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The Race for First in the CFL West Division

The CFL West Division continues to be the cream of the crop year after year. And while the East finally has two legitimate contenders heading into the last five games of the season, the West still holds all the cards.

Winnipeg, Calgary and Saskatchewan are all vying for the number one seed in the CFL West Division and if this season has been any indication, it’ll likely come down to the final two-three weeks. Let’s take a look at who has the most difficult and easiest path to the top seed.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Remaining Games:
Vs Hamilton

@ Saskatchewan

Vs Montreal

@ Calgary

Vs Calgary

The final five games of the Bombers schedule make the blown leads against the Argonauts and Alouettes that much more painful. At 9-4, the Bombers don’t play a team with a losing record to close out the season.

Chris Streveler has been formidable in the starting role for the Bombers, he’ll need to be even better with Matt Nichols officially out for the season. There is absolutely no clarity with the tie-breakers. Winnipeg is 1-0 versus Calgary but has a home and home to close out the season with them.

After trouncing the Roughriders at the Banjo Bowl, the season-series hangs in the balance next week but they’ll have to go to Saskatchewan to seal the deal there. When it’s all said and done, Winnipeg likely has the most difficult path to first place, despite currently holding that position. I predict two tough losses to Hamilton and Saskatchewan but a strong finish with a victory over Montreal and a split with Calgary.

Final record prediction: 11-7
Calgary Stampeders
Remaining Games:
Bye Week

@ Montreal

Vs Saskatchewan

Vs Winnipeg

@ Winnipeg

@BC

What many (wrongfully) thought would be a down year for Calgary. They’ve proved once again why they’ve been the best-run franchise in the CFL for the better part of a decade. After losing an onslaught of contributors from the 2018 Championship winning team, having Bo Levi Mitchell miss seven games as well as battling injuries at other key positions, Calgary is still right in the thick of it for first in the West.

Similar to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Calgary Stampeders do not have an easy path to finish in first. Thankfully for them, their commanding 37-10 win over Saskatchewan early in the season gives them the upper hand heading into that Week 18 matchup. Calgary has historically struggled in Montreal. Since 2014, the Stampeders are 1-4 in games at McGill Stadium. Is that necessarily indicative of how this next matchup will go? No, but it’s something worth considering, and Vernon Adams Jr. will be back for this matchup.

With a split with Winnipeg already predicted above, I reckon the Stampeders will drop their game in Montreal, win a tightly contested game against Saskatchewan and finish the season strong against the underachieving BC Lions.

Final record prediction: 12-6
Saskatchewan Roughriders:
Remaining Games:
@ Toronto

Vs Winnipeg

@ Calgary

@BC

@ Edmonton

Vs Edmonton

At 8-4 the Roughriders have had one of the more interesting paths to contention. After starting the season 1-3, the Riders rallied to win six straight before being blown out by Winnipeg and winning a nail biter against Montreal. In that time, their strength of competition came under fire as many pointed that during their six-game winning streak, two of those came against the aforementioned Lions, the basement-dwelling Argos and the rebuilding Redblacks. (There’s also that one game that didn’t finish because of lightning but I digress).

While the Riders can’t control who they play, they took care of business against teams that they were expected to. Their remaining schedule appears to be the easiest with two games against a struggling Edmonton team, one more against BC and a matchup in Toronto.  However, the one thing the Riders have working against them is where their games are being played. Currently, Saskatchewan has a 2-3 record on the road. Four of their last six games will also be played on the road, if Saskatchewan is to land a home playoff game (where they are currently 6-1), they’ll have to take care of business outside of Regina.

A win in Toronto should be expected, the Riders having home-field against the Bombers in the tie-breaker game gives them the edge in that one as well. I predict a loss in Calgary but a quick bounce-back victory against BC before splitting with Edmonton to close out the season (assuming Trevor Harris is back).

Final record prediction: 12-6
Edmonton Eskimos
Remaining games:
@ Ottawa

@ Hamilton

Vs BC

Vs Saskatchewan

@ Saskatchewan

Apologies in advance to Edmonton fans, there’s simply too much up in the air with Trevor Harris being inactive. Assuming Edmonton defeats Ottawa, that would put them at 7-7 with games against Hamilton, BC and Saskatchewan (x2) remaining. For the optimists’ sake, let’s imagine that they drop their game in Hamilton but defeat BC and split with Saskatchewan. A 9-9 record will be good enough for the crossover in 2019 (unlike last season), but that would mean they have to go to Montreal and Hamilton to battle their way back to Calgary for the 107th Grey Cup

Final record prediction: 9-9
Final Predicted CFL West Division Standings
Calgary Stampeders: 12-6

Saskatchewan Roughriders: 12-6

Winnipeg Blue Bombers: 11-7

Edmonton Eskimos: 9-9

BC Lions: 5-13
Final Thoughts
Regardless if these predictions turn out or not, the good news for CFL fans everywhere is that they’ll be treated to “playoff atmosphere” football long before November 10th. Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan’s matchups against one another down the final stretch of the regular season should offer fireworks and some of the best football CFL fans have seen this season.

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Is the Edmonton Eskimos Playoff Spot Actually Secure?

