Another year of CFL action is upon us, and you’ll be able to hear the action on SiriusXM Canada Talks. Along with all the games, hear Mick Kern and Brett Innis preview the season on Inside The CFL, this Thursday, June 14th at 7 pm ET on Canada Talks,
Before the first kickoff, let’s preview what to expect from the various teams this year:
The Defending Grey Cup Champions will look to improve their regular season record despite achieving perfection in the CFL Playoffs. Head Coach Marc Trestman’s steady-as-she-goes approach with the boatmen should prove successful once again in an Eastern Conference that’s ripe for the taking. Offensive weapons like QB Ricky Ray, RB James Wilder Jr. and WR S.J Green will make for a tough matchup against any defence across the league.
While all eyes are on Johnny “Football” Manziel, the rest of the league will need to key in on a Ti-Cats squad that’s itching to keep improving from last season. Manziel will start the season as the Backup to QB Jeremiah Masoli who showed promise in the second half of 2017. After starting the ’17 campaign 0-8, Hamilton went 6-4 in their final 10 games under new Head Coach June Jones. Anything lower than a playoff spot will be disappointing for Canada’s Steel City.
With a bye in Week 1 the Redblacks should be ready to roll come June 21st when they open the season against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Their undefeated preseason showed that Ottawa means business after a losing record saw them back into the playoffs. If Trevor Harris can stay healthy and Canadian WR Brad Sinopoli can have another standout season, the Redblacks will be right at the top of the East standings.
After starting last season 3-4 the Alouettes took a nose dive to the basement of the CFL finishing the season with 11 straight losses and a 3-15 record overall. New Head Coach Mike Sherman is still learning the ins-and-outs of the Canadian game but will undoubtedly improve the losing culture of last season. QB Drew Willy looks to have his 2nd full season under centre after playing in 17 games for the Blue Bombers back in 2014.
A 7-11 record last season saw the BC Lions miss the playoffs for the first time since 1996. Entering his final season in the CFL, Head Coach Wally Buono will try to ride off into the sunset with a roster hungry to get back to postseason play. The offence looked very impressive in the preseason going 2-0 against divisional opponents while the defence has their work cut out for them after allowing over 500 points last season.
The winning culture in Calgary will continue this season as the Stamps “Title-or-Bust” mentality has gotten them to six straight West Final appearances. QB Bo Levi Mitchell looks healthy after recovering from a shoulder injury and is looking for another MOP title. As for the other side of the football, the Stamps had the most dominant defence last season and will need to have the same if they want another first round bye in the Western Conference.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Head Coach Mike O’Shea and the Blue Bombers will start the season behind the proverbial 8-ball after QB Matt Nichols suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for at least the first month of the season. With last year’s rushing leader Andrew Harris and a deep receiving corps, Winnipeg’s offence shouldn’t have a problem moving the ball. As for the defence they ranked in top-5 in almost every major category and they’ll be relied upon until their starting QB comes back.
Last year’s devastating loss to provincial rival Calgary Stampeders in the West Final has Eskimos players and fans frothing at the mouth to get this season started. 2017’s Most Outstanding Player and QB Mike Reilly is using the heartbreaking loss as motivation for an Edmonton team eyeing a home date for the 106th Grey Cup. The Eskies will need a hot start if they want to compete with Calgary for a first round bye in the West.
The Riders boast the WR corps in the league with Duron Carter, Naaman Roosevelt, and Caleb Holley. The big question heading into this season is who will be throwing them the ball? QB’s Zach Collaros and Canadian Brandon Bridge are still vying for playing time under centre. No nonsense Head Coach Chris Jones will certainly be going back and forth until someone takes the reigns for the signal calling position.