With the 2023 CFL season set to begin, we will look at the possible predictions for a new season. There were a lot of different scenarios I was contemplating as there was a lot of player movement during the 2023 Free Agency period.
The big news came out on January 24th, 2023 when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats officially announced the signing of Bo Levi Mitchell. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats traded for his rights with the Calgary Stampeders on November 14th, 2022. Hamilton appeared to go all in for the 2023 season as it was more added pressure once again as they will be hosting the 110th edition of the Grey Cup at Tim Horton’s Field.
Add in that a lot of talent had departed from their previous clubs during free agency, and you also have a team(s) that look a lot better now than they were last season. However, as we all know when it comes to pro football, injuries or multiple injuries can deplete your lineup in a hurray.
Ask any Winnipeg Blue Bombers fan if Zach Collaros went down early in this season (knock on wood) and sustained a season-ending injury, you better believe that it will be a big blow to the club, and a big obstacle to overcome. Having backups Dru Brown and Tyrrell Pigrome will have their hands full regardless of the high-end talent that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have in all three phases of the game.
Looking at last season, Jeremiah Masoli fell victim to a dirty hit by then Defensive Tackle Garrett Marino when playing the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field. Jeremiah Masoli would then go on to miss the rest of the 2022 season. It was apparent that the Ottawa offence was not able to engineer points when it mattered most by both Caleb Evans and Nick Arbuckle. Although Caleb Evans was effective when he was running the ball, his passing game was quite the opposite as it was with that of Nick Arbuckle.
However, with that said, I will assume that we are looking that if there are any significant injuries; it won’t be for long stretches and or season-ending.
I also feel that there will be surprises in the fact that even at last place, it won’t be a dreadful season of having a 3, 4, 5, or 6-win season. There is some good talent on each team. Obviously, on paper, some have more than others. But then again, that’s all on paper. A talented team on paper, does not necessarily translate into a championship. You will still have to prove it.
Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2023
When looking at this, four coaches come to mind. I will say that the four coaches that are under the gun in 2023 will be Craig Dickenson (Saskatchewan), Chis Jones (Edmonton), Orlando Steinauer (Hamilton), and Rob Dyce (Ottawa).
You might ask why is Orlando Steinauer on this list.
Simply put they cannot afford to squander a chance of not putting themselves in a good spot for a shot at the playoffs, and even more importantly, win the Grey Cup. They simply cannot begin the season as they did last year with a subpar 3-9 record going into week 14 during a bye week. They were very lucky going 5-1 down the stretch for their remaining games in 2022.
As far as Craig Dickenson is concerned, there is still that lingering bad choice with Saskatchewan fans when he benched then Quarterback Cody Fajardo for Mason Fine for the last two regular-season games. On record, they still had a chance to make the playoffs. It seemed like he threw in the towel which did not resonate well.
With Chris Jones, the team loaded up with a lot of talent during free agency by acquiring none other than SB Eugene Lewis. This was then followed up with acquiring WR Steven Dunbar Jr, WR Kyran Moore, and DL / LB AC Leonard for the big signings. Factoring in now that even though it took the last quarter of the 2022 season to see improvement with the team as a whole. The discovery of RB Kevin Brown and WR Dillion Michell; the Elks appeared to be finally turning a corner. However, time ran out, and once again completed the season with an embarrassing 4-14 record. The Edmonton Elks Offensive Line as a whole appeared to be a lot more in sync in creating a good running game which is a positive sign. The Elks have set up QB Taylor Cornelius and OB Tre Ford for success in 2023 by adding a lot of depth, especially on the offence. Chris Jones has to showcase a competitive team in 2023.
In Ottawa, last season could have been a lot better if it wasn’t for the injury to Jeremiah Masoli. Factor in that both Nick Arbuckle and Caleb Evans continued to struggle in the passing game, it was up to the running game to be as effective as it could be. The Ottawa defence did all it can do when you have a stagnant offence for most of the 2022 season. The 2022 season was not lost by the defence, but rather the lack of creativity by the REDBLACKS offence when it mattered most. The REDBLACKS Offensive Line will have to keep Jeremiah Masoli protected as much as they can to have any success in 2023.