This weekend the Edmonton Eskimos dropped their fifth game in a row as Hamilton defeated them on their home field as a last-second field goal banged off the uprights and in. They now have a record of 6-7 and suddenly don’t appear to be a shoo-in for the playoffs; as they appeared just a couple weeks ago. But let’s imagine, if the worst-case scenario happened and they lost their last five games to finish with a record of 6-12, would they still make the playoffs?

Here is the rest of their schedule:

Week 16: at Ottawa

Week 17: at Hamilton

Week 18: BC

Week 20: Saskatchewan

Week 21: at Saskatchewan

That’s not to say they will lose each of these games. However, if it were to happen, would the Edmonton Eskimos still make the playoffs? Right now, Edmonton is six points ahead of BC and Ottawa, who each have three wins. Toronto has a game in hand on those two and is four points behind their two wins. None of these teams are very good, but could any of them make a late-season surge and steal a playoff spot?
Contenders
Ottawa
The Redblacks are sputtering as much as any team in the league right now. After that, they play at Toronto in Week 18, at Hamilton, at Toronto and against Montreal. But, assuming they beat Edmonton this week—because that’s the premise, could they make a late run? Not likely. I don’t believe they will sweep Toronto or beat Hamilton or Montreal.
Toronto
After starting 0-6, the Argonauts have won two of their last six games; including a win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. They crushed the Redblacks in Ottawa in Week 13, and in that time McLeod Bethel-Thompson has shown signs of being a capable quarterback. They narrowly lost to Calgary last week and lost a one-possession game against Montreal in Week 11. The improvement over the season is obvious. They could win their next two games against Saskatchewan this week and then at BC. They get Ottawa after that before going to Montreal. Ottawa comes to town once again before they end the season at Hamilton.

I would give them a better chance to make the playoffs in the present circumstances than Ottawa. They get two home games against the Redblacks, but having to go to BC, Montreal and Hamilton they would need at least one win there to get to six wins (assuming they do defeat the RoughRiders). So could they catch a 6-12 Edmonton team? Possibly, but I would say they would have no higher than a 30% chance.
BC
The BC Lions have won two in a row over the hapless Redblacks. This week they take on Montreal, then host the Argos, go to Edmonton (which is a win we assume for this scenario), host Saskatchewan, then get a bye in Week 20 before hosting Calgary to close the season. They have had some close calls this season against Hamilton (twice), at Montreal, at Saskatchewan and at Calgary. BC’s only other win this season was over—you guessed it—Toronto.

What gives them hope is that they get four home games over their last five, and with Mike Reilly leading the show he could get hot at any point and string some wins together. I would give them a 50% chance to catch a 6-12 Edmonton.

I imagine they will win at least one of the next two games at home against Eastern opponents (Toronto and Montreal), if not both. But even if they only win one, and we assume they win at Edmonton they will be at five wins. Then, the game against the Riders would be a must-win because their Week 21 game with Calgary could very easily determine home-field advantage for the Stampeders.
Outcome
All this said I am hard-pressed to think that Edmonton will not win another game. If they don’t get off the skids this week against the Redblacks, heads need to roll. This is a must-win game against the worst team in the league. With the Riders form recently, the Esks could easily take a game from them. But I don’t see them winning at Hamilton. I also believe playing BC will be tough, because beating a team three times in a season is not easy.

If the Edmonton Eskimos win one more game this season, that should be enough to ensure a playoff spot. Two would all but secure it. However, if they don’t win another game this season, I would still give the Esks a decent shot to make the playoffs at 6-12, but it would certainly not be a guarantee.

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The 10 Biggest Changes in 100 Years of the NFL

When the NFL first started in 1920, it wasn’t the high-flying spectacle it is now. Here are the moments that shaped America’s game in 100 years of the NFL.
The 10 Biggest Changes in 100 Years of the NFL
Photo Credit: Betway NFL
The Forward Pass
The passing game isn’t nearly what it used to be during the early years of the NFL. The NFL in its early stages resembled a game closer to that of the game of Rugby and forward passes were considered illegal.

When forward passes were allowed—although still rare—quarterbacks could only throw the ball forward from within five yards of the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t until 1933 that the NFL began to separate itself from college football where they began to allow forward passes from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. This is what would come to shape the game of football that we know today.

At this same time, it was rare to see a quarterback throw for big numbers. In the 1932 season, no quarterback threw for more than 640 yards or nine touchdowns. In 2015, we saw Drew Brees throw for 505 yards and seven touchdowns in one game—an NFL record for passing touchdowns in a single game.
The Draft
The volatility of one team going from the bottom dwellers to winning a super bowl title in a couple of seasons is what makes the NFL Draft one of the most exciting sports events of the year.

In 1936, the NFL, in a bid to restore a competitive and take leverage away from the players, held its inaugural draft. Franchises would begin taking turns selecting college players, with the worst team from each previous season picking first. Before then, the players held all the cards as teams would engage in chaotic bidding wars to sign amateur players right out of college.

Within the next 30 years, every other major sports league would follow suit and hold their own inaugural draft.
Racial Integration
During the league’s formative years, its players and coaches were almost exclusively white, despite having a handful of black players in its very early seasons. Between 1934 and 1946, there were no black players at all.

