Thursday, 12 November 2015

CFL Playoffs! Pickin the 1st Round!

I hope you guys are excited as this washed up former baller is!  We've entered "One and Done" mode in the CFL, and we're in for some great Football in the Divisional Semi-Finals.

There's nothing like the unpredictablility of the CFL playoffs, and one mistake, one slip, could be the difference from moving on, or hitting the windows and aisles of ones favourite airline company. 

Nobody wants to go home, only one team can win...Welcome to the final stages of the Grey Cup pursuit ladies and gentlemen.

Here's our picks for the CFL playoff Double Header on Sunday, as always, presented by our friends at

Lets get to it...
Toronto @ Hamilton

This is a tough game to pick.  It could go either way.  With Toronto having playoff ready vets like Ricky Foley, Chad Owens, Brandon Whittaker, and Chris Van Zehyl (just to name a few) they’ll be more than prepared to deal with everything that Hamilton can throw their way.  The most important aspect of having that type of leadership is that it totally offsets the fact that Hamilton won the season series.  The playoffs are a different beast, and the Argos have an incredible mix of vets strung throughout their roster that makes them dangerous.

Ask anybody that has played Ricky Ray in the playoffs and they’ll tell you that when he’s on his game, there’s nobody better.  It doesn’t matter how many times you hit him, he’ll get up and keep chucking the rock.  It doesn’t matter what fancy tweeks that a DC adds to the scheme, Ricky Ray will adjust and continue to make the throws.  He’s unflappable when it matters, and no moment is bigger right now.

Having said that, this game is a huge opportunity for the TiCats defense to cement their legacy when it comes to the 2015 season.  Despite losing Zach Collaros at the height of an MOP quality year, Hamilton was in every game that they played, primarily because the Defense was LIGHTS OUT.  They were asked to be on the field more than they should have been, and scoring defensive TDs went from a luxury to a must in order to compete.  The fact that the offense wasn’t as prosperous minus their franchise QB also meant that Special Teams reps probably went up, which directly affects the defense because all CFL ST’s feature a heavy number of defensive players.

Orlondo Steinauer and his troops are going to have to be aggressive scheme-wise, get as many hits on Ray as they can, and get the him throwing the rock sooner rather than later.  The Argos pivot cannot be afforded time in the pocket.  He’s too accurate to just let him stand back there and play pitch and catch.

Communication is also going to have to be a key for the TiCats.  If the ball is coming out early, then everyone needs to know their mid-range zone/man coverage responsibilities.  One opening or comms breakdown could mean six, the Boatmen are loaded with playmakers.
Offensively for the TiCats it’s all about control, and protection.  If you’ve listened to our OFFSIDES PodCast this week, you’ll know that it’s imperative that Kent Austin utilize CJ Gable and keep Jeremiah Masoli in manageable situations whether it be on 1st or 2nd downs. #BallControl

Masoli has the goods folks.  He just has to be smart and understand that he’s got a bunch of help, and that he doesn’t have to do things by himself.  Just make the proper decisions, that’s all.  Now, that doesn’t mean he has to be “Virgin Mary Safe” with the football, it just means that he can trust in all of his teammates, and especially in the gameplan.  #DontNeedAHero

If you’re an Argo fan, all eyes are on the D.  Many (including me) have questioned Casey Creehan’s ability to scheme a winner, and nothing’s more annoying to players than having an outsider who knows zero about the temperature of the locker room question their ability.  Ricky Ray and TO’s potent offense can go for 600 yards and 28 points on Sunday, but it will mean nothing if Hamilton goes for 29 (pts). 

The Double Blue defense needs to stand up on Sunday and pitch a gem.  In talking with GM Jim Barker earlier on in the year, this is exactly why they reached out and brought Ricky Foley back into the fold.  They were anticipating this type of situation and Barker made the needed calls to ensure that Toronto had the leadership to match the talent.

Like I said earlier.  This is a tough game to pick.  I have so much respect for the guys in that Argo Locker Room that it almost seems like you can’t pick against them.  

The deciding factor maybe the venue.  At one point the TiCats were immortal at home, and it’s definitely going to be a madhouse when this game kicks off.  The weather might be something that comes in to play as well, and I’ll take Medlock any day of the week when it comes to kicking in adverse situations.
Let’s go Hamilton by a FG in a great physical game.

Pick:  Hamilton

BC @ Calgary 

That win last week in BC was absolutely crucial for the Calgary Stampeders.  I don’t care if they were fielding their scout team; the Stamps needed that victory to spring board them into Sunday and give that veteran group even more confidence than they already have.

I’m taking Calgary to advance to the Western Final, and the reason is three-pronged.  Bo Levi Mitchell Jerome Messam, and the savvy the Stampeder Defense.
If ball control is going to be at a premium in the playoffs this year then who better?  On offense, Calgary has Messam to be the nail, and BLM to be the hammer…Mess penetrates, provides Dave Dickenson with an expanded 2nd down playbook, and Bo Levi Mitchell comes in to make the throws and extend the drives.  Simple.  

If the Stampeders can string together a couple of long scoring drives in the early stages of the game, it may be enough to make the inconsistent Lions Defense start to take chances that they don’t want to take.  Getting off their original game plan could be costly against a team that has quick hitting ability.

Defensively for the Stamps they’ve got a tough match-up.  I don’t want my earlier sentiments to take away from the BC offensive ability, because that is a mistake (that if made) will be lethal.

Andrew Harris is going to see his touches so that’s a game plan in itself, and there’s nobody better in the CFL to stretch the field than Manny Arceneaux.  

But here’s the thing, we’re talking about a veteran defensive group that is going to remain composed in any situation that they may find themselves in.  They never seem to panic. 
BC has big-play making potential, but the Stampeders have a group that is going to be able to re-group quickly, shake off the previous play and lock into the next situation as if the last didn’t happen. You need that mentality in the playoffs, and Calgary has those guys on every level of their Defense.

One can expect Stampeders Defensive Coordinator Rich Stublerto take a defined approach (meaning you’ll see what Calgary intends to do early) and stick to it, no matter what BC goes to.  Stubler is going to let his guys figure it all out and react accordingly.  You guys won’t see crazy plus 1 blitzes and zero coverage, but you’ll see a defense that will utilize their athleticism upfront and solid fundamentals in the back.

If BC is going to have a chance, they cannot fall behind early. It will force their athletic QB and OC into one dimensional play calling that Calgary will easily deal with.  The longer the Leos stay close, the better the chances of the pulling the upset off.  Anything can happen in the CFL playoffs, so don’t count them out all. 
I’ll go with the defending Champs.

Pick:  Calgary


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