The Hamilton Tiger Cats can’t possibly pull off another upset like the one we witnessed last Sunday in Montreal, can they?
Hamilton was the most schizophrenic team in the CFL this season, surprising even themselves by knocking off the two-time defending Grey Cup champs in the East semifinal.
The trick now is to repeat the performance Sunday in a defensive battle in Winnipeg. The Ticats defence will need to get to Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce, find a way to stop Winnipeg’s running game, and create some turnovers. Is that asking too much?
The vaunted Bombers defence, which coined the term “Swaggerville” and incensed opponents across Canada this season, will have its hands full stopping Tiger-Cats back Avon Cobourne but has a track record to back up their boasts.
The Blue Bomber defence allowed the fewest first downs, fewest offensive yards, tied for the lead with the most pass interceptions and posted the most quarterback sacks.
Winnipeg’s three wins over Hamilton this season makes them a significant favourite in the East final, although the Tabbies proved in Montreal they can’t be taken lightly.
Our pick: Winnipeg by 3
Eskimos vs. Lions: Jerome Messam’s absence from Sunday’s West final might say more about his contribution to the Edmonton Eskimos this season than if the exciting running back could play in this playoff showdown. Messam tore the meniscus in his left knee in last weekend’s win over Calgary and is out for the season, possibly killing the Esks’ chances of upsetting the heavily favoured B.C. Lions.
Messam quieted his many critics this season by becoming the first Canadian in more than a decade to rush for 1,000 yards and his loss is an obvious blow to the Eskimos’ chances.
Backups Calvin McCarty and Hugh Charles don’t have Messam’s running ability. Messam kept defences honest, buying time for Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray to get the passing game in gear, which is still the key to Edmonton’s offence.
Our pick: B.C. by 6
Jyles not top of list in Argos’ QB plans: Jim Barker is wearing his best poker face, but he’s not fooling anyone.
Barker is telling everyone who’ll listen that he intends to re-sign marginally talented backup quarterback Steven Jyles as the Toronto Argos starter next season.
The reality is Barker’s Argos are desperate for a proven winner on offence who can also sell tickets and Calgary QB Henry Burris is a perfect fit in both categories.
At the same time, it’s hard to believe the Stampeders will punt the CFL’s 2010 Most Outstanding Player, but it comes down to a numbers game — the zeroes on Burris’s paycheque.
At a reported $350,000-$400,000 per season, Burris is easily the highest player on the Stamps and his departure will clear up at least $200,000 of cap space for 2012. With only one team in dire need of a QB, Calgary is handcuffed in a possible trade and Barker’s Bluff doesn’t improve their chances of getting fair market value.