Ultimately, in 1946, UCLA Bruins running back, Kenny Washington—who is regarded as one of the best collegiate players ever— broke the race barrier and became the first African-American to sign an NFL contract.

From then on, the NFL slowly integrated black players into the league, with most coming from the AFL/NFL merger in 1970.

As of 2014, the NFL’s player pool was 68% African-American. But the issues of race in sports is still ongoing despite the NFL’s ground-breaking Rooney Rule (2003), which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for every head coaching vacancy. As of the beginning of the 2019 NFL season, only three of the 32 NFL head coaches are African-American.
The Schedule
The NFL’s early years were chaotic in terms of teams’ schedules. At one point, there was no set schedule and franchises wound up playing any teams they could arrange a match with, which even included teams from outside of the league. Because of the unorganized structure of the games, the amount of match-ups teams got varied widely. Some teams were able to play 10 or more games, while the Muncie Flyers played just one, to which they lost and put them in last place.

Oddly enough, there was no championship game in the early years. Title winners were voted on by team owners at an end-of-season meeting. In 1933, the NFL revised its strange formula and had its inaugural title game between the Chicago Bears and New York Giants. In 1936, the NFL would begin having all nine teams play 12 games each, and since 1978, the regular season has been comprised of 16 games for each team.
The Helmets
It’s frightening to imagine the kind of helmet-to-helmet contact we see today happening with the soft leather caps players wore in the NFL’s early years. In the 1940s and 1950s, the NFL finally moved on to using plastic helmets with face masks to polymer helmets that are universal in today’s game.

The decision to move away from the leather caps was intended to improve player safety. But brain injuries like CTE are still a key concern today and the league continues to push rule changes around the league and make that kind of harsh contact illegal in the game.

In 2013, the league was sued by nearly 4,500 former players for concussion-related injuries.
The AFL Merger
In 1959, the founding of the American Football League (AFL) quickly threatened the dominance of the NFL by luring away top college recruits with lucrative contracts. The NFL recognized that the competition could threaten their talent pool and profitability and by 1966, a deal was agreed to merge the two leagues. The NFL kept its name and the AFL and NFL franchises were separated into two conferences: the AFC and the NFC. At the end of each season, the conference champions would play each other, spawning one of the biggest sporting events in the world…
The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl regularly attracts over 100 million viewers worldwide each year, more than any annual sporting event except the Champions League final. That’s impressive—thanks to the NFL’s marketing strategy—considering American Football is difficult for most outside of the U.S. to understand.

Super Sunday has essentially become a national holiday for American Football fans, and traditions like Super Bowl parties and prop bets have spread to countries even outside of the US.
The Halftime Show
Some of the biggest musical acts in the world like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Beyoncé have produced iconic performances at the Super Bowl halftime show. It’s the biggest in-game entertainment that no other sports league sees and is a big component to just how successful the super bowl is.

Until the 1990s, the half-time show would only feature a marching band with a theme like A Salute to the Big Band Era or It’s a Small World. It wasn’t until Michael Jackson’s iconic 1993 91 million viewer performance that changed everything. The half-time show from then on would be a coveted gig for the world’s biggest artists.

Since then, the half-time show has essentially been as memorable as the game itself. Some unforgettable moments from over the years include Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate, Katy Perry’s ‘Left Shark’, and Lady Gaga’s leap from the stadium roof.
The Salary Cap
Aside from the draft, the salary cap is the NFL’s greatest leveler. While sports like baseball and soccer (sorry, football fans) tend to reward the owners with the deepest pockets, when the NFL introduced the salary cap in 1994, a teams’ success no longer relied on how much money came out of their pockets but on good coaching and talent evaluation.

Take the New England Patriots for example. They have dominated the league since 2000 and their success can be largely attributed to three-time league MVP, Tom Brady—the (almost) undisputed GOAT quarterback and former sixth-round draft pick—and three-time Coach of the Year, Bill Belichick, rather than the checkbook of owner Robert Kraft.
International Expansion
While the NBA and MLB have both played games in London in the last year, it was the NFL that really pioneered the international expansion. The NFL played a handful of exhibition games at Wembley in the 1980s and instantly won over the fans. Now, the NFL attempts to hold a few regular-season games in London every year, thanks to a deal made by Jacksonville Jaguars owner, Shahid Kahn, in 2013. International expansion has even reached Mexico City and it could end up being only a few years from now that we see a league expansion move internationally.

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Life Post-Jeremiah Masoli for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have begun their journey without CFL all-star Jeremiah Masoli and the team has shown promise. Clearly, Dane Evans has a lot to prove but he is starting to settle in with the offence and offensive coordinator Tommy Condell. It takes time for players and coordinators to develop a relationship, but Evans and Condell are on their way.

Masoli and Condell developed a successful relationship, but after Masoli ‘s knee injury, Evans was projected into the spotlight. The Tiger-Cats have shown production through all phases. But, will they manage to continue their success as the CFL season continues?
Passing Game
Since losing Masoli to injury the Tiger-Cats have gone 1-1. Both games were competitive and gave the league a chance to see new starting quarterback Dane Evans. The B.C. Lions game allowed Evans to show what he is capable of.

