The NCAA basketball fraternity won’t need the term ‘Final Four’ until the spring, so I hijacked it for the 2011 CFL division finals.
This Sunday will mean that two more teams get to put their feet up after the game and watch the Grey Cup on TV. The question of the day is which two teams hit the showers after this weekend?
The early game pits the Winnipeg Blue Bombers against the Hamilton Tiger Cats in an Eastern Division showdown in a western Canadian city.
Typically, November in Winnipeg carries roughly the same level of joy found in a night at the opera without large amounts of alcohol to kill the pain, but a home playoff game has completely changed the November mood for Bomber fans.
The Bomber faithful will sell out their old stadium for the last time and then be rewarded for their loyalty with a team in the Grey Cup.
Winnipeg will win the game in much the same way that they won first place in the East — with a murderers’ row on defense.
Winnipeg has not exactly shot out the lights on offense this year.
They had more two and outs than any other team in the regular season, but the defense never rested, mainly because they thrived on mayhem and brutality. It was simply good honest work for the boys from Swaggerville.
Winnipeg brought a lot of pressure from the interior of the D-line all season and Sunday will mean more of the same for Hamilton’s quarterbacks. I will predict that both Ti-Cat pivots will see action this weekend, with a vengeful Kevin Glenn as the starter.
Glenn is a former Bomber quarterback with an axe to grind with his old team after they dumped him a few years ago during the Mike Kelly fiasco in the ‘Peg. Few of his old teammates have any sympathy for Glenn for one good reason — somebody has to lose the game and the Bombers will provide 12 good reasons on defense for Glenn to suffer a loss, painfully if necessary.
The West final will take place in the warm and friendly confines of the newly renovated B.C. Place on Sunday. The place has been a burial ground for visitors before and after the place got a huge facelift. Now it will showcase two more home games for the B.C. Lions after they win their game against the pesky Eskies and go to the Grey Cup.
The rebirth of the 2011 Lions ran parallel to the acquisition of veteran receiver Arland Bruce, a guy who brought a new attitude to the Leos.
The tandem of Geroy Simon and Bruce has opened up a big playbook for talented B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay. He has been able to rely upon them for clutch receptions at opportune times in the back nine of the regular season.
The Lion defense also has a big bite led by young linebacker (and future NFL star) Solomon Eliminium and veteran tackle Aaron Hunt.
The Lion defense will make life very difficult for Eskimo pivot Ricky Ray, a guy who was under serious fire from the Calgary defense last Sunday — and Stamp defensive pressure is not even close to the Lions’ pressure.
The absence of giant Eskimo tailback Jerome Messam won’t help matters for Ricky and his offense, but Ray does have talented receivers and the most accurate arm in the league, when he has time. The Eskimos’ pressure defense will keep this game closer than one might expect, however it’s still the Lions and Bombers in the Grey Cup. See you next week.