Hey football fans, I'm Rob Banks and you're not. Rabbit Season? Duck season? Football season! We can tell by the pop of the pads and the smell of fresh cut ... field turf that the CFL is back for another year of hits kicks and catches and of course, the world famous Virtual Grey Cup Challenge. I'll be here until November to keep you up to date on the only pick'em pool that matters.
Once again Steeltown's own BigDave has come through to make the VGCC happen. Without him the season just wouldn't be the same. Last year taylorfied managed to squeak past schooner11 in the final to win the title after the both of them and Eskylo posted remarkable 60-21 regular season records (that's a game shy of .750 winning percentage, football fans). Remember that there's been a slight change to the playoff format as anyone 'who performed better than the VGCC world also qualifies as a wild card'. Most likely 'better' will be defined as having more wins rather than having a better percentage but 'wild card' appears even more ambiguous. Perhaps BigDave could clarify how this will work in the coming weeks. Either way, the strategy is the same: pick winners.
Ottawa kicks off the schedule Thursday night in Montreal and although both teams have question marks heading into the season the Alouettes have far fewer. This is the Mismatch of the Week. Montreal's defense is still top notch and that relentless front seven will prove too much for Hank and his crew of new receivers. The Als should pull away in the second half and win big, 36-10.
Friday Night Football in Calgary brings the Grey Cup rematch of Tiger-Cats and Stampeders as the league's only two teams without letters figuring prominently on their helmets square off. On the road and overmatched to begin with Hamilton is already a MAS*H unit and (unlike many CFL teams that abuse the injured list) most of their wounded seem to be actually legit. The defensive line already reeling from the season ending injury to Brian Bulcke became depleted further the other night when end Eric Norwood hurt himself in a domestic incident (!?!). When it rains it bleeds. Also at tailback with both CJ Gable and Moises Madu (season) unable to suit up, the Cats are reaching deep to their practice roster for Ray Holley to make his first ever start. On top of all this Kent Austin's teams have been notoriously slow starters out of training camp. Calgary should control this game but a blowout is doubtful. Stamps win 29-16.
Edmonton may be officially on the road against the Argonauts this week but with the game being played in Fort McMurray don't expect many double-blue jerseys in the crowd. Some may be too quick to toss their Ricky-Ray-less offense into the bin, but realistically Trevor Harris is no Mike Reilly. Oh, and then there's the whole issue of that non-existent Toronto defense. Yeah, Esks 33-15.
Finally, the Winnipeg at Saskatchewan matchup doubles as the CloseCall of the Week and the BIG TILT of the Week. Although the Roughriders look better on paper (mostly because of their defense) it's these intense rivalries where you can usually throw all the paper in the thresher come kickoff. This being Week 1 also brings a little more unpredictability into the mix as everyone is capable of missing an assignment while executing new plays for the first time. Where the Bombers have the best chance to tip the field in their favor is on special teams as the Riders have a lot to prove in this area this year. Still, the Taylor Field crowd has to be a factor and just might be the edge that they need. 28-24 Gophers.
We'll check in again next week and see how we all did. Until then, Bank on it!