Fight for the 105th Grey Cup begins
By Sajan Jabbal, Staff Writer
This has been one of the most exciting CFL seasons and with the regular season coming to end, teams are looking to prepare for their first playoff game, and look to make their way right to the Grey Cup.
The Calgary Stampeders have had a tough end to the season, losing their last three games but still lead the league in points and hope to achieve another Grey Cup with a bye into the semi-finals.
The Stamps and the Toronto Argonauts finished the season first in their respective conferences, so they have the privilege of skipping to the quarter-finals, and jumping straight into the semi-finals.
The rest of the pack including: Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ottawa Redblacks, Edmonton Eskimos and
Winnipeg Blue Bombers, will have to battle it out in the quarter-final game to be able to play in the semis.
As we get closer and closer to kick off on Sunday, we break down the teams and the matchups, as they prepare to battle it out.
Although the Stamps sit with the best record in the league, they have had a tough end to the season, losing three in a row.
“We’re not getting any better,” head coach Dave Dickenson said in an interview with the Calgary Sun after their loss against the Bombers on Friday.
“We’re making the same mistakes. We have a lot to prove to ourselves. We have time to get better but right now, we’re not the team we need to be.”
The ‘Stamps have a week off to prepare for the semi-finals, whether it be against the Blue Bombers or the Eskimos.
They are going to look to their powerhouse defense to make some big stops.
With star defensive players like Alex Singleton, who is nominated for Most Outstanding Player and Charleston Hughes, who powerful pass rushing once again leads the league in quarterback sacks this season.
This western match-up is going to be two teams that has had its ups and downs all season. The Eskimos went on a seven game winning streak to start the season but fell to the Bombers.
After that loss they had a tough time, losing six in a row.
Although they finished strong and are at a good standing going into the playoffs, their inconsistency could play a factor if they start the game poor on Sunday.
Another problem the ‘Eskies may face is their lack of rushing offense. Although they do have a solid backfield with C.J. Gable, they haven’t been very successful and QB Mike Reilly leads the offense in rushing yards.
Winnipeg finished the season second in the West and hope to keep a strong momentum into the game against the Eskimos.
Star running back Andrew Harris, leads the league in rushing yards and receptions. Be on the lookout for him against Edmonton.
They also hope for strong defensive playing to continue their performance from last week’s game against the Stampeders.
The Argos have had an inconsistent season. They have not managed to win more than two games in a row more than once this season.
Just sneaking into first place after their last week blowout against the BC Lions, they look to shape up and prepare for the semi-final game.
Although they sit at the top of the east, they have the gift of a bye-week into the playoffs.
With Ricky Ray well past his prime, some question how he will play in a big time game. Although he is still one of the best QB’s in the CFL, his consistency is in question, once a team starts to close off the pocket; Ray’s speed becomes a problem in avoiding the sack.
They are also going to have to look at James Wilder Jr., leading his team in rushing yards and has had a breakout year.
Many have been saying it’s a gift to switch over to the Eastern Conference come playoff time, and the ‘Riders hope to take advantage of this gift given to them.
With their loss against Edmonton last week, they hold the last wild card spot and will transfer over and play in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Having a better record than both Ottawa and Toronto, Saskatchewan will look to make a deep run in the playoffs and have a chance at a Grey Cup.
After their tough start to the season at 4-2, they picked up in all cylinders producing on both the offense and defense.
The input of rookie Canadian Brandon Bridge at QB has added speed and movement in the backfield, something that aging QB Kevin Glenn struggles with. As soon as Glenn gets tired and starts struggling in the pocket, the Riders will look to Bridge to ride the shotgun for the rest of the game.
Duron Carter will look to continue to play both offense and defense and bad mouth his competitors any time he is able to.
They have also made many later signings to solidify their roster, adding Trent Richardson, Marcus Thigpen, and Chad Owens.
On defense they have strong performers as well, with DB Ed Gainey, who leads the league in interceptions.
The Redblacks are going to have a tough time containing the ‘Riders power and will need defensive players like Avery Ellis and Taylor Reed to really step it up.