The CFL is back. The league makes its triumphant return after a nearly two-year hiatus on Thursday night. The defending Grey Cup Champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers help usher in the long-awaited season by hosting the team they beat to become champs, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Will these two teams meet again for the 108th Grey Cup game in Hamilton on December 12th? On opening night, the Bombers celebrate their Grey Cup at home in front of the team they bested the Tiger-Cats. Could the roles be reversed when the smoke clears on the 2021 CFL Season?
Here are my predictions for the upcoming 2021 CFL season. Staring with the players that I believe will stand out the most along the way.
CFL Most Outstanding Player
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Quarterback- Jeremiah Masoli
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats got to the edge of the promised land without superstar quarterback Jeremiah Masoli in 2019. There’s reason to believe that in 2021, before it’s all said and done, Masoli will help Hamilton got over the hump and become champions. Strangely, you could argue that the one player who benefitted from the 2020 CFL being canceled was Jeremiah Masoli. The two-year layoff gave the star signal-caller time to heal from a devastating ACL injury that wiped out his 2019 campaign. The injury would’ve wiped out his 2020 season as well.
Masoli is fully healthy now, and he returns to a team with an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver. You could argue that he has the two most dynamic playmakers in the entire league with Brandon Banks and Bralon Addison. Masoli caught fire and broke out at the tail end of 2017 and into the 2018 season, where he amassed over 5,800 yards of offense to go along with 30 touchdowns. There’s reason to believe that Masoli can repeat that stellar performance in 2021. It’s now or never for Masoli to reach his pinnacle as a quarterback in the CFL. The stars have aligned for him.
CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player
Hamilton Tiger-Cats LB- Simoni Lawrence
Simoni Lawrence is a polarizing player, especially if you are not a Tiger-Cats fan or one of his opponents on the field. Because of his vicious nature, Lawrence’s playstyle of seeking and destroy doesn’t go over well with some, but there’s no denying his impact or talents. Lawrence not only plays like his hair is on fire, but he also plays like he wants to set his competitors on fire as well.
In 2019, Lawrence just missed the cut as defensive player of the year, losing out to Blue Bombers megastar defensive linemen Willie Jefferson for the award. Simoni was a force to be reckoned with in all aspects of the game in 2019. Lawrence played in 15 regular-season games and led the league in defensive tackles with a career-high 98, breaking the single-game tackle record with 17, to go along with three interceptions and four quarterback sacks. Expect more of the same type of production this coming season as Lawrence wreaks havoc against the run, the pass, and opposing quarterbacks, runners and receivers.
CFL 2021 Player Awards Predictions
Most Outstanding Canadian: Toronto Argonauts LB Cameron Judge
Most Outstanding Offensive Linemen: Winnipeg Blue Bombers OL Stanley Bryant
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player: Hamilton Tiger-Cats KR/CB Frankie Williams
Most Outstanding Rookie: Toronto Argonauts DE Shane Ray
Annis Stukus Trophy (Coach of the Year): Orlondo Steinauer, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
CFL 2021 Standings Prediction (playoff teams in bold)
Division Winner- Hamilton Tiger-Cats 11-3
2nd- Toronto Argonauts 8-6
3rd- Montreal Alouettes 6-8
4th- Ottawa RedBlacks 4-10
Division Winner- Edmonton Elks 10-4
2nd- Winnipeg Blue Bombers 9-5
3rd- Saskatchewan Roughriders 9-5
4th- Calgary Stampeders 7-7 (Crossover playoff team)
5th- BC Lions 6-8
Toronto over Calgary in crossover-East-semifinal
Saskatchewan over Winnipeg in West semifinal
Hamilton over Toronto in East final
Edmonton over Saskatchewan in West final
108th Grey Cup Championship Game
Hamilton over Edmonton
Grey Cup Champions: Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Grey Cup MVP: Jeremiah Masoli
The 2021 CFL season will begin with Hamilton on the road reliving its worst moment in 2019, but it will end with the Tiger-Cats rejoicing as champions at home. The CFL will share the same ending that the NFL had last year when the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in Tampa. The victory for the Tiger-Cats will be the first Grey Cup for Hamilton in 22 years. (1999).
The wait for another CFL season feels like 22 years, but it’s only days upon us now. It’s a tired old cliche; you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. But it’s time to embrace the CFL now that it’s back.
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