North of the Border: CFL Week 8 News and Notes

by Sean Murphy

Thursday, Jul 27, 2023
We're seven weeks into the CFL season and one undefeated team and one winless team still remain. Of course, you're never that far from playoff contention in the CFL so even the 0-7 Edmonton Elks still have a lot to play for while the 5-0 Toronto Argonauts are anything but free and clear at the top of the pack. Here's a look around the league heading into this weekend's action.

Just a speedbump?

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had reeled off back-to-back wins prior to last week's 31-15 drubbing at the hands of the aforementioned Argos. They'll get a chance to respond on Friday as they make the trip to Ottawa to face the suddenly-surging RedBlacks. Ottawa has delivered consecutive victories in thrilling fashion, first rallying from a massive fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at home before going on the road and outlasting the Calgary Stampeders 43-41 in another overtime affair last week. Hamilton is hoping that it will have QB Bo Levi Mitchell back sooner rather than later as it has few viable options at the position due to a number of key injuries. The RedBlacks have been living off of turnovers this season, coming up with 10 over the last four games alone. Meanwhile, the Ti-Cats coughed up the football eight times in their first four games but have turned it over only twice in their last two contests.

Running down a dream

The defending Grey Cup champion Argos are 5-0 on the strength of an incredible ground attack that has produced an average of 129 rush yards per game, good for an incredible 5.1 yards per rush so far this season. They draw a tough matchup on Saturday as the Saskatchewan Roughriders have been stout against the run, yielding just 4.3 yards per rush after holding their last two opponents to only 88 yards on 29 attempts. It's been a case of feast-or-famine for the Riders offense this season. They've produced 87 points across three of their games but only 38 in the other three. That includes last week when they were limited to just nine points in a double-digit loss to the B.C. Lions. Note that this week's clash between these two teams will take place at a neutral site in Halifax, Nova Scotia (hey that's my backyard).

Looking for a spark

As mentioned, the Elks remain winless on the season but it hasn't been for lack of trying lately. They've been competitive in their last three games (don't let the 28-14 final score in WInnipeg last week fool you) but will draw another difficult opponent in the Lions this Saturday. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what the biggest issue is for Edmonton right now. The Elks have actually held up reasonably well against the pass but have been torched on the ground. Offensively, the Elks are coming off three straight 100+ rushing yard performances. They've also thrown for well over 200 yards in four straight contests. They'll likely need to lean on their defense this week as their offense is unlikely to break through against arguably the Lions ferocious 'D'. B.C. has held all but one of its six opponents to fewer than 20 points this season. The exception was a game against Toronto in which the Lions turned the football over six times and gave up 45 points.

Riding into Montreal

The Stampeders and Montreal Alouettes serve as two of the league's biggest disappointments so far this season with Calgary having won just twice in six games and the Als fresh off three straight losses (after a 2-0 start). They'll match up in Montreal on Sunday in a game that has a 'something's gotta give' feel to it. While you don't want to pin a team's woes on one player, Als QB Cody Fajardo hasn't been pushing the football down the field nearly enough, topping out at 292 passing yards in a game. Meanwhile, Calgary QB Jake Maier started the campaign in a bit of a sophomore slump but did throw for over 400 yards in last week's overtime loss to the RedBlacks. Note that the Stamps will probably be happy to be hitting the road as they're on an incredible 16-4 ATS tear away from home over the last three seasons, outscoring foes by an average margin of 7.3 points. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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