2018 CFL playoff preview
By Sajan Jabbal, Staff Writer
This has been a CFL season of ups and downs, but with the regular season coming to end, teams are looking to make their mark on CFL history by becoming the 106th Grey Cup champions.
The Calgary Stampeders have had an inconsistent season, beginning strong with a 7-0-0 start only to fall below their standard. The Stampeders lost to the other Western Conference powerhouse team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders near the end of the season.
However, they did manage to get one more win than the Riders, which secured them a top spot in the Western Conference with a 13-5 record.
The Stamps and the Ottawa RedBlacks finished the season first in their respective conferences, so they have the privilege of skipping the quarter-finals, jumping straight into the semi-finals.
Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, B.C. Lions and Hamilton Tiger Cats, 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 Nov. 11, here is the break down of the teams and 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 of their last four games.
Their defense has not been great, allowing over 25 points against in the three games that they lost.
The Stamps have a week off to prepare for the semi-finals, whether they are pit against the Roughriders or the Blue Bombers.
They will need to work on their defense to get their game in shape before then. They did have a good showing in the final game of the season, only allowing 9 points in a 26-9 victory against the B.C. Lions.
Defensive power will come from players like Alex Singleton, who is leading the league in tackles this year with 122. They should not have a problem making it to the Grey Cup Final once again.
The Western Conference matchup is going to be against two teams who have been going at each other all season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Riders won the regular season matchup, winning three out of the four games played. The first two games were close victories for the Riders, with good showings from both teams. The last game against the pair was a blowout, as the Bombers won 31-0.
There is a lot of tension between the two teams with them pretty evenly matched up; it is going to be a close game that will probably be decided in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Although Saskatchewan sit second in the Western Conference, they have had questions the whole season.
The health of star quarterback Zach Collaros is in question, as he has had a troubled season so far. Starting off with a major concussion, many don’t know if he is playing at 100 per cent.
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 poorly on Nov. 11.
They are going to look for their star defensive lineman Charleston Hughes, who is leading the league in sacks with 15.
Winnipeg finished the season third in the West and hope to keep a strong momentum into the game against the Riders.
Star running back Andrew Harris, who once again leads the league in rushing yards, will look to make the Riders suffer in the game, but may have a tough time getting passed Charleston Hughes.
The Ottawa RedBlacks have had an okay season, leading the much weaker Eastern Conference; they have a lot to prepare for going into the semi-final.
They are sitting comfortable in first place and will look to get some rest and solidify their playbook going into the semi-finals.
They have a decent record against western conference teams as well, with five wins and five losses, this may play an advantage if they end up playing the B.C. Lions in the semi-finals.
Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli will lead most of their receiving yards as they have been carrying the team on offense all season.
Sinopoli leads the league in that regard.
Many have been saying it’s a gift to switch over to the Eastern Conference come playoff time and the Lions hope to take advantage of this gift given to them.
With their loss against Calgary last week, they hold the last wild card spot and will transfer over and play the infamous ‘crossover’ game in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Having a better record than the Hamilton Tiger Cats, the Lions will look to make a deep run in the playoffs and have a chance at a Grey Cup.
However, they will need a big game from wide receiver Bryan Burnham if they are going to have any chance at success on offense. Burnham has had a great season, putting up good numbers in receiving yards, touchdowns and receptions.
The Hamilton Tiger Cats are going to have a tough time this playoffs, being the underdogs going in. They have not had a great season who don’t measure up to any of the other teams this playoff season.
After losing their last three games going in to the playoffs, they have not had a good record against Western Conference teams, with only four wins and six losses.
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is going to be playing in the most important game of his young career, and may have an issue matching up against the Lions’ experienced quarterback Travis Lulay.
The stage is now set with the first playoff game scheduled for Sunday Nov. 11 with B.C. facing Hamilton. The winner will face the Ottawa RedBlacks, while Winnipeg is set to play Saskatchewan who have Calgary waiting for them.