Ottawa Redblacks at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Tonight, 7:30 p.m TV: TSN
Ottawa line: Football fans in Ottawa waited eight years for the return of football to the nation's capitol -- and then had to wait one week longer when the Redblacks drew the bye last week on the opening week of their inaugural 2014 CFL season. They're a work in progress that will get better as the season goes on, but QB Henry Burris gives them at least a chance to win immediately.
Winnipeg line: If you predicted the Bombers would completely dismantle the Toronto Argonauts on opening week last week, you should sell your house, move to Las Vegas and let it all ride on the next idea that pops into your head. The Bombers were impressive, but it bears noting the Argos were dreadful and took 22 penalties. The real deal or smoke and mirrors? We'll find out this week.
Bottom line: They might be an expansion team, but there are more than a few observers who think it's the Alouettes not the Redblacks who are the favourites to finish last in the East this season.
B.C. Lions at Montreal Alouettes
Friday, 6 p.m. TV: TSN
B.C. Line: The Lions were beaten on their own field by the Eskimos last week, something that had happened just twice before in the regular season since renovations were completed at BC Place in the fall of 2011. The biggest problem -- Lions starter Kevin Glenn, pressed into service by a still ailing Travis Lulay, threw four interceptions.
Montreal Line: The Alouettes got clubbed by the Calgary Stampeders last week 29-8 -- a score that actually flattered an Als squad that was beaten handily in every phase of the game. QB Troy Smith -- the first opening day starter other than Anthony Calvillo for the Als since 1999 -- struggled, completing just 17 of 40 passes for 127 yards. He was also intercepted once and sacked four times.
Bottom Line: Neither team looked very good on opening week, but the Lions were less bad.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Edmonton Eskimos
Friday, 9 p.m. TV: TSN
Hamilton Line: The Tiger-Cats were the busiest team in the off-season in free agency, upgrading their team all over the field with some big acquisitions. Alas, Ticats GM and head coach Kent Austin apparently forgot to also get himself an offensive line, judging by the 10 sacks his O-line surrendered and the beating his new starter Zach Collaros took in a 31-10 thumping in Regina.
Eskimos Line: The Eskimos started slowly against BC last week, quickly falling behind 14-0 in the continuation of a trend observed last season. But once Esk QB Mike Reilly got going, he was sensational -- completing 22 of 35 passes, including three TDs, to record just his fifth win as the Edmonton starter.
Bottom line: The Ticats never went home this week after the loss in Regina, choosing to remain and practice out West all week.
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Toronto Argonauts
Saturday, 2 p.m. TV: TSN
Saskatchewan Line: The Riders lost receiver Weston Dressler and running back Kory Sheets to the NFL in the off-season, but all that matters is they still have the best offensive line in Canada -- by a country mile. Add a ferocious pass rush that recorded 10 sacks against Hamilton last week and the Riders were utterly dominant where it mattered most -- on the line of scrimmage.
Toronto Line: The Argos took an almost comical 22 penalties in a 45-21 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week, displaying a shocking lack of discipline for a team with Scott Milanovich on the sidelines. Safe to say that didn't go over well with the head coach. The worst person to be in Canada this week? A player at Argos practice.
Bottom line: The Riders looked every bit like a defending Grey Cup champion in Week 1.
The Free Press has assembled a panel to offer its predictions every week in 2014. Joining us once again this year are CJOB's Bob Irving, and from the Free Press, sports editor Steve Lyons, columnists Gary Lawless and Doug Brown and football writers Paul Wiecek and Ed Tait:
Irving: Winnipeg, B.C., Edmonton, Toronto
Lyons: Winnipeg, Montreal, Edmonton, Toronto
Lawless: Winnipeg, B.C., Edmonton, Saskatchewan
Brown: Winnipeg, B.C., Edmonton, Saskatchewan
Tait: Winnipeg, B.C., Edmonton, Saskatchewan
Wiecek: Winnipeg, B.C., Edmonton, Saskatchewan
Irving -- 3-1
Lyons -- 3-1
Lawless -- 2-2
Brown -- 2-2
Tait -- 2-2
Wiecek -- 2-2