Even 3rd And Long felt the wrath of Hurricane Sandy as the studio was flooded out (true story). Not to fear, podcast hosts Andy McNamara and Carlan Gay still have your weekly dose of CFL goodness.
This week's blog-and-podcast combo tackles three hot-button topics entering the final weekend of the CFL season and looking ahead to the playoffs, plus offers up three of the best interviews from 2012 for your listening pleasure.
1. WHO WILL MAKE PLAYOFFS: ESKIMOS OR TIGER-CATS?
Andy: Edmonton Eskimos.
The odds favour Edmonton heading into Week 19 with only one playoff spot remaining. Already up on Hamilton by a win in the standings, the Eskimos can still lose and back their way into the post-season. However, we know that's not how Eskimos head coach Kavis Reid does business. Hosting western rival Calgary, the Eskimos will be revved up in front of a wild home crowd and will be looking to send a message to the entire league. Fred Stamps played all-star football with two touchdowns and Matt Nichols shone at quarterback in a narrow 27-25 loss at Montreal last week. The Eskimos missed that chance to clinch, but I predict they will dominate the Stampeders on Friday night. This team is ready to flip the switch. Sorry, Hamilton.
Carlan: Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
It's been set up the past couple of weeks for there to be a crossover playoff team. The East Division has looked horrible and, even though the West hasn't quite jumped off the page at times, the Eskimos, for all intent and purposes, should be punching their playoff tickets this weekend. That would make the most sense wouldn't it? But if we have learned one thing this season, it is to expect the unexpected. That's why I'm picking the Tiger-Cats to ride the emotional wave of closing down the dump known as Ivor Wynne and beat the Toronto Argonauts this weekend. Which would mean Edmonton would have to choke against a Calgary team with really nothing to play for. I'm a big Kavis Reed fan. But unfortunately for him, I see this as the end of the road -- lose the game and he may lose his job and the CFL will lose one of the most passionate coaches we've seen in quite some time. Hopefully, he gets another shot elsewhere.
2. WHO IS HOTTEST HEADING INTO PLAYOFFS?
Andy: B.C. Lions.
To be the man, you have to beat the man and no club is ready to take down the defending Grey Cup champions. Seizing the West title early, earning a first-round bye and not playing a meaningful game in what seems like forever should not concern Lions fans. Travis Lulay, Geroy Simon and Andrew Harