CFL Season Preview/Premier's Picks

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It's here. Finally, the snow is gone, the Stanley Cup is handed out, two-a-days are over, let's play football.

Here are my predictions for the West Division.

1. Saskatchewan Roughriders: Key for the Roughriders success early this season is the fact Darian Durant is a quarterback with 20 more games under his belt than he was at this point last year. That's the good news. Even better is the weapons around him have improved. Prechae Rodriquez, Dan Goodspeed and Dominique Dorsey make the Riders look like an offense primed and ready to put up Montrealesque type numbers in 2010. Add in the returnees that Durant is familiar with and things will get explosive with the Roughriders offense. The only big question marks on offense is the run game and if Joel Bell will be able to lock things down at left tackle.

Defensively there are questions marks. Many feel there is no way the Roughriders will get 23 sacks from the edge this season without John Chick and Stevie Baggs and they are right. You cannot predict Luc Mullinder and Brent Hawkins to put up those numbers but Baggs wasn't a household name in the CFL until about Week Nine last season. What the Riders need is pressure from everywhere and anywhere. Watch for Lucas, Kornegay and even safety James Patrick to get in on quarterbacks this season. In the backfield they will not replace Eddie Davis. You can't replace Davis and all the intangibles he brings with him from the experience but Chris McKenzie is a stud. Davis made up for his lack of foot speed by getting to where he needed to be before the receiver and his knowledge allowed him to do that. McKenzie will be able to make up space with tremendous closing speed and its not like he's a raw rookie. McKenzie had to go up against one of the best in the NFL every day when he was with the Houston Texans and Andre Johnson.

2. B.C. Lions: The B.C. Lions lost a lot of good offensive players to the NFL but add Jamal Robertson when losing Martell Mallett fixes that problem instantly. Casey Printers is comfortable in the Jacques Chapdelaine offense. It showed last year when he was showing flashes of his 2004 brilliance. Plus, it doesn't hurt when you have Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon in the slots. Derick Armstrong is a new face for the Lions offense and won't be a 1,000-yard receiver this year but will complement Jackson and Simon. The offensive line needs to be better in B.C. for them to have the success many are predicting.

The B.C. Lions may have made the best offseason defensive acquisition when they signed Keron Williams out of Montreal. Back to back years the B.C. Lions have lost the CFL's sack leader to the NFL, with Ricky Foley and Cam Wake but Williams is a solid fill-in. The B.C. Lions are moving to a much quicker defense as they'll continue to play six defensive back, with Korey Banks playing a linebacker style role again. Their big loss is similar to Saskatchewan with Barron Miles retirement at safety. Who ever fills that role may be the difference between a great defense and an average defense.

3. Calgary Stampeders: I want to put the Stampeders in 4th but I have too much respect for John Hufnagel and Henry Burris to do that. Their big loss is offensive coordinator George Cortez heading to the NFL. Then you can start piling on all the retirements (Brett Ralph, Jeff Pilon, John Comiskey, Jesse Newman). Oh and the best young Canadian offensive lineman Dmitri Tsoumpas is now collecting an NFL pay cheque. OUCH! But Burris and company put up 20 points in the first half against the Roughriders in preseason action so things should be okay offensively as long as Burris doesn't get hit too often.

On defense, I never question a Chris Jones led defense. His intensity carries over to his players and Calgary may give up some yards (7th ranks last season) but they don't give up many points (3rd ranked last season) If Mike Labinjo is back to 2008 form, the Stampeders will be a lot better for it. But if the offensive line breaks down for the Stamps, the defense may see a lot of time on the field.

4. Edmonton Eskimos: The Edmonton Eskimos could take a leap this year. I don't see it. Ricky Ray may not be the quarterback he was when he won Grey Cups in 2003 and 2005 but his arsenal is loaded. With the return of Kelly Campbell, the addition of non-import Andre Talbot, added to a receiving corps lead by Fred Stamps and Kamau Peterson, Ray will have some reliable targets in 2010. Arkee Whitlock will look to add to his exceptional rookie season after that dismal game one in Montreal but I see a sophomore slump coming. Big question for the Eskimos is the same every year. Will Ray have enough time to find his targets?

