TORONTO — The 100TH Grey Cup Playoffs are finally here.
The action gets underway on Sunday, with the crossover Edmonton Eskimos travelling to Toronto to take on the Toronto Argonauts in the Eastern Semi-Final at Rogers Centre at 1pm ET.
Later on in the same day, two West Division rivals will clash at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, as the hometown Stampeders host the Saskatchewan Roughriders at 4:30 pm ET.
Equipped with the most up-to-date storylines, roster moves, stats, milestones and trends, enjoy this week’s CFL.ca Game Notes.
By the Numbers:
Grey Cup Chase: The last two Grey Cup winners – BC and Montreal – finished first this season and will host their respective Division Finals. The Lions will be trying to repeat as Grey Cup champions for the first time in their history, and be the first professional team to win the Cup in consecutive years with a different head coach (only the U of T did that across 1910-11).
Riders back to the Cup?: This post-season, Saskatchewan will be trying to do what no team has ever done before … make the Grey Cup, miss the playoffs and then win the Grey Cup the very next year. The Riders lost in 2010 and were out of the playoffs last year altogether, so a win in 2012 will set yet another precedent. The only other club to ever come close to that was Hamilton who reached the Grey Cup in 1959, finished last in 1960, and got back to the Cup in 1961, losing to Winnipeg.
Into the Post-Season: The longest losing streak to close out a season by a club that went on to win the Grey Cup is three games by Winnipeg in 1988. Only one Grey Cup winning team in the last 32 years has ended with a losing streak longer than one game. Only four teams in the last 67 years (1945) have ended the year with a two-game (or longer) losing streak and won.
Playoff History 1: The last four Grey Cup winners (and seven of the last 10) have also been divisional winners that season. No Semi-Finalist has won The Cup since Saskatchewan in 2007 and the only third place club to win since 2001 was Edmonton in 2005.
Playoff History 2: Since 1945 following WWII, a first place club has gone on to win the Grey Cup 46 times in 67 seasons. Second place teams have won 16 times and third place finishers on just five occasions (Montreal 1970, Saskatchewan 1989, BC 1994, BC 2000 and Edmonton in 2005).
Home vs. Away in Playoffs: Since 1945 there have been 355 playoff games, with the home team winning 232, while the visitors have claimed 119. There were also four ties. Since 2006 in the league’s current eight-team configuration, there have been 24 games, 15 of which have been won by home teams. In each of the last nine seasons, at least one road club has won a game.
Current Playoff Game Streaks:
WEST: BC one win (last win 2011 Western Final), Calgary three losses (last win 2009 Western Semi-Final), Saskatchewan three wins (last win 2010 Western Final)
EAST: Montreal one loss (last win 2010 Eastern Final), Toronto one loss (last win 2010 Eastern Semi-Final), Edmonton one loss (last win 2011 Western Semi-Final).
Playoff Experience: Due to the shift to the single-game playoff format in the 1970s, players simply cannot compete for the all-time games played record any more. Only one player active after 1976 (Bob Cameron) ranks in the top 18. Among active players, Anthony Calvillo and Paul McCallum top the list with 17 games played. Here are those playing in 2012 with the most games played:
17 – Paul McCallum BC, Anthony Calvillo MTL
15 – Geroy Simon BC
13 – Scott Flory MTL, Jeff Johnson TOR, Mike McCullough SSK
12 – Arland Bruce III BC, Noel Prefontaine TOR
11 – Anwar Stewart CGY, Kevin Glenn CGY, Luc Mullinder MTL, Paris Jackson BC
10 – Randy Chevrier CGY, Neal Hughes SSK, Angus Reid BC, Jordan Younger TOR
9 – Ryan Phillips BC, Ricky Ray TOR
8 – Walter Spencer TOR, Dante Marsh BC, Nik Lewis CGY, Jarious Jackson TOR, Ricky Foley TOR, Dahrran Diedrick MTL, Korey Banks BC
Post-Season QB Starts (including Grey Cups):
WEST: Travis Lulay 3 (2-1), Drew Tate 1 (0-1), Kevin Glenn 8 (3-5), Darian Durant 5 (4-1)
EAST: Anthony Calvillo 21 (11-10), Ricky Ray 12 (8-4), Matt Nichols 0, Kerry Joseph 5 (4-1), S.Jyles 0
4th quarter Playoff Comebacks: Last season all four playoff games were won by the team entering the fourth quarter with the lead. Since 2006 across 24 playoff games only three clubs have trailed after three quarters and won the game, all in Semi-Finals. The last clubs to do this were: Saskatchewan in 2010 over BC in the Western Semi-Final (down 13-19, won 41-38 in OT), Winnipeg in 2007 over Montreal in the Eastern Semi-Final (down 17-19, won 24-22) and Saskatchewan in 2006 over Calgary in the Western Semi-Final (down 20-21, won 30-21).
