Contenders vs Pretenders – Week 1
Published: Wednesday, Jun 7th 2023, 9:06pm
By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
New to Piffles Podcast this year is my weekly Contenders or Pretenders article. After every week, I’ll explain why each team is either a pretender or a contender to bring home the Grey Cup in November.
Just as the season is set to begin, let’s have our first look at Contenders or Pretenders, shall we? (listed in alphabetical order)
BC Lions – Contenders
Last year’s CFL sweethearts are primed for another strong season in 2023. Yes, they lost Nathan Rourke to the NFL and stud receiver Bryan Burnham to retirement, but this roster is still loaded with talent. Vernon Adams Jr. and Dane Evans give the team the best QB tandem in the league and we’ve seen for years that you need 2 QBs to be a successful team.
Calgary Stampeders – Contenders
Every single year we say THIS is the year the Stamps finally crash… and every single year they continue to be a top 2 or top 3 team in a tough West Division. I’m still not really sold on Jake Maier as a franchise QB, but I don’t doubt Hufnagel and Dickenson and their ability to continue to roll out a very solid roster that makes it to the playoffs.
Edmonton Elks – Pretenders
Year 2 of the Chris Jones era will definitely show improvement with the Elks, much like it did in 2017 for the Saskatchewan Roughriders… but it won’t be enough to get them to the playoffs. There won’t be as much roster turnover as last year in Edmonton, but Jones will continue to tinker with the roster until he finds what he wants. Next year, Elks fans… next year.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats – Contenders
Having the Grey Cup at home after a disappointing 2022 campaign forced the Ticats to shake things up. Enter Bo Levi Mitchell who is definitely coming in with a chip on his shoulder after the Stampeders (and pretty much fans everywhere) gave up on him. Not me, though. He’ll come in determined and will bring that championship flair this team has lacked for the last few decades. They’re my favourites to win and represent the East in the Grey Cup
Montreal Alouettes – Pretenders
They have some solid playmakers, but they lost Eugene Lewis (the best receiver in the league) and downgraded at QB going from Trevor Harris to Cody Fajardo. New Head Coach Jason Maas is going to see the same issues with his offense that he saw in Saskatchewan… a QB that scrambles way too early and can’t read a defense past his first read. It will be a frustrating season in Montreal.
Ottawa Redblacks – Pretenders
The opposite of the Stampeders, we keep hearing every year how the Redblacks are on the rise and will be a good team… until they start playing. Until they start proving me wrong, they will stay in the Pretenders list.
Saskatchewan Roughriders – Contenders
Are they Grey Cup contenders? Maybe not. But essentially trading Cody Fajardo for Trevor Harris is enough to keep them in the playoff conversation and maybe win a playoff game or two. The O-Line still has worries, but they can’t possibly be as bad as the historically awful O-Line of 2022, can they? They have a solid defense to keep them in games and Harris will allow the O to stay on the field a bit longer than we saw last year and that will win them a few more games and put them back in the playoffs.
Toronto Argonauts – Pretenders
I struggled with this one… on one hand, they are the defending Grey Cup Champions and have a really solid roster. Contenders. On the other hand, they have Chad Kelly as their starting QB and he seems as interested in being in the CFL as I am in the annual Global Draft… and I’m not sold on him at all, despite his heroic few minutes in the Grey Cup. Pretenders.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Contenders
They’re the flagship team in the CFL for a reason and they’ll continue that this season. The only reason they didn’t win the Grey Cup last year was their kicking game and Chris Jones recently just handed them back the big reason they won the Grey Cup in 2021… Sergio Castillo. Sure, they are an aging team and when they crash, they will crash hard, but it won’t be this year. They’re still the best team in the CFL.
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