I gotta do it, don't I? I have offered opinions and news for the better part of 6 months, and now with the season about to start, I suppose I must stick my neck out and predict how the 2010 CFL Season will unfold. Without further ado, here is how I believe the 2010 CFL Season will play out.
2010 CFL Regular Season
(Links provided to each team's individual preview)
1) Montreal Alouettes
2) Hamilton Tiger-Cats
3) Winnipeg Blue Bombers
4) Toronto Argonauts
Until proven otherwise the Alouettes are the team to beat in the East and in the CFL. The Ti-Cats made great strides last year and look to be in a position to do some great things in 2010. The Blue Bombers and Argonauts both made changes at key positions (Head Coach, Quarterback) and look to be in a bit of a rebuilding mode. I think both teams will be competitive, but the Bombers are probably a year away from being a legitimate threat, and the Argos are probably two years away. That said, I'm sure people thought the same, or less, about Hamilton going into 2009.
1) Saskatchewan Roughriders
2) British Columbia Lions
3) Edmonton Eskimos
4) Calgary Stampeders
The 13th man will live on in infamy in Saskatchewan. It is because of that that the Riders will not be going into the 2010 season as the defending Grey Cup Champions. That said, they are still the best team in the West. The rest of the teams are so tightly packed together that to distinguish one from the other is very difficult. I think that if Casey Printers is healthy all season he gives BC the advantage over the Eskimos and Stampeders. I've flip-flopped on the Stamps and Esks more times than a Liberal politician does on party policy. Right now, I'll take the Esks by a nose for no real reason other than a gut feeling.
2010 CFL Playoffs
East Division Semi-Final
Winnipeg at Hamilton
No crossover this season. Winnipeg will come together just in time to hold off Calgary for the sixth and final playoff spot. Their reward: a date with the Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne. The Cats, who finished just behind Montreal, will take care of business on their home turf, earning the right to head to Montreal for the East Division Final.
West Division Semi-Final
Edmonton at BC
Edmonton will edge out the Stamps as well, sending Henry Burris and Co. home for the playoffs. Edmonton and BC will stage a very tight contest, but with the Esks wanting to play the Grey Cup at home, they pull off the upset, heading to Saskatchewan with just one win separating them from playing for the Grey Cup.
East Division Final
Hamilton at Montreal
All season, this will be the game that the Tiger-Cats want. Simply making the playoffs will not be enough for the Tabbies in 2010. Going in, the Cats will be viewed as underdogs, but after a hard-fought game, the Cats will emerge victorious, thanks to a Sandro DeAngelis FG in the dying seconds. The Cats will celebrate at "The Big O," sending Montreal into the off-season wondering if this was their last chance with this group of players.
West Division Final
Edmonton at Saskatchewan
It's so close they can taste it. With only the Riders to vanquish, the Esks can see hosting the Grey Cup on the horizon. One problem: the Riders themselves. After dominating the West Division, the Riders are once again too much for a division rival, and win on home soil to march into their third Grey Cup in four years.
Saskatchewan vs. Hamilton
Did you expect me to pick anyone else? Many will say that this is a homer pick, and you know what? Damn right it is! Objectivity is not something I've ever been good at. Are the Ti-Cats the best team in the CFL? No, but how often does the best team win? The reason I like Hamilton is that the Cats do have a good team, and with Montreal aging and due for a letdown, the East is really a two-horse race – a race I see the Cats winning in the end. Out in the West, I don't see anyone competing with the Riders. I won't say they simply walk through the playoffs, but they are the best team in the West and I see them making it out with relative ease. So in Edmonton in November, we see a repeat of the epic, all-time-classic 1989 Grey Cup; however, this time, with the Riders as the favourites, the Cats come out on top. The Year of the Tiger ends with the Tiger-Cats hoisting the Grey Cup.
2010 CFL Awards
Most Outstanding Player
West Nominee: Darian Durant (Saskatchewan)
East Nominee: Anthony Calvillo (Montreal)
It's old school versus new school. Calvillo, the reigning two-time MOP, against Durant, the best young QB in the CFL. Calvillo is one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game, and until someone shows otherwise, he's the best player in the CFL. In 2010, Darian Durant will show otherwise by picking up his first MOP.
