the Edmonton Elks, who had nothing but personal pride and future jobs at stake and they came out fighting.

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Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius continued to make his case to be Edmonton’s starting quarterback in 2022 by putting up three passing touchdowns to give the Elks a surprising 21-20 lead going into the final quarter. Saskatchewan would respond with a Cody Fajardo touchdown, but a failed two-point conversion kept Edmonton within five points of the lead, and they piled the pressure on with a field goal to make it 24-26 Saskatchewan with 3.12 on the clock.

Saskatchewan would respond perfectly to the situation however, they would give themselves some breathing space with another field goal to make it 24-29 and crucially, they left just 30 seconds on the clock for the Elks offence. A game-sealing interception from Jacob Dearborn would bring about the end of the game, and seal a vital win for Saskatchewan guaranteeing them a home advantage against Calgary in the playoffs.

Week 16 – Montreal Alouettes 18 vs Ottawa Redblacks 19

Trevor Harris must have Ottawa Redblack themed bad dreams at night the way this season went, all three of Ottawa’s wins this season have come against sides with Harris on the roster and time will tell how much this result will haunt them going into the Grey Cup Playoffs.

Montreal needed a win to keep their home playoff hopes alive, and then rely on Hamilton to slip up against Saskatchewan to secure home advantage in the East Semi-Final. Montreal had the better of the first half, they dominated on defence and their offence managed to put a field goal and two touchdowns to take an 18-3 lead.

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Crucially, however, Montreal failed to convert on a two-point conversion, and a point after attempt also failed to come to fruition after David Côté’s effort went wide. Montreal would have the ball to start the second half though giving them the perfect chance to put the game out of sight.

Step forward Justin Howell, the Redblacks defender forced a fumble from Montreal’s Jeshrun Antwi and after a recovery from the defence, Ottawa had the ball on Montreals 36 yard line. Ottawa capitalized on the turnover and after Caleb Evans connected with R.J. Harris on the two-point conversion, suddenly it was just a one-possession game.

Montreal was holding firm and looked like they had the chance to put the game away having marched the ball to Ottawa’s red zone with just three minutes left. For the second time, however, Antwi fumbled again and again Ottawa had new life having recovered the football. For a team who had struggled for most of the season on offence, suddenly Ottawa we’re marching down the field taking a lot of time off the clock and with just seconds left on the clock, Evans put his head down and rushed forward to Montreal’s endzone for a touchdown to make it 17-18.

Caleb Evans at Ottawa Redblacks practice on September 25, 2021 – Frankie Benvenuti/13th Man Sports

With nothing to lose, Ottawa head coach Paul LaPolice opted to go for the two-point conversion, and Evans fired a dagger through the heart of Montreal’s season, connecting with R.J Harris again to give Ottawa a one-point lead. There was still enough time for Montreal to turn the ball over again as they fumbled the kickoff sealing the win for the spoiler playing Redblacks. The win meant Montreal was guaranteed to finish third in the East, relinquishing any pressure on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in their final fixture. For Ottawa, a season full of growing pains had finally come to an end, but they can at least hold their heads up now and look ahead to 2022 with perhaps a bit more optimism.

A Great Season

If you think we should have picked a different game for a week, feel free to let us what game you think was the best either in the comments below or on Twitter by Tweeting at @13thManSpots! If you happened to miss part one of this series, you can find that here.

Edmonton Elks Clean House After Dissapoiting Season

After a catastrophic season that ended with a 3-11 record and seven consecutive losses in front of the home fans, the Edmonton Elks have terminated the contracts of Chris Presson, Brock Sunderland, and Jaime Elizondo.

“As announced earlier today, the Edmonton Elks Board of Directors has made the decision to terminate the contracts of President and CEO Chris Presson, General Manager and Vice President of Football Operations Brock Sunderland, and head coach Jaime Elizondo,” said Ian Murray the Chair of the Edmonton Elks Board of Directors.

Ian Murray, chair of the Edmonton Elks Board of Directors

“All three departing members of the organization were notified of their dismissal this morning effective today,” he continued. “After considerable discussion and consideration, the Board of Directors determined that our significant on and off-field problems required changes at the senior leadership level in order to rectify the shortcomings and rebuild the trust and confidence of the Elks fans and the community.”

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In recent weeks, the Ottawa Redblacks fired Marcel Desjardins, meaning the Elks will have competition surrounding their new general manager hire. Despite that, the search for a new general manager has begun as well as the search for a new CEO. Additionally, Wally Buono has been brought on as a consultant to help out with the process of hiring a general manager.

Related: Ottawa Redblacks Fire Marcel Desjardins

“Regarding the road ahead, the team has already begun a search for permanent replacements for both the CEO and the general manager positions,” Murray said. “We are pleased to have contracted long-time CFL player, coach, general manager, and executive, Wally Buono. Wally will report to a small board that will advise the club regarding the process to hire a new general manager.”

Wally Buono has been brought on to advise the Edmonton Elks in their search for a new general manager (Photo: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)

The moves have been met by thunderous applause (albeit virtually) from Elks fans, many of whom wanted this done halfway through the season. The expectations before the season were sky-high with hopes of a Grey Cup coming back to Edmonton top of mind, but a three-win season was nowhere near what was expected from them.

“The past couple of years have been incredibly difficult for the people in this community and this last year especially so,” said Murray. “We understand your high expectations for this team. We hear your concerns. We had several challenges and problems including poor performance on the field, the COVID outbreak that we experienced, and other difficult issues related to the introduction of the COVID mandate and electronic ticketing.”

