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TORONTO — The final week of regular season action is upon us, and to the surprise of no one, there is still plenty left to decide before the post-season begins one week from now.
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On Thursday night, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be fighting for their playoff lives as they travel to Toronto to take on the Argonauts at Rogers Centre.
Depending on the action of Thursday night’s contest, the Edmonton Eskimos might also be forced to put their playoff aspirations on the line. Should the Ticats win, the Esks will need to defeat the Calgary Stampeders in order to secure their spot in the 100th Grey Cup playoffs, while a loss by the Ticats will automatically put an ‘X’ next to their name in the standings.
Saturday will see the Adrian McPherson-led Alouettes travel to Winnipeg for the final game at Canad Inns Stadium, while the Roughriders and Lions will close out the 2012 regular season hours later at BC Place Stadium.
Equipped with the most up-to-date storylines, roster moves, stats, milestones and trends, enjoy this week’s CFL.ca Game Notes.
Entering the final weekend of the 2012 season, three teams are still battling for their spot in the 100th Grey Cup Payoffs.
Here is a look at what could happen:
Edmonton loss + Hamilton win = Saskatchewan clinches third in West Division and Hamilton clinches third in East Division
Edmonton loss + Hamilton loss = Saskatchewan clinches third place in West Division and Edmonton crosses over to East Division
Edmonton win + Saskatchewan loss = Edmonton clinches third place in West Division and Saskatchewan crosses over to East Division
Edmonton win + Saskatchewan win = Saskatchewan clinches third place in West Division and Edmonton crosses over to East Division
By the Numbers:
Hamilton Defensive Play and Scoring: In their win over Winnipeg, the Tiger-Cats reversed a season-long trend by holding their opponent to less than 20 points and 300 net yards, each for the second time this year. They can also do something no CFL club has ever done – lead the league in scoring but not have a winning record.
Brown makes it 14: BC’s Tim Brown returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown last week, which pushed the total number of kick return TDs in the CFL to 14 in 2012. That is an increase of six over last year’s total of eight.
Calvillo 5K: Anthony Calvillo leads the CFL in passing yards with 5,082 and has become the first CFL player to throw for 5,000+ yards seven times in his career. Doug Flutie is the only other QB to have six 5,000-yard seasons (1991-94, 1996-97). Calvillo can also tie Flutie with five years leading the entire CFL in passing yards, one back of the six times that Ron Lancaster and Sam Etcheverry topped Canadian football in that category.
Yards from Scrimmage leaders: Earlier this season BC’s Andrew Harris became the all-time single-season leader among Canadian players and has extended that total to 1,767 with one game remaining. He leads Saskatchewan’s Kory Sheets by just seven yards in an effort to become the second Canadian to lead the CFL in any season. They face each other in the final game of the year on Saturday at BC Place Stadium.
Maurice Price: In what was only his fifth career game, Price continued to be a dangerous threat in Calgary’s receiving corps. The six-foot-one, 200-pound wide receiver hauled in four passes for 104 yards and a touchdown last week against the Lions. Look for him to continue being a threat this week, as the Stamps close out their season versus the Esks.
Ricky Ray: Last week saw Ray lead the Argonauts to a 31-26 win over the Roughriders, and throw four touchdown passes for the second-straight game. Despite that, Ray will be on the sidelines this week in Toronto’s season finale versus the Tiger-Cats.
Matt Nichols: Nichols was nothing short of spectacular in just 15 minutes of work, completing nine of his 15 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns, bringing the Esks to within a two-point conversion of sending the game to overtime. Nichols, however, won’t get the start for the Esks on Friday, as Kerry Joseph will resume his post back under centre.
Chris Jennings: With both Brandon Whitaker and backup Victor Anderson on the shelf, the Als turned to Jennings to make an impact last week – and the five-foot-10, 218-pound tailback delivered. Jennings carried the ball 16 times for 90 yards and added 34 more yards on three receptions, helping the Alouettes to their 11th win over the season.
Throwing the Flag:
It appears as though the Toronto Argonauts will finish the season as the runaway ‘winner’ in penalty yards. After 17 games, the Argos have been flagged 191 times for 1,658 yards – 70 of which arrived on the defensive side of the ball.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have been flagged a league-low 139 yards for just 1,200 yards.
The Toronto Argonauts will sit eight starters this week, including Ricky Ray, Chad Kackert and Andre Durie.
Adrian McPherson will make his first start of the season on Saturday afternoon, as the Alouettes look to give QB Anthony Calvillo a rest ahead of the Eastern Final on Nov. 18.
Both Darian Durant and Weston Dressler will not play on Saturday in BC. Drew Willy will get the start under centre for the Roughriders.
Chad Owens: Owens now has 3,768 combined yards after picking up 211 last week at Regina. He needs another 73 yards to surpass Mike Clemons 1997 mark of 3,840 all-purpose yards. Owens has passed Eric Blount’s previous second-best total of 3,761 and has re-taken the receiving lead with a back-to-back 100-yard performances. He leads Nik Lewis by 48 yards and Weston Dressler by 83 in his bid to become the first player in CFL history to lead the CFL in kick return yards and receiving in the same season.
JC Sherritt: Sherritt had four tackles against Montreal last week and now has 119 on the year, an Edmonton club record. He needs another 10 tackles to match Calvin Tiggle’s total of 129 set in 1994.
Jon Cornish: Cornish leads the CFL with 1,388 rushing yards and needs 50 to surpass Normie Kwong’s 1,437 yards in 1956 – the all-time record for a Canadian.