Winner: Darian Durant
Most Outstanding Canadian
West Nominee: Andy Fantuz (Saskatchewan)
East Nominee: Dave Stala (Hamilton)
Andy Fantuz has all the tools to be the best Receiver, not just best Canadian, in the CFL. Injuries have stopped him from reaching that potential. Dave Stala emerged last year as a sure-handed target for Ti-Cat QB Kevin Glenn. Both players are more than deserving candidates, but when the dust settles, it'll be Fantuz who earns the award.
Winner: Andy Fantuz
Most Outstanding Defensive Player
West Nominee: Mike Labinjo (Calgary)
East Nominee: Jamall Johnson (Hamilton)
In my preview of the Stamps, I stated how I thought Mike Labinjo would be in line for a career year, which will be shown by being the West nominee for MODP. Jamall Johnson led the CFL in tackles in 2009, even though he missed the first game. With a year in Hamilton's system, expect Johnson to blow away his 2009 totals. When all is said and done, Johnson will take home the hardware.
Winner: Jamall Johnson
Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman
West Nominee: Patrick Kobango (Edmonton)
East Nominee: Scott Flory (Montreal)
Kobango, considered one of the best Offensive Linemen in the CFL, will finally be given his due with his nomination, whereas Flory is the reigning two-time winner. When the winner is announced, the name they will say is "Patrick Kobango."
Winner: Patrick Kobango
Most Outstanding Rookie
West Nominee: Rob Maver (Calgary)
East Nominee: Ryan Hinds (Hamilton)
This is probably the hardest award to predict. You never know when some player will come out of nowhere and become a star; look no further than Arkee Whitlock and DeAndra' Cobb last season. My reasoning for picking Maver of Calgary and Hinds from Hamilton is because, well, I know who they are. I will probably get this one wrong, but I'll still take Hinds because he looks to be the real deal. (Editor's Note: I know Hinds has been placed on the nine-game injured list, but I did not have enough time to research any prospective replacements. Like I said, I'll probably get this one wrong anyway; now I know I'll get it wrong.)
Winner: Ryan Hinds
Most Outstanding Special Teams Player
West Nominee: Tristan Jackson (Edmonton)
East Nominee: Sandro DeAngelis (Hamilton)
I was very tempted to put Jason Arakgi and Dylan Barker up here, but I think they'll both see more time on Defense and less on Special Teams. With those two guys removed, I think "Trismo" will continue the comparisons to Henry "Gizmo" Williams, and that DeAngelis's move to Hamilton will give him even more publicity. When the winner is announced, the Niagara Falls native will do what he rarely does on the field, come up short.
Winner: Tristan Jackson
Coach of the Year
Nominee #1: Marcel Bellefeuille (Hamilton)
Nominee #2: Ken Miller (Saskatchewan)
Nominee #3: Paul LaPolice (Winnipeg)
Last season, I felt that because of what he accomplished in Hamilton in 2009, Marcel Bellefeuille should have won the Coach of the Year Award. Looking back, it may be a blessing in disguise; the last Tiger-Cat coach that won the award after one good season was Greg Marshall, and we all know how his story ended. Ken Miller has been one of the best coaches in the CFL since taking over the reigns of the Green Riders following the 2007 season. It was a toss-up between Marc Trestman and Paul LaPolice for the third nominee. I chose LaPolice because he'll help turn around the Bombers after a disastrous 2009 campaign. I would not be the least bit surprised if Trestman was nominated, and won the award. That said, at this point, I'll take the guy I think will lead his team to the Grey Cup Championship in 2010.
Winner: Marcel Bellefeuille
Gutsy picks? Stupid picks? Have I jinxed the Cats because I'm picking them to win it all? Without even asking, I'm sure you'll either love or loathe these picks. Let me hear what you have to say on the eve of the start of the 2010 CFL Season.