Calgary was better than Edmonton (and Saskatchewan) this year … and barring one of those teams signing Doug Flutie or something like that, they should be next year, too. You could see the Stamps starting to come together as a team as the year went on, and had we not gifted Edmonton the west semi, well, the Esks wouldn’t be Grey Cup champions, that’s for sure! Calgary’s also keeping its core intact for the longterm … which will only help us in the early going (and later, albeit not as much).
Edmonton will still be good (unfortunately), just like they’ll still try and buy up all the talent they can. But Maas will be a Tiger-Cat, meaning if Ray does go down, they’ll have to look to another (albeit promising) QB (or McManus).
Saskatchewan … has great depth at QB, now they just need a starter
BC is going to be interesting to watch, especially after their late-season capsizing. One of the QBs will probably move on (my guess is Printers). No QB controversy should help them out a lot!
Winnipeg is still in rebuilding mode … so I’m sorry to say that I’ll be surprised if they finish better than 5th.
Toronto could almost dominate, but is Damon Allen coming back? And will Montreal figure them out and catch up? It’s hard to say if the balance of power is truly shifting west, or if Toronto just squeaked by Montreal this year. Regular season would indicate that Toronto is dominant, but it’s hard for me to believe that this past season was the first in a downwards slide for Montreal. Those two should battle it out for first, and it’ll be fun to watch!
Hamilton, after getting Maas, has no reason not to improve. I didn’t think they looked too bad this year (though that might’ve been their uniforms, which are GREAT!). I think Hamilton will manage 3rd, possibly 2nd if one of Toronto or Montreal falter.
And sadly, I see the Renegades finishing 4th. Why sadly? Apart from the fact that they’re my second-favourite team, I really, really want to see them succeed and thrive in Ottawa, and a last-place team isn’t conducive to that. What with all the crap flying about now, about if they will fold, move, etc, it’s not going to get better if the Renegades finish in last. I really, really hope Glieberman pulls a Bob Young, and we see Renegades games as well attended as Tiger-Cats games, regardless of the team’s success. But on the field, John Jenkins is too hooked on the run and shoot offence for the team to be successful. No one will need to respect their run anymore! I’ve seen what John Jenkins can do to a team (Calgary in 2004) and it ain’t pretty. I really, really hope that it works for the Renegades (granted, they have Joseph, we had Crandell; they have Ranek, we had nobody).
So my 7-months-in-advance preseason predicted final standings arrrrrrre …
And as much as I’d love to see the Esks finally miss the playoffs, I’d expect them to win the west-to-east crossover.