What up, what up, what up!!!
College football may start this weekend but Canada is in grind mode at the halfway point of their season. In Week 11, the Als won with Antonio Pipkin at QB, Hamilton finally finished a game, Calgary rebounded from their first L of the season, and Saskatchewan continued their momentum through BC. We are in Week 12; and this is no ordinary week. This is Labor Day Weekend in the CFL. (History lesson alert) This is rivalry week for the CFL.
The Labor Day Classic started in 1949; 9 years before the CFL was even founded. Withholding some minor changes throughout the years, the rivalries have mostly stayed the same. As it stands now, the Montreal Alouettes visit the Ottawa Redblacks on the Thursday or Friday, Winnipeg visits Saskatchewan on that Sunday, and on Labor Day, Hamilton hosts Toronto and Edmonton visits Calgary. BC has no geographic rival and usually have a bye week during this week. When Ottawa was without a team, BC would battle Montreal every year.
The CFL is full of rich history and Labor Day is one of the biggest — if not the biggest — traditions in the CFL.
With all that being said, let’s get into these picks.
Montreal Alouettes vs. Ottawa Redblacks, Friday (8/31), 7:30 PM ET, ESPN+, Labor Day Record (Ottawa leads 13-10)
The reason the games are slim on this rivalry is because Ottawa went without a team from 1997-2001 and from 2006-2013. Montreal didn’t have a team from 1987-1995. Nevertheless, this matchup will definitely be intriguing. Johnny Manziel is cleared, but Pipkin is getting the nod to start. And he should.
Montreal bringing back DL Gabriel Knapton will only help the middle of their defense. I have always believed that Montreal always had a chance to be a decent team if their offense helped their defense out just a little. If Pipkin gets on a roll, maybe the Als go on a run for second place in the East. But that’s me wanting the comeback story of the year.
Ottawa is first in the East for a reason; Trevor Harris and that prolific offense. And the defense isn’t far behind them, either. LB Kyries Hebert returning only helps matters as well. Pipkin has played well the past couple of weeks but this Ottawa defense is better than Toronto’s. And if he falters, y’all know fans are chomping at the bit to pull a Johnny chant.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders, Sunday (9/2), 3 PM ET, ESPN+, LDR (Saskatchewan leads 35-18)
Oooooooo this will be a good one. Two teams battling for that 3rd place spot in the West, even though the loser may still have that crossover spot.
These teams are a little similar, too. They both started the season with injured QB1s, struggled to get help from their backups ,and are now at a crossroads. The Riders have won their last two and gaining momentum, while the Blue Bombers have lost their last two are going through a rough patch as Matt Nichols battles the media and the fans. Saskatchewan was in the same spot as Montreal early in the season but with a much stronger defense. Winnipeg has always managed to get a little out of both sides of the ball, but their offense has not helped them lately.
Saskatchewan is going to do what they do: have a strong defense and make as many splash plays as they can on offense and special teams. Winnipeg needs to block out the noise of their rowdy fans and media and just focus on football. If they win, everyone will shut up. And they have to be focused to stop the train in Riderville on Labor Day.
Edmonton Eskimos vs. Calgary Stampeders, Monday (9/3), 3 PM ET, ESPN+, LDR (Edmonton leads 29-28-1) (My Game of the Week)
The QB battle is on for the Labor Day Classic! Mike Reilly & Co. vs. Bo Levi & Co.
Calgary’s defense is also very good if you haven’t heard.
Edmonton’s defense is no slouch either but it still ain’t Calgary’s.
I don’t even need to talk about this game. Just go watch it folks.
Toronto Argonauts vs. Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Monday (9/3), 6:30 PM ET, ESPN+, LDR (Hamilton leads 33-13-1)
The Labor Day Classic night cap will be a doozy. The battle for 2nd place in the East is heating up as Hamilton finally finished a game and got a W last week, while Toronto got hit by the Pipkin. Duron Carter was picked up by Toronto, but he will not be playing on Labor Day sadly. He just ain’t ready yet.
MBT may suffer because of that. Armanti Edwards and Rodney Smith have helped in the passing game, but Duron Carter is going to be the main weapon to spread the offense around. Anthony Coombs being out the next few games will also not help that offense.
Hamilton will also be suffering from the loss of one of their WRs, Chris Williams, who is reported to have torn his Achilles. But they really won’t miss him a lot; they will miss Jalen Saunders if he sits out again. But Hamilton has weapons to step up in their absence.
Efficiency has been Hamilton’s problem all year. If they keep it up, they can make a run late in the season. I can’t see Toronto stopping them this week.
Enjoy the Labor Day weekend folks! I will try my best to get highlights up on Twitter.