The 2012 CFL preseason is over and the regular season starts on Friday, but the big game between the Alouettes and Stamps will be played on Canada’s Day in Calgary. Before the 2012 CFL regular season gets underway we wanted to provide bettors with an in-depth preview of what to expect from each of the eight teams in the CFL this year. You’ll also find out about the biggest off-season moves made by each team.
Weekly CFL Picks
Team Previews for the 2012 CFL Regular Season
- B.C. Lions (Last Season 11-7)
The Lions are the defending Grey Cup Champions and the team has basically remained the same. Travis Lulay has grown as a QB and this season there will be high expectations for him to perform like he did in the Grey Cup game. Lulay helped lead the Lions on offence last season and the team averaged 28.4 PPG (2nd), 369.2 YPG (3rd), 282.8 PYPG (2nd) plus 99.7 RYPG (6th).
Rushing will be an issue for the Lions on offence again, as Andrew Harris is the starter and the back-up is Stu Foord. Last season the Lions had the best defence in the league in the West. The Lions only allowed 21.4 PPG (1st) and 318 YPG (2nd) last year, but the Lions need to replace several key defensive players including LB Elimimian who signed with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings
- Edmonton Eskimos (Last Season 11-7)
Last year the Eskimos made the playoffs, but ran into the hot Lions and were eliminated. This was still an improvement for EDM, as the team missed the playoffs in 2010. Edmonton I think is going to have a very tough regular season, as the team needs to try and work Steven Jyles into the offence now that Ricky Ray is gone. Edmonton only averaged 23.7 PPG (6th) last season with Ray, so it’s fair to assume that Edmonton will score even less in 2012.
Edmonton signed a lot of new players, but none are really standout players that will make a big impact. Apart from losing Ray to the Argos this off-season the Eskimos also lost RB Jerome Messam. This is a huge loss for Edmonton and their offence is going to be very poor. The defence was good last year (22.4 PPG – 2nd Best) and they need to perform even better this season.
- Calgary Stampeders (Last Season 11-7)
The west was tight last year and the Stampeders were right up in the thick of the division. Calgary made some huge changes this off-season including getting rid of QB Burris and RB Reynolds. Drew Tate took over the reigns at QB last year and he’ll be the new QB in Calgary as long as he can perform well. Last year Calgary ranked 2nd in PPG (28.4) and 2nd in YPG (386.3), which they’ll need to do again if they want to compete for the West Division title.
Another huge loss was Ken-Yon Rambo who may never play in the CFL again (Achilles). Calgary didn’t make much noise in the market this off-season and I have a feeling the Stampeders will regress from their 11-7 mark in 2011. Calgary should be able to make the CFL playoffs, as the West Division is weak, but I don’t see the Stamps advancing to the 2012 Grey Cup.
- Saskatchewan Roughriders (Last Season 5-13)
There really isn’t too much to say about the Roughriders. I don’t follow the team that closely, but the Roughriders aren’t going to be contenders this year. They may fight for a playoff spot, but that might even be a stretch for this team. Durant will need to lead this team and fans expect him to win, but I don’t think Durant has enough tools. The Roughriders also lost their only star WR Andy Fantuz, so I can’t see Saskatchewan scoring more than they did last season (19.2 PPG – Worst in CFL).
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Last Season 10-8)
Will Swaggerville be back this season? Winnipeg won the East last season because their defence was ranked at the top of the league in most categories including 3rd in PPG (24), 1st in YPG (301.1), 1st in PYPG (223.1) and 3rd in RYPG (101.2). The offence was mediocre at best last season and they actually lost their leading RB Fred Reid, which I think was a mistake by them. Winnipeg is going to be tough to beat because of their defence, but their offence doesn’t excite me heading into the regular season.
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Last Season 8-10)
Hamilton only went 8-10 last season and they didn’t perform that well in the playoffs. Hamilton brass made a lot of changes to the team this season and they should be the top team in the East Division. Hamilton added QB Henry Burris and WR Fantuz this off-season and that will instantly make their offence tough to contend with. Cobourne is back despite being dropped and then resigned this off-season, but I don’t think that will bother Cobourne and he should be good for about 1000 rushing yards.
One of the glaring weaknesses on the Ti-Cats last season was their defence. The team ranked 4th at stopping the pass, but they ranked near the bottom in the rest of the defensive categories. Hamilton allowed 26.6 PPG (6th) on average last year and they were absolutely horrendous at stopping the running attack (117.8 RYPG – 7th). Another loss that will hurt Hamilton is the loss of Marcus Thigpen to the NFL.
- Toronto Argonauts (Last Season 6-12)
The Argos finished in last in the East last season with a horrible 6-12 record. Toronto added some great players to the squad during the off-season, but none were bigger than the signing of Ricky Ray. RB Boyd is also back in blue and that means the Argos should be a force to reckon with on offence. Toronto ranked 1st in rushing last season (126.4 RYPG), but they only managed to score 22.1 PPG (7th Overall).
Toronto may have a much improved offence, but their defence still needs a lot of work. Willie Pile retired and now the Argos are left with many question marks on defence, which isn’t good for a team ranked dead last in 2011. The Argos ranked last in the league on defence for PPG (27.7), PYPG (298.2) and RYPG (136.4). If they can’t improve to the middle of the pack in those defensive categories the improved offence may not matter much.
- Montreal Alouettes (Last Season 10-8)
Montreal had the best offence in the CFL last season and returns most starters on the line-up, but the team is still getting older and that’s worrisome. Calvillo is an awesome QB in the CFL and he led the league last season with a total of 5251 passing yards. WR Richardson led the league in receiving yards (1777) and Whitaker led the league in rushing yards (1381). The defence is where the Als had problems last year and it will cost them again this season.
Odds to Win the 2012 CFL Grey Cup
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||+804|
2012 Grey Cup Early Picks
This season I think the B.C. Lions will be playing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto. B.C. was a step above the rest of the league after the first 7 games (1-6) once they gelled. Hamilton went out and signed a lot of new players this season and they should finally be able to break through in the East Division. My pick is that the Tiger-Cats will win the Grey Cup and at +422 I like the value on them right now.