Playing in front of an energetic fan base, he put up some reasonable numbers and threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Banks returned from injury and played another sensational game. Banks is currently leading the league in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns.

Banks is not the only playmaker amongst the wide receiving core. Bralon Addison has accumulated 412 yards receiving and Jaelon Acklin is a solid possession receiver. Luke Tasker has struggled as of late, but do not be surprised if he plays a bigger role deeper into the season and in the playoffs.
Running Game
Losing Maleek Irons for six games hurts the Cats. Cameron Marshall, Irons’ replacement, debuted against B.C. last week and had seven carries for 40 yards.

The offensive line held the Lions to zero sacks. Unfortunately, Darius Ciraco was placed on the one-game injured list and didn’t play against B.C. Ti-Cats fans hope to see him back within the next couple games as he is a vital component of the offensive line.

Hamilton needs consistency in their ground game in order to relieve the pressure off Dane Evans. As the season runs deeper, the Tiger-Cats offence could become much more dangerous as they already are. It will also be intriguing to see how Evans game develops.
Defence
Defensively, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lineup with a high caliber defence, highlighted by their defensive line.

Ja’Gared Davis was a massive addition to there d-line this year. He is currently tied for second in the CFL in sacks with six and has recorded 37 tackles, which is eighth-most among the league. The seven above him are either linebackers or defensive backs. Leading Hamilton in tackles is middle linebacker Justin Tuggle with 40.
Secondary
The secondary has young players such as Frankie Williams and Tunde Adeleke. Delvin Breaux is a member the Tiger-Cats want back in there secondary as he was put on the one-game injured list and did not play last week against B.C. Overall, the Tiger-Cats have a highly skilled defence on paper, but last week’s outing showed weaknesses and this Saturday’s game against Ottawa will be important to gain some lost confidence.
Special Teams
Jeff Reinebold continues to show why he is in the conversation as the best special teams coordinator in the CFL. The Tiger-Cats special team units are never overlooked by there opponent.

Leding the league in punt return yards and fourth in kickoff return yards, Frankie Williams is becoming a respected returner in the CFL. It also doesn’t hurt when you can put Brandon Banks — who leads the league in field goal missed return yards with 235 — in the end zone when the opposing team is attempting a field goal.

But what makes all this work is the coaching of Jeff Reinebold. He puts together schemes and plays that virtually make these speedy returners untouchable. Great blocking and exceptional return play make for a dangerous return game.
Final Thoughts
If the offence can stay consistent, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be in this year’s Grey Cup. Their defence has some of the top players in each positional group and their special teams groups are explosive.

Losing your starting quarterback and running back to season-ending injuries is often diminishing to any football team. But head coach Orlondo Steinauer has managed to create an environment that brings players together and ultimately leads to continuity among all. The Tiger-Cats play this Saturday in the Nation’s capital.

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Montreal Alouettes Have Another Shot at a West Division Foe

With 2:41 left in the third quarter, the Montreal Alouettes were down just 17-10 to the West Division Saskatchewan Roughriders. Then, nobody can quite wrap their heads around what happened next. Hostile weather consisting of lightning and heavy rain would sweep over McGill causing a delay that would inevitably end the match.

Yes, with still an entire quarter and then some to play, the Roughriders were awarded a victory and the Alouettes a loss for their efforts. Even Saskatchewan fans didn’t feel entirely great about how they acquired a W for the win column, well some did.

Montreal, on the other hand, is left to quickly regroup. They now head west to take on a perennial contender in the Calgary Stampeders. The Alouettes are 1-2 against western opponents in 2019 and with the narrative growing once again on how much stronger the West is than the East, the Als find themselves needing to make a statement game just one week removed from being robbed the chance to do so at home.
Offence
Perhaps Montreal’s biggest catalyst for their early string of contention has been quarterback, Vernon Adams Jr. Unfortunately, since their last game against Ottawa, Adams has been out with a concussion. They have sorely missed plays like this one:

Vernon Adams Jr. (@bigplay_va) spots @QuanBray WIDE OPEN for a 75-yard TOUCHDOWN give the @MTLAlouettes a 15-12 lead!#CFLGameDay pic.twitter.com/hIiK5ozTj9
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) July 13, 2019

Adams has a humble five touchdowns to three interceptions on the season. However, his five rushing touchdowns as a quarterback is second among quarterbacks and tied for third in the league overall with just William Powell and Cody Fajardo in front of him. The Alouettes will need Adams to have a monster performance with it being reported that William Stanback will miss Saturday’s contest.
DeVier Posey In, B.J. Cunningham Out
An unfortunate wrist injury sustained by B.J. Cunningham will likely sideline him for the remainder of the 2019 season. While still not ideal for Montreal, the impact of this injury is softened by the return of former Grey Cup MVP, DeVier Posey. He has appeared in just three games before going down with an injury. Still, it’s Posey’s past work that should have Montreal fans the most excited. His 2017 campaign saw him put up 744 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games played.
Protection Up Front
Before any of this can become reality, the Montreal Alouettes need to figure out their protection upfront.

