And then there were four. Three teams properly positioned in their home divisions and one uninvited guest from the West Coast.
The Lions may not have been invited to the Eastern Final but Hamilton was unable to throw them out of the party. All four teams want an invitation to go to the biggest party in the country next weekend in Calgary.
The B.C. Lions face another early morning game in Montreal but these guys must be morning people because they looked fairly wide-awake in Hamilton. The job is bigger in Montreal but I am going to swim upstream in the St. Lawrence River and pick the Lions to beat the Alouettes in the East final.
Montreal had their hands full this year with the Lions even though total CFL officiating incompetence cost the Als in one game. But B.C. played them very close and I expect that the trend will continue in the Big O.
I have droned on about B.C. quarterback Casey Printers for the past few weeks because we have seen the guy recapture his mojo in a Lions uniform. The last ultra-talented CFL quarterback who bombed in Hamilton was Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo and now both men have found better football addresses.
Overall the Alouettes would be a solid bet to win the game because they have an incredibly talented team. They also played Toronto and Winnipeg in seven of the 18 games and those two teams were practice squads at best all season.
B.C. put enormous pressure on Hamilton quarterback Kevin Glenn but gave up a lot of passing yards in their victory. So did Montreal in their last game against Hamilton, but Printers is more elusive and talented than Glenn. Printers will feed off a Montreal pass rush and I believe that he will be the reason for a B.C. upset in Montreal.
The other playoff game features two very evenly matched football teams in a very critical game. The Calgary Stampeders have to return to the least desirable playoff location in the CFL and face the Saskatchewan Roughriders at home.
Welcome to the green and white jungle gentlemen, Regina will be a highly unfriendly place for the Stamps and that is the reason I pick the ’Riders to win at home. There will be 30,000 loud and proud lunatics in the stands in Regina and they smell blood in this one.
Fan apathy does not even remotely figure into the equation at Mosaic (properly known as Taylor Field) on Sunday. The stands will be packed with fans that want to disrupt the audible signals and timing for Stamp quarterback Hank Burris and his pals. Crowd noise will factor into the equation for this game because ’Rider fans don’t need piped-in noise and stadium announcers to make it loud.
Henry owned Edmonton in last weekend’s game when he continually used tailback Joffrey Reynolds in an option play and got the Eskimo ends to bite on Reynolds and give Burris a free lane in a pass-run option.
The ’Riders have seen that play-action movie before and I doubt whether a rerun will work against them. This game has green and white domination written all over it.
See you Tuesday.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer whose CFL column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com