CFL Division Finals Preview
Published: Friday, Nov 16th 2018, 8:11am
By Sheldon Jones
And then there were four.
The 2018 CFL Division Finals kick off on Sunday after two completely different Semi Finals. BC travelled to Hamilton and subsequently got the tar kicked out of them by Jeremiah Masoli and Co. The game was never in question as Hamilton raced out to an early lead and never looked back. In the Western Semi, news broke the night before that Riders starting QB Zach Collaros would not be dressing. This left fourth year pivot Brandon Bridge to try to wind some some playoff magic against the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers. It was not Brandon’s finest day however. After rattling off a few impressive scrambles, Bridge failed to generate any substantial offense after Blue Bombers defensive Coordinator Ritchie Hall had a masterful gameplan to take away the Riders rushing attack and force Bridge to pass. The Bomber’s offense played it safe and executed a mistake free attack and with that were the better team.
Hamilton now heads to TD place in Ottawa to face the well rested first place REDBLACKS. The Trevor Harris led squad has had the Tiger-Cats number this season, completing the 3 game sweep of their regular season series. The first two meetings were close with Ottawa winning by 6 and 4 points respectively. The final meeting took place in week 21 and was a blow out for Ottawa. The REDBLACKS have a high powered offense with 3 divisional allstars in RB William Powell and receivers Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson. Sinopoli is also the eastern nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian.
The Ti-Cats also have a potent offense lead by Eastern Most Outstanding Player nominee Masoli (as demonstrated last weekend against BC) but are missing key receivers such as Brandon Banks and Jalen Saunders. I see this game being a shootout with most likely the last team to have the ball offensively winning to represent the East in this years Grey Cup in Edmonton.
In the West we have the CFL’s hottest team traveling to Calgary to take on a rested, but slumping Calgary Stampeders at Mcmahon Stadium. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have the league's best defense (now that the Riders are out) led by the soon to be Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the year Adam Bighill. After completely stuffing the run game last week the Bombers will also have to defend against the pass as they are going up against the Western Nominee for Most Outstanding Player, Bo Levi Mitchell. Bo Levi loves to throw it deep and will look to hit the endzone early and often in front of the hometown crowd. It looks like he might also be getting some much needed help from the injury reserve with DaVaris Daniels and Eric Rogers practicing with the 1’s this week.
Calgary’s defense is no slouch either as it is anchored by the league leader in tackles Alex Singleton and Micah Johnson tasked with stopping the Western nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian, Andrew Harris.
The Bombers offense is explosive and looks to pound the ball with a heavy dose of Harris and its one two QB punch with starter Matt Nichols and back up/short yardage specialist Chris Streveler. OC Paul LaPolice has a very innovative offense and Head Coach Mike O’shea is not afraid to throw in fakes and gadget plays. The Bombers will however have to bring more to the table offensively this week if they want to beat Calgary. I think this will be a more traditional defensive struggle playoff game with both teams trying to play mistake free football. After the final whistle look for Calgary to head north on Highway #2 to the Grey Cup for the third straight year.