CFL 2021 Season Preview – West Division Quick Hitters
BC Lions – This team went only 5-13 last season (2019) and that included 0-10 in the division and no team in the division allowed more points than the Lions. This is another team, like Edmonton, that is testing out a rather inexperienced defensive line. How quickly units like this jell in a shortened 14-game season is going to be key. BC is talented on offense but this is still a team that pulled up the rear in the West in 2019 and appears to be poised to do the same this season. Also QB Michael Reilly will be playing his 2nd season in BC. Formerly he was with Edmonton and his ratio was a combined 58-25 in 2016-17 and then 50-33 in 2018-19. This includes a 20-15 TD-INT ratio in 2019 with the Lions.
Calgary Stampeders – Off a 12-6 season and had best record within divisional games too as the Stampeders were 8-2 in divisional match-ups. Calgary, however, got bounced in the first round of the post-season by eventual 2019 Grey Cup Champion Winnipeg. The Stampeders could have some lingering hunger from the way 2019 ended after a solid regular season. However, Calgary has downgraded a bit in terms of overall talent level in recent seasons. Though well-coached, can they must enough to be the top team in the division this season? I just do not see them being quite as strong as they were in past seasons.
Edmonton Elks – The Elks went 8-10 in the 2019 season but snuck into the playoffs where they did win one playoff game against an East Division team but then lost in the 2nd round. Edmonton had trouble in divisional games with a 3-7 record. The Elks have a revamped defense but will it take some time to jell? Yes they are talented but you have to play well together as a unit. The new look on defense could be a pleasant surprise but tough to trust them right out of the gate. The offense looks strong and QB Trevor Harris could have a huge season with all the weapons around him but the new head coach and defensive system will be important to watch early on.
Saskatchewan Roughriders – Lost in the division finals to the eventual 2019 Grey Cup Champion Blue Bombers but had a 13-5 regular season including an 8-1 mark at home. The Roughriders are known for being tough to play against in Saskatchewan! In 2021, the Riders might be tough to play everywhere! Can the defense hold up though? Combo of solid QB in a good OC’s system should lead to big things on offense but some concerns about personnel losses on defense. If the D holds together and the offense has the dynamic edge it certainly could, then this team could end up on top in the division.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Being 3rd best in the West did not stop the Blue Bombers from marching all the way through the post-season to win it all by defeating Edmonton, Saskatchewan, and then Hamilton. Winnipeg, like Saskatchewan was very tough to beat at home as they had an 8-1 record as a host. The Blue Bombers will have a target on their backs because they are trying to repeat but they do look solid again overall with many key pieces back from last year’s team. Even though they won the title with Zach Collaros at QB how will he perform for a full season which would be his first since 2018 with Saskatchewan? The Bombers could drop some.