- FREE AGENCY
TORONTO — As we venture into the home stretch of the Shaw Road to the Grey Cup, the CFL.ca writers have had trouble coming up with a consensus for one matchup and zero issues with another.
On one side of the playoff bracket, there’s the Eastern Semi-Final, where the writers were split right down the middle on deciding whether the Montreal Alouettes or Edmonton Eskimos would come out victorious.
The Western Semi-Final, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. Every writer has gone with the Calgary Stampeders to beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and roll onto the Western Final.
Here are the picks for the Division Semi-Finals.
Odds provided by LeoVegas.
EDM at MTL
The 2019 CFL Playoffs open with a matchup between the Alouettes and Eskimos.
Both teams squared off in Week 1, with the Eskimos taking the victory at Commonwealth Stadium. In the rematch in Week 6, Montreal got their revenge at home.
Vernon Adams Jr. is coming in on the heels of a fantastic campaign in which he was one of the league’s breakout stars in 2019. He’s thrown for 3,942 yards and 24 touchdowns while also rushing for 394 yards and another 12 scores in 82 carries in 16 outings.
The Als will also likely run with a committee of William Stanback and Jeremiah Johnson out of the backfield. The team rested Johnson in Week 21 while Stanback went for 49 yards on 12 carries against the REDBLACKS. DeVier Posey is still questionable for the game as he continues to deal with a lower-body injury. However, Eugene Lewis and Quan Bray will be ready to roll.
On the defensive side of the ball, Henoc Muamba and John Bowman have gotten some rest as well over the final weeks of the regular season. That should help them in this game.
Trevor Harris returned in Week 20 and got some reps in ahead of the playoffs. He sat the Esks’ final game against Saskatchewan. The 33-year-old finished the year with 4,027 yards and 16 touchdowns in 13 games. When he went down with an injury in Week 13, Harris was arguably the frontrunner for the league’s Most Outstanding Player award.
He’ll have a full complement on the offensive side. C.J. Gable is expected to return after missing a month with an injury. The three-headed monster of Greg Ellingson, DaVaris Daniels and Ricky Collins Jr. will all be a full-go for this game as well.
Edmonton’s defence is tied for the league lead in sacks and is also first in the league in yards allowed per game (222.9). Montreal, on the other hand, sits last in both categories. However, their defence has put in some inspired performances down the stretch and can’t be taken lightly by anyone.
Montreal is trying to keep the magical season going while Edmonton is going trying to upset the 20,000-plus fans that will pack Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium on Sunday.
LeoVegas: MTL -2
WPG at CGY
A ticket to Saskatchewan hangs in the balance as the Bombers and Stamps go head-to-head for a chance to head to the Western Final.
These two teams have seen a lot of each other over the last month, as they went head-to-head in a back-to-back in Weeks 19 and 20. The Stamps took home the first half of that series while the Bombers pulled out the win at home in Week 20 — their final game of the 2019 campaign. Winnipeg did win the season series, as they came out on top back in Week 9.
Zach Collaros was the man running the offence in that final game. In his first game action since Week 1, he was a massive piece in the win, tossing for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing 22 of 28 passes. The Bombers will also likely have Chris Streveler in the lineup, and the team will be sure to utilize his running abilities to keep the Calgary defence off balance. He’s thrown for 1,564 yards and eight touchdowns while adding 724 yards and another 12 touchdowns on 127 carries.
Andrew Harris has found success against the Stamps this season, rushing for 219 combined yards across the three meetings, however, he hasn’t been able to get into the end zone against Calgary this year.
Collaros’ performance in his return masked a fantastic game from Bo Levi Mitchell, who tossed for 350 yards and four touchdowns in the loss. The 2018 Most Outstanding Player and Grey Cup MVP has gotten better in every game since coming back from injury back in Week 12.
He’ll be headed into this game with Reggie Begelton and possibly Eric Rogers — the veteran appears to be questionable for the game. Both individuals were named West Division All-Stars earlier in the week. We could also see the return of Kamar Jorden, who resumed practicing after being on the shelf for over a year while recovering from a gruesome leg injury. If cleared to go, he would bring yet another threat to the Stamps’ already potent air attack.
One of the names to watch, however, is Hergy Mayala. The eighth overall pick from the 2019 CFL Draft has been a favourite target of Mitchell over the final two weeks of the campaign, with 12 catches, 186 yards and three touchdown receptions over that span.
Both defences rank in the top five when it comes to getting to the quarterbacks and they are the top two teams in terms of interceptions. Winston Rose and Tre Roberson, who sit No. 1 and 2 in interceptions, will go head to head. Most Outstanding Defensive Player nominee Willie Jefferson will also be on the loose in this game.
Each game during the regular season between these two teams was highly contested. Expect some more fireworks at McMahon.
Writers: 100% CGY
LeoVegas: CGY -6