Thursday, 28 June 2012

2012 Season Preview

I have already given you my preview of the West and East divisions, so now it's time to make some predictions for the league as a whole. These are the things that I will likely be very wrong about come August November.

2012 CFL Regular Season

1) Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 12-6
2) Montreal Alouettes, 11-7
3) Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 8-10
4) Toronto Argonauts, 7-11

For perhaps the first time ever, the East Division looks like the stronger of the two. The worst team in the East last year was Toronto and they made so many upgrades that some are saying they might go to the Grey Cup. Winnipeg did it last year (finishing 4-14 in 2010 and getting to the Grey Cup in 2011), so it's not impossible to think the Argos can match that feat. But I think this is going to come to a battle between Hamilton and Montreal. Last year, the Ti-Cats took out the Als in the playoffs and finally showed they they aren't afraid of Montreal. Winnipeg is a team I have a hard time getting a read on, so I pegged them as an around .500 team, but I believe I could be wrong and the team could be much better or much worse than I anticipate.

1) BC Lions, 13-5
2) Calgary Stampeders, 9-9
3) Saskatchewan Roughriders, 6-12
4) Edmonton Eskimos, 6-12

We should probably just hand the division title to BC and let the other teams fight it out for second place. I know that things change quickly, especially in the CFL, but I don't see any way that the Lions don't have this wrapped up by the end of September. The Lions are just that good. Calgary is a team that looks good, but has a young quarterback with four starts on his résumé. I also think Kevin Glenn will take over at some point. I think .500 is just right for the Stamps. Both Edmonton and Saskatchewan will be in tough to compete. The Riders are rebuilding, whether they want to say so or not, and we all know what Edmonton did in the off-season. I just don't see how either team does enough to hold off the Argos from crossing over.

2012 CFL Playoffs
East Division Semi-Final
Winnipeg at Montreal

I just can't see the Als dropping a second consecutive playoff game at home. I also think Winnipeg takes a step back this year. I think they saw a team that went to the Grey Cup and felt they had a team good enough to get back, but the team won't be able to use a 7-1 start to mask the fact that they won four of their last 12 (including the playoffs) to end last season. Als take this one.

Winner: Montreal

West Division Semi-Final
Toronto at Calgary

For the first time ever, an East team crosses over into the West. I think by the time this game gets going, the Argos will have found their mojo and Ricky Ray will come back and haunt the team he tortured when he was in Edmonton. Argos shock the Stamps.

Winner: Toronto

East Division Final
Montreal at Hamilton

The only possible way that Ivor Wynne Stadium can close its gates for good is to re-stage one of the classics that occurred on that field. In a rematch of the 1998 East Final, the Ti-Cats take out the Als on a last-second field goal to win 22-20.

Winner: Hamilton

West Division Final
Toronto at BC

The West Final will become the Braley Bowl. Argo and Lion owner David Braley will be torn over which team to cheer for, so he'll don a half blue/half orange shirt to the game. After three quarters of tight play, the Lions will pull away in the fourth to head back to the Grey Cup.

Winner: BC

Hamilton vs. BC

A jungle battle. A feline feast. Whatever lame title involing cats you can come up with will be used to describe the 100th Grey Cup. In front of a packed house at the Rogers Centre SkyDome, the Ti-Cats and Lions will battle for the title. And since this is the third year I've done predictions, I'm not going to break with tradition now. The Cats will finally win the Grey Cup I have been predicting for them the last three years.

Winner: Hamilton

2012 CFL Awards

Most Outstanding Player
West Nominee: Travis Lulay (BC Lions)
East Nominee: Henry Burris (Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

I think that Anthony Calvillo will put up the best overall numbers, but I believe that Burris will rebound from a poor season in Calgary and that will impress the voters. Lulay has no peers in the West, but don't be surprised if there is a push from Calgary running back Jon Cornish. In the end, Lulay will win his second MOP in as many seasons.

Winner: Travis Lulay

Most Outstanding Canadian
West Nominee: Jon Cornish (Calgary Stampeders)
East Nominee: Andy Fantuz (Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Had Fantuz not left to go to the NFL, he probably would still be in Saskatchewan and he'd be a two-time winner of this award. And while I doubt he'll lead the league in receiving yards, he does have a chance to put up career numbers across the board. Jon Cornish will finish come darn close to winning the rushing title losing out on it in the final final week to Brandon Whitaker. But his amazing season will be enough for him to capture his first Most Outstanding Canadian award.

Winner: Jon Cornish

Most Outstanding Defensive Player
West Nominee: J.C. Sherritt (Edmonton Eskimos)
East Nominee: Jamall Johnson (Hamilton Tiger-Cats)

Sherritt was the West's nominee for Most Outstanding Rookie last year and looks to have a chance to be even better in 2012. Johnson has a chance to put up great numbers in Casey Creehan's system. I'll give the award, ever so slightly, to Johnson.

Winner: Jamall Johnson

Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman
West Nominee: Jovon Olafioye (BC Lions)
East Nominee: Josh Bourke (Montreal Alouettes)

Bourke was last year's winner and looks poised to continue his stellar play again in 2012. He beat out my pick for the West nomination in Jovon Olafioye. Both will be up for the award again, but this year it will be Olafioye that takes home the hardware.

Winner: Jovon Olafioye

Most Outstanding Rookie
West Nominee: Jabar Westerman (BC Lions)
East Nominee: Bloi-Dei Dorzon (Winnipeg Blue Bombers)

Picking rookie nominees is always hard (I think I've opened with a similar sentence the last two years) and 2012 is no different. So I'm giving the nod in the West to Jabar Westerman because he has a shot to contribute for the Lions pretty early on, and Bloi-Dei Dorzon the nomination in the East because he will be the lead back for the Bombers with Chris Garrett out for the year. I'll give the win to Dorzon because if he stays healthy, he'll eclipse the 1,000-yard mark which should be good enough to give him the award.

Winner: Bloi-Dei Dorzon

Most Outstanding Special Teams Player
West Nominee: Larry Taylor (Calgary Stampeders)
East Nominee: Chad Owens (Toronto Argonauts)

I picked Owens because it doesn't seem to matter what he does or doesn't do, he gets the nomination. There was no way he should have been chosen last year over Justin Medlock or Sean Whyte, but he was. He'll be chosen again this year. The West is tougher to decide, so I picked Larry Taylor. It's possible that Paul McCallum could capture the award again, but I don't see him having the type of year he did last year. That will be used against him, even if he has a great year. Give the award to Owens, though, because he always gets the benefit of the doubt.

Winner: Chad Owens

Coach of the Year
Nominee #1: George Cortez (Hamilton Tiger-Cats)
Nominee #2: Mike Benevides (BC Lions)
Nominee #3: Marc Tresman (Montreal Alouettes)

With parity at an all-time high, deciding who the top coaches are will not be an easy task. At the end of the day, the team's with the top-three records will be nominated. It seems as if a coach that wins the Grey Cup has a leg up on the competition, so with my prediction of Hamilton winning it all, I predict George Cortez to be named the Coach of the Year.

Winner: George Cortez

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