From 1995 to 2011, only two Division Final games have been won by a club trailing after 45 minutes (Toronto over Montreal in 1997 and again over Montreal in 2004). The last Western club to come back to win after the third quarter was BC in 1994 beating Calgary 37-36.
Since 1996: The Alouettes re-entered the CFL in 1996 after the league returned to an All-Canadian format, and since then the West has dominated inter-division play. They have a 320-263 edge in wins (.548) and a 9-7 margin in Grey Cup titles. Since 2005, the West has won more games every year and holds a 161-102 advantage with one tie (.612) and five of seven Grey Cup wins.
Semi-Final winners: Over the last nine years, home and away teams have each won nine times; meaning home-field has held little advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Only two of the last 12 Semi-Final games have been decided by more than 10 points.
Playoff Overtime: There have been nine playoff overtime games in CFL history but only five since 1974. However, there has been an OT playoff game in each of the last three years (2009: BC over Hamilton, 2010: Saskatchewan over BC, 2011: Hamilton over Montreal).
Eastern Semi-Final: Toronto vs. Edmonton
The 2012 Eastern Semi-Final matchup is just days away, as the Toronto Argonauts host the Edmonton Eskimos. Here is everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s game.
Season series and Matchup: The 2012 Eastern Semi-Final will feature the two clubs that have captured more Grey Cups than anyone else. Toronto leads with 15 while Edmonton is two back with 13. The Esks have beaten Toronto five-straight times (four of which were won by nine points or less) and in seven of the last eight.
This year they won by margins of four and nine points and did not allow Toronto to lead at any point. The Eskimos held a distinct edge on the ground, outrushing Toronto 224 to 147 but Toronto led by Ricky Ray held an edge in passing yardage.
The Eskimos have not won the Grey Cup since 2005 and will be looking to avoid a seven-year drought, their longest interval between appearances since 1961-1972. This will be only the third time in club history that the Eskimos have entered the post-season with a losing record and just the second time since 1967. Edmonton has finished at .500 or better in 36 of the last 41 years back to 1972.
Fred Stamps: After 13 weeks of the season, Stamps ranked just ninth among CFL receivers. Over the final five games, however, Stamps caught 24 passes (6 for 30+ yards) for 585 yards and five TDs to finish up at number-two only 18 yards behind Sunday’s rival Chad Owens. Over the last two games, he combined with Matt Nichols on eight completions for 260 yards and two TDs.
Starting QB: The last time that anyone other than Ricky Ray started a playoff game for the Eskimos was back in 2004 when he spent a year in the NFL (Jason Maas). Ray has started nine of the last 10 Edmonton playoff games back to 2002.
Roster Changes: A total of 522 players dressed for at least one game this season in the CFL, an average of 65 per team. Edmonton had 76 players active for at least one game in 2012.
Close losses: The Eskimos lost three times this season by a single point and three others by margins between two or three points. Over the first half of the season across 2010-11 the Esks are 11-7; they went 7-11 in the second half of that two-year span.
Ricky Ray: In the 13 games that Ray started and finished the Argos averaged 310 yards passing and a net offence of 392 yards per game. In the other five games, they averaged 221 passing and 295 net yards – well over 30 per cent more production.