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“This has been hard for all of us and we sympathize with the concerns,” he continued. “I was once a fan, and like others, I hold memories of the success of the past. The board is committed to fixing these problems and getting us back to a position of strength and success.”

The Elks have been through a lot in the past three or so years. The 2019 season was another complete disaster where the team came nowhere close to their expectations. Then the pandemic hit and the controversy surrounding their old name hit an all-time high, ultimately culminating in the change to Elks. Then, of course, this season has been a train wreck. Through it all, we have seen fewer and fewer fans coming to Commonwealth Stadium each game day.

The focus is now squarely on what can be done going forward. Murray suggests that the Elks are fine financially and they are committed to bringing a winning product back, both on and off the field.

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“We are fortunate to continue to have a strong balance sheet, and the Board of Directors are committed to investing as necessary to achieve our goals,” said Murray.

(Photography by Jason Franson)

“There’s no simple answer to what went wrong,” he continued. “Some of the issues are operations, some are pure business. The accumulation of these issues percolated and crystalized over these last several months and it became apparent change was necessary. It would be inappropriate to pick one or two things. We are committed to fixing the problems both on and off the field.”

“Going forward, some of these problems can be rectified. When or how this went off the rails isn’t clear, and I don’t actually think it’s fully off the rails. I think we can fix it.”

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As they go through the process of rebuilding their front office, the Elks and Murray know what they need to do. Finding a way to bring back fans that have either left because of the name change or for their poor on-field showing is important, but so is building a stronger, more diverse fan base more representative of the community in Edmonton.

“Our demographics are brutal — they’re disproportionately old, male and white, which isn’t representative of our community,” said Murray.

“We have a short-term problem to get the fans back that are really upset with us, and then we have a medium to long term problem to grow the fan base so that it’s more representative of the community,” he said.

The Best Game From Every Week of the 2021 CFL Season – Part 1

And just like that, another regular season in the Canadian Football League has drawn to a close. It’s been a season like no other for numerous reasons and while it certainly had some challenges, there has been no shortage of great games to get us talking this season. So as we gear up for the East and West Semi-Finals, let’s wet our football appetite by taking a look at one game from each week of the CFL season. This article will concentrate on weeks one through to eight, with a follow-up looking at the second half of the season soon to follow.

Week 1 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 19 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats 6

Okay so maybe this wasn’t the best game of week one, but I wanted to give this game some love because of the road we took to get here. After the 2020 season was cancelled, the very survival of the league was called into question even going as far as there being strong rumours of a merger with the XFL. But on August 5th, 2021, we all got to sit down to our first CFL game since November 24th, 2019. Hamilton took an early lead with Jeremiah Massoli once again under centre but spurred on by 126 rushing yards from Winnipeg native Brady Oliveira, the Bombers would take control of this game with 19 unanswered points which set the tone for their dominant season to come.

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Week 2 – Calgary Stampeders 9 – BC Lions 15

Who saw that coming at the start of the season? Calgary, who had lost at home in week one to the Argonauts were looking to bounce back against a Lions side that failed to win a game against any West team in 2019 and was plagued with uncertainty at quarterback. After initially declaring Nathan Rourke would be under centre, it was the veteran Michael Reilly who lined up for the Lions who stunned the Stamps at McMahon thanks to a strong defensive performance from the Lions, holding Calgary to just three field goals, recording three sacks and picking off Bo Levi Mitchell four times. Meanwhile, on the other side, Reilly looked as good as ever completing 78.8% of his passes for 342 yards and a rushing touchdown, as BC went on to win a statement game early on in the season.

Week 3 – Toronto Argonauts 30 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23

The Argos gave Nick Arbuckle his first start of the season against the Bombers and he didn’t disappoint in an upset win. One week removed from losing in Winnipeg 20-7, in which Arbuckle came on in relief of McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Toronto stormed into a 13-0 first-quarter lead.

Nick Arbuckle, formerly of the Toronto Argonauts

Despite Winnipeg clawing back at the deficit, Toronto we’re always one step ahead thanks to Arbuckle’s 310 yards through the air and running back DJ Fosters 101 ground yards. When they needed them, Toronto’s defence also played up to the occasion, Bombers only rushed for 32 yards the whole game, and the Argos picked off Zach Collaros early on and limited him to just 204 yards and a 54% pass completion rate. Toronto has gone on to be imperious at BMO this season, losing just one game at home all season, and they for sure set the tone for fortress BMO against the defending champs.

Week 4 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers 18 – Calgary Stampeders 16

Okay so there’s been a lot of Bombers games so far but this one for sure deserves its place here. After Jake Maier lead the Stamps to a win the previous week in relief of the injured Bo Levi Mitchell, he put on a historical performance completing a franchise record 17 consecutive pass completions. On the other side, Winnipeg was spurred on by the season debut of reigning Grey Cup MOP Andrew Harris. Harris wasted no time making an impact scoring the Bombers only touchdown on the day and racking up 81 yards.

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The game was a close defensive contest, with both teams combining for seven field goals. Going into the fourth quarter, Calgary held a slender 13-12 lead, another exchange of field goals made it 16-15 Calgary, meaning Winnipeg had only a minute and 49 seconds to get the ball into field goal range. With the game on the line, Zach Collaros lead his team into field goal range and Bombers kicker Marc Liegghio made no mistake making it 18-16 with 40 seconds left. It was just enough time for Maier to lead a drive of his own, marching Calgary to Winnipeg’s 45-yard line to set up a potential Rene Paredes game-winning field goal. Paredes’ effort from 52 yards, however, fell just short, bringing the game to a dramatic finish.

