Jim Barker’s “we’re the team of destiny” sales pitch has plenty of buyers in the Argos locker room, even if the rest of the country can see through it.
The Toronto head coach has made believers of the Double Blue, and while most of Canada’s football fans remain firm skeptics, the Argos have defied logic to find their way to the East Final Sunday in Montreal.
The Argos’ surprising semifinal win over Hamilton last Sunday added some converts, but logic would suggest they haven’t got a chance of knocking off the Grey Cup champion Alouettes…do they?
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Two of the Als’ six regular season losses were administered by Barker’s Boys, although only the first one back in August actually meant something in the standings. Additionally, the Als were a mediocre 6-4 the last part of the season, although by then first place was guaranteed.
Key to staging an unlikely upset of the Als is for Argos quarterback Cleo Lemon to protect the football and avoid turnovers, much like he did last Sunday in Hamilton. Lemon completed 22 passes for a meagre 134 yards, but was picked just once and also tossed a touchdown.
In the game’s dying minutes, Lemon staged a nine-play, clock-killing drive that limited Hamilton’s ability to mount a comeback.
Lemon isn’t being asked to play like a superstar, just avoid mistakes and wait for the other team to commit fatal errors. It worked last week, but the veteran Als won’t be as susceptible to collapse.
Pick: Als by 7.
The Calgary Stampeders are lining up against more than just the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Sunday’s West Final. They’re also facing a substantial bit of nasty playoff history.
The Stamps have lost four straight postseason games to the Roughriders, including last year’s West final in Regina. For what it’s worth, the Stamps’ last playoff win over the Riders was a 36-3 victory way back in 1994.
Since Henry Burris arrived in Calgary in 2005, the QB has lost to the Roughriders three times in the postseason.
Calgary’s more recent history against Saskatchewan is favourable though, having won the 2010 season series against Gang Green. The Stamps won their lone home game against Saskatchewan, 44-20, lost in overtime 43-37 on Sept. 17 in Regina, before basically clinching the West Division title with a emotional 34-26 victory at Mosaic Stadium on Oct. 17.
Pick: Stamps by 1