As summer approaches, training camps wrap up and all nine CFL teams are set to take the field under new expectations. Everyone’s expectations are sky high for their respective teams, however, a harsh reality will soon set in. It could be week 2, week 8 or the first round of the playoffs before that reality sets in. But that’s what’s fun about CFL predictions.
But I’m here to tell you how it will all play out. Yes, I Stephen Bolen am here to spoil the 2019 CFL season for you. You thought the Avengers or Game of Thrones spoilers were bad? You haven’t seen anything. Without further ado…
Hamilton Tiger-Cats: 11-7 -Y
Toronto Argonauts: 7-11 -X
Montreal Alouettes: 7-11
Ottawa Redblacks: 6-12
BC Lions: 12-6 -Y
Calgary Stampeders: 11-7 -X
Saskatchewan Roughriders: 10-8 -X
Winnipeg Blue Bombers: 9-9 -C
Edmonton Eskimos 8-10
Y-clinched division, x-clinched playoff spot, c-clinched crossover
Let’s break this down before you lose your mind. Folks, it’s going to get weird this season. With quarterback Trevor Harris leaving for Edmonton in free agency, it has left an even bigger talent gap between the East and West Divisions than ever before. Those waving the flag for a non-division CFL will be louder than ever (and they might be right).
Don’t Expect Much from the East
Hamilton is all but a lock for first in the East, despite a coaching change and losing star linebacker Larry Dean, they appear to be the most consistent team coming into 2019.
Toronto likely won’t have one starting quarterback throughout the season as James Franklin still has much to prove. Montreal is my “surprise” pick to win a few more games than expected but unfortunately for them, the crossover will be their demise. Ottawa, on the other hand, has been dismantled offensively losing Trevor Harris, William Powell, Sir Vincent Rogers and Greg Ellingson. That’s a lot of talent that has left the room. Dominique Davis will assume the starting role for the first time in his career under center.
In the West, take your pick between BC, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and Edmonton, all have the potential to finish anywhere from first to last. If you like parity (and I don’t), this will be the season for you. This division is single-handedly making my CFL predictions very difficult. The Lions and Bombers likely have the highest of expectations and for two different reasons. Winnipeg, like Hamilton, comes in as the most steady team with little shakeup in the off-season. Quarterback Matt Nichols and head coach Mike O’Shea remain at the helm.
The Lions, on the other hand, have a new head coach and quarterback in DeVone Claybrooks and Mike Reilly. They appear poised to make a run if it can all come together quickly enough. Saskatchewan will need quarterback Zach Collaros to remain healthy and efficient if they want to come close to their 12-6 record last season. While their feared defence remains intact, it won’t be enough this year to rely on them to score the majority of points in games.
The two Alberta based teams suffered the majority of the losses, Edmonton losing out on franchise quarterback, Mike Reilly. However, they were able to supplement that with arguably the third best quarterback in the CFL. Calgary, on the other hand, retained their star pivot but suffered a plethora of losses on the defensive side of the ball to the NFL (Alex Singleton & Jameer Thurman).
West & East Semi-Finals
Winnipeg (crossover) over Toronto
Saskatchewan over Calgary
West & East Final
Hamilton over Winnipeg
Saskatchewan over BC
Saskatchewan Roughriders: 24
Hamilton Tiger-Cats: 26
Grey Cup MVP: Jeremiah Masoli
Most Outstanding Canadain: Ted Laurent
For the sake of not being called a “homer”, I’ll say Jeremiah Masoli puts on a clinic in the Grey Cup, even against the vaunted Riders defence. Collaros does all he can against his former team but it won’t be enough. Winnipeg is an enticing option to have to go all the way through the East, however, historically West teams haven’t been able to finish off that feat. I believe BC is a year off from winning the Grey Cup but they’ll be the most fun team to watch in 2019.
Let’s Be Honest
I won’t be right, you won’t be right and these CFL predictions are all a colossal waste of time. However, it’s fun and I get to have people yell at me on Twitter and that makes it all worthwhile. Either way, we are in for quite the season in the CFL. Whether you’re a lifelong fan of the game or just tuning in for the first time I hope you appreciate the Canadian game as much as I do.
Don’t hesitate to hit us up for some CFL talk this season!