CFL Week 21 Preview
Published: Wednesday, Oct 31st 2018, 9:10am
By: Sheldon Jones (@SheldonJones83)
We have made it to the last week of regular season football in the CFL. There really is only one game that still has any playoff implications involved. For the other 3 games, teams will either be looking at next year or just simply gaining some much-needed momentum for the playoffs. For the playoff bound teams it will be interesting to see if they will be resting any starters in hopes there are no significant injuries.
First up on Friday Night Football we have an eastern matchup between the first place Ottawa REDBLACKS vs the last place Toronto Argonauts. The Argos have had the worst season in CFL history following a season in which they won the Grey Cup. Playoff wise there is nothing to play for in this game. The ROUGE et NOIR have already clinched 1st place and the first-round bye in the Eastern Division Playoffs. The Argos have nothing to play for other than whether they will pick first or second in the 2019 CFL draft. There are also rumors circulating that Head Coach Marc Trestman might be moving on from the Argo’s after the season, so it will be interesting to see what their game plan will be. I see Ottawa resting most of their starters at least in the second half so the opportunity is there for Argonaut players to showcase their skills for next year and possibly squeak out the win.
Saturday has a Canadian Football fan’s dream triple header starting with Winnipeg travelling to Edmonton to face the last place Eskimos at the site of the 2018 Grey Cup. Winnipeg will have to wait until the last game on Saturday to see where they will be heading for the Western Semi Final on Remembrance Day. Edmonton has had a disastrous second half of the season and are missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Lots of speculation that after failing to make the playoffs in the year that they are hosting the Grey Cup will lead to HC Jason Maas and his coaching staff being fired at the end of the season. Also, many fans are wondering if this is the final game that Mike Riley will be wearing an Edmonton Eskimo jersey. I believe the Esk’s are facing a full rebuild and not sure Riley would be wanting to stay around in what will likely be his final “Big” contract. Is Maas and Co. are not relieved of their duties I also don’t see Mike staying as body language suggests he has not been on the same page as Maas. Winnipeg are arguably the hottest team in the league currently and are looking to end their 28-year Grey Cup drought (#1990). Matt Nichols has been on fire lately and has been stretching the field with his talented group of receivers. Andrew Harris is the perfect cold weather playoff back who can pound the ball on the ground and set up those big plays downfield. But the most dangerous player on their team is MLB Adam Bighill. He is certainly in the conversation for defensive player of the year and can change a game in an instant with a sack or turnover. I also see Winnipeg playing it safe in the second half and trying to get out of the game injury free to rest up and have a couple cold ones while watching the late game to see who they will have to game plan for in the Western Semi.
The middle game has Montreal visiting Hamilton. The second half of the season has seen improvement for the Alouettes however, they are still miles away from being a week in competitive unit. It has been announced that GM Kavis Reed will be back next year but unless he can some how add a few more pieces to his puzzle there might just be consequences. Hamilton is looking to avoid any other injuries after loosing Brandon Banks a couple weeks ago. After Johnny football picked up his first win in he CFL last week will Mike Sherman look to him again or will he use this last game of the year to see all his QB’s in action. Look for a sloppy football game here folks.
The third game (and most important for Saskatchewan Roughrider fans) sees the Calgary Stampeders head west to face the BC Lions. BC has already learned their fate in the 2018 CFL playoff picture as they will be heading to Hamilton to play the Ti-cats on November 11th at Tim Hortons Field. Calgary however still needs to clinch first place in the West. The fact that first place is even still in question is baffling for the Dave Dickenson led Stampeders. Since they barely made it out of Montreal with a 12 - 6 win in week 17, the Stamps have lost 3 straight to the Riders, Lions and Bombers respectively. They are in danger of losing 4 straight for the first time since 2004. With the Roughriders dominating the BC Lions on Saturday in Regina, if Calgary loses, they will finish second in the West and would host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West Semi Final. A win or a tie however would clinch first place to get that extra week off to possibly get back some of their injured players. With nothing officially to play for, most fans and critics alike think that BC will roll over and allow the Stampeders to win. After a big loss against the Riders the Lions will be looking to gain some momentum before they head to the Eastern Semi Final as the Western crossover team. This will also go down as the last regular season game for BC Head coach Wally Buono, so I believe the Lions will be fired up. This will be the game of the week and as much as Rider fans would love the Lions to win, I just don't see the Stampeders losing four in a row.