Week 5 – Ottawa RedBlacks 29 – Montreal Alouettes 51

What better way to kick off Labour Day Weekend in the CFL than with a good old fashion shootout? It had been a shaky start for Montreals’ Vernon Adams Jr, the quarterback made less than 50% of his passes in his last two outings against three touchdowns and two interceptions. But Adams Jr. put on an electrifying display going 18-23 for 288 yards and four touchdowns. On the ground, Adams Jr. put up another 35 yards of offence and Montreal dominated both sides of the ball going up 41-13 early in the fourth quarter.

Alouettes’ Vernon Adams Jr. escapes pressure by Redblacks’ Praise Martin-Oguike

At this point, Ottawa could be forgiven for feeling sorry for themselves, but Dominique Davis and the Redblacks’ offence found a spark in the fourth quarter, putting up 16 points in the final 13 minutes to help make this game the highest-scoring game of the CFL season, and get the CFL’s marquee weekend off to a great start.

Week 6 – Toronto Argonauts 17 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats 16

Hamilton was riding high going into this game after beating their old rivals, the Argos 32-19 in the Labour Day Classic and we’re looking to make a run at the East Division title after a slow start. It was Toronto, however, who would come out on top in a closely fought contest at BMO Field. Going into the fourth quarter, Toronto held a 17-7 lead thanks to a stout defensive effort, but Dane Evans and Hamilton’s offence cut the lead to just 17-10 early on to set up a tense finish. The game took a twist, however, when the Hamilton signal-caller went down injured and David Watford had to come on in relief of Evans.

David Watford, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hamilton’s offence struggled, but Toronto would give them a chance when a Nick Arbuckle pass was intercepted, setting the Ti-Cats up at Toronto’s 50 with just over two minutes left. Spurred on by the momentum gained by the turnover, Watford marched Hamilton down the field setting up a 21-yard run by running back Sean Thomas-Erlington to make the game 17-16, and Hamilton was just an extra point away from tying the game.

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But in yet another twist, kicker Michael Domagala’s extra point attempt hit the post, keeping Toronto’s lead intact with just 1:18 on the clock. Toronto managed to hold to their lead to beat their old rival in a close-run affair, that could’ve gone either way, but it was Toronto who would take another step closer to home advantage in the playoffs.

Week 7 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats 23 – Calgary Stampeders 17

After being the bridesmaid twice so far, Hamilton can finally lay claim to a victory in a close-run defensive game against Calgary. Watford, Hamilton’s backup quarterback was thrust into the spotlight against the Stampeders and while he didn’t light it up, his offence played mistake-free not turning the ball over and setting up five field goals leading to 15 points.

HAMILTON, ONTARIO – SEPTEMBER 17: 2021 Canadian Football League game between Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders at Tim Hortons Field on September 17, 2021, in Hamilton, Ontario. (Photo by Ryan McCullough/Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

The same couldn’t be said for Calgary, Mitchell continued his streak of throwing an interception in every game he had played this season with a third-quarter pick that Simoni Lawrence returned for a touchdown to give Hamilton a 15-10 lead which they extended to 17-10 after a successful two-point conversion. That turnover was one of five by Calgary on the night, three fumbles, one interception and one turnover on downs summed a tame game for the offence which could only manage a passing touchdown after Jake Maier was substituted in for Mitchell.

Hamiltons defence played brilliantly throughout the game, even keeping the stamps out of the end zone after Hamilton has their own turnovers problems on punt returns. Overall it was a comfortable win for Hamilton who continued their push in the East and if left Calgary licking their wounds, after a disappointing 2-5 start to their season.

Week 8 – BC Lions 24 – Saskatchewan Roughriders 31

Oh, what could’ve been for the at the time 4-2 BC Lions? Going into this fixture, at the time it looked like this game between BC and Saskatchewan looked like it might decide who between the two would have home advantage in the West Semi. Heading into the fourth quarterback of this game, the score was close with Saskatchewan edging it 18-17 but BC, thanks to the arm of quarterback Michael Reilly were able to retake the lead after a pass interference call on the Riders set BC up at the one-yard line where Shaq Cooper ploughed through to make it 24-18 Lions after the extra point.

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After a couple of exchanged punts, Saskatchewan again got the ball looking for a go-ahead touchdown but it looked like it wasn’t meant to be. Jalon Edwards-Cooper picked off Riders’ QB Cody Fajardo to give BC the ball with just 2:42 on the clock. The lions however could only manage a two and out, and a less than ideal punt set up the Saskatchewan with the ball with just 54 yards between them and the end zone.

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo Throws a pass against the BC Lions in CFL action at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK, on July 20, 2019. Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

Ultimately it came down to a third and goal from the one-yard line, Fajardo put his head down and went for the QB sneak and with just two seconds left on the clock, scored the game-winning touchdown to give Saskatchewan a 25-24 lead. There was still time for more points to be scored, as BC fumbled the ensuing kickoff which Demarquis Gates scooped up and returned for a touchdown to make the game finish 31-24 to Saskatchewan. We’ll never know if a BC team sitting at 5-2 would’ve gone onto the playoffs, but what is certain is that the BC Lions were never the same after they lost this game in such a heartbreaking fashion.

Stay Tuned For Part 2

We’re only halfway through the best games of the CFL season, so stay tuned for part two of this series that will be coming in the next few days. If you think we should have picked a different game for a week, feel free to let us what game you think was the best either in the comments below or on Twitter by Tweeting at @13thManSpots!

