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It’s getting serious – the CFL season heats up.

For many casual fans the traditional start of the “real football season” in Canada is now. The weather is becoming autumnal and soon enough we may be seeing football on snowy fields, (nothing better, but that’s just my opinion), and the fun kicks off this coming weekend with the labour day classic. These are games with great history, great rivalries, and if the rest of the CFL season so far is anything to go by will be offering great entertainment for the neutral.

So how is it looking for each team now coming into these pivotal games?

Monday will see Edmonton take on Calgary in a match that sees two teams that have only lost 3 games all season between them go head to head.  In fact, these two teams meet each other both this week and next and if either could win both it could catapult them into a playoff run.

Edmonton 7-2: had overcome a boatload of injuries to get to 7-0, their best start to a season since 1961 before it started to come apart. They have lost both of their last 2 games and after the last loss a minority of fans were questioning Mike Reilly as starter. This seemed harsh to say the least, as Reilly, apart from one game has played very well all season.

Calgary 7-1-1 : for the Stamps Bo Levi Mitchell looked like he was a little sharper than of late against the Argos last week. The Stampeders have dominated CFL regular seasons of late, and getting to 7-1-1 at the halfway stage this year does not suggest they are loosening their grip.

Also on Monday The Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger Cats square off in Hamilton.

Hamilton 0-8: It is hard to feel optimistic for Ti-Cats fans right now. Their team is winless, their starting QB is being dropped for this game and they’ve just been involved in a 24 hour debacle over the hiring then non-hiring of former Baylor coach Art Briles. It’s fair to say this was a potential hiring the CFL community did not readily endorse.

Still, perhaps Jeremiah Masoli will offer something different running the O. Plus, when you are this far down, the only way is up as they say. Somewhere along the line perhaps they will put it all together, and Hamilton fans will be hoping it could be here as players look to impress new coach June Jones.

Toronto 4-6: The season has been a mixed bag so far for the Argonauts. They are atop the East Division but have so far failed to topple any team from the West.  Meanwhile, for the second time in 3 games the Argos did not pick up a TD on offence and will want to bounce back big here, in a re-match of the game where Ricky Ray set a career high for passing yardage. The Argos will be desperate to maintain their lead at the top of the East Division, especially as Ottawa are close on their heels.

The Labour Day Week End action starts on Thursday when the REDBLACKS roll into Montreal to take on the Alouettes.

Ottawa 3-6-1:  the REDBLACKS will be hoping that they are getting something going, having won their last 2 games. Although they had started slowly, Ottawa have been competitive in every game with their largest margin of defeat being 7 points. In fact 9 of the 10 games they have played have been decided by 7 points or less! They say you are what you record says you are in sport, but seeing Ottawa at 1-6-1 seemed something of a misnomer given how competitive they had been up to that point.  It is to their advantage that they are in the East Division and despite the slow start are only one point behind division leaders Toronto.

Montreal 3-6: the Alouettes have lost their last two games and dropped down the rankings. However, this is a team with veteran leadership. Much like Ottawa, Montreal have played some close ones this season, with 7 games being decided by a touchdown or less. They lost by only 3 points to Winnipeg last week, and the Blue Bombers can arguably be seen as the form team right now. Nik Lewis broke the all time CFL reception record in that game which has been a partial focus for the Als this season too.

Finally, the Saturday game will be the Banjo Bowl between Saskatchewan and Winnipeg. (For how the game came to be known this way have a look here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banjo_Bowl ).

Saskatchewan 4-4: The Riders may sit last in the West but they have put in some dominating performances of late, putting up 41 and 54 points in their last two outings against BC and Edmonton respectively. Fans of other teams may be starting to wonder if Chris Jones has got this team in a position to succeed if they keep putting up those kinds of numbers. Playing Winnipeg will be a good test as they are an in form team who keep finding ways to win.

Winnipeg 7-2: The Blue Bombers are on a roll. They have won 5 straight, and seem to have discovered a knack for winning close contests or making improbable recoveries in a game. They have the league’s highest scoring offence averaging over 34 points a game and will be looking to win back to back Labour Day Classic matches against Saskatchewan for the first time since 2004.

The game between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan has the feel of a ‘big one’ that could define something about each team’s season, and just like Calgary and Edmonton these two teams meet each other both this week and next and if either could win both it could catapult them into a playoff run.

Lest we should forget them in all of this, not playing this week are the Lions.

BC Lions 5-5: Coach/GM Wally Buono recently described the Lions as ‘discombobulated’ after falling from 5-2 to 5-5 and slipping down the West division pecking order. A core of the squad that went 12-6 last year still exists in BC and many were expecting bigger things from the Lions this year. The Leos probably got their bye week at a good time to review things, and it looks like they are going with Travis Lulay at QB for the rest of the year – Lions fans will hope he can reproduce the winning form he showed when standing in for an injured Jonathon Jennings earlier in the year.

So there we have it – all of the teams have something to aim for, and at the moment neither Division has a clear runaway leader separating themselves out from the rest. that just means every game can be that much more important right now – and as fans we get to enjoy some great contests. So far this year the CFL has treated us to plenty of close ones, some spectacular plays (year of the great catch anyone?) and lots of intriguing story lines. So let’s sit back and enjoy watching the second half unfold – I only hope it can be half as good as the first half of the season!

 

picture: d3ham790trbkqy.cloudfront.net

 

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