Thrills, spills, and the Grey Cup: the 2007 CFL

Stampeders, Argonauts likely to come out of West and East

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Three Grey Cup winners

NINETY-EIGHT YEARS AND ONE WELDING JOB LATER, THE GREY CUP LIVES ON. Teams in the Canadian Football League opened up camp this week for the upcoming season. Regular season play will resume at the end of the month.

With training camps opening up this past week, The Gazette predicts what teams will be making headlines in the upcoming CFL season.

Western Division

1. B.C. Lions
Following a remarkable year that saw the Lions capture their fifth Grey Cup in team history, the team enters training camp with virtually the same roster as last season. Quarterback Dave Dickenson will have his favourite target Geroy Simon to throw to, and Joe Smith should provide the Lions with a solid ground attack.

Defensively, however, B.C. will miss the fiery presence of veteran linebackers Carl Kidd and George White.

Prediction: While the Lions should cruise through the regular season, look for the roster to be upset by hungrier opponents in the playoffs.

2. Calgary Stampeders
All eyes in Cowtown will be on pivot Henry Burris, who is under pressure to bring a championship back to the city. To achieve this goal, however, the Stamps’ defensive secondary will need to improve.

The secondary, which allowed nearly 280 yards of passing per game last season, does not need to be superb, but must up its status from last in the league if the team hopes to advance further than one round in this year’s playoffs.

Prediction: Look for Calgary to light up scoreboards consistently and return to the big dance come November.

3. Edmonton Eskimos
The youth movement has officially begun for the CFL’s premier football organization. Gone are common names such as Ed Hervey and Singor Mobley, who will be replaced by newcomers.

The biggest area the team has improved is in its secondary, picking up veterans Ricky Bell, Omar Morgan and Ahmad Samuels. A younger, quicker defensive line led by sophomore end Adam Braidwood should give this secondary time to defend the pass.

Prediction: While the Eskimos will compete every night, the younger squad looks unlikely to battle with formidable giants in the west.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders
With the Danny Barrett and Roy Shivers era now over, a renewed sense of optimism has been brought to Riderville.

Head coach Kent Austin brings with him championship experience not only as a player, but also at the coaching level.

The one void in the ’Rider lineup is at running back, as the team parted ways with troubled Kenton Keith in the off-season.

Prediction: Look for the Roughriders to make an upset early in the playoffs before bowing out to the Stamps.

Eastern Division

1. Toronto Argonauts
With the Leafs and Jays underachieving once again, the Argos should give Toronto sports fans something to cheer about this season.

While the team is defensively sound, the offence often stumbled down the stretch last season. Signing Taylor Robertson in the off-season should provide the Argos the stability they need on offence to protect the ancient Damon Allen and keep him healthy for the season.

Prediction: After losing in consecutive Eastern final matchups, the Argos are poised to compete for a championship at the Rogers Centre.

2. Montreal Alouettes
A passing of the torch is likely to come for the Als this year, as they are unlikely to once again be the toast of the East.

While Montreal did bulk up defensively, adding linebackers John Grace and Donnavan Carter, the team lost three crucial secondary members, including Duane Butler and Richard Karikari.

The team’s depleted secondary could prove to be an Achilles heel, especially considering the blitzing style the team plays.

Prediction: The Als should have no trouble advancing to the playoffs, but are no longer strong enough defensively to be considered the top contender.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
With Kevin Glenn established as a bona fide player, the Bombers now have the stability at quarterback to make a run for the Grey Cup.

The one factor that could hamper the team is its age. Veteran running back Charles Roberts and slotback Milt Stegall continue to be relied on for the majority of the team’s offence, meaning the team is always one injury away from being out of contention.

Prediction: Look for the Bombers to be a dark horse in the Eastern division, but bow out to the Argonauts in the East final.

4. Hamilton Tiger Cats
Much like the past two seasons, they will be in rebuilding mode in the Hammer, trying to improve on a season that saw them finish last in almost every statistical category both offensively and defensively.

On offence, quarterback Jason Maas will have to rebound from his eight touchdown, 17 interception season if the team has any hopes of even reaching the .500 mark.

Prediction: Don’t expect the Ti-Cats to be in the playoff picture anytime soon.

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