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TORONTO — It’s time for the playoffs, and we kick it off with a pair of matchups that should provide some fantastic fireworks.
We start at Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium to open the postseason slate.
Veteran pivot Trevor Harris leads the Edmonton Eskimos into Montreal for the Eastern Semi-Final, where 26-year-old Vernon Adams Jr. — a breakout star in 2019 — and the Alouettes await them.
The inter-divisional foes saw each other twice during the regular season — Weeks 1 and 6 — with the home team taking the victory in each encounter.
Harris comes into the matchup with a single game under his belt since returning from an upper-body injury that sidelined him since Week 13.
Adams will be without DeVier Posey and Chris Matthews. However, he’ll still have a full range of weapons at his disposal. He can keep opposing defences guessing with his ability to both toss and run the ball.
We then switch to Calgary to settle the Western Semi-Final between the Stampeders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Unlike the East matchup, these two teams have seen a lot of each other over the last month. They played a back-to-back in Weeks 19 and 20, which once again saw the home team take a game apiece. Winnipeg won the season series with a 26-24 victory in Week 9.
This Calgary team is the last one the Bombers saw heading into the postseason, and they’ll be led by the man that helped them to a win in the season finale: Zach Collaros.
He returned to game action for the first time since the opening game of the season and had over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the game.
On the other sideline, 2018 Most Outstanding Player and Grey Cup MVP Bo Levi Mitchell had 350 yards and four touchdown tosses in the loss.
Despite the Head-to-Head stats in each matchup during the regular season, you can throw all that out the window. The playoffs are a different animal, and they’re about to get underway.
The Eastern Semi-Final will kick-off at 1:00 p.m. ET while the West Semi goes at 4:30 p.m. ET.
FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME
– Montréal and Edmonton have met in the Playoffs just once before … on Nov 15/08 in the East Final (MTL won 36-26).
-With 8 wins (years of 16+ games), this is the 2nd-lowest win total Edmonton has ever had & still made the playoffs (6-12 in ’99).
– Only 3 teams have ever won the Grey Cup with a losing record (BC 2000: 8-10, CGY 2001: 8-10, OTT 2016: 8-9-1).
– Avg no of wins by GC winner:
– This will be Montréal’s sixth playoff game vs. a crossover team – they are a perfect 5-0 in crossover games.
– This will be Edmonton’s 4th cross-over year & third since 2012. They last played at Hamilton in 2016 and advanced to meet Ottawa.
(They are the only West Division club with a winning record in the East Semi-Final at 2-1. Overall, they are 2-3 in East Div. playoffs)
– This will be Montréal’s first playoff game since 2014 – that ends their longest playoff absence in Club history at 4 years.
(Prior to 2018, the previous record was 3 years in a row from 1967 to 1969 and 1950 to 1952).
– The 2019 Season Series was split as each team won at home. The Als’ win ended an 11-gm win streak for Edmonton over Montréal.
– Since 2000, the Alouettes have played in 5 East Semi-Finals – they went 2-1 at home and 0-2 on the road in those 5 games.
– This playoff contest represents the 3rd time that Calgary and Winnipeg have met in the last 23 days (split the last two games).
– Long: This playoff contest represents the 1st time that Winnipeg and Calgary have met in a Semi-Final since 1982.
(First time Calgary has HOSTED Winnipeg since 1978 in WSF game)
– West Semi-Final Trend!! Home teams on EVERY year from 2009 to 2016. But the ROAD team has won the last two (2017-18).
– Winnipeg will be starting their 18th playoff campaign since 1991 in a effort to break the CFL’s longest Grey Cup drought.
– Calgary will be seeking their 4th straight Grey Cup appearance, extend their club record and be within two of the CFL record.
– After a 3-2 start, the Stamps have won their last 4 games at McMahon Stadium. They have won their last 5 HOME playoff games.
– Winnipeg has won 2 of their last 3 games after going into a 3-game losing streak. They have NOT won on the road since Aug 23/19.
TALE OF THE PIVOTS
– Trevor Harris has started 11 times against Montréal and is 8-3 with 11 Ints and 19 TD passes and with 3,615 yards. (Harris has more yards passing and TD passes vs Montreal than any other opponent).
– Vernon Adams Jr. has started 2 times against Edmonton and is 1-1 with 2 Ints and 2 TD passes and with 550 yards.
– Bo Levi Mitchell has a TD pass in his last 6 playoff games (all starts) and a streak of 69 straight passes without an INT.
– John Bowman leads all MTL players in this game with active playoff experience. He has played in 9 playoff games and has 3 Sacks.
– Other Montréal Playoff leaders – Spencer Wilson 8 GP, Tony Washington 6 GP.
– Edmonton Playoff leaders – Sean Whyte 12 GP, Calvin McCarty 12, Matt O’Donnell 8, Almondo Sewell 8, C.J. Gable 7, T.Harris 7
– Greg Ellingson brings 27 career playoff receptions for 493 yards, 3 TDs, 3 catches of 30+ yds, and two 100+ games.
– C.J. Gable has had 7 playoff games rushing for 347 yards and 4 career TDs with one 100+ yard game.
– CGY Explosive Plays: On Offence Calgary made just 3 BP in their first 8 games; but … have made 14 in their last 10 games.
– WPG Explosive Plays: In 2019 their TD rate went from 11% on drives without one to a 69% rate when they had a “big play”.
– Explosive Play Defence: Calgary was by far No. 1 in 2019 in allowing the fewest at just 33 in 18 games (WPG #6 at 43 allowed).
– Explosive Play Rushing Head-to-Head: Calgary allowed only 4 runs of 20+ yards; Winnipeg was #2 making 17 runs of 20+.