Week 16 wasn’t a very interesting one in the CFL, as all but one of the games were blowouts. However, we’re starting to get down to the end of the season and every game is important when it comes to the playoff race.

(I mean, except if you are Toronto or Montreal).

Everybody else is fighting for home games and seeding at this point, as well as an Eastern division crossover.

Week 16 Bye: 

Toronto (3-9) – 16

Calgary (10-2)  38

 

Kicking off Week 16 of the CFL season was a rematch of the 105th Grey Cup. The Toronto Argonauts took on the Calgary Stampeders from McMahon Stadium. This matchup saw two teams coming in that were in opposite positions of their respective seasons.

The Stamps have sat at the top of Western Division since the start of the season, and in all honesty for the last five or six years. After losing Kamar Jorden, Eric Rogers and DaVaris Daniels all to the 6-game injured list Bo Levi Mitchell has been looking for options to throw to while leaning on the run game a little more.

Despite losing three all-stars receivers the Stamps still beat Hamilton in Week 14 before the bye week last week. Sitting at top of the West at 10-2 Calgary could not afford to slow down and wait for players to get healthy. The Saskatchewan Roughriders at 8-5 sat in second and looked to make a push for that first-place spot should the Stamps slow down at any point.

The Toronto Argonauts have had nothing short of a disappointing season after winning the Grey Cup last year. They’ve been a tad snake bitten this year especially after winning a few in a row and looking like they may have figured it out.

Since winning two in a row with McLeod Bethel-Thompson the Argos have dropped four straight to Montreal, Hamilton and Saskatchewan. The loss to the Riders a week ago was one where they fought their way back into the game, and if not for a few missed field goals, may have found themselves coming out on top of.

Calgary would jump on the board first, on their opening drive. It took just six plays, but they moved the ball 78 yards with Marken Michel taking the jet sweep play 37 yards for the touchdown and the 6-0 lead after the missed PAT.

The Argos would answer back with a scoring drive of their own. They went on a 12-play drive from their own 10-yard line down to Calgary’s two. James Franklin took the QB sneak into the end zone for the 7-6 lead.

The Stamps would take the lead back in the second quarter. After Toronto gave up a safety rather than punt from their own end zone, they turned an 8-play drive into a 13-yard Rene Paredes field goal and the 11-7 lead.

With just over two minutes left in the first half, Toronto would cut the Stamps lead to just one point. After a beautiful 34-yard catch by SJ Green leaping through the air to snag the ball down, Zack Medeiros kicked a 29-yarder for the 11-10 score. The Stampeders would add a 9-yard Paredes field goal of their own for the 14-10 halftime lead.

Calgary added to their lead on their first drive of the second half. Mitchell hit Julan Lynch for a 40-yard completion, Lynch’s first catch of his CFL career. The big gain would result in a 14-yard field goal for Paredes and the 17-10 lead.

Calgary’s thievery of momentum really took full force on Toronto’s ensuing drive. Backed up on their own 6-yard line the Argos gave the ball right back to the Stamps. Bethel-Thompson would throw an interception to Brandon Smith giving Calgary possession at the Toronto 11-yard line.

Three plays later Nick Arbuckle took the ball in from two yards out, for the 24-10 lead. Calgary would then pull away in the fourth quarter, however.

After taking possession on their own 41-yard line after an Argo punt, it only took four plays for the Stamps to get into the end zone. Mitchell would find Michel for his second TD catch of the game on a 21-yarder and the 31-10 lead. Both teams would each add another TD for the 38-16 score and eventual Stampeder victory moving them to 11-2 atop the West Division.

This was a game full of injuries with the Stamps losing Reggie Begelton from their already depleted receiving corps who was carted off the field after a play on Special Teams. They would also have Romar Morris go down, even though the injury did not appear to be serious. The Argos would have James Wilder leave the game as well and not return.

Despite not having his top three receivers Bo Levi Mitchell still threw for over 300 yards as the Stamps did what the Stamps do best. Dominate. The Argos put up good numbers with 343 yards of total offense with 71 of those coming on the ground, but the Stamps D kept them out of the end zone.

The defense for Calgary totaled 2 sacks and an interception on Bethel-Thompson and didn’t allow the Argos to come up with any big plays. Calgary only got 54 rushing yards from Don Jackson and had three receivers with at least 60 yards but none over 69. Which shows the great depth and sheer talent that exists on this team. They don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, even after losing more players in this one.

