Thursday 23 June 2011

8 Teams, 8 Days: Calgary Stampeders

Last Season: 13-5, 1st in the West (Lost West Division Final 20-16 to Saskatchewan)

When it comes to the West Division, I think it is safe to say that it's Calgary's to lose.

Last year I made a fool of myself saying that Calgary would finish last in the West and fail to make the playoffs. So what did they do? Nothing but finish with the best record in the CFL at 13-5.

The team that Calgary will field in 2011 is not much different than the one it fielded in 2010, with two big exceptions.

Both Brandon Browner and Dwight Anderson have moved on. Browner is with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, and Anderson went east, signing with the Montreal Alouettes. The reason Calgary's defense was so effective last season was because Anderson and Browner could cover anybody and basically take them out of the game. Those will be big shoes to fill, and the Stampeders signed former Ti-Cat Geoff Tisdale to try and fill that void.

Other than that, the team is rock solid. They return the reigning Most Outstanding Player in Quarterback Henry Burris, who has shown no signs of slowing down. He finally got his well-deserved MOP trophy last season, and it would not be a surprise if he picks up the hardware for a second year in a row. Burris is one of the best QBs in the CFL, and another stellar season from him is all but guaranteed.

Joffrey Reynolds is back to run the football, and with Jon Cornish spelling him, Reynolds will be fresh at the end of the season. Reynolds had his lowest totals since he became a full-time starter, but Head Coach John Hufnagel made it a point to ease Reynolds's workload to keep him healthy for the playoffs. Reynolds should still produce like a top Back in 2011.

The Stamps also return some of the best Receivers in the CFL in Ken-Yon Rambo and Nik Lewis. They mouth off a lot, but they back it up.

The Defense is anchored by Linebacker Juwan Simpson, and aside from the loss of Browner and Anderson, Calgary should be very formidable on the defensive side of the football.

The story of Calgary's season will unfold based on who replaces Browner and Anderson and how those replacements perform. If the Stamps get even half the production out of their new DBs, they will easily be the team to beat in the CFL's West Division. Barring any catastrophic injuries, the Stamps are the odds-on favourite to represent the West in the Grey Cup.

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