2013 CFL Playoff Preview

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The CFL Season is over and the second season is set to begin as the march to the 101st Grey Cup begins. As the Grey Cup approaches the 6 teams involved are hoping that they can be named the next champions. For one team a recent pattern is a good omen as the Saskatchewan Roughriders are hoping to be the third team in a row to win the Grey Cup at home. In 2011 the 99th Grey Cup would take place in the newly renovated B.C. Place in Vancouver. The Vancouver fans would get a treat for their hosting duties as they would see their hometown Lions take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Lions would take the home field advantage and earn the win winning the Grey Cup at home. They would be the first team to win at home since the 82nd Grey Cup when the Lions would win in Vancouver. Since that time there had never been a champion to play at home until those same Lions broke the streak. With the streak broken the Toronto Argonauts would look to begin their own streak when the Rogers Centre would host the 100th Grey Cup. Trading for Ricky Ray in the offseason the Argonauts went all in to try to win their own Grey Cup at home. They would get their wish as the Argos would take a late season surge into the playoffs to win the Grey Cup. Now the Grey Cup will travel to Regina and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are hoping to make it three in a row. The Riders looked to be the best team in the CFL for the beginning of the season and the possibility was there. They seemed to be on their way to a sure Grey Cup berth and a real chance at winning the Cup at home. For the Riders it would be a great experience and for the CFL it would be almost surreal. The city with the most loyal fans in the CFL would get a chance to celebrate at home with the only professional team in the province. It would be a dream come true for fans who have never seen their team win a Grey Cup at home. The party that this would launch would be that of legend and it would be a great cap to the season and a reward to Rider fans. Although the Riders started strong the end of their season has left plenty of room for disappointment though as two powers have emerged and the other teams will all be out to make sure that the Riders do not get their party. The pattern is there and ready to take if the Riders can get through the playoffs and sit at home waiting for their opponents. The Riders are being watched throughout the playoffs this year but there is plenty more to watch for as the 101st Grey Cup is ready to be handed out. The Argos are looking to repeat while the Stampeders are looking for revenge for an embarrassing loss in 2012. Meanwhile two teams are looking to recover from unusual bad seasons with the Alouettes and Lions sitting in third place and travelling throughout the playoffs. In the second place spots are two teams who are just looking for respect with many overlooking the Ti-Cats and the Riders to focus on the rivals at the top. It will be another great playoffs for the CFL and two teams will end up travelling to Regina with a chance to take home the Grey Cup but both will have to go through some tough battles to do so.

 

Eastern Division

CFL East

The Eastern Division is not necessarily the best division in the CFL as the West takes most of the praise in the regular season. Yet every year the East seems to come alive in the playoffs to put on some great shows and close battle for the division title. Last year they were still not considered the better division and yet the Toronto Argonauts would go to the Grey Cup and roll over the Calgary Stampeders for the 100th Grey Cup. Three teams are now looking to prove that the East is the power division and looking for a repeat championship. The Toronto Argonauts would love for that repeat Eastern Champion to also be a repeat champion as they look to win their second title in a row. The Argos are the top team in the East and will take the first playoff week off while waiting to see who they will face in the Eastern Final. They have been a team that has not looked convincingly great. Their offence has been great but their defence has had moments where they look easy to push over. Yet still the Argos find ways to win games even though it looks like they shouldn’t win and because of that they have become favorites in the East. The one team that hates to hear that more than anyone else are the Hamilton Tiger-Cats who had their chance to take first place but couldn’t do it. So they sit in second place in the East with the hopes that a good end to their season will help them to a Grey Cup. The Ti-Cats are a team that many are overlooking in the playoffs this year and that could be dangerous as they have looked to be a great team at times. Sitting at the bottom of the playoff picture are the Montreal Alouettes who have fallen from first to third this year after losing Anthony Calvillo. The Alouettes have not been able to fully recover from a tumultuous season and have not looked like the older championship versions of the team. Troy Smith now enters into his first CFL postseason ever and is beginning to get hot just in time. He will look to surprise everyone and have a great performance to lead the Als to the Grey Cup this year in a result that nobody is expecting. The East seems to be figured out with a team that finds ways to win as the favorites but any team can win this division in what looks to be a great playoff race for the Eastern title and a ticket to Regina.

