“Turn the Lights On”

It’s one of my FAVOURITE times of year, y’all – it’s CFL playoff time!

Let’s take a look at this week’s match-ups..

als v bc

Do I care a lot about this game?  Um, no.

Does anybody?

Anyway, I think Montreal wins this game by at least two TDs for the reasons set out below.

BC has confused me all year long.  While everyone knew the Lions would begin the season without starting QB Travis Lulaylemon (i.e. Travis Lulay), most thought Kevin Glenn would be a capable game manager who would simply step into the Lions’ system and hold down the fort, so to speak, until Lulaylemon returned.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Instead, BC struggled all year to find any sort of consistency, especially on offence.  Defensively, the Lions held their own; they’re in the top three in most defensive categories.  While defense wins championships, the Lions need to score early and often in order to disrupt Montreal’s home field advantage.

Montreal is an interesting case study.  The Als looked fugly earlier this season, and I enjoyed it immensely.  But somehow they managed to find a QB, Jonathan Crompton (whose flowing locks are no doubt the envy of many men – and women) and they started putting some wins together.  It seems the Als took a few lessons from the Lions, who notoriously started the 2011 season 1-6 but ended up winning 10 of their next 11 en route to winning the 2011 Grey Cup.  But the Alouettes are not nearly as good as the 2011 Lions, and really, Montreal played quite a few games against its weak Eastern Division siblings that likely helped pad their record.

So why do I think Montreal will win on Sunday?  Easy: history, time difference, BC’s poor showing against Calgary to end the season and Kevin Glenn’s ineptitude in big games.  History because Western teams historically struggle in crossover playoff games.  Time difference because the game starts at 1:00 pm in Montreal, which is 10 am Vancouver time.  BC laid a proverbial egg against Calgary in its final game of the season in a game that had huge playoff implications, which doesn’t give the Lions a lot of confidence heading into the playoffs.  And finally, Kevin Glenn does not have a good playoff reputation.  Add in the fact that Montreal is playing at home, and I think it adds up to a solid win for Montreal.

But enough about this game.  Let’s turn to the game that REALLY matters…

riders v esks

Dear CFL.ca: PLEASE quit overselling these playoff match-ups.  You should still be embarrassed by dubbing last year’s Grey Cup QB match-up as the best ever.

Anyway, it’s been awhile since the Riders had to go into the Evil Empire’s territory in the playoffs.  Again, I immensely enjoyed how much Edmonton sucked over the past couple of years.  Sadly that time has come to an end.

I must admit that this week my mind has floated back to the 1989 Western Final between the Riders and Eskimos when the heavily-favoured Esks were beaten by the Riders in an outcome that conjured up comparisons of David versus Goliath.  While this Eskimos team is solid, it’s not even close to being on par with the 1989 juggernaut.

The CFL rumor mill has been working overtime regarding Eskimos QB Mike Reilly (sadly I have no mocking nickname for him – yet). Rumor has it that he has a broken bone in his foot.  The Esks’ announced that Matt Nichols will be starting in Reilly’s place. The Eskimos’ nickname for Matt Nichols?  Matty Ice.  Really?  ROFL.

Some Riders’ fans are salivating at the prospect of Matty Ice (?!?!) starting on Sunday.  Sure he threw a few interceptions in a nothing game for the Esks last week.  But now is NOT the time to be underestimating the Eskimos – especially when the Eskimos’ defence was the league’s top defence and the Riders’ offence was MIA for most of the year.

This brings us to the Riders.  Yes, the Riders went on a seven game winning streak early in the season, but when I look back on the 2014 season, I mostly think about the Riders’ inability to score points against the freaking basement-dwelling REDBLACKS. My concerns are not alleviated by the fact that the Riders also have serious issues at QB.  I suspect that while Kerry Joseph will get the start, my future husband or husband in an alternate universe, Darian Durant, will be second on the depth chart.  Given Joseph’s struggles against the Esks’ defensive line last week, I hope and pray that Riders’ offensive co-ordinator George Cortez has been playing possum for the last couple of weeks and brings out the Riders’ actual playbook for the playoffs.

Defensively, the Riders HAVE to stop the run.  The cold weather, plus having a second-string QB starting will likely force Edmonton to run the ball more.  The Riders have to find a way to plug the middle and keep the Esks from picking up 5 or 6 yards on first down. The Riders also have to make sure Eskimos’ MOP Adarius Bowman doesn’t get behind coverage, and the same goes for Fred Stamps.

On special teams, the Riders need their cover teams to be solid.  Any special teams disasters by the Riders’ special teams will significantly affect Riders’ morale and momentum, not to mention my heart rate and sanity.

If Mike Reilly was starting, I’d say the Riders’ chances of winning this game were at about 10%.  Mike Reilly is to the Eskimos like Darian Durant is to the Riders: he’s their leader.  With Mike Reilly out, the Riders’ chances significantly improve.  While my head is telling me the Eskimos win in a close game, my heart says the Riders will somehow eke this one out.

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