The Canadian Football League is set to kickoff June 30th.
Thanks to the NFL Lockout, very soon, American
football fans (and Terrelle Pryor) may be hooked on the Canadian Football League
(CFL) and Arena Football League (AFL).
With the Canadian Football season about to start, it's a good time to get involved with one of SBR's CFL Forum threads. Last season poster Hawk007 provided picks and betting odds insight for many of the matchups.
The CFL runs an 18-game regular season from early July until early November, then caps the season with
three weeks of playoff action
culminating with the Grey Cup. Considering the state of the NFL, it may be time for football fans and bettors to take
a closer look at the eight teams that
comprise the CFL. The football betting odds cited are
Calgary Stampeders (11/4)
The Stampeders will
be looking to return to their first Grey Cup since 2008, when they defeated Montreal by a score
of 22-14. This squad, which scored an
amazing 626 points in 2010, is loaded. The leader of the offense is Most Outstanding Player Henry Burris
(4,945 yards, 38 td). He is supported by
back Joffrey Reynolds (1,200 yards, 8 td) and a trio of 1000-yard receivers.
Ten starters return on
the CFL’s top defense, led by linebacker Juwan Simpson. Rob Maver, last season’s top scorer in the CFL as a
rookie, returns at kicker.
On paper, this is the
best team in the CFL, and Calgary deserves its status as a favorite (or favourite, since this is the CFL). The Stampeders were, however, the best team last
year as well but fell to Saskatchewan in
the West final.
Montreal Alouettes (3/1)
The Alouettes will be
looking for a threepeat in 2011 behind the arm of quarterback Anthony Calvillo
(4,839 yards, 32 td). The 38-year-old will look to become the CFL’s all-time leading passer after having throat surgery to remove a lesion on his thyroid.
Calvillo is on the downside of his
career, but one can never count out this legendary quarterback.
Ben Cahoon, the CFL
reception’s leader, retired in the offseason. S.J. Green (875 yards, 10 td) will move to
slotback to replace him.
Montreal only has one
1,000-yard receiver returning in Jamel Richardson (1,271 yards, 7 td). He will
be joined by Jerry Porter, Dallas Baker, Kerry Watkins,and Preachae Rodriguez
in the receiver rotation.
Running back Avon
Cobourne (956 yards, 6 td) signed with Hamilton. Brandon Whitaker (111 yards, 2
td) will get the first shot at the position.
retirement of Mathieu Proulx, the defense remains largely unchanged. That is
not a positive sign for a squad that allowed 475 points last season (5th in the CFL).
It is difficult to
count the champs out, but with age catching up to Calvillo, uncertainty at back, and a lack of
big-play receivers, this team will
struggle to threepeat.
Saskatchewan Roughriders (11/2)
The losers of the
last two Grey Cups will look to change their fortunes in 2011. The team made news recently by
acquiring rights to negotiate with Terrell Pryor, but they already possess the league’s top quarterback
in Darian Durant (5,552 yards, 25 td).
Wes Cates (1,053 yards 15 td) will spur
the rushing attack.
Slotback Andy Fantuz
(1,380 yards, 6 td) was signed by the Chicago Bears. Rookie Jordan Sisco is the favorite to take that
position. The Roughriders will rely heavily on Weston Dressler and Chris
Getzlaf in the passing game.
coordinator Richie Hall cut both starting corners from last year’s team.
Replacements will be determined during the preseason.
Gregg Marshall, in
his first head coaching stint, wants to make special teams a priority and plans
to play offensive and defensive starters on the unit. Special teams are important in the CFL, and this could be a brilliant move unless it negatively effects
his starters in other areas.
The Roughriders will
remain competitive behind Durant. With a rookie head coach and without Fantuz, it will be
difficult for this team to appear in
its third consecutive Grey Cup.
British Columbia Lions (6/1)
B.C. is an intriguing
team heading into 2011. The Lions began 2010 with a 1-7 record
before finding themselves and posting a 7-3 mark over their last 10 games. Quarterback Travis Lulay
(2,602 yards, 9 td) became the starting quarterback after the horrible
start, and showed flashes of competence.
Jamal Robertson (953
yards, 8 td) will lead the rushing attack, while Geroy Simon (1,190 yards, 6
td) will lead the receiving corps.
The defense is led by
a group of young stars who are able to shift from a 4-3 to a 3-4 during the game. That causes
major headaches for opposing offenses.
This squad also boast the CFL top kicker in terms of
accuracy, Paul McCallum (88.5%).
The Lions will be a
fun team to watch in 2011, and could be worth a small flyer at this price. I do
not think, however, that they are ready to compete with Calgary and Saskatchewan in the West. . .yet.
Edmonton Eskimos (7/1)
Edmonton is starting
fresh with coaches, players, and new facilities this season. It will pay off in
a couple of years, but 2011 will not be a great season. Look for a few upsets from this young squad, though.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7/1)
A choke job in the
playoffs resulted in some changes on the coaching staff and the addition of Avon Cobourne.
Another mediocre season awaits in 2011.
In fairness, though, this team has the talent to excel if the squad puts it all together. I’ll need to see
a playoff win first.
Toronto Argonauts (8/1)
The Argos had the
best defense in the CFL last season. Success will rest on the development of the offense, particularly
quarterback Steven Jyles. If you believe
in Jyles, this is an excellent value play, especially considering Toronto’s strong special teams. I
need to see more offense before pulling
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (10/1)
The Blue Bombers were 4-14 last season. It’s going to be a
rebuilding year in Winnipeg.
It’s a boring pick, but I’m going with the favored Calgary Stampeders to hoist the Grey Cup in Vancouver. Enjoy the season.