CFL Playoffs All Set After Regular Season Finale – Week 16 Recap

The playoff matchups are all set as the Canadian Football League gets ready to move into the money rounds of the 2021 season.

Several surprise results marked Week 16 of the regular season, but the final round of games didn’t chew up and spit anyone out as far as teams not making the postseason was concerned.

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Edmonton (3-11) scored the first upset of the final week’s action with an unexpected 13-7 win against an inconsistent Toronto (9-5). Not that it really mattered, as the Argos had already locked up first place in the East Division and a home game in the Eastern Final but going into a bye week on the back of a loss to an underachieving team is probably not the best preparation.

Edmonton Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius (15) avoids a tackle by Toronto Argonauts linebacker Brady Sheldon (41) during second half CFL football action in Toronto, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Edmonton led by a single point at the end of the first quarter and held on for the victory for the remainder of the contest. It was Toronto’s first loss at home at BMO Field this season.

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Next up, Montreal (7-7) faced off against an ordinary Ottawa (3-11) and despite the Alouettes being favourites going into Friday’s early game, the Redblacks came away with a narrow 19-18 come-from-behind win at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.

Montreal took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter and had looked the goods up until that point, but Ottawa had other ideas. Rookie quarterback Caleb Evans led the Redblacks on a game-winning touchdown drive late in the piece, and with the two-point conversion, Ottawa finished their losing season on a high.

One of the highlights for the Alouettes was the two touchdowns by receiver Jake Wieneke. He now leads the CFL with 11 receiving TDs this season.

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In the other game Friday night, B.C. (5-9) gave their fans something positive to think about during the offseason with a 43-10 pounding of the Elks in Vancouver. To be fair to Edmonton though, they were backing up on just three days’ rest from their game Tuesday.

Lions’ quarterback Nathan Rourke showed that he has the potential to become the next standout Canadian QB given more game time. He had a stellar performance in which he threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns. On top of that, he rushed for three TDs of his own. The Lions had built what was an unassailable lead by halftime and the fading Elks were never in it.

BC Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke (12) throws the ball downfield during the first half of CFL football action. (Kayle Neis/CP)

In the early game Saturday, Hamilton (8-6) hosted Saskatchewan (9-5) and clobbered them 24-3. The result means the Roughriders can probably be put in the same category as the Argonauts i.e. inconsistent.

Granted they finished second in the West but have not really stamped themselves as consistent. The Ticats used both quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans and they got the job done. The Riders rested their starting QB Cody Fajardo and played Isaac Harker.

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Continuing in the theme of topsy turvy results, Winnipeg (11-3) travelled to Calgary to take on the Stampeders (8-6) and came away in a not dissimilar position to Toronto in terms of losing to a patchy team ahead of a bye. It was also their second straight loss.

The Blue Bombers had a 12-0 lead starting the fourth quarter but then had a meltdown as Calgary stormed back to win 13-12 via a last-minute field goal by kicker Rene Paredes.

So, to the playoffs and the matchups are set. In the East Division, the Tiger-Cats will host the Alouettes, and that semifinal can literally go either way. They split their head-to-head series this year although Hamilton had a +14 points differential from their two games. And the playoff match will be in the Hammer so they may well start favourites.

As for whether Montreal sees its upset loss to Ottawa in the final week as a setback going into this one because it’s an away game, Als’ kicker David Côté thinks not so much.

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“No, it’s not a setback,” he told 13th Man Sports. “We think we can play some good football away as well. It’s the start of a new season for everyone, so we will need to play our best football no matter where we play.”

In the West Division, Calgary will be on the road in Regina to tackle the Roughriders in a semifinal the Riders would be expected to win, but as we’ve seen all season long, nothing is certain in the CFL.

CFL Power Ranking – Week 16

It feels like just yesterday the CFL season was kicking off in an emotion-filled matchup that pitted the Winnipeg Blue Bombers against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a Grey Cup rematch. All anyone really cared about was the CFL finally being back. There were thoughts that we would never get to see our beloved game again at times, and it was a relief to see the players back on the field. Here we are now 16 weeks later preparing for the playoffs and the Grey Cup. It’s been a wild ride and one that I am so happy to have had. Here’s how things shakedown on our power rankings after the final week of the season.

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9. Edmonton Elks (3-11)

Last Ranking: 9th

Week 16: @ Toronto (win 13-7) & @ BC (loss 43-10)

Streak: 1 loss

The end of the season really was filled with mixed emotions after beating the Toronto Argonauts’ backups before being blown out by the BC Lions in their third game in a short period of time. They got themselves a win, however, and got themselves to 3-11. Going into the offseason, however, they have a massive question mark at quarterback. Taylor Cornelius hasn’t looked like a starting quarterback in the CFL in his time this season and Nick Arbuckle was shaky with the Argos this season. This franchise isn’t in a great spot right now, but we have seen quick turnarounds before. That’s what Elks will be hoping for. Welcome to the cold winter, you are now in the offseason.

8. Ottawa Redblacks (3-11)

Last Ranking: 8th

Week 16: @ Montreal (win 19-18)

Streak: 1 win

The Ottawa Redblacks walked into Montreal and played spoiler, winning a game that not many people thought they would win. The curtain has been drawn on another terrible season for the Redblacks and they are in serious need of a facelift in the offseason. There are some very promising aspects of this team including Caleb Evans, Ryan Davis, the entire special teams unit, and a relatively strong defence, but they need to address the offensive line and of course the general manager. Welcome to the offseason, Ottawa. Hopefully, this will be a bountiful one to make up for the past two seasons in the cellar.