Another scoop and score for the @sskroughriders defence! 😮#CFLGameday pic.twitter.com/kZuDPJs4jx
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) August 10, 2019

Through seven games this season, they’ve allowed 17 sacks which lands them sixth in the league. This offensive line hasn’t been horrible this season.
Defence
The prospects of the Stampeders having Bo Levi Mitchell back may not bode well for the Alouettes. Calgary’s offence has maintained pace under the control of Nick Arbuckle, however, let us not forget what Mitchell is capable of.

George Johnson’s article on stampeders.com beautifully outlines the impact of Bo Levi Mitchell. In Johnson’s article, Mitchell is compared to sugar in Kool-Aid, LeBron on the Lakers and a healthy Boobie Miles on Friday Night Lights. High praise and well deserved at that from many of his teammates.
Exceeding expectations
During the Montreal Alouettes three-game winning streak, they allowed 436 yards to the Tiger-Cats, 365 to the Redblacks and 320 to the Eskimos. They went as far as to keep the Eskimos offence from scoring. Their home loss to Ottawa consisted of allowing just one touchdown offensively and 241 yards.

Furthermore, Montreal’s defence did a tremendous job keeping Cody Fajardo and the Saskatchewan offence in check. However, Calgary presents a different challenge and they’ll need more from their front seven to have a chance on Saturday. With only seven sacks, the Alouettes are tied for dead-last in the league for sacks, though they were able to get to Fajardo twice last week.

Rookie defensive coordinator, Bob Slowik has worked hard to get up to speed with the Canadian game. If they are able to keep a potentially “rusty” Mitchell in check and perhaps break out some more special teams magic, this game may swing wide-open.
Why This Game is so Important
The common thought process in any league is that inter-divisional games trump outer-division games in terms of importance. This is mostly true across the board in terms of tie-breakers. However, in Montreal or Ottawa’s case, it’s almost pre-determined that they will be facing a Western Division team come playoffs with the crossover. With how tight the West Division is, anyone from Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Calgary or Edmonton are potential opponents. If there was any time to begin to gain traction and confidence against the “almighty” West Divison, it would be now.

Saturday’s forecast calls for cloudy with sunny breaks. It’s just the reigning Grey Cup MVP and the champions standing in the way of the Montreal Alouettes and a confidence-building victory. If they pull it off, it’ll be their first win against the Stampeders at McMahon Stadium since Week 1 of the 2009 season.

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The 2019 Bombers vs The 2011 ‘Swaggerville’ Bombers

In 2011, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had a chance to write a legendary chapter in their team’s history. The franchise was one win away from ending a twenty year title drought.

They were led by the fun to watch ‘Swaggerville’ defence, who led them to a 7-1 record in the first half of the season. That nickname got a large amount of attention. The Mayor, Odell Willis, and CEO (and former Mayor) Jovon Johnson guided the Bombers to a first place finish and held Hamilton to three points in the East Final.

But it wasn’t meant to be. Winnipeg lost to the B.C. Lions in the Grey Cup (and lost both games to the Riders. Almost just as bad) which was followed by four straight playoff misses. Fast forward to 2019, and the Bombers are starting to get some of that Swaggerville look back. Does this year’s squad have any similarities to that 2011 team? It may be a little too early, but let’s take a look:
Quarterbacks
2019: Matt Nichols.
2011: Buck Pierce.
Two quarterbacks with an injury past, but two quarterbacks that are also tough as nails. Both would stand in the pocket and take a shot if it meant completing the big pass.

Buck was great when he was healthy, and he’s proving his knowledge of the game as a coach right now. The guys seemed to really like playing him. He was always kind of on the fringe of those top three or four quarterbacks in the league, a lot like Matt Nichols.
Running backs 
2019: Andrew Harris.
2011: Fred Reid and Chris Garrett.
Not a lot of similarities with the backs on this team. Harris carries the load on this team, while in 2011 the team went with a one-two punch due to injuries.
Receivers 
2019: Darvin Adams, Nic Demski, Chris Matthews, Lucky Whitehead, Drew Wolitarsky.
2011: Terrence Edwards, Greg Carr, Corey Watson, Clarence Denmark, Kito Poblah.
If Whitehead keeps playing as he did in Week 2, he could have a very similar season to Clarence Denmark’s season in 2011. Watson was a young Canadian receiver making strides that year; Demski isn’t quite as young as him… but close enough.

Both teams possess a solid, reliable number one receivers (Adams now and Edwards previously) and both teams had a sneaky X-factor (Wolitarsky now and Carr previously). Not a lot of super close similarities, but definitely a few.
Offensive line
2019: Stanley Bryant Jr., Geoff Gray, Michael Couture, Cody Speller, Jermarcus Hardrick.
2011: Andre Douglas, Brendon LaBatte, Obby Khan, Steve Morley, Glenn January.
Other than at centre (2011 had a veteran centre in Obby Kahn), The offesnive lines are pretty similar. Both have a first round, high-profile Canadian guard (Gray now andLaBatte previously). Both have veteran tackles, and both are very athletic groups.
Defensive Line
2019: Willie Jefferson, Jackson Jeffcoat, Craig Roh, Jake Thomas, Drake Nevis.
2011: Odell Willis, Doug Brown, Jason Vega, Bryant Turner, Kenny Mainor.
Willis and Jefferson are both the kind of defensive ends that can wreck a game. At the time, Willis was considered one of the CFL’s best young rushers. His start to that 2011 season was ridiculous.

