CFL Previews – Week 21 – November 16 – Playoffs

Philadelphia, PA ( –


DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 16, 1 p.m. (ET).

GAME NOTES: The 2014 Grey Cup Playoffs for kick off on Sunday afternoon at
Percival Molson Stadium, as the Montreal Alouettes host cross-over British
Columbia in the Eastern Division Semifinal.

Both teams finished at .500 during the regular season but because this was
such a down year for the East Division it allowed four teams from the West
Division to take part in the postseason. The Alouettes, who lost a tiebreaker
against Hamilton for the division title, had won six straight and eight of
nine before dropping the regular-season finale to the Tiger-Cats, 29-15, on
Oct. 8.

Meanwhile, the Lions finished fourth in a heavily-competitive West Division,
ahead of only Winnipeg which was left out of the postseason. Wins were hard to
come by for BC over the final month and a half as the squad went just 2-5 and
bowed in two straight to end the regular season. The most recent setback for
the Lions was a 33-16 final versus Calgary at home on Nov. 7

In that contest, BC surrendered three touchdowns in the second quarter and
never recovered as the Lions tallied a mere three points in the second half.

Kevin Glenn handled the quarterback duties for British Columbia, hitting 26-
of-36 for 312 yards and a score, but he was also picked off twice and sacked
four times by the Calgary defense. Emmanuel Arceneaux scored the lone major
for the Lions on a 46-yard reception in the second quarter.

The most recent contest for the Als saw the group take a tumble against
Hamilton on the road. Montreal didn’t get a sniff of the end zone until there
was just seconds remaining in regulation and by then the 17-yard TD pass from
Jonathan Crompton to Duron Carter made little difference.

The signal caller connected on 18-of-35 passes for 284 yards and the one
score, while S.J. Green turned four catches into a game-high 103 yards.
Unfortunately, the rushing attack for the Als was nowhere to be found as the
unit generated a mere 17 yards on 12 attempts in such a crucial contest. Then
again, the effort should not have been too much of a surprise given that
Montreal was tied for last in the league in average yards per rush (4.8).

With the running game essentially stagnant, the Als will have to find ways for
Crompton to attack BC in a more successful manner. Unfortunately, the Montreal
passing attack ended up next-to-last in the league after 18 games with just
3,784 yards, although much of that can be attributed to the face that Montreal
fought for more than half the season to find a quarterback it could survive

Sporting the lowest completion percentage (.539) in the CFL, the Als were
third from the bottom in passing TDs with just 16, and when you add that to 14
interceptions it is easy to see why Montreal owned the weakest efficiency
rating (74.4) in the CFL during the regular season as well.

If Crompton and the rest of the Als are not careful, they could end up on a
substantial hit list that BC linebacker Solomon Elimimian has developed this
year. He not only led the league in tackles, he shattered the single-season
record with 143 stops and his margin of 54 tackles over his closest competitor
made the accomplishment all the more historic.

Luckily for the Lions, a passing attack is not something that they’ve had to
consistently worry about, given that Glenn finished second in passing yards
with 3,918. However, Glenn and company surely could have had better efficiency
numbers if not for the fact that the signal caller had just as many INTs (17)
as TDs.

With respect to postseason success, of the current teams in the CFL, except
for expansion Ottawa, the Lions have made the fewest appearances in the Grey
Cup and have won just six of those 10 trips to the title game. However, BC has
taken home the trophy more recently than the Alouettes, thanks to a 34-23
victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at home back in 2011.

Montreal’s success in the postseason is slightly more celebrated thanks to
seven championships in 18 appearances. The Als are the last club to win the
title in back-to-back years as well, taking out Saskatchewan by just a single
point (28-27) in 2009, and then finishing off the Roughriders again a year
later, this time by three points (21-18).

Last season, neither of these clubs made it beyond this round of the playoffs
as Montreal suffered a 19-16 loss to Hamilton, and the Lions went down versus
Saskatchewan, 29-25, as both were road teams in the outings.

These two met twice during the first four weeks of the season, splitting those
outings as Montreal claimed a 24-9 victory at home in Week 2, and the Lions
crushing the Als two weeks later at BC Place by a score of 41-5.

The winner of this meeting will take on Hamilton in the division final next
weekend, for the opportunity to take part in the 102nd Grey Cup in Vancouver
on Nov. 30.

Although the Lions may be more stable in the passing department, there is
something to be said about playing at home and that’s where Montreal will take
the advantage. As long as the Crompton can play under control and doesn’t take
too many chances, the Als should be the ones to advance.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 24, British Columbia 21.


DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 16, 4:30 p.m. (ET).