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7. BC Lions (5-9)

Last Ranking: 7th

Week 16: Vs. Edmonton (win 43-10)

Streak: 1 win

The season has been a disaster at times for the Lions, but the pieces are there for them to turn it around in the offseason. They have some elite-level players, but the situation with Michael Reilly is really interesting. The odds that the Lions will want to re-negotiate that contract is likely according to Farhan Lalji. If they can get that done, great, they have one of the league’s top quarterbacks back in 2022, but if not, they have plenty to look forward with in Nathan Rourke. Again though, we have months before we will know what’s going on, so for the time being, welcome to the offseason, the worst time of the year.

6. Montreal Alouettes (7-7)

Last Ranking: 5th

Week 16: Vs. Ottawa (loss 19-18)

Streak: 1 loss

I’m going to stop just short of calling the Alouettes week 16 game a complete embarrassment, but what a waste of an opportunity. They had a chance to put the heat on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and possibly get a home playoff date, but they instead got shut out in the second half of the game and lost to the lowly Redblacks. Maybe they took them lightly or got away from their plan, but whatever the case, you can’t fumble the ball in field goal range when you have a chance to make it a two-possession game. You can’t then allow the league’s worst offence to engineer a long drive and score a touchdown. You cant allow the two-point conversion. I don’t know what to expect from the Als in Hamilton next week. Inconsistency has been their only consistency this season.

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5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-6)

Last Ranking: 6th

Week 16: Vs. Saskatchewan (win 24-3)

Streak: 1 win

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats closed their season with a bang against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but it comes a little too late for them to have a chance at hosting the East Final. That honour is going to the Argonauts after the Cats were thoroughly crushed by them in week 15. When the season kicked off, there were high hopes for this team. Nothing short of winning a Grey Cup would be considered a success, and that is still the case. They will host Montreal next week and it certainly won’t be as easy as it was for them against the Riders’ backups.

4. Calgary Stampeders (8-6)

Last Ranking: 4th

Week 16: Vs. Winnipeg (win 13-12)

Streak: 3 wins

It may have been a nothing game, but the Calgary Stampeders gave us one of the more entertaining games of the week. Securing a win against the Blue Bombers would normally be impressive, and while they did have a fair amount of starters playing, it should act as nothing more than a small boost to their confidence. There shouldn’t be too much of a worry about Bo Levi Mitchell even with his relatively poor performance. The Stamps are hitting their stride, and I fully expect them to give the Roughriders all they can handle (or even more) next week in the West Semi-Final.

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3. Toronto Argonauts (9-5)

Last Ranking: 3rd

Week 16: Vs. Edmonton (loss 13-7)

Streak: 1 loss

The Argos played mostly backups in their week 16 loss against the Elks so you really can’t think about that game too much. They have proven all season long that they are the team to beat in the East, but they aren’t without their flaws. As it stands right now, the Argos have a really good chance of making it to the Grey Cup, but it’s not automatic. They have had a tendency to keep games close when they have chances to run away with it, so they will need their best effort when they host either Montreal or Hamilton in the East Final.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-5)

Last Ranking: 2nd

Week 16: @ Hamilton (loss 24-3)

Streak: 1 loss

The Riders got crushed this week, but really, who cares. They didn’t play their starters for the most part and they have all the talent to get to the Grey Cup in December. The key for this team is getting back to the form they were in for the first three weeks of the season. Since then, they should be described as okay. They have won games when they needed to, but nothing about them has been very impressive. We all know what they can be capable of, but they need some of that Cody Fajardo magic they had in 2019. Calgary won’t be an easy game and they will need all hands on deck, but there is no reason to believe that they can’t win that game.

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1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-3)

Last Ranking: 1st

Week 16: @ Calgary (loss 13-12)

Streak: 2 losses

Two consecutive losses. Oh well, I guess that sucks. This is still clearly the best football team in the league, and it’s not particularly close. Here’s the thing, however, that means nothing now. The regular-season success is meaningless from here on out. Zach Collaros’ likely MOP means nothing now. As they say, it’s any given Sunday. They need to keep their nose to the grindstone now because whoever comes into Winnipeg for the West Final in two weeks’ time is going to be ready to go. There’s a target on their backs now, and remember, whoever they play, they are 1-0 and deserve to be there. If the Bombers play their game, they should be the West’s representative in the Grey Cup, but that is not guaranteed.

CFL Fantasy Football Preview – Week 16

This is the final full weekend of CFL action so we have a couple games that could impact the eastern conference playoffs and a couple games without playoff implications.

Some teams are starting their regular complement of players while others sit their usual top performers.

In the DraftKings full-slate 4-game classic mode I’ve got Trevor Harris at pivot and William Stanback in the backfield as the Als look for a win and a Hamilton loss to get home field for next weekend’s eastern semis.

Looking for the Elks to finish on a high note, I have Armanti Edwards as a WR and Jalen Tolliver in a flex position.

My other flex is the always dangerous DeVante Dedmon.

My DST will be either the Alouettes or the Ticats as both are looking to lock down opponents, as they battle for home-field advantage.

I’m also looking at two different options for my other wide receiver.  The Stamps depth chart says Reggie Begleton will be starting, so he has to have consideration based on recent performance.  I’m not sure how much time Reggie will get or if he’s 100 percent, so I’m also giving Jake Wieneke consideration.

