THIS WEEK IN THE CFL - WEEK 3

THIS WEEK IN THE CFL - WEEK 3

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 — The only two undefeated teams in the CFL are in action in Week 3 of the regular season.

The 2-0 BC Lions boast the top defence in the league (allowing just 10.5 points per game) and feature one of the league leaders in tackles (Adam Bighill, with 14). They host the Toronto Argonauts tomorrow night in the second half a double header that starts with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The 2-0 Ottawa REDBLACKS boast the most productive offence (at 531 yards per game) and the hottest quarterback (Trevor Harris, who has completed 82.2% of his passes and thrown for 6 TDs with no interceptions). They host Calgary in their home opener Friday night. That game will be immediately followed by the Edmonton Eskimos hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Here’s a look at some early season trends.

RED HOT REDBLACKS

  • Through two games, Ottawa’s pivot Trevor Harris’ 82.2% completion percentage has him on pace to beat the previous record of 77.2%, set by Ricky Ray in 2013.
  • He has led the REDBLACKS on 11 scoring drives.
  • Harris’ top two weapons, Chris Williams and 2015 CFL Most Outstanding Canadian Brad Sinopoli, have combined to catch 29 of 31 passes thrown their way (93.5%).
  • Williams’ 218 all-purpose yards per game puts him on pace to surpass the CFL single-season record of 3,863 yards set by Chad Owens in 2012.
  • Williams is also averaging 181 yards from scrimmage per game – on pace to smash the current record of 2,414 yards from scrimmage for a season, set by Mike Pringle in both 1994 and 1998.
  • Friday night’s match-up in Ottawa pits the top passing team in the league so far (REDBLACKS are averaging a gaudy 469 yards per game) against the top rushing team (Calgary is averaging 128.5 yards per game).
  • Calgary’s Jerome Messam recorded the season’s first 100-yard rushing game last week, with 137 yards against the Blue Bombers.

WALLY’S WORLD

  • After returning to the sidelines this season and quickly posting back-to-back wins, the BC Lions’ Wally Buono now has 256 regular season victories – the most in league history.
  • It certainly appears it will be a long time before anyone catches him: the next active coach on the all-time list is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Kent Austin, with 42 wins.

OFFENCES ARE GOING DEEP

  • Net offence has jumped up to 739 yards per game. That is an increase of 9% over last year and 13.3% over 2014.
  • An increase in passing yards is driving this: total yards gained passing is up 29% since 2014, from 481 yards to 621 yards per game.
  • The CFL-wide efficiency rating sits at 102.9 – the highest in league history.
  • This may be related to strong offensive line play: quarterback sacks allowed per game has fallen for the third-straight season and currently sits at 4.9 sacks per game.
  • Healthy starting quarterbacks appear to be another reason: so far this year, only ten different quarterbacks have started a game. Last season, there were 26 at this point.
  • No huddle offences are also having an effect:  we are averaging close to an additional five plays per contest. The average is currently 49.4 plays per game, up from 45 a year ago
  • Second down conversions are on a record pace – 48.3%.
  • Last season, scoring increased by 8% to 49.2 points per game. That has been sustained as scoring is slightly higher so far this season at 49.4 points per game.

THE TURNOVER BATTLE

  • Turnovers stand at just 4.0 per game, down 10% from 4.5 a year ago.
  • The trend of defensive teams scoring continues in 2016. Through eight games there have been three defensive touchdowns scored. In 2016 at this point, four defensive touchdowns had been scored.
  • Teams who turn over the ball less have won 7-of-8 games thus far.
  • Winning teams are averaging 1.38 turnovers per game.
  • Teams who win the time of possession battle have won 8-of-8 games.

PENALTIES DOWN

  • We are averaging 19 accepted penalties per game. That is down from 25 per game at this time a year ago – a 23.5% decrease.
  • There have been 16 coaches’ challenges so far this year, putting us on pace to exceed 2015’s year-long total of 102.  

ROAD WARRIORS

  • Early in 2016, 6-of-the-8 road teams have won their games.
  • When this last happened, in 2003, home teams bounced back in Week 3.
  • Through two weeks, road teams have outscored home teams 235-160.
  • The average margin of victory for the visiting teams is 15.2 points per game, led by BC’s 25-point win at Tim Hortons Field last week.
  • The last time Hamilton scored fewer than three points at home was on August 12, 2006, when they lost to Toronto by a score of 20 to 2.

THREE-MINUTE DRILL

  • Average audiences for the CFL on TSN and RDS combined are up 9.8% this year compared to all of last regular season.
  • Audiences are also up 23.1% in the 18 to 49 demographic.
  • Last weekend, and for the second consecutive week, more than 100,000 fans attended a CFL game.
  • CFL field goal kickers have made 70.6% of their attempts so far this season, compared to the success rate of 82% in 2015.
  • The high and swirling winds at Hamilton’s Tim Horton’s Field last week affected the early numbers: 5 of 8 field goal attempts were missed in BC’s win over Hamilton.
  • Bo Levi Mitchell has a career starting record of 29-7. Following each of his seven losses, Mitchell has led his team to victory the next game.
  • Eastern clubs have won 3 of the 4 interdivisional games so far in 2016.