GAME NOTES: The CFL postseason returns to Commonwealth Stadium this weekend,
as the Edmonton Eskimos entertain the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Western
Division Semifinal of the 102nd Grey Cup Playoffs.

Saskatchewan, the defending Grey Cup Champs who dismissed Hamilton in the
title tilt last year by a score of 45-23, appeared to be one of the teams to
chase again in 2014 after moving out to an 8-2 mark through 10 games, but the
second half of the campaign wasn’t nearly as kind.

After defeating Winnipeg in Week 11 action on the road, the Riders proceeded
to win just two more times over the course of eight games and one of those
came in double-overtime versus Ottawa, the newest addition to the league and
the weakest member. Following that 35-32 survival versus the RedBlacks,
Saskatchewan dropped five in a row before closing with a 24-17 triumph versus
these same Eskimos on Nov. 8.

As for Edmonton, the team with the second-best record in the CFL at 12-6, it
had a three-game win streak snapped by Saskatchewan in the regular-season
finale on the road. Of the three meetings between these two division foes this
year, two went to the Eskimos — a 24-0 shutout in Week 14, and a closer 24-19
decision three weeks later.

In the most recent matchup, Edmonton trailed 24-7 after three periods of play
but managed to make things interesting thanks to a 24-yard field goal by Hugh
O’Neill and a two-yard TD run by quarterback Matt Nichols, but still the hole
was too deep.

Nichols handled almost every one of the snaps for the visitors, converting 30-
of-42 passes for 261 yards, but he was picked off twice and unable to get one
of his attempts into the end zone. Running back Tyler Thomas not only ran for
a team-best 66 yards on 10 carries, he also caught a game-high seven passes
for another 53 yards in the losing cause.

The Eskimos were forced to insert Nichols into the starting lineup after Mike
Reilly suffered a foot injury during the blowout win over the British Columbia
Lions. As of Tuesday night, there was still no determination on whether or not
Reilly would be available for the meeting with Saskatchewan, but certainly
keeping him out of the regular-season finale increased his chances of
rejoining his teammates.

While the Eskimos were relying on Nichols to get them through to the
postseason, Saskatchewan used a trio of quarterback to handle the final game
of the regular season. Kerry Joseph hung in there the longest in terms of pass
attempts (16), but he completed just five for 71 yards and was sacked once.
Tino Sunseri responded with a perfect 2-of-2 showing for 59 yards and a score
to Rob Bagg, while Seth Doege hit on one of his three passes for 12 yards and
was sacked one time.

Both teams were hard to watch at times, considering the number of penalties
doled out in the meeting. Edmonton was charged with 13 infractions for a loss
of 110 yards and the Riders 12 penalties for 105 yards.

Saskatchewan has done well to limit mistakes this year, at least in terms of
penalties, as it ranked next-to-last with 1,523 penalty yards over 18 games.
On the other hand, no team was plagued more than Edmonton as the team averaged
just over 100 yards in penalties per contest.

Nevertheless, even though the referees were constantly looking for the Eskimos
to suffer a transgression, the team was still able to control the action
rather well. In fact, Edmonton ended up leading the league in scoring defense
with just 18.9 ppg allowed. Further down on the list at sixth was Saskatchewan
with 24.5 ppg.

Offensively, thanks in large part to Reilly, Edmonton was second in points
scored with 27.3 ppg, trailing Calgary by just over one point per contest.
Again, the Riders found themselves in the middle of the pack with 22.2 ppg.

Last season, while Saskatchewan was running away with the lopsided Grey Cup
victory over Hamilton, the Eskimos were left at home trying to figure out how
they won just four of 18 decisions, two of which came against the Riders and
Tiger-Cats ironically enough.

In terms of postseason success for each side, Edmonton has the second-most
Grey Cups among active clubs in the league, bringing home the trophy 13 times
in 24 opportunities. However, the last time the Esks were the last team
standing was in 2005 when they topped Montreal by just three points, 38-35.

Obviously, Saskatchewan has experienced success more recently in the
postseason, playing in the title game in three of the last five years.

The survivor of this outing will be back in action the following weekend
versus division champion Calgary, for the right to move on to the Grey Cup on
Nov. 30 in Vancouver.

The availability of Reilly will be a key part of the meeting this weekend,
because sending in an inexperienced Nichols could have dire consequences for
the Eskimos. Similarly, the Roughriders are still tossing around the idea of
having Darian Durant ready to make his return to the offense this weekend, but
a decision like that won’t be made until the last possible moment, and even
then there’s no telling how long Durant, who has been out with an elbow injury
for several weeks, will be able to stay on the field.

Nothing like a few critical unknowns to start the postseason off with a bang.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 28, Edmonton 23.

2014 Sports Network Predictions: 49-32. Last Week’s Results: 2-2.