We are getting down to the last two weeks of the tedious, strenuous and exciting 24 weeks of Canadian football.
Last week, the Division semifinals set the playoffs off with one blowout and one extremely physical playoff game that came down to the wire. Jeremiah Masoli and the Hamilton Ti-Cats wiped the floor with the BC Lions, while Winnipeg continues their hot streak and took down the mighty Saskatchewan Roughriders, who were without Zach Collaros; information they withheld from the media until game day. But the CFL messed up again when they failed to penalize the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for hitting Riders QB Brandon Bridge in one of the last plays of the game.
— Drew Edwards (@scratchingpost) November 12, 2018
Replay shows that the official’s view was blocked by a player but this has happened several times this season, and it has to change. One change that will happen this week and in the Grey Cup: an 8th official will be added to both games that will look specifically for illegal hits on the QB. It is a temporary step but a step in the right direction for a CFL that does a poor job of protecting QBs compared to the NFL.
With all that being said, there are 4 teams left. And after Sunday there will be 2.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. Ottawa Redblacks, Sunday (11/18), 1 PM ET, ESPNNEWS
This is the 1st playoff game at TD Place since the 2015 Eastern Final that sent Smilin Hank Burris and the Boys to the Grey Cup, and saw the “Miracle on Bank Street”.
— Steve Warne™🎙 (@TSNSteve) November 16, 2018
Hamilton definitely remembers that game, as Ottawa won their 1st Grey Cup that season since an Ottawa team returned to the CFL.
Ottawa swept Hamilton in their last two games to take the number 1 seed in the East. Coming off of a bye week with DB Antoine Pruneau returning, Trevor Harris and Co. are well rested and ready to take battle in Ottawa once again. It’ll be Harris’s 1st divisional final in his career though. This will also be Trevor Harris and Jeremiah Masoli’s time to get over that hump and firmly cement themselves as elite QBs in the CFL.
Home teams have won the last 4 and the last 8 of 10 in the Eastern Final. And Ottawa has won the regular season battle vs. Hamilton. But in the playoffs, it’s war.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs. Calgary Stampeders, Sunday 4:30 PM ET, ESPN2
Ahhhh the Goliath that is the Calgary Stampeders has some cracks in their armor. Their WRs are banged up and, while they looked fine in Week 21, Bo Levi and New Crew still need to work on their chemistry and make the offense gel like it did early in the year.
WRs Eric Rogers, Chris Matthews and Markeith Ambles are starting, and have been producing as of late. If all else fails, RBs Don Jackson and Romar Morris are right in the backfield ready to run.
Winnipeg has been on one since the Banjo Bowl. Matt Nichols has thrown 1 INT in his last six starts, which has been the key to the Bombers’ success. Nichols is also currently on 109 consecutive passing attempts without an INT. Having the league’s leading rusher in Andrew Harris helps out an offense that is already stockpiled with weapons, and with a great OC in Paul LaPolice that uses all of his chess pieces to their highest caliber.
In the defensive world, these teams are tied for the league lead in turnover ratio (+13) and takeaways (49), while Winnipeg leads the league in 151 points off of turnovers. These teams are 2 of the best in the league in offense and defense.
While I usually say to expect fireworks, these teams are too good on defense for big points; expect a hard-nosed, cold, classic, old-fashioned, Canadian football playoff battle.
Enjoy the games folks! Savor this high quality football because it will be gone after next week!