The Argos continue to spiral to the bottom of the East and in some cases the league. They are now a half game above the Als for last in both categories. They couldn’t find a way into the end zone much of the game and had no rushing attack whatsoever. Newly signed Dexter McCluster only had 27 yards on the ground while James Wilder had 26. That won’t cut it especially against the best team in the league.

The questions keep piling up for Toronto as they continue to drop games each week. Even positions that looked like they may have started to figure it out are starting to look cloudy. While Bethel-Thompson can be effective it’s beginning to look like he may not be the answer for them. This is a team whose playoff hopes are almost gone and has a question mark at the most important position.

Player of the Game: Bo Levi Mitchell. Mitchell went 20/34 for 307 yards and 2TDs and he did it without his three best-receiving weapons utilizing the guys he had. He found three different WR’s for 60+ yards and found ways to do it dynamically.

 

BC (6-6) – 10

Hamilton (6-7)  – 40

The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader saw the rematch of last weeks game of the week. As the BC Lions go across the country to meet the TiCats in the hammer needing a win to keep pace in the Western playoff race and the TiCats needing a win to close the gap on first place in the East. This one wasn’t nearly as good as last weeks game as the Lions were simply unmatched all afternoon, maybe it was the time zone difference as it was a very early game Pacific time.

The Tiger-Cats would open the scoring on their first offensive drive that covered 88-yards in only eight plays, capping off with a Luke Tasker 13-yard pass from Jeremiah Masoli putting the Tabbies up 6-0 early in this one.

Coming off one of the best games in his career Jonathon Jennings and the Lions offense looked to continue their good play, but Hamilton had other plans as Don Unamba would pick off Jennings on his first pass of the game for a 30-yard pick six.

BC’s offense would keep struggling as they’d go two-and-out, with Jennings putting the ball on the ground on second down, they would get the ball back but still, lose a huge chunk of yardage. Hamilton wouldn’t slow down as they put the pedal to the floor the entire first quarter. They would cap off a seven-play drive with a seven-yard touchdown to Brandon Banks who was wide open in the back of the end zone.

The Ticats absolutely dominated the first quarter, leaving it with a 20-0 lead over the Lions, the Lions would get on the board in the second quarter, however, with a Ty Long 29-yard field after the Lions were stopped after a solid drive.

Hamilton would add onto their huge lead before the half ended with Brandon Banks bringing in his second touchdown pass of the day, the Ticats would have a 27-3 lead with five minutes remaining in the first half.

The first half struggles for the Lions would continue with Jennings throwing his second interception on the ensuing drive, before the half expiring the Ticats would kick a field goal and head into the half leading 30-3 and this game effectively being over already.

This play with zeros on the clock pretty much sums up the Lions first half.

The second half didn’t go much better for Jennings as he’d throw a perfect pass to the wrong team again that would get returned all the way back for his second pick-six of the game, the Tiger-Cats would now be up 40-3.

We cover all the touchdowns in these recaps, so even though it was in garbage time, the Lions would eventually find the end zone on a nice roll out and toss by now replacement QB Cody Fajardo, Fajardo would find Shaquille Johnson in the end zone for the Lions’ first major of the game, they would go on to miss the two-point conversion and the game would end 40-10.

Hamilton looked dominant in this game, the offense couldn’t be stopped as both the running game and the passing game were on point and the defense was making huge plays when called upon. They’ll take the win and relax next week as they get the Week 17 bye, which will be their final bye week of the season.

The Lions’ however, are a tale of two different teams, they are almost unbeatable, and home and they are 1-6 on the road, luckily they’ll be at home next week as they’ll take on the Argonauts on Saturday night in a very important game to keep pace in the Western division.

Player of the Game: No specific player in the game, just Hamilton’s defense, three total interceptions including two pick-sixes, six sacks, and one forced fumble.

Winnipeg (6-7) – 30

Edmonton (7-6) – 3

Probably the most important game of the weekend as this one had serious playoff implications and best of all they’ll meet once more before the season is over. The second game of Saturday’s doubleheader included Winnipeg and Edmonton who are both jostling for position in the Western Division playoff race. Edmonton is coming in losing two of their last three games and are looking to get back on track and the Blue Bombers are coming off a huge win against Montreal.