For the two-game classic mode on Saturday, I’m pairing Zach Collaros and Nick Demski and I’m starting Tim White or Kian Schafer-Baker as the other wideout, and the Ticat DST will get my start as well.

With Duke Williams out, Schafer-Baker should get sufficient targets. White has been one of the more consistent performers in Hamilton.

In years past, I’ve had success starting three RBs late season in classic mode, two of which filling the flex spots.  I’ve got Don Jackson, Roc Thomas, Johnny Augustine and Jamal Morrow to pick from, and any three of that crew feels like it will put me in a cash position.

The final play of the regular season is a Showdown mode matchup between the Bombers and Stamps on Saturday.

I’m taking the same approach as I have the last several weeks.  It brought some success, so why not? Again, this mode permits five picks, at least one from each team.

For my five positions, I always include both DSTs, the pivots, and the starting RBs for consideration. Then, I add 2 WRs, usually one from each team. This week that would mean Begleton and Demski.

That narrows it down to 8 for 5 spots. This gives us a path to build the lineup based on game scripts.  If you like the under, take the pivots, the defences and the RB for the team you think will win.  If you think it’s going over, pick the pivots, both WRs and the winning RB.

If you think either team will win easily, load up with four from that team and one from the other team. Usually, I suggest keeping both pivots in, but if you think this week will be a blow out you may want to start a 4-and-1 lineup that includes both RBs (Augustine and Thomas) and only your projected winner’s pivot (Mitchell or Collaros).

Enjoy the final weekend of the regular season, especially if you are a fan of one of the three teams who won’t be in the playoffs.

Finally, remember sometimes I make plays or play lineups other than I suggest here.

Hope to see you next week for the semifinals edition of CFL Fantasy Preview.

CFL Power Rankings – Week 15

The second to last week of the 2021 CFL season is in the books. It’s crazy to think that the season is almost done, but snow is just starting to fall meaning the best part of the season is just about to get underway. There has once again been a shake-up to the middle of our rankings, so let’s get right to it.

9. Edmonton Elks (2-10)

Last Ranking: 9th

Week 15: @ Saskatchewan (loss 29-24)

Streak: 8 losses

Next Game: Week 16 @ Toronto & @ BC

The Edmonton Elks didn’t do too bad of a job against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in their week 15 clash, but they came out on the short side. Jonathan Rose picked off Cody Fajardo late in the game, but it was called back for pass interference. The call was really bad and while there is no guarantee that they would have gone down the field and won the game, they would have stood a better chance. Rose was robbed of an interception, and it only gets worse with two games in week 16 to make up for their COVID-19 outbreak earlier in the season. It’s a tough end coming up for them.

8. Ottawa Redblacks (2-11)

Last Ranking: 8th

Week 15: BYE WEEK

Streak: 6 losses

Next Game: Week 16 @ Montreal

The Ottawa Redblacks spent the week on bye ahead of their final game of 2021 in week 16 against the Montreal Alouettes. As of now, who will start at quarterback is still unknown, but it’s almost certainly going to be one of Caleb Evans or Devlin Hodges. They have one last kick at the can before their season comes to an end, and it’s almost time for them to shift their focus to 2022.

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7. BC Lions (4-9)

Last Ranking: 7th

Week 15: Vs. Calgary (loss 33-23)

Streak: 7 losses

Next Game: Week 16 Vs. Edmonton

It started to become inevitable that the BC Lions wouldn’t be making the playoffs this season after losing seven consecutive games, but it was made official in their week 15 game against the Calgary Stampeders. It needs to be said that this is a huge disappointment. This roster on paper was up there with the league’s best, especially with Michael Rielly as their quarterback. They made some questionable calls at the end of the game, and they could have possibly snuck out a win if their coaching would have been better. Better luck next season, I guess.

6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-6)

Last Ranking: 2nd

Week 15: @ Toronto (loss 31-12)

Streak: 1 loss

Next Game: Week 16 Vs. Saskatchewan

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats briefly spend a week in the second spot as we pegged them favourites to win the East Division but after a loss to the Toronto Argonauts in week 15, it’s not out of the question that they could be forced on the road in the East semi-final. They have been beaten by the Argos three times this season and have struggled mightily at times. They could still be a threat to get to the Grey Cup, but this is not the path they would have hoped for when the season kicked off in August.

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5. Montreal Alouettes (7-6)

Last Ranking: 5th

Week 15: Vs. Winnipeg (win 28-14)

Streak: 1 win

Next Game: Week 16 Vs. Ottawa

A win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ second-stringers has the Montreal Alouettes alive and fighting for a home playoff date, but they still have work to do. Unfortunately for them, their fate isn’t in their own hands. The Als need a win over the Ottawa Redblacks and need the Tiger-Cats to lose to the Roughriders who will likely be starting mostly backups. The good news is they seem to be peaking at the right time, and with Trevor Harris, they have a serious chance of competing for the Grey Cup.

4. Calgary Stampeders (7-6)

Last Ranking: 4th

Week 15: @ BC (win 33-23)

Streak: 2 wins

Next Game: Week 16 Vs. Winnipeg

The Stampeders did enough to escape with a win in Vancouver, clinching a playoff spot for the 16th consecutive season. After a terrible start, the Stamps have come all the way back and look like they could be legit Grey Cup contenders come December. Now with the signing of Reggie Begelton, the offence is scary and the defence can certainly do enough to win football games. This dynasty might not be done just yet, folks.