Jefferson has a little bit of a different body type but has the same impact as Odell. Thomas and Roh aren’t quite on the same level as Doug Brown, but Vega and Jeffcoat are both young, promising Internationals.

The 2011 defensive line was the heart of that Swaggerville team. The secondary started their nickname a few years before, but the defensive line was the dominant unit that made it popular. The 2019 version definitely has the potential to do the same
Linebackers
2019: Adam Bighill, Kyrie Wilson, Anthony Gaitor, Jesse Briggs.
2011: Joe Lobendahn, Marcellus Bowman, Clint Kent, Henoc Muamba, Pierre-Luc Labbe.
Not many similarities here, so let’s just move on
Secondary
2019: Winston Rose, Marcus Sayles, Brandon Alexander, Chandler Fenner, Jeff Hecht.
2011: Jovon Johnson, Jonathan Hefney, Alex Suber, Bandon Stewart, Ian Logan.
Johnson started Swaggerville before 2011. He was the creator, and he led that very talented group. Number two was a vacuum out there, having eight interceptions on the year being as shut down as it gets that season.

This 2019 team doesn’t have a true star corner like him. They both have a veteran Canadian safety, but that might be it. It’s too early to tell though. Maybe Sayles turns into a Hefney type of player.

Again, the Bombers are only 3-0 and it’s probably silly to look ahead already. But Winnipeg hasn’t started a season as the clear cut number one in the west in since that 2011 season. Bomber fans love to dream is this is finally their season. That dream hasn’t been this strong in a long time.

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CFL Week 4 Power Rankings

With Week 4 officially in the books, it’s time to update my CFL power rankings. Week 4 brought its own uniqueness to the CFL season with a little bit of everything. From a controversial rouge for the win to a dominating victory for the defending champs, the week was once again filled with intrigue.

This week will see quite a bit of movement in the power rankings from last week. So without further ado, here are the CFL Week 4 power rankings;
CFL Power Rankings After Week 3
1) Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3-0)
     Last Week Ranking: 1
Is anyone going to beat the Bombers? This team has looked unbeatable in the early stages of the season. With a convincing 29-14 victory over the previously undefeated Ottawa Redblacks, the Bombers are getting it done in all phases of the game.
2) Edmonton Eskimos (2-1)
     Last Week Ranking: 3
Typically, I don’t like moving a team up or down on their bye week. However, thanks to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats underwhelming performance in Montreal last week, this move had to happen. This isn’t to say the Eskimos don’t deserve the number two spot, because they most certainly do based on their play so far this season.
3) Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-1)
    Last Week Ranking: 2
After crushing the Montreal Alouettes 41-10 in Week 3, there was no way the Tiger-Cats would lose to the Alouettes in Week 4 right? Right? Wrong. While the Alouettes played their best game of the season, the Tiger-Cats certainly played their worst. Not only did thy fall 39-26 in the game, but even worse, they also fell one spot in these power rankings.
4) Calgary Stampeders (2-1)
     Last Week Ranking: 6
With a massive off-season overhaul and multiple key injuries, the Stampeders have no business being a good team. Yet here we are. Again. A blowout win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina’s Mosaic Stadium vaults the Stamps a couple of spots on this list.
5) Ottawa Redblacks (2-1)
     Last Week Ranking: 4
The Ottawa Redblacks are much better than most people thought they would be at this point of the season. A tough 29-14 loss last week against the Blue Bombers knocks the Redblacks down one spot in this weeks power rankings. However, the Redblacks still appear to be a team to be reckoned with in 2019.
6) Montreal Alouettes (1-2)
    Last Week Ranking: 8
As mentioned, the Alouettes played their best game of this young season in last week’s victory. The Als have had their share of difficulties this year but have actually looked pretty good in two of their three games this season. Could they push Ottawa for second in the CFL East? They just might.
7) Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-3)
     Last Week Ranking: 5
The Saskatchewan Roughriders take a two-spot tumble in this week’s rankings thanks to a 37-10 thrashing at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders. The Roughriders head into their bye week with a lot of questions that need to be answered. Inconsistency has been the theme so far this season, can the Riders rebound and fix their issues? They desperately need to, or this season could be lost quite quickly.
8) BC Lions (1-3)
     Last Week Ranking: 7
I know, I know. The Lions dropped a spot on this week’s rankings despite winning their first game of the season. The Lions defeated the Argonauts 18-17 in a “thriller” at BMO Field in Toronto. Despite their first victory of the season, the Lions still have much work to do. However, with a veteran group and an excellent coaching staff, one could see this Lions team turning their season around soon.
9) Toronto Argonauts (0-3)
     Last Week Ranking: 9
The Argonauts are firmly planted in last place in the CFL and on this list. The good news is the Argos weren’t blown out again this week but this team just looks disconnected. With the Winnipeg Blue Bombers up next on the schedule, it would be a safe bet to see this team at the bottom of the list next week as well.
The Last Word
As promised, there was a lot of movement this week on the power rankings. However, based on the results of the games in Week 4, the movements seem justified.

CFL Week 5 has many intriguing match-ups on the docket and we could see a lot of movement once again in the standings. Not to mention on this list as well.

