• Calgary needs more from Jake Maier: The quarterback will need to push the ball downfield more than he did in Week 1, when his average depth of target was just 8.0 yards. That simply won’t do against this Redblacks defense.
• Same old Zach Collaros: This Blue Bombers offense looked to be in midseason form last week, with quarterback Zach Collaros picking apart the Tiger-Cats, essentially having the game locked up after one quarter.
• A massive game for QB Chad Kelly: Kelly has all the tools to succeed in the CFL. The arm talent, the mobility — it’s all there. But can he put it all together and be a star? The Argos certainly think so, and this game could tell us a lot either way.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Get ready for an electrifying Week 2 of CFL action as teams gear up for another exciting weekend of Canadian football.
With the clock ticking down, here is PFF's CFL Week 2 preview, highlighting the must-watch matchups and players set to shine on the field.
CALGARY STAMPEDERS VS. OTTAWA REDBLACKS
Both teams will be looking to bounce back from disappointing season-opening losses. But Calgary will be without star running back Ka’Deem Carey, which means they’ll be relying on quarterback Jake Maier more than ever.
Maier will need to push the ball downfield more than he did in Week 1, when his average depth of target was just 8.0 yards. That simply won’t do against this Redblacks defense.
On the other side of the ball, Ottawa will need a bounceback game from signal-caller Nick Arbuckle, who produced four turnover-worthy throws and the lowest passer rating of all CFL quarterbacks in Week 1.
Calgary’s secondary struggled at times against the BC Lions offense but will have a good opportunity to look better against a weaker receiving corps and quarterback.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: LT D’ANTNE DEMERY, CALGARY VS. EDGE LORENZO MAULDIN IV, OTTAWA
This could really be all of Ottawa’s defensive line vs. Calgary’s offensive line.
Last week, Calgary allowed 12 total pressures, the second-most in the league. Demery was the lone bright spot, as he allowed just one hurry across 40 pass-blocking snaps.
Meanwhile, Mauldin notched a sack, a hit and three hurries in a game where Ottawa recorded six sacks and 15 total pressures. He’ll line up outside of Demery often in this game and could wreak havoc on Calgary’s passing game if Demery can’t contain him.
PLAYER TO WATCH: RB DEDRICK MILLS, CALGARY
No CFL team relies on the run game as much as the Stampeders. Their 135.3 yards per game led the league last year, and it wasn’t even close.
Much of that was because of All-Star running back Ka’Deem Carey, who’s now out injured. Mills has been stamped in as his replacement, and while he’s not Carey, he could prove effective in a more significant role. Last year, Mills forced a missed tackle every 2.6 attempts, which led the league.
If he can step up and put the Stamps in good second-down positions, it will really help their passing attack, which struggles when having to go beyond the short game.
WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS VS. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS
The Blue Bombers are the overwhelming Grey Cup favorite this year, and they showed why in Week 1 with a dominating offensive performance.
The Roughriders won, too, but they didn’t look entirely convincing in doing so. Quarterback Trevor Harris struggled at times, but his trademark accuracy remains. However, the Blue Bombers' defense is a different beast than the Elks'.
This Blue Bombers offense looked to be in midseason form last week, with quarterback Zach Collaros picking apart the Tiger-Cats, essentially having the game locked up after one quarter.
The Roughriders have their work cut out for them if they want to slow down this electric Bombers offense.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: LT STANLEY BRYANT, WINNIPEG VS. EDGE ANTHONY LANIER II, SASKATCHEWAN
Lanier was incredible to watch last week. The edge rusher won 52.9% of his pass-rush attempts, which is a ridiculous percentage. He finished with a sack and seven total pressures as he consistently got past both Edmonton Elks tackles.
Getting past Bryant will be a whole different game. One of the best offensive linemen in CFL history, Bryant started the season by getting beaten exactly zero times across 34 pass-blocking snaps. If Lanier and the Roughriders can’t get pressure on Collaros, it will be a long game for their defense.
PLAYER TO WATCH: CB DEMERIO HOUSTON, WINNIPEG
Houston could have a huge impact on this game. The young corner looked good last year before getting injured and looked even better last week. He allowed just one catch on five targets and picked off two passes.
Look for Houston to take some chances in coverage, knowing that Harris isn’t likely to threaten deep very often.
EDMONTON ELKS VS. BRITISH COLUMBIA LIONS
The Vernon Adams Jr. era in BC got off to a great start last week, as the Lions opened the CFL season with a big win. The offense still has some work to do but looked promising, with Adams accurately throwing the ball to receivers Dominique Rhymes and Alexander Hollins.
It was more of the same for the Elks, who lost their 18th straight home game. QB Taylor Cornelius really struggled, and he won’t have an easier time this week throwing against the likes of CB Garry Peters and HB Marcus Sayles.
The Lions defense will have a clear advantage, and if Adams and the offense can play at a similar level to last week, they’ll be able to control this game.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: WR EUGENE LEWIS, EDMONTON VS. HB MARCUS SAYLES, BRITISH COLUMBIA
The Elks have Lewis playing in the slot this year, which paid off big time in Week 1 — which he finished as the highest-graded receiver in the league. This week, he’ll find himself matched up with All-Star halfback Sayles, who started the season strong with just three catches allowed for a mere 6 yards.
This matchup could make or break the game. If Sayles can lock Lewis down, the Elks stand very little chance of winning. But shutting down the league’s top receiver is easier said than done.
PLAYER TO WATCH: QB TAYLOR CORNELIUS, EDMONTON
The Elks signed Cornelius to a contract extension toward the end of last season, so they must believe in him as their starter for the future. But he still has a lot to prove, and he didn’t exactly start the season well.
His 33.2 passing grade was the lowest of all quarterbacks, as was his adjusted completion percentage of just 50.0%. The Elks are trying to get out of the West basement, and they need Cornelius to be great to do that. Bouncing back from a tough week against a great team would surely silence some doubters.
HAMILTON TIGER-CATS VS. TORONTO ARGONAUTS
It was a tough week for the Tiger-Cats, who were never really in their game with the Blue Bombers last week despite the score. They can’t rely on turnover luck and special teams touchdowns to beat top teams every week.
They struggled mightily on offense, as new quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell recorded an average depth of target of 14.8 yards but averaged just 5.4 yards per attempt. He was looking deep but hit nothing.
That needs to change if the TiCats want to compete. The Argos had a Week 1 bye, so their Grey Cup defense starts Sunday. Will the defense be as good as last year? And more importantly, is Chad Kelly the QB of the future?
MATCHUP TO WATCH: RB ANDREW HARRIS AND RB A.J. OUELLETTE, TORONTO VS LB JAMEER THURMAN, HAMILTON
With this being Kelly's debut as the undisputed starter, the Argos will likely lean on their two-headed rushing attack of Harris and Ouellette to keep Kelly in easy-to-manage situations.
Thurman could ruin all that himself. Last week, he tallied 10 tackles, five defensive stops, as well as a forced fumble. If Thurman has another big game, he could force the Argos offense into tough situations that they may not be able to get out of.
PLAYER TO WATCH: QB CHAD KELLY, TORONTO
Kelly has made this a must-watch game — arguably one of the biggest of the year.
After entering the game in relief and leading the Argos on a Grey Cup-winning drive last year, the team fully committed to him as their starter despite his minimal experience.
Kelly has all the tools to succeed in the CFL. The arm talent, the mobility — it’s all there. But can he put it all together and be a star? The Argos certainly think so, and this game could tell us a lot either way.