Owens 3K+: Owens led the CFL with 2,510 kick return yards and became the first player with 3,000+ in three consecutive seasons. He also became the first player to ever lead the CFL in receiving and total kick return yards in the same year. Owens was named the East’s Most Outstanding Player, the first Argo since Damon Allen in 2005, and the first non-QB since Michael Clemons in 1990. Only one non-QB (Charles Roberts) has won the East honour since 2000.
Creating Turnovers: Toronto ranked second in the CFL with 43 takeaways, trailing only Edmonton, who racked up 49. Patrick Watkins ranked second individually with five interceptions (tied for second) and two fumble recoveries to force seven turnovers. The Argos ranked third in the CFL with 18 forced fumbles and their 12 over the second half of the season was the best in the CFL.
100-yard games (12): The Argos were second the CFL in 100-yard receiving games with 12, getting fivefrom Chad Owens, three from Dontrelle Inman, two by Andre Durie and one each from Maurice Mann and Spencer Watt (Montreal had 13). Last season the Argos had just three 100-yard receiving efforts.
Western Semi-Final: Calgary vs. Saskatchewan
Get up to date one everything you need to know for the Western Semi-Final, courtesy of Playoff Centre.
Season Series and Matchup: The 2012 Western Semi-Final features two clubs that have met at this stage of the playoffs nine times before dating back to 1945. The Riders have won the last three Semi-Final meetings however, the most recent of which came in 2007.
More relevant are the two Saskatchewan wins in the 2009 & 2010 Western Finals which makes it five successive Rider victories over Calgary in the playoffs (1997, 2006-07, 2009-10). Calgary’s last win came in the 1994 Semi-Final by a 36-3 decision. In the 2012 regular season, however, the tale has been a different one as the Stamps won the season series and have captured six of the last seven games over 2011-2012.
Highs & Lows: No club in 2012 went through more highs and lows than the Riders. They started 3-0, lost five consecutive games, went 5-1 after that and then finished with a four-game losing streak.
Four-game losing streak: The current four-game streak is the longest season-ending run of losses for the Riders since 1999 when they finished 3-15 losing their last nine. In a playoff year, the previous longest year-end losing streaks of two games were in 1951 when they went on to reach the Grey Cup vs. Ottawa, and in 2002.
Corey Chamblin: The Riders’ first-year head coach will be competing with Mike Benevides and Scott Milanovich to become Grey Cup winners in their first season, and the first to do that since John Hufnagel in 2008 and Kent Austin in 2007.
Darian Durant vs. Calgary: Durant has a 4-8-1 regular season record as a starter against Calgary and in 2012 threw for an average of 221 yards withfour TD passes. Durant is undefeated against Calgary in the playoffs in two starts with a 100.7 passer rating, five TD passes and 384 total yards in just 61 attempts.
Recent Playoff Run: The Stamps have lost their last three playoff games and have won just one post-season game since their 2008 Grey Cup triumph (2009 Western Semi-Final vs. Edmonton. They are 2-6 in their last eight playoff games back to 2002.
Jon Cornish: The Stamps’ record-setting running back can become the first Canadian to win the Most Outstanding Player Award since Tony Gabriel in 1978 and the first RB since Mike Pringle in 1998. Gabriel and Russ Jackson are the only other Canadians to win the CFL’s top individual award. Calgary players have dominated the West nominations, winning 14 times in the last 21 years. In last year’s loss at Edmonton in the Western Semi-Final, Cornish ran for 127 yards on 14 carries with a TD. He had four 10+ yard runs and two of 20+.
Nik Lewis: The Stamps’ All-Star receiver caught a career-high 100 passes to lead the CFL in 2012 along with 34 for clutch first downs (#1 also). Last year vs. Edmonton in the playoffs, he was held to two catches for 31 yards (none on second down).
Winning tough games: The Stamps won several games on the last play or final series of plays in 2012. They captured 4 wins in games where they made more turnovers compared to 7 by the other 7 CFL clubs combined.
Drew Tate vs. Saskatchewan: The Stamps’ starting QB this week has won his only career regular season start vs. the Riders (Oct 21/11, 23-of-32 for 251 yards, 2 interceptions and 1 TD). He has had two other brief appearances against Saskatchewan.