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3. Toronto Argonauts (9-4)

Last Ranking: 6th

Week 15: Vs. Hamilton (win 31-12)

Streak: 3 wins

Next Game: Week 16 Vs. Edmonton

Alright, we will admit that we were too tough on the Argos last week. We have talked about them being hit or miss, but damn did they hit in week 15. They took the Tiger-Cats to school and clinched the East Division, something they haven’t done since 2017, the same year they won the Grey Cup. They have been very tough to beat at home this season, and it was nice to see a big crowd at BMO Field. Their chances of getting to the Grey Cup are pretty good right now.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-4)

Last Ranking: 3rd

Week 15: Vs. Edmonton (win 29-24)

Streak: 4 wins

Next Game: Week 16 @ Hamilton

The Roughriders are in second, and really, the only reason that is the case is because we dropped Toronto so low after their close call in Ottawa. Additionally, that pass interference call that negated an interception late in the game was putrid. That was way too close of a call against a bad football team, but they won. They haven’t been all that good recently, so it will be interesting to see if they play their starters or let the backups go in Hamilton.

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1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-2)

Last Ranking: 1st

Week 14: @ Montreal (loss 28-14)

Streak: 1 loss

Next Game: Week 16 @ Calgary

The Blue Bombers lost a meaningless game with their backups… who cares really. We know what they are by now, so I won’t waste time talking about what went wrong for them in week 15. They were supposed to lose that game.

Argos Top in East, Stamps Clinch in West – CFL Week 15

With just one week left in the Canadian Football League 2021 regular season, the Toronto Argonauts have locked up first place in the East Division, while the Calgary Stampeders have clinched their place in the West Division playoffs.

Week 15 started with a bang both on and off BMO Field in Toronto on Friday night with the Argos (9-4) blitzing their rivals from Hamilton (7-6) by the tune of 31-12. There was no scoring by either team in the first quarter, but Toronto put two touchdowns on the board in the second and had the Tiger-Cats in their rear vision mirror for the rest of the game.

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The Argos also attracted their biggest home crowd in some time with more than 10,800 fans turning up to watch them play. The win means the Argonauts have locked up first place in the East Division and will host the Eastern final on December 5th.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Toronto Argonauts

The Ticats are tied with the Alouettes for second in the division after Montreal (7-6) doubled up Winnipeg (11-2) in their 28-14 victory at Percival Molson Stadium on Saturday.

The Blue Bombers didn’t have nine of their regular starters, including quarterback Zach Collaros and running back Andrew Harris, so perhaps the final score was not entirely unexpected. Winnipeg had five turnovers in the game, something that obviously didn’t escape the attention of head coach Mike O’Shea.

“You win or lose for very specific reasons and this one was probably the turnover ratio,” he told bluebombers.com.

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Calgary (7-6) cemented a berth in the postseason with a not unexpected 33-23 win against B.C. (4-9) in Vancouver. The very faint hopes that the Lions had of keeping their playoff hopes alive, mathematically at least, were finally put to bed with the loss.

The Stampeders led by just 3 points at halftime, but it was pretty much all one-way traffic in the second half. The Stamps feel confident that they can keep that winning form going.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell calls out before a play against the B.C. Lions during the first half of a CFL football game. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

“I’m proud of our guys, I’m proud of the performance, we came in and beat a team that was very desperate, played a good football game,” said Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson. “I thought we played fairly well as well.”

In the final game of the week, Saskatchewan (9-4) hosted Edmonton (2-10) at Mosaic Stadium in what turned out to be a much more competitive game than expected. The Roughriders could never really shake the Elks and gave their fans some anxious moments before finally nailing the 29-24 win late in the piece.

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The Riders led by 3 points at the half, but the Elks had their noses in front by 1 point by the end of the third quarter, so it all came down to the final 15 minutes. Canadian fullback Alexandre Dupuis scored his first CFL touchdown to put the home team ahead with six minutes to go, and a Brett Lauther field goal sealed the deal with seconds remaining.

Alexandre Dupuis, Edmonton Elks

So, after 15 weeks of the regular season, the only unanswered question remaining is who will finish second and third behind Toronto in the East Division. That will come down to the wire in Week 16 with Hamilton and Montreal both needing to win.

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They split their head-to-head series this season with one win apiece, so if they both win, it will come down to points differential and currently, the Ticats are slightly ahead in that category. Up for grabs is a home playoff game.

CFL Fantasy Football Preview – Week 15

CFL Total Pick ‘Em


Last week’s picks and plays returned our season record to some respectability.
For tonight I’m riding with Hamilton, and with BC at home. The Lions had the Stamps number early in the season at McMahon so I think they can win this game to stay in the playoff hunt.

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Tomorrow, I like Montreal to hand a rare loss to the Bombers who don’t have Zach Collaros on this week’s depth chart.  I also like Saskatchewan to beat the Elks.

CFL Fantasy 

Despite my call in the Elks game, I am taking Taylor Cornelius and Walter Fletcher.  Fletcher was a strong play last week and is still a value pick.

The third member of my backfield is Brady Oliveria.  Those who know me as a big Ka’Deem Carey backer shouldn’t worry too much as he’s my Flex.

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Kurleigh Gittens and Tim White make up an all “Battle of the QEW” wide receiver corps, complemented by the Argo Defence as well.

Draftkings 

Those who I will be considering adding for my full-slate Draftkings classic mode lineup include QB Cody Fajardo, WRs Kamar Jordan and Duke Williams and the Montreal DST.

