Argos to make statement and annihilate Bombers
Last week was my first break-even prediction weekend after I recklessly picked a long-shot Eskimo victory over the Stamps and then picked a more likely Hamilton victory over Montreal. How I lost sight of Edmonton’s complete devotion to utter incompetence and mediocrity this season is a mystery for the ages.
First up on the “weekend” slate is tonight’s rematch between the Argonauts and Blue Bombers. Last week the Argos looked very mortal against the Bombers and left Winnipeg with a too-close-for-comfort victory against one of the two worst teams in the league.
Winnipeg actually had an approximation of a passing game against Toronto and should be very happy with former NFL starter Mike Sims-Walker at receiver on their roster. The Bombers also put a lot of heat on Ray in their last matchup, however I still believe Toronto will make this a statement game and annihilate Winnipeg in the process.
The Friday night game showcases two teams with little on the line beyond the urgent need to sharpen up for the playoffs (BC) and an urgent need to hold onto a job (Edmonton). This game will have more of an exhibition-game feel to it rather than a playoff atmosphere, but the Lions need a tune-up game to get ready for the playoffs.
B.C. has slid off the road since the injury to starting quarterback Travis Lulay forced the Lions to use inexperienced backup Thomas DeMarco in Lulay’s absence. DeMarco was a mess against the Riders last weekend and wilted under the pressure in nasty conditions on the road.
The saving graces for DeMarco and his Lions are twofold: They are 6-1 at home and they host the Eskimos in this game. The downside is the Lions’ woeful play of late and the Eskimos’ inexplicable ability to play tough football in B.C. Place. Tough call in this game but I will go with a Lion victory because Edmonton is just bad this year.
Next up is a very important East Division game between Hamilton and Montreal with major implications for home-field advantage in the playoffs. These two teams met last week in Montreal and the result was a lopsided Alouette victory that changed the dynamics of the playoffs.
The Montreal defence owned the Ti-Cats all afternoon in the game and probably had Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris thinking very fondly about how easy life would be if he was just throwing drunks out of his Calgary pizza bar for a living.
Football is all about redemption, so Hank and the boys have a golden opportunity to return the favor at home against the Alouettes in a rematch. Burris has been fighting the ball for the past few weeks and will face a severe test against a killer Montreal defence geared to blitz often and well. Note that new Montreal pivot and former Heisman winner Troy Smith owned the ‘Cats in the last game.
Despite these obvious factors in Montreal’s favor, I am still not sold on the Alouettes, so look for a Hamilton victory in this game.
Last but definitely not least this week is the Stamp-Rider game in Calgary. The Stamps probably brought their accountant into the coaching sessions so he could break down the game in terms of playoff revenue. A Stamp win ensures a West Final and a potential playoff game against the Riders where a likely sellout is a huge financial windfall for Calgary’s bottom line.
A loss against the Riders leaves the door open for a potential West semi-final game against the BC Lions where close friends and family show up to watch the playoff game in Calgary.
The financial incentive to win this game is pretty obvious for Calgary and I foresee a Stamp victory that guarantees Rider fans could potentially cure the giant attendance problem for a West Final in McMahon Stadium.
I see Calgary as a complete team in all three phases of the game and I view the Riders as solid in two phases of the game. The glaring Rider weakness is their offence behind the inconsistent play of quarterback Darian Durant. Durant had a terrible game against B.C. and was heavily assisted by a massive number of Lion turnovers in the Rider victory.
Calgary is not nearly as generous in the turnover department and I expect the Stamps to win the game in front of a largely green crowd at McMahon.