Yes, I know: Any effort at trying to figure out the one game to watch each week in an 18-games-over-20-weeks Canadian Football League season could be futile.
But, hey, I’m not above trying.
So here we go!
Week 1: Calgary at Ottawa: The Grey Cup rematch. Will the Stamps provide the first hint that they intend to remain the league’s best team (despite that Grey Cup upset)? Have the REDBLACKS lost too much talent to be a championship caliber club? This game might provide some answers.
Week 2: Winnipeg at Saskatchewan: Hello new Mosaic! Hello to one of the most bitter league rivalry games, and one that’s not often played this early in the season. Winnipeg would like to make an early statement, after a Week 1 bye, that it will not be a one-year wonder.
Week 3: BC Lions at Montreal: The Lions play three straight games in the eastern time zone; this is the middle one. BC had lots of success in the east in 2016, which helped its resurgence in the tough Western Division. For the Als, who open the campaign with four straight games against the west, this is a chance to show they can compete with the best.
Week 4: Ottawa at Edmonton: The first four games for the defending champs include two with Calgary and one with Edmonton. That means two trips west with a home game against Toronto sandwiched in between. This also begins a stretch of three games in 11 days. The Esks will be coming off a bye.
Week 5: Winnipeg at BC Lions: Remember the last time these two teams played? What a sensational Western Division semifinal playoff game that was. This is BC’s first home game since Week 1. For the Blue Bombers, this game comes in the middle of winnable home contests against Toronto and Montreal.
Week 6: Hamilton at Calgary: If you read my predictions for the 2017 season (and I hope you did!), then you know that I have these two teams playing for the Grey Cup championship. At the roughly one-third mark of the regular season, this game gives us a chance to see if that could be a competitive match up.
Week 7: Calgary at Toronto: The Stamps return to the scene of the crime: BMO Field, where their expectations for a Grey Cup title were crushed in 2016. Keep in mind the Stamps have the following week off; take the Argonauts too lightly, and they just might lose again in this stadium.
Week 8: BC Lions at Saskatchewan: Consecutive games against the same opponent (and not involving Labour Day contests) are rare, but this marks one of those times. The Lions host the Stamps right after this, so be careful about looking ahead.
Week 9: Calgary at BC Lions: No question that weeks 6-9 will be interesting for the Stamps. Meanwhile, for the Lions, this is their fifth consecutive game against a Western Division opponent. At almost the midway point in the season, we ought to know if these are indeed the CFL’s two best teams.
Week 10: Saskatchewan at Edmonton: I know that Chris Jones returning to Edmonton is not the same story line it was in 2016, but do you really think the Eskimos don’t want to deliver a beat down to their former coach every chance they get? This is the first opportunity in 2017.
Week 11: Winnipeg at Saskatchewan, Edmonton at Calgary and Toronto at Hamilton: Hey, I’m not crazy: Week 11 includes Labour Day, and these three games — all matching hated rivals — are a must. Do you think I’m going to pick one over any other? As I said, I’m not crazy.
Week 12: Hamilton at Ottawa: This is the third straight division game for the TiCats, who by this point in the season could be comfortably in first place. Or they could be flailing and desperate for a big win. For the REDBLACKS, this is the only home game over a four-week stretch.
Week 13: BC Lions at Calgary: The Lions last visit to Calgary was the Western Division final, a game which they lost by 27 points. Payback time? Meanwhile, the Stamps are coming off back-to-back games with Edmonton, and playing their third of four straight games against division opponents.
Week 14: Montreal at Toronto: Huh? Montreal and Toronto, potentially the league’s doormats, as a game of the week? Maybe a game of the WEAK? The Als play the Alberta teams in back-to-back games right after this. For the Argonauts, this game is part of a stretch of three home games in four weeks, and we know how awful this team was at BMO Field in 2016.
Week 15: Winnipeg at Edmonton: Recognizing that the Blue Bombers and Eskimos play only twice in 2017, this game (along with their match up in Week 9) ought to be very important because one western team might be seriously thinking ‘crossover’ by this point.
Week 16: Ottawa at BC Lions: The REDBLACKS are in the middle of the four-games-in-five on the road part of their schedule, and the Lions are coming off their second bye week. In fact, Ottawa plays three western games on the road against teams from that division who were idle the week before.
Week 17: BC Lions at Winnipeg: BC makes two trips to Winnipeg this season; this is the first one. They’ll visit again two weeks later. If the pre-season prognostications are close to accurate, then one of these teams could be looking at locking up a playoff spot at this point.
Week 18: Hamilton at Montreal: The TiCats finish the season with three straight against their division opponents, with this being the first of consecutive road games. The Als are coming off their second off week; this is also their final regular season home game.
Week 19: Hamilton at Ottawa: I pick this game for one reason: The REDBLACKS don’t play the week before and they don’t play the week after this game. What an odd schedule for this team. It also would mean Ottawa plays one game in four weeks, if it can win the Eastern Division.
Week 20: Winnipeg at Calgary: Chances are both teams will have their playoff positions settled. However, if one team needs a win and the other can rest its best players, what happens then?
Meanwhile, for my breakdown of the entire league schedule, click here.