Eastern Semi Final Preview - Cat Fight - Lions at Ticats
Published: Thursday, Nov 8th 2018, 8:11am
By: Sheldon Jones (@SheldonJones83)
After a very long regular season the CFL playoffs are finally here. Semi-Final Sunday starts off with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hosting the Western Crossover BC Lions at Tim Hortons Field. Both teams are coming into the playoffs off multiple losses. BC dropped the last game of the season at home to Calgary while having nothing to play for, as their path to the east was laid out the previous week with their loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Hamilton is riding a 3 game losing streak after falling two straight to the East Division leading Ottawa REDBLACKS. That home and home series clinched first place for Ottawa. Last week the Ti-cats rested most of their starters in their regular season ending loss to Montreal. Both team have also showed flashes of brilliance on offense. Jeremiah Masoli had a remarkable start to the season having tied a CFL record for throwing for 300 yards in nine consecutive games. Masoli had a formidable receiver group, but has lost Chris Williams and Brandon Banks to season ending injuries leaving Luke Tasker and Mike Jones with the brunt of the workload. Masoli also lead all QB’s in rushing yards and has Alex Green and John White to help pound the ball. The Tiger-Cat defense is led by the CFL’s Biggest Trash Talker (as per the TSN CFL Players Poll) Simoni Lawrence. Lawrence loves to get into opponents heads and try to cause them to make mistakes.
BC has been a team with many peaks and valleys this season. They have a very good receiver corps including Bryan Burnham and DeVier Posey. Who will be throwing them the ball is another story. Both Travis Lulay and Jonathon Jennings have split time at QB this year. Both have comparable efficiency rating and have almost even TD to INT stats. Lulay has been a big part of their late season resurgence, but was pulled in the second last game of the season when playing against the Roughriders. Look for Lulay to start but we will see how short Wally Buono’s leash will be if he is ineffective. The Lions defense looks to get a big boost with news that DT Solomon Elimimian could be playing after being on the 6 game injury list. He is great at stopping the run and disrupting the QB. BC also has two DB’s that tied for the league lead in INT’s with 5 in Anthony Orange (great name for a Lion) and Winston Rose. Look for those two ballhawks to try to change the game in a flash with a critical interception.
This game (as most playoff games) will be decided by whichever team makes the fewest mistakes. Often in playoff games it's not the big plays as much as it's the teams who protect the football and win the turnover battle that will get the W and move on to the East Final. Both teams QB’s have been known to try to stretch the field and make the big plays, but they will need to make careful reads and not throw into double or triple coverage and risk an interception. There has never been a Western team make it to the Grey Cup though the east. Last year the Riders came within a 3rd down stop from winning the East Final. The BC Lions are a stronger team this year than the Riders were last year so it is a very good possibility that BC can win this game and ride some momentum to make it a first ever all west Grey Cup. First however they will need to get past Hamilton. I see this game going down to the wire with the last team to have the ball, winning the game. BC takes it and stays in the east to try to make history.