Week eight in the CFL is upon us, and this slog of a midseason continues to hang over our heads as we continue to watch these games, moreso out of guilt than anything, eschewing the final days of summer with a bottle of beer in our clenched hands and football on our screens.
We are cursed this year with four really good teams and four really horrible ones, conveniently dictating both the Western and Eastern Finals. It is at this time that I can see the rationalization of CFL critics in staying away from an eight-team league. If we get these playoffs over with, we can sip champagne for the Grey Cup before NHL training camps open.
But that isn't bound to happen anytime soon, and the middle part of any sports season is rough. This is why basketball, hockey and baseball seasons have All-Star Games in the middle of their schedules. This is why golf spreads its majors across five months and why The Oscars ceremoniously plays its slideshow of B-and-C-list cult heroes who have croaked over the past twelve months.
We all need a break, and we are just a couple of weekends away from Labour Day, which is the closest thing the CFL has to a true midseason. There's a reason the league keeps its rivalry games during this part of the schedule. On the last day of freedom before the September grind begins, it's nice to go out with the family to catch in a football game. This is also when the playoff races begin to take shape and the games just seem meaningful from here on in.
Stay patient, fellows, we only have four games to go until then. Let's do it without any controversy.:
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-5 4 E) vs. Montreal Alouettes (5-2 T1 E) (-11) O/U 52.5
Today at 7:35
Winnipeg busted out of the gate this year, putting together three solid games and going 2-2 after the first four weeks, looking like they might contend. They've dropped three straight since then, and are in the middle of sorting out the question mark at quarterback.
Last week, Anthony Calvillo threw for 450 yards and managed to lose a game that wasn't even close. Considering how many touchdowns (8) and passing yards (645) Winnipeg gave up to Kevin Glenn over the last two weeks, this looks like one of those crazy games that we expect the Als to win and cover.
And in these situations, they always do. Eleven points is nothing--both teams average a larger point spread than this (all CFL teams except for BC and Toronto do, anyway) and the teams are second and third in the league in points scored by both teams during games played.
Hamilton Tiger Cats (3-4 3 E) vs. Toronto Argonauts (5-2 T1 E) (-2.5) O/U 53.5
Friday at 7:35
Insightful analysis from Toronto's half last week: Chad Owens, Chad Owens, Chad Owens, Chad Owens. Chad Owens? Chad Owens!
Insightful analysis from Hamilton's half last week: Arland Bruce still has something in him.
Generally I'm not stoked on rivalry games. I think the media plays it up a bit more because rival fan bases dislike each other, but we always hear about hatred that never manifests between the teams themselves, give or take a few shoves every now and then.
Hell, these two teams play each other so much I'm sure that Arland Bruce is willing to forgive his old teammates for whatever it is they did during his final days in Toronto.
The Argonauts are beginning to find their offensive groove, which is scary. Hamilton is still in the 'well, we put up a whole bunch of points and yards, but we HAVE played Winnipeg four times... so...' stage. Advantage Lemon. And the under.