On defense Richie Hall takes over after Jim Daley's first and only year as Defensive Coordinator. Every year its the same story for the Eskimos defense. CHANGE. GM Danny Maciocia continues to tinker with his defense. This time bringing in Javier Glatt, Chris Thompson, and Lawrence Gordon. The secondary changes every year and they'll have to gel one more time to stop teams from throwing it down their throat. Eskimos were dead last against the pass last year. Maurice Lloyd is healthy and needs to get back to all-star form for the Eskimos defense to be successful.

I won't be as thourough on the East Division.

1. Montreal Alouettes: What reason is there not to put them in first place. Many players returning and when those players are Anthony Calvillo, Ben Cahoon, Kerry Watkins, Jamel Richardson and Avon Cobourne. The Als will be just fine.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats: The reason I put the Tiger-Cats back up to 2nd place is due to their defense. Their front seven will be the best in the CFL this season. Three all-star calibre linebackers with a few younger players that had great debut seasons in the CFL last year, look out quarterbacks in the CFL when the black and gold are across the field. Kevin Glenn should have a decent year and the receiving corps gets better with Maurice Mann coming over from the Edmonton Eskimos.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Almost put the Bombers in 2nd in the East Division because I respect Paul LaPolice as a coach. But he has to prove he's a head coach. I don't like head coaches being the offensive coordinator and play caller and that's the role LaPo is taking on in his first season. LaPolice has brought professionalism and organization to the Bombers and from all accounts the players are reborn after what they experienced under Mike Kelly last year. Bombers could be the surprise of the league in 2010 but they'll have to win before getting too much respect. Oh and by the way Steven Jyles better be ready to lead with Buck Pierce in front of him on the depth chart.

4. Toronto Argonauts: The reason I put the Argonauts in 4th is this phrase, "Starting quarterback Cleo Lemon." Good luck with that Toronto. They lost a lot of talent and brought in a lot of newer players to replace them. Jermaine Copeland better be ready to see the football 20 times a game out of the slot.


The Premier of Saskatchewan Brad Wall is back for another season and will go up against the province every Wednesday night at 6:06 on Sports Night.

Here are the picks for Week One.

Premier Wall: Sask., Calgary, Winnipeg, Edmonton

Nye: Montreal, Calgary, Hamilton, Edmonton

Remenda: Montreal, Calgary, Hamilton, Edmonton

I get to defend my picks because it's my blog. The reason I pick Montreal is simple 12-1 in season openers. I'm going with the odds although the Riders are going to be zoned in to win and when they're at home they're almost unbeatable the last few seasons.


Jamie and Drew - I wish you

Jamie and Drew - I wish you guys would pick against the Riders more often. It seems like everytime you do we end up with an amazing game!

nice call, nye!

Well well, don't you and Remenda look quite foolish now, Jamie Nye? Quite foolish indeed. MWAH HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

CFL Picks

I'd be the last person to be gloating about Jamie's and Drew picks against the Riders. I bet there were more than a few thousand in Rider Nation (me included) that threw in the towel upon Maypray's 122 yd missed FG return for a TD. Thankfully the team showed resiliency and erased the deficit. Now if we only can get our Special Teams Co-ordinator and Captains to learn how to count to twelve. Once I can tolerate it, but twice is ridiculous.

All penalties ridiculous?

So then by that logic shouldn't you be snapping your crayons every time the team gets a procedure call or an offside? How about a roughing the kicker? Illegal substitution? Any one of those could have changed the course of the Grey Cup game last year the same as a too many men penalty. I'm not saying that it's ok to take a penalty for having 13 players on the field, just that people should relax about it. It happened but we won the game and they will continue to learn and grow as a team. That's what counts.

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