Why would anyone who claims to be of sound mind try to sort out this Sunday’s CFL semifinal playoff games and pick the winners? When you throw out fear and common sense, it gets a lot easier.
The early game pits the Montreal Alouettes against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the giant concrete mausoleum known as Olympic Stadium. They threw a lid on this coffin and desperately hope that no more cash needed to be thrown into it.
It has become a playoff burial ground for Alouette playoff opponents as Montreal performs last rites on championship dreams for any team that dares to cross their post-season path at the Big Owe.
Maybe it’s fear (that the entire concrete substructure will succumb to the construction problems that dogged this massive stadium and crash down on the players) that gets inside opponents’ heads.
Or maybe it’s the fact that Montreal has enjoyed the enormous talents of quarterback Anthony Calvillo, even as he sails into his golden years as one of the best to ever play the game. AC rarely loses at home, even if it’s a temporary home in Olympic Stadium.
One Montreal sports writer has questioned whether Calvillo still has the mental toughness to win games, largely because the Larks have taken a serious nose-dive as the regular season came to a close.
The Alouettes are banged up on defence and almost geriatric on the 0-line, but they are still more than the Tiger-Cats can handle on Sunday.
The ‘Cats have played spin-the-quarterback all season as they try to figure out who’s hot and who’s not at the position. Typically both pivots have been not hot in 2011.
Usually Kevin Glenn gets to start at quarterback until he implodes under pressure and reveals why a five and one-half foot quarterback should not be a habitual pocket passer.
When Glenn gets pulled, the job belongs to six and one-half foot quarterback Quinton Porter who, oddly enough, is a pretty good scrambler and not a pocket passer, but has no touch on the ball.
If you could splice both of these guys together, Hamilton would win the game. Pick Montreal in this game because an aging Calvillo is better than both of these guys.
The West playoff game really is a Battle of Alberta, and it will be a close game. A rookie Calgary pivot will face a two-time Grey Cup champion quarterback in Edmonton’s Ricky Ray.
Calgary’s Drew Tate faces the biggest test of his brief career as a starter in the game. Tate has been effective and occasionally spectacular in his last three games. He has also served up too many picks and the Eskimos have a few ball hawks in their secondary.
Throw in a couple of Eskimo assassins at rush end (Williams and Howard) and Tate will have a very busy day.
Jon Cornish will alleviate some of the pressure as Calgary’s tailback, but Edmonton will also throw in their own monster at tailback with 1,000-yard rusher Jerome Messam.
Edmonton has two receivers with exactly 1,153 reception yards apiece, while Calgary battering ram/receiver Nik Lewis is the lone Stamp over 1,000 yards. However, Calgary also has star receiver Ken-Yon Rambo back from injury to balance things.
But, when all is said and done, I still have to pick the Eskimos to win at home. Next week: the CFL Division finals.