As always, would love to hear your thoughts on these rankings and feel free to tell me yours. Enjoy Week 5.

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Jon Rahm’s rise to The Open Championship

At just 24-years old, Jon Rahm has already amassed a notable career including eight professional victories. The always captivating Spaniard is already putting in a well rounded 2019 season and is surging up the world ranks just in time for the 2019 Open Championship in less than two weeks at Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush Golf Club.

Rahm broke into the PGA Tour in his first professional event at the Quicken Loans National in 2016. He finished tied for 3rd that week but held at least a share of the lead in two rounds of his inaugural pro tournament. A two-time Ben Hogan award winner at Arizona State, the Sun Devil alumni rose to first in the World Amateur Golf Rankings in 2015.

In his last outing before turning pro, Rahm finished as the top amateur in the 2016 U.S. Open with a tied-23rd finish. With a proven pedigree already at such a young age, it seems not a question of if, but rather when Rahm will capture the elusive first major championship. With momentum on his side, Royal Portrush may be the perfect time and place to prove he can claim victory on one of the most historic stages in golf.
Major history
Since he truly found his form in 2018 it’s been all or nothing for the Spaniard in major championships. In his last seven major starts, he has finished top-10 on four occasions while missing the cut the other three. Most recently he finished tied for 3rd at the U.S. Open.

In addition to his top-three finish at Pebble Beach, Rahm once again placed inside the top-10 at The Masters for the second straight year. Sandwiched between the first and third majors this year the 24-year old found himself on the outside looking in this past May at Bethpage Black. After an even-par 70 in round one, Jon Rahm stumbled on Friday at the PGA Championship with a 5-over second round of 75 to miss the cut by just one stroke.

Unfortunately for Rahm his best finish at The Open was a tie for 44th in 2017 followed up by a missed cut just last year. But with the momentum of a career season and a big win this past week in Ireland, he will look to rewrite his own recent Open history a come out on top of the leaderboard among the top players in the entire world.
A career year for Jon Rahm
In 14 events thus far this year Rahm has placed top-10 in nine tournaments. Including a four-stroke victory at the Hero World Challenge victory December, the 8th ranked player in the world has already accumulated three professional victories around the globe in the past eight months. Building on his early momentum, and posting a final tournament score of 26-under par Rahm won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, along with playing partner Ryan Palmer, in April by a commanding three strokes.

Despite a less than stellar history at The Open Championship, location may be on his side this year. In 2017 Rahm picked up his first international win at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Not only did he claim victory that year at Portstewart Golf Club, but he also set both the aggregate (264) and to par (-24) record for the Irish Open.

Two years later Rahm matched his low aggregate total while picking up his second Irish Open victory, this time at Lahinch Golf Club. A young man that isn’t afraid to wear his emotions on his sleeve is tailor-made to captivate audiences around the world.

Love him or hate him he’s a must-watch and likely one of the favorites when he tees off in less than two weeks time. Just over 400km away from his most recent victory lies the host course of this year’s Open Championship, Royal Portrush. With Rahm’s success, both past and present, in Northern Ireland, this could be his best chance to finally raise the Claret Jug.

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The Odds of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Leaving Arsenal This Summer

Arsenal and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been in the transfer headlines quite a lot recently. Normally he is making headlines for scoring goals, but this time he is being linked with a move away from his current club.
What are the Odds of Aubameyang Leaving Arsenal?
The Player’s Situation
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is coming off of an excellent first full season in the Premier League. He jointly won the Golden Boot, along with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, by netting 22 goals.

His fine form held in the Europa League, where he helped Arsenal to the final by finding the back of the net on eight occasions. Just why would such a player want to leave his current club? 

Firstly, his form must be considered. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has proven that he is one of the best strikers in the world by replicating his free-scoring Borussia Dortmund days. Such a player would not only want but likely feel he deserves, to play in the Champions League.

Secondly, the club must be considered. While Arsenal are in no real danger of falling out of a top-six place in the Premier League, they have begun to look a club on the wane. Many of the issues left over by Arsene Wenger have yet to be solved, they are on a relatively tight budget and have suffered some really poor results throughout this past season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, or any top player, would want to play on the biggest stage, even if they love the club for which they play. Eden Hazard’s decision to go to Real Madrid is one such example. While the Belgian likely has no hard feelings toward Chelsea, he couldn’t resist the temptation of such a big club any longer.

Aubameyang certainly seems to love Arsenal, but could he be tempted? 
What Are the Odds?
There are relatively few clubs who could lure the striker from north London. Due to their spending spree this summer, Real Madrid are one possible destination with SkyBet giving 20/1 odds for the Galacticos to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

However, they are only the bookies’ third-favourites to sign the striker. Skybet are also offering 6/1 odds that any Chinese club will sign Aubameyang. Gooners will not like the name of the odds-maker’s favourites, though.