As ever, on occasion, I do make plays and play lineup other than those I recommend.

CFL Power Rankings – Week 14

The end of the 2021 CFL season is now well within our sights and the playoff picture is almost set. We know who is good and who isn’t by now, and our ranking should be stabilized for the most part. The crazy thing, however, is they aren’t. More changes have come, so here’s how things look after week 14.

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9. Edmonton Elks (2-9)

Last Ranking: 9th

Week 14: Vs. Saskatchewan (loss 19-17)

Streak: 7 losses

Next Game: Week 15 @ Saskatchewan

It’s been a bleak season in Edmonton, and a loss to the Roughriders in week 14 solidified a winless home schedule for the Elks in the 2021 season. Despite the loss, there was a good effort from the Elks. Taylor Cornelius played well throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns, and the Elks’ defence held the Roughriders to just 19 points. It ended with a loss for the Elks, but it wasn’t a terrible game from them all things told. Putting this season behind them as soon as possible is critical.

8. Ottawa Redblacks (2-11)

Last Ranking: 8th

Week 14: Vs. Toronto (loss 23-20)

Streak: 6 losses

Next Game: Week 16 @ Montreal

The Redblacks put a close on their home schedule in week 14, and they sent their fans off with the first start of the CFL career of Devlin “Duck” Hodges. With duck calls ringing out from the stands, Hodges completed eight of his 22 passes for 90 yards. He wasn’t great, but the Redblacks stayed close in large part thanks to a big first half from Timothy Flanders and DeVonte Dedmon. Once again, the win didn’t come, but the game was competitive and fun and that’s all that fans have been asking for.

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7. BC Lions (4-8)

Last Ranking: 7th

Week 14: @ Hamilton (loss 26-18)

Streak: 6 losses

Next Game: Week 15 Vs. Calgary

The possibility for the East crossover is officially off the table for the BC Lions after losing to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in week 14, and their chances of finishing ahead of the Calgary Stampeders and making the playoffs isn’t going to be easy. Their season would be over with a loss in week 15, but they haven’t shown much of an ability to win in the past two months. It seems inevitable that the Lions will miss the playoffs unless some sort of minor miracle takes place.

6. Toronto Argonauts (8-4)

Last Ranking: 4th

Week 14: @ Ottawa (win 23-20)

Streak: 2 wins

Next Game: Week 15 Vs. Hamilton

I can already hear the comments about this ranking. Yes, we are fully aware that the Argos current lead the East Division and are 8-4, but how they have gotten there isn’t in the least bit impressive. McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw three interceptions in their week 14 game against Ottawa, and had they been playing nearly anyone else, this game would have been over. They have allowed teams to hang around and they have been making critical mistakes, but they have been playing bad teams and have been able to win regardless. When they play the league’s best, they won’t win if they continue to make these mistakes. It matters who you play in these rankings, and a win doesn’t mean you played well.

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5. Montreal Alouettes (6-6)

Last Ranking: 5th

Week 14: @ Winnipeg (loss 31-21)

Streak: 2 losses

Next Game: Week 15 Vs. Winnipeg

On the note of who you play matters, the Alouettes did really well to keep their game against the Blue Bombers close. Trevor Harris is likely still settling into things with the Alouettes, but they showed flashes of what they can be in the final couple of games and into the playoffs. This Alouettes team has the makings of being a tough out, and it feels like they are starting to peak at the right time. They will get another crack at the Bombers on their home turf in week 15, a game that a win could boost their confidence ahead of what is likely to be an away date in the East Semi-Final.

4. Calgary Stampeders (6-6)

Last Ranking: 3rd

Week 14: BYE WEEK

Streak: 1 win

Next Game: Week 15 @ BC

The Stampeders had their final bye week of the season in week 14 and have a huge matchup with the BC Lions in week 15. A win would see them clinch a playoff spot, likely ensuring an away matchup with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West Semi-Final. They need a big game from some of their big names to get in, but they will get a big boost when Reggie Begelton joins the team later this season.

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3. Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-4)

Last Ranking: 2nd

Week 14: @ Edmonton (win 19-17)

Streak: 3 wins

Next Game: Week 15 Vs. Edmonton

You can stop holding your breath, Riders fans. You didn’t lose to the Elks. It wasn’t pretty, and much like some of the teams earlier on the list, it matters who you play. That is exactly why the Riders fall a spot. This was a game they should have controlled, but they simply made too many mistakes. There’s a lot of talent on the Riders this season, but it isn’t performing at its best right now. They have been winning, however.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-5)

Last Ranking: 6th

Week 14: Vs. BC (win 26-18)

Streak: 3 wins

Next Game: Week 15 @ Toronto

We have been very harsh on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this season. They have stayed in the middle of the rankings for a long time, but after their third consecutive win, they have moved into the second spot, marking the fourth consecutive week the second spot has been held by a different team. They are hitting their stride and Jeremiah Masoli has been playing well. This team has been one we have kept our eyes on all year long, and it seems like they are serious about contending for the Grey Cup that will be played in their home stadium in December.

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1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-1)

Last Ranking: 1st

Week 14: Vs. Montreal (win 31-21)

Streak: 9 wins

Next Game: Week 15 @ Montreal

The Bombers starters played the entire game in week 14 and that didn’t really come as a surprise, but that should be soon coming to an end. When they will pull their starters still remains unclear, but they have nothing left to play for in the regular season. They too ended their home campaign, but it went much better than the Redblacks or Elks. They went undefeated at home, giving their fans plenty to cheer about.