Rookie defensive back Marcus Sayles was everywhere early in the game blocking a punt on the opening possession to set up a Justin Medlock field goal that would give the Bombers the lead early, Sayles would make another huge play, delivering a huge hit on Sam Giguere to force the Eskimos’ to punt for the second consecutive drive.

In a first half that didn’t include many points and was mainly a half of field position, the Eskimos’ would make another mistake as Duke Williams would cough up the ball as he was extending for a first down, that ball would be recovered by Brandon Alexander, however, the Bombers would fail to capitalize and would be forced to punt.

The Bombers would be the first team to put a major on the board, after the first quarter that saw the two teams combine for just five first downs and only 104 yards of offense, the bombers would find themselves on the Eskimos’ 1-yard line. Backup QB Chris Streveler would find paydirt on a 1-yard QB sneak and give the Bombers a 10-0 lead with 9 minutes left in the first half.

The struggles for Mike Reilly and the Eskimos’ would continue as Taylor Loffler would pick off Reilly and the deliver a lateral over to Kevin Fogg and put the Bombers in amazing field position. The Bombers would capitalize on this mistake as Andrew Harris would rumble into the end zone giving the Bombers’ a 17-0 lead.

The Esks would finally find the scoreboard with a late field goal from Sean Whyte but would trail by two scores going into the break as the Bombers’ would lead 17-3.

The second half wasn’t much better for Edmonton as Mike Reilly after a solid drive that looked like it would bring Edmonton back into the game, would be intercepted by Kevin Fogg who would take it back 71-yards for a pick-six and put the Bombers’ up 24-3.

The Bombers’ defense wasn’t done yet as Alexander would hit Reilly’s arm forcing a fumble while throwing, the Bombers would settle for a field goal out of that drive and lead the game 27-3 with 20 of those points coming off turnovers. The Bombers would settle for another field goal before the night was over and would eventually walk off with a huge 30-3 win over the Eskimos’.

The Bombers came into Commonwealth Stadium with a purpose, they dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage and capitalized off the mistakes that Edmonton would make. It’s hard to gauge exactly how good Winnipeg is right now because Edmonton simply rolled over and died in this game, Winnipeg would have 7 takeaways to the Eskimos’ won and score most of their points off turnovers as their offense only need 239 yards and 17 first downs to take the W.

It’s time to hit the panic button in Edmonton as the Eskimos’ look horrible, injuries on the offense has led to inconsistency and quite frankly it just looks like Maas has lost the locker room. If the Eskimos want to be playing at home in the Grey Cup they must get a lot better because quite frankly if they play like they did this week, they won’t even make the playoffs.

Player of the Game: Kevin Fogg, he was all over the field tonight making huge plays for the defense, throw big hits, running back interceptions. He was the most dominant player on the field in this game.

Saskatchewan (8-5) – 34

Montreal (3-10) – 29

 

Capping off the week with a Sunday matinee, was a game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Montreal Alouettes. The Riders looked to create even more separation between themselves and the Esks in second place in the West. The Als, on the other hand, was just looking to find any kind of rhythm they could.

The Riders were coming off a nail-biting victory in Toronto a week prior after dropping their four-game win streak to the RedBlacks in Week 14. They have had what is probably the league’s best defense over the last month and a half and had no intention of slowing that down for Montreal.

The offense has seemed to find its way a bit more despite a few hiccups here and there. They would be without their top receiver in Naaman Roosevelt who suffered a knee injury in Week 15 against the Argos.

Montreal has been bad this year. And that’s putting it lightly. They haven’t found any consistency whatsoever, especially on offense. At the time the Als Defence has looked like it could put together something solid, but they’ve never been able to balance it out.

Whether it be Antonio Pipkin or Johnny Manziel, Montreal has never really stuck with one quarterback this year with a lack of consistency at the position all year. Manziel would get the start in this one, his fourth start of the year for Montreal.

Montreal came up with a huge takeaway early on. On what looked like an incomplete pass, the Als came up with a fumble recovery after being reviewed on a coach’s challenge.  On the ensuing drive, Manzeil took the team down to the Saskatchewan 1-yard line before a sneak by Antonio Pipkin for the early 7-0 lead.

On the Riders next drive, they would answer for their mistake and get the seven points back. Zach Collaros came up with a huge 26-yard pass to newly required Kenny Shaw on a 2nd and 17. Two plays later Collaros handed off to Tre Mason who broke through the pileup for a 27-yard touchdown run and the 7-7 score.

