Friday, 28 October 2016

Picking WEEK 19 in the CFL

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Better late than NEVER...Sorry it's late folks!  Check out our PICK EM for this week.  Anyone else JACKED UP for playoff time?!?!?

Edmonton @ Hamilton
This game kicks off in about 45 mins (as of this typing) and I’m going stick with my guns from last week despite the Esks losing to the BC Lions…In a playoff crunch, with so many things still undecided in the CFL, I like a Mike Reilly lead team!
Admittedly, my prediction also factors in the “West over East” narrative that everyone following the CFL subscribes to at this moment, and as a “spoiler alert” that will probably ring true for the other 2 games we look at today.
Many of you know that I support the “West over East” argument; It’s all about balance and control.  In my mind, one of the main reasons why Western Teams are better than their Eastern conference foes is because the Western squads all incorporate the ground attack as part of their offensive scheme.  For some reason or another, that has been the CONSISTENT case with teams in the “little brother” conference especially in Toronto and Hamilton.
This game may very well be a preview of the Eastern Conference Semi-Final, but rest assured, the TiCats aren’t thinking about that at all.  Hamilton can still win the division and Coach Austin will have his team ready to ball in all threes phases of the game. 
Unfortunately for the Black and Gold, Edmonton looks like the stronger team at this point.  They’re used to running the rock to get into manageable 2nd downs, and in this phase of the year, having a running attack is everything.  Hamilton may have to spend too much time creating other plays that try and make up for the fact that they’re not going to hit you in between the tackles.
It’s been a startling trend in the CFL this year; the run game is slowly being replaced by teams utilizing quick throws to the sidelines to get out in space and let guys compete in 1v1 situations.  Until an Eastern team can prove that they can get it done on the ground, as well as through the air, myself and many other analysts will be picking the Western squads all the way through the playoffs.  May as well  start here.
Pick: The Reigning and Defending Grey Cup Champs.
Ottawa @ Winnipeg
This week, one of the topics of conversation during my radio work with Rod Pedersen on The Sportscage (620 CKRM) was focused solely in on Justin Medlock.  If we were to take Bo Levi Mitchell out of the “Most Outstanding Player” conversation, there is a very legit argument as to why Justin Medlock should be considered for the CFL’s MOP Award this year.  The veteran kicker has been the best Free Agent signing of the off season by a country mile, and Winnipeg wouldn’t be where they are right now without him.  The Bombers have gone 9-2 over the last 11 weeks with most the scoring being done via Medlock’s leg. 
Over the off season when Winnipeg was signing their Fantasy Squad of Free Agents it was Medlock that we highlighted specifically because of the amount of close games that Winnipeg had been losing by in 2015.  Those L’s have turned to W’s with the consistency that the former TiCat has brought to their kicking game, and Winnipeg looks so much better off for it.
The playoffs are a different monster though.  Winnipeg needs to find a way to score Touchdowns.  Relying solely on Medlock’s leg will be a recipe for disaster…YOU NEED TO SCORE TOUCHDOWNS TO ADVANCE TO THE GREY CUP. 
Consider these next two games an OFFENSIVE AUDITION for the Blue Bombers as they look to head into “One and Done” mode ready to make an impact. 
Go with Winnipeg here as they try and lock up 2nd in the Western Conference.
Pick: The Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Calgary @ Montreal
Struggling against the Defensively sound Montreal Alouettes at home a few weeks ago was a little bit humbling to the best team in the CFL.  I’d anticipate Vernon Adams to struggle a bit here as the jolt of adrenaline he had in his first start wears off a bit.  Furthermore, Calgary is about to take a 21-day break from CFL action as their Bye-Week falls in WEEK 20, plus they’ve got the playoff BYE they earned as the winners of the West.  The Stampeders need to take advantage of every competitive snap that they have left before they play again in the Western Final.  This may not be close.  It would be a terrible disservice to their chances at the Grey Cup if the Stamp-machine went into this pseudo-hibernation on the heels of an upset.
Pick:  The Grey Cup FAVOURITES, Calgary.

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