Because they wish to offload striker Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United are the favourites to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Skybet offering 13/8 odds for the transfer to happen. If you do fancy a wager, however, be prudent as Arsenal may not wish to sell. One could consider a no deposit offer, for example a free bet no deposit offer on thebookiesoffers.co.uk, while deciding on which of these odds to place their bets. For those interested in placing a bet on a match this summer, Bet365 is offering 1.5/1 odds of Nigeria beating Cameroon in the African Cup of Nations round of 16. Meanwhile, William Hill is currently offering 2.8/1 odds of hosts Egypt winning the tournament on their home soil.
The Club’s Situation
The reason being that Arsenal are not motivated sellers. Raul Sanllehi has expressed his desire to decide on the future of a player when they have two years on their contract, as Aubameyang does.

While this may sound like a transfer is possible, the club will be wary of losing their most valuable asset. Aubameyang’s goals would be very difficult to replace, especially for a club whose third-highest scorer in the league (Henrikh Mkhitaryan) only found the back of the net on six occasions.

Perhaps Arsenal will opt for keeping the player, even if they cannot extend his contract. Beyond the production problems a transfer would pose, there are also the financial problems.

Replacing a 20 goal per season striker would cost a great sum of money, something the club simply does not have and would, therefore, have to reinvest the transfer fee from Aubameyang back into the market. 

The other alternative would be to buy a few strikers and hope that all of them together would replace the goals the club would lose. Either would be an expensive proposition.

Don’t forget that this is also a squad that needs work in other areas. Adding to the needs in a summer where funds are limited would necessitate leaving other areas unattended until a subsequent transfer window.

Simply put, Arsenal will do almost anything to keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the club for one more summer at least.The post The Odds of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Leaving Arsenal This Summer appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Week 4 CFL Fantasy Picks: Draftkings and TSN

We saw a nice bounce-back for the CFL Fantasy Picks column in Week 3. Let’s see if we can keep the momentum going as we head into Week 4! Let’s get into it. 
QUARTERBACK 
C.J. Fajardo 
Draftkings = $8.700/$50,000
TSN = $7,793/$40,000
Somehow C.J. Fajardo is not priced up with the elite quarterbacks by now. After back to back outings of 34+ fantasy points, he is still under $9,000 on Draftkings and under $8,000 on TSN. Fajardo has been setting the world on fire ever since he took over for the injured Zach Collaros in Week 1.

So far this season he has a touchdown to interception ratio of 4:0, a quarterback rating of 122.8 and has a rushing touchdown in each of the Roughriders’ three games. Fajardo looks like a slam dunk play this week as Saskatchewan welcomes the Stampeders onto their home turf.  
RUNNINGBACK 
John White IV 
Draftkings = $6,300/$50,000
TSN = $5,800/$40,000 
This may seem like point chasing after White IV’s breakout last week, but it appears he has tightened his grip on the running back duties for the Lions. John White IV stuffed the stat sheet in week three against the Stampeders, rushing 14 times for 64 yards and a touchdown, and added 9 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.

We really hadn’t seen much of White IV in previous weeks as BC had been having to play catchup forcing them to abandon the run game. Even though they lost to the Stampeders, BC controlled much of the game which led to a large dose of White IV. When they visit Toronto this week, I expect a similar workload for White IV as the Argonauts look to be one of the weaker teams in the league this season. As I mentioned earlier, White IV’s workload has steadily increased with each week of play. 
Mossis Madu Jr. 
Draftkings = $5,300/$50,000
TSN = $6,600/$40,000 
If you look even further down the running back list this week, you will see Redblacks’ ball carrier Mossis Madu Jr. Madu has been doing the heavy lifting for Ottawa and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. His price may be too cheap for the volume he receives. He does have a tough matchup against Winnipeg, but he doesn’t have to do much to pay off his salary this week. 
WIDE RECEIVER 
Brandon Banks 
Draftkings = $10,000/$50,000
TSN = $14,000/$40,000
As long as the Tiger-Cats’ receiving core is banged up, it is hard to fade Brandon Banks. This may seem like a “well, duh” play as far as CFL fantasy picks go but the price tag may have some people scared to trust Banks this week. Although Luke Tasker is on track to be back this week, Bralon Addison will be watching from the sideline.

This leaves a target hole in the Tiger-Cats’ passing attack leaving a few extra looks to go Banks’ way. He has not been held under 20 fantasy points yet this season and has gone for 30+ in each of the last two games. Expect more of the same as Banks and the Tiger-Cats get to go up against a weak Montreal team for the second straight week. 
TOURNAMENT NOTE
With the chalky Banks recommendation above, I’ll add a quick tournament thought. The Toronto Argonauts will be without starting quarterback James Franklin for a little while, leaving McLeod Bethel-Thompson at the helm. With that in mind, I expect all of the Argonauts receivers to carry minuscule ownership this week.

The Argonauts will presumably find themselves behind during the game which should lead to some increased volume for their pass catchers. If I was going for upside I would lean Derel Walker, and if I was looking to play it safe, Llevi Noel looks to have solidified a solid role at a super cheap price. 
DEFENCE
Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Draftkings = $5,400/$50,000
TSN = $4,471/$40,000
The Tiger-Cats look to be the play on defence this week as they will have another soft matchup against the Alouettes. They have posted double-digit fantasy points in each of their three games. They have racked up sacks, interceptions and defensive touchdowns while holding each of their opponents to under 20 total points so far this season. 

That’s going to do it for this week’s positional breakdown. Let’s keep the ball rolling as we kick-off our CFL Fantasy Picks for Week 4!

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