Saskatchewan then stopped the Als on a two-and-out and took it back down the field for another touchdown. After hitting Shaq Evans for a 25-yard gain on a 1st and 20, Collaros would find Kyran Moore in the corner of the end zone. With the missed PAT the Riders took a 13-7 lead.

Bring in some Manziel magic. On Montreal’s next drive the Als pulled out a flea-flicker trick play with a hand-off to one receiver who flipped to another, who then flipped it back to Manziel who found Adarius Bowman deep downfield for the 47-yard TD, his first touchdown pass since 2015. Montreal took the 14-13 lead.

Forcing a two-and-out of their own, Montreal took good field position off a Rider punt and on a penalty assisted drive would add a 17-yard Boris Bede field goal for the 17-13 lead. The lead did not last for long as the Riders marched down the field with Collaros hitting Shaq Evans getting the ball at the 1-yard line. Nick Marshall would take it the rest of the way on the QB sneak for the 21-17 score after the two-point conversion.

The Riders added a 35-yard Brett Lauther field goal for the 24-17 halftime lead. They added to that lead to start the second half. Collaros moved the ball down from the Rider 33-yard all the way to the 1-yard line. Nick Marshall would go back in at QB for the 1-yard sneak and 31-17 lead.

Montreal then got some help on special teams to cut the Rider lead down to seven. Stefan Logan took a Josh Bartel punt back 74 yards for the TD after breaking a tackle and sneaking through the pile. With a missed PAT the score would sit at 31-23.

Montreal kept their hopes alive on the Riders next drive. Collaros tried to force a pass to Josh Stanford and the ball would be tipped into the air and picked off by Henoc Muamba giving them possession at their own 51-yard line.

Three plays later Manziel found the end zone. After taking off on a 25-yard run like a magician, Johnny Football found Ernest Jackson at the goal line for the 20-yard TD. After the failed 2-pt conversion attempt the Riders would hold onto the 31-29 lead.

Saskatchewan pushed their lead ahead a bit more with a drive down to the Montreal 15-yard line. Marcus Thigpen would drop a wide-open pass on 2nd and 6 resulting in a Lauther field goal and the 34-29 lead.

With 30 seconds left and on a crucial 3rd and 1 play from the Montreal 31-yard line Nick Marshall would sneak barely over the line for the first down to end the game and the 34-29 victory.

The Riders have now won two in a row to Eastern teams. They sit in second place with a commanding hold on the spot at 9-5 with Edmonton and Winnipeg holding 7-7 records behind them. While this win was a huge one it still made Rider fans a little uneasy with how close it was, much like the one-point victory over the Argos a week prior.

The offense continues to be inconsistent at times slowing down in the middle of games with turning the ball over, allowing Montreal to get back into the game. The defense still has a bend but don’t break style giving up big plays to Johnny Manziel but coming up huge when needed.

Aside from Calgary, the Riders are still the scariest to me, with the way that they’re able to control the game. They have a productive running attack and can get the job done through the air when they’re playing at an efficient rate. Look out for this team come playoff time.

Despite Montreal holding the record and title of worst team in the league, they made this game a lot closer than maybe it should have been. Johnny Manziel finally had his break out game going 9/16 for 138 yards and 2TD’s. While those numbers don’t jump off the page it was Manziel’s play-making ability that really showcased in this loss. Manziel also put up 45 yards on the ground on 5 scrambles.

The Al’s defense totaled 2 sacks an interception and a fumble recovery, but they also gave up 118 yards on the ground and allowed two Rider receivers to go over 100 yards. The offensive line for Montreal was battered up throughout with Saskatchewan’s defense piling up 5 sacks and forced Manziel to make plays with his legs more than his arm at times.

I don’t want to jump on the hype train but Manziel may have finally found his rhythm in the CFL. It’s just a matter of time until we see if he can do it consistently.

Player of the Game: Zach Collaros. It was a tough decision with Kyran Moore putting up 126 yards and Shaq Evans making 6 catches for 114 yards but Collaros was the player of the game for me. He was extremely efficient even the offense looked to slow down at times. He completed 70% of his passes for 394 yards and 1TD. He did turn the ball over twice but if that’s something he can clean up this Rider team will beat anyone.

 

CFL Week 16 Recap

Leave a Reply