On a week where we induct two new members to the Plaza of Honour, including my good friend Scott Anthony Schultz, the CFL schedule hits the final 1/3 of the year. This is the phase of the season where one isn’t bothered as much by the aches and pains that come along with the grind of the game, and teams need to playing their BEST football if they’re going to have a shot at playoff success.
As a former player, this was by far my favorite time of the year. Everything gets turned up a notch, and if teams aren’t at their best on any given day, the aftershocks have the potential to be devastating. Every year the divisions are decided in the last couple of weeks, and this year looks to be the same. IT ALL STARTS IN WEEK 14. Buckle up CFL fans, this is going to be a good finish.
Calgary @ Winnipeg
I woke up Tuesday morning to a flooded timeline of Twitter updates involving the ONE AND ONLY Gary Lawless...To my surprise, low and behold, Gary seemed to be lobbing grenades into an organization NOT named the Saskatchewan Roughriders! He was actually speaking on the potential exits of Kyle Walters and a couple of other prominent figures in the Winnipeg BlueBombers organization. It was great to see Ole Clueless breaking news about something closer to home, and it was really the only thing that is keeping the Bombers in the news right now. Sure they signed Ian Wild, but as CFL great Doug Brown tweeted a couple of days ago, “I hope Ian Wild can also play WR, LG, QB, cover kicks, because LB is not a pressing need at the moment…” Signing Wild wasn’t something that is going to pay immediate dividends.
Here’s another thing Gary Lawless and the Winnipeg press need to talk about, since they’re into the grenades…Since they threwtheir Special Teams Coordinator under the bus, the Winnipeg Special Teams has been worse…#fact #JustSaying
The obvious money is on the Stamp Machine here after beating the BC Lions despite having a couple of Special Teams issues themselves. One can expect Calgary to start turning it on now that the playoff push has started, especially at the QB position manned by Bo Levi-Mitchell.
BC @ Edmonton
Edmonton is really taking some impressive steps in their efforts to be recognized as a Grey Cup contender in 2015. Earning a split in the Battle of Alberta series was the first eye-opener to anyone not in the Eskimos locker room, and then putting on a defensive masterpiece against Hamilton has really catapulted the Eskies into the Championship conversation.
We’ve made no bones about how tough it is to win at Commonwealth Stadium, but don’t count the Leos out whatever you do. It seems as though the Lions have been tagged as the team responsible for keeping the Western Division pride intact and not allowing an Eastern Team to crossover.
In order to compete, the Lions will need to continue to win the Special Teams phase like they did against Calgary. (Football IQ 101: Winning 2 out of the 3 phases in football gets you the W). BC will also need to step up defensively in a HUGE way because the Edmonton O isn’t exactly a juggernaut. Finding a way to keep the Eskimo drives short and dominating the kicking phase of the game will let BC try and chip away at that vaunted Edmonton D; from there it’s a crap shoot. This game may be closer than some expect. Let’s go with the home of Canada’s Greatest Hockey Player EVER (according to everyone)…
Toronto @ Ottawa
Even though it’s the last place on earth that wins and losses are earned, I’m not sure how anyone could justify a Toronto victoryON PAPER. Along with Henry Burris the Ottawa RedBlackshave completely eviscerated the expectations that “experts” had for them at the beginning of the year, and all of a sudden they’re poised to challenge for the DIVISION! If you would like a pragmatic look into this clash, one could peruse most of the CFL statistical categories to find that the RedBlacks have the distinct advantage. If you’re a flash and bang sort of fan, then one could easily spot the wave of momentum that the RedBlacks are currently surfing on as the key to victory.
Me? I like both…
The RedBlacks seem to be on a high right now and using it to play some great football. On the other side of the coin, Toronto just keeps getting kicked around by the CFL and the city that they call home. The Double Blue just found out that they have the privilege (said sarcastically) of getting to play their home games out of…OTTAWA, while the Blue Jays continue their MLB magicial run. What a kick to the groin!!!
Take Ottawa in the Nation’s Capital. It all seems to be coming together for the RedBlacks right now. Be warned though, as I write all of this, I literally see myself as an Argo player reading it and smirking with that “We’ll show your stupid a**” look of disdain that is often reserved for the media. Putting the Argo’s in the corner and prodding at them won’t go over well, so like BC, don’t expect them to just lay down.
Montreal @ Saskatchewan
Where has the time gone? Rewind the clock to a few years back and this game would be the highlight of the CFL schedule being billed as the “Clash of Champions.” The CFL panel would have set up shop in Regina, the anticipation that would be building up would be unreal, and the streets would be flooded with Green and White all week. The whole league would be tuned in this Sunday…
2015 paints a VERY different picture unfortunately. It’s almost surreal. Montreal vs. Saskatchewan now seems like a side note in the league schedule. Even with Montreal pushing to become a crossover team come playoff time, this game hasn’t been talked about much.
I would expect attendance to be right around where it was during last weeks Ottawa game despite the lukewarm anticipation. Ridernation will never abandon their beloved Green and White, and for those of you who do pack Mosaic, you’ll be in for a good game.
It’s a very winnable game for the Roughriders. The Alouettesare going to try and throw off the Offensive Lines communication by looping and bringing guys in from different places on the field, but our Hogs (lead by the re-signed Dan Clark) should handle their scheme upfront. If our protection holds up, they’ll be plenty of time for KG to make throws against the Man to Man strategy the Als tend to employ in their secondary.
That may be the key, albeit a tough one if Montreal is on top of their game.
The Riders have to win their one-on-one battles, in the slots especially. Lucky for us we have two of the best in the league in Bagger and Dress, and the addition of Naaman Roosevelt, with the things he brings to the table, look favourably towards the home team. Lining up against the likes of Billy Parker and Chip Cox is no easy task, but if our slots can free themselves up before the pressure upfront gets home, the Green and White should be able to move the sticks.
As for the defensive side of the ball, Montreal presents a bit of an enigma. With Anthony Calvillo calling the plays and Jonathon Crompton slinging the pill, there’s no telling what the ALs are capable of. And that has to be uncomfortable in a sport where information gathering is crucial. There’s so much potential for success AND failure there.
It’s a toss-up here. Both teams are a safe bet to win, and one could make arguments for both sides easily. Maybe the difference in the game comes down to outlook. If Montreal wants to crossover, this game is a must-have. The question is do they have an extra gear versus a team that doesn’t have a whole lot going for them.