 

1. Toronto Argonauts
Strength: Rick Ray (Having the best season of his career he is the linchpin to the Argos)
Weakness:
Pass Defence (They are last in the league in Passing Defence)
How They Win:
Let Ricky Ray take over the offence and find ways to win throughout the playoffs

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Strength: Offence (They are ranked as the best offence in the league)
Weakness:
Inconsistency (Henry Burris can be great and awful but which one will show up)
How They Win:
Avoid the stupid mistakes that have cost them too many games this year

3. Montreal Alouettes
Strength: Defence (They are the best defence in the East and the 2nd best in the CFL)
Weakness:
Inexperience (Troy Smith takes over in his first postseason)
How They Win:
Make it simple for Troy Smith in his first playoff run in the CFL

 

Prediction

Semi-Final:
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 32 – 28 Montreal Alouettes
– The Alouettes will see this game as the coming out party for Troy Smith but it will not be enough to get by the Ti-Cats as Henry Burris shows what experience can do in the CFL playoffs and will help the Tabies to the Eastern Finals

Division Finals:
Toronto Argonauts 36 – 33 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
– The Ti-Cats have won the last two games in this season series but Ricky Ray was not on the field in the first and returning from a 9-game injury list stint and with Ray in perfect shape for the finals he will lead the Argos to the win in an instant classic

 

Western Division

CFL West

The Western Division is considered the strongest of the two divisions and they are trying to prove it this year. Last year the strongest of the two divisions would go to the Grey Cup and be sent home with a drubbing at the hands of the Toronto Argonauts, 35-22. Now they are hoping that they can avenge that loss and win the Grey Cup in a year that they are hosting. The team that has the unlucky distinction of being the team that lost the Grey Cup last year is the Calgary Stampeders. The Stamps did not put up a great performance in the 100th Grey Cup but they would use that game as motivation for the 2013 season. The Stamps would once again ride Jon Cornish and make it through a constant rotation of QBs to end up first in the West. They have looked like a different team this year as last year they did well but were not the dominant team that they were this year. Thanks to another career year by Jon Cornish the Stamps are now favorites in the West and are looking to get their own revenge for the 100th Grey Cup loss. They will wait one week to find out who they will face in the Western finals after the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions face off in the semi-finals. The Saskatchewan Roughriders are hoping that their struggles are over for the year and that they can translate a good finish to a Grey Cup. The Riders began the season winning 8 of their first 9 games after retooling for a Grey Cup run. Then they would look like the worst team in the league losing four games in a row. The Riders have been up and down all year and heading into the playoffs they are on a two game losing streak but hoping the team at the beginning of the season shows up. As for the Lions they would have an inconsistent year as well staying among the top teams in the West until they lost Travis Lulay and began a three game losing streak. They would recover though and with Travis Lulay potentially returning for the playoffs they are hoping to redeem themselves for the regular season. The Lions are still one of the best defences in the league and they have used that to stay in the playoff hunt despite inconsistency under centre. There is a lot unknown in the west this year and plenty of inconsistent teams making any team far from a lock in the playoffs. On the other hand it makes the playoff race that much more fun as there is no real sure thing making this race an interesting one.

 

1. Calgary Stampeders
Strength: Jon Cornish (The West MOP nominee and the key to this offence)
Weakness:
QB Leadership (All three QBs have been good but none have consistent playoff success)
How They Win:
Give the ball to Jon Cornish and let him run you into the Grey Cup

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Strength: Rushing Game (Behind the Stamps they are the best running game in the CFL)
Weakness:
The Breakdown (Will the losing streak or winning streak team show up)
How They Win:
Keep the ball on the ground look to their defence to lead them

3. B.C. Lions
Strength: Defence (They are ranked as the best defence in the CFL)
Weakness:
The Rust (If Travis Lulay returns the rust could take effect at the worst time)
How They Win:
Keep it simple on offence and let their defence cause turnovers and give them chances

 

Prediction

Semi-Final:
Saskatchewan Roughriders 34 – 30 B.C Lions
– The Lions are a great defence but they have not been able to stop the Riders this year as Saskatchewan has been able to put up 30+ points in two of their three games and they will do the same in this game taking a step towards the Grey Cup

Division Finals:
Calgary Stampeders 24 – 21 Saskatchewan Roughriders
– In a matchup of the two best running games in the CFL the Stamps will come out on top with Jon Cornish taking over this game and beating Kory Sheets and the Riders ending the hopes of a home Grey Cup

 

101st Grey Cup:
Calgary Stampeders 28 – 24 Toronto Argonauts
– In a rematch of the 100th Grey Cup the Calgary Stampeders will get revenge for their loss a year ago while the Toronto Argonauts defence will finally be exposed and will leave Ricky Ray with a lot of work to do and he will come up just short

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