So, here we go.
My predictions for the final standings.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 12 6
Toronto Argonauts 11 7
Montreal Alouettes 11 7
Ottawa REDBLACKS 7 11
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 13 5
Calgary Stampeders 11 7
BC Lions 10 8
Edmonton Elks 9 9
Saskatchewan Roughriders 8 10
For the East Division, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will take nothing for granted. They will be an effective squad on both sides of the ball. I do see a season series split with the Toronto Argonauts. The Argonauts win the head-to-head series over the Montreal Alouettes.
For the West Division, the pride of the West will be none other than the powerful Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Calgary Stampeders will always be a competitive team as John Huffnagel always knows how to plug in new undiscovered talent at times in making the Stampeders a competitive team. Even though the BC Lions on record might have lost a great RB James Butler to Hamilton, there is still a good amount of talent on their current squad. The pickup of Dane Evans does add depth at QB with Vernon Adams Jr who will have a good season. The Edmonton Elks will be the surprise team this season. There are a lot of naysayers out there for them to maybe hit the 5-6 win total this season. I’m going out on a limb here. This is a pretty good offence now that seems to be more consistent as shown briefly late last season, along with the two pre-season games. I know it’s only pre-season, but now the Elks tapped into an undiscovered talent by adding RB Shannon Brooks who will compliment RB Kevin Brown for the Elks running game. The 2023 Draft Pick DB / LB Jake Taylor looked impressive, and appears to be adding great value for the time being for the Elks defence.
2023 CFL Playoffs
There will be no crossover this season.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have a hard time finding an identity. Inconsistencies hurt the Roughriders on too many occasions and cost them a slot in the postseason. The Ottawa REDBLACKS still put up a good fight. They lost close games that could have translated into wins. But the strength of playing Montreal, Toronto, and Hamilton, might be too much to clinch a spot in the postseason.
It is deja vu with Montreal heading to Toronto for a playoff game in an East Semi-Final form rather than last year’s East Final. The game becomes a slugfest and leads to change back and forth on a few occasions. In the end, the Toronto Argonauts are victorious.
Toronto Argonauts 37
Montreal Allouettes 33
The BC Lions face the opposite setting as it was last season. The BC Lions head to CowTown and lock horns with the Calgary Stampeders. It is another entertaining game. The Calgary running attack appears to be just too much for the BC Lions. RB Ka’Deem Carey becomes the X factor and is too much to handle for the BC Lions who cannot find a solution.
Calgary Stampeders 27
BC Lions 23
It becomes a Labour Day Classic on steroids. There are a lot of penalties in the game. Both the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats flex their muscles in a game for the ages. Chad Kelly attempts a 2-point conversion to send the game to Overtime. His pass is batted down in the last second sealing a Hamilton Tiger-Cats victory over the Toronto Argonauts.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 28
Toronto Argonauts 26
In another playoff classic, we have the Calgary Stampeders travel to a very hostile crowd in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It is more of a lower-scoring game. The Calgary Stampeders stun the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in an epic thriller. Zach Collaros tosses a costly interception at the wrong time. Jake Maier then seals the game in a victory formation.
Calgary Stampeders 23
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 21
110th Grey Cup
Well, what do you know?
Is this a coincidence?
It is teacher vs student between Bo Levi Mitchell and Jake Maier. The pro-Hamilton crowd is electric. The Calgary Stampeders continue their Cinderella story by shocking the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on their own turf.
Bo-Levi Michell tosses a 55-yard bomb at midfield with 1 second left on the clock. The pass is then batted down by the Calgary defence.
Calgary Stampeders 29
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 27
Most Outstanding Player in 2023
I know that it will most likely go to a Quarterback or a Wide Receiver. But Ka’Deem Carey is a player that can do it all. He is one talented Running Back that is a triple threat in the Calgary Offense.
Most Improved Team in 2023
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