Here is a scouting report of the nine Canadian Football League teams:
Rating the QB: Jeremiah Masoli has rapidly improved after appearing borderline inept at times early in his CFL career. He had a strong conclusion to last season, a good training camp this year and a stellar Week 1 performance in leading the Ticats to a win in Toronto. There is definite potential for Hamilton to hold the fort with Masoli until injured No. 1 quarterback Zach Collaros gets back in August.
Impact players: WR Chad Owens, WR Luke Tasker, LB Simoni Lawrence, DE John Chick
Season outlook: Hamilton has a lot of new personnel on both sides of the football, so it could take time to jell, especially in the secondary. However, their season-opening win was dominant, and it provided a reminder to never underestimate a team led by coach Kent Austin, one of the smartest coaching minds in the league.
Rating the QB: Kevin Glenn is a serviceable, experienced veteran, but he’s not a future long-term option for the Alouettes, who will develop a quarterback behind him.
Impact players: WR Duron Carter, LB Chip Cox, DT Alan-Michael Cash, DE John Bowman
Season outlook: The Alouettes are a possible sleeper against the spread (ATS), and they already have a win as an underdog at Winnipeg in Week 1. But it will depend on how far the offense goes to help out the defense, the strength of the team.
Rating the QB: Trevor Harris is no backup. He is good enough to start on many CFL teams and was brilliant coming off the bench for an injured Henry Burris in Ottawa’s Week 1 win in Edmonton. This guy can play and has plenty of weapons to work with on this potent offense. Burris is out four to six weeks.
Impact players: WR Greg Ellingson, WR Chris Williams, DE Arnaud Gascon-Nadon
Season outlook: The Redblacks are poised to take at least a small step back this season after going from 2-16 in 2014 to 12-6 and a Grey Cup title game appearance. But I’m less inclined to automatically bet against Ottawa with Harris filling in for Burris.
Rating the QB: Ricky Ray is a CFL veteran who has enjoyed a strong career. He still has a great arm, but he has limited mobility and there are offensive line concerns. It’s questionable whether the line can adequately keep him protected and healthy.
Impact players: WR Vidal Hazelton, LB Cory Greenwood, DE Ricky Foley
Season outlook: Toronto, which lost 42-20 to Hamilton in Week 1, still has much to prove. The key to its success is keeping Ray healthy at quarterback.
Rating the QB: Jonathon Jennings is a promising, young dual-threat quarterback who led his team to a win against Calgary in Week 1 despite an average performance. That can only bode well for a player who has plenty of upside.
Impact players: LB Solomon Elimimian, LB Adam Bighill, WR Emmanuel Arceneaux
Season outlook: BC has the potential to be a sleeper in the West Division and be a bet-on team, and the Lions showed it in knocking off Calgary in Week 1. If the pieces come together, they can challenge for a division title and become a dark-horse Grey Cup contender, too. The legendary Wally Buono is back on the sidelines as the BC coach. Buono has had only four losing seasons in 22 seasons as a CFL coach, failing to make the playoffs once during that span.
Rating the QB: Bo Levi Mitchell is one of the CFL’s elite passers, and he has a Grey Cup title to his name. Mitchell has an accurate arm and solid decision-making instincts.
Impact players: DE Charleston Hughes, LB Deron Mayo, WR Joe West
Season outlook: Even after a Week 1 loss at BC, Calgary will compete for the West Division title and a Grey Cup, as the Stampeders always do. The coaching change from retired John Hufnagel to Dave Dickenson (an offensive coach in Calgary since 2009) should be seamless.
Rating the QB: Mike Reilly can throw the ball well and make plays with his feet. He came on strong last season and was dynamite down the stretch in leading Edmonton to the Grey Cup title in 2015.
Impact players: DT Almondo Sewell, DE Odell Willis, WR Adarius Bowman
Season outlook: Edmonton is undergoing a massive overhaul on defense as well as the departure of a defensive genius in former head coach Chris Jones, who is now in Saskatchewan. The defense struggled in Week 1 and could take time to come together. The Eskimos’ high-powered offense might need to carry the team early in the season.
Rating the QB: Darian Durant suffered a season-ending injury early last season. Saskatchewan is automatically better just by having its top quarterback on the field again. The position was a nightmare for the Roughriders once Durant went down.
Impact players: DT Shawn Lemon, WR Rob Bagg, RB Curtis Steele
Season outlook: Saskatchewan went 3-15 last season. But Chris Jones went 26-10 straight up and 23-13 ATS in two seasons as the Eskimos coach, including winning the Grey Cup last season. Edmonton was 4-14 in the season before his hiring. Jones revitalized Edmonton into a quality team, and he will do the same with Saskatchewan as the new coach and general manager.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Rating the QB: Drew Willy is capable, but he didn’t get time to throw the football with a suspect offensive line last season, which resulted in multiple injuries for Willy. The same problems reappeared in Week 1.
Impact players: WR Weston Dressler (injured), DT Jamaal Westerman, WR Darvin Adams
Season outlook: Winnipeg hasn’t improved since it last made the playoffs four years ago. The Bombers are 21-51 in the past four seasons, and that dismal record carried over to Week 1. This is still a bottom tier and bet-against team in the CFL.
Ian Cameron is a Canadian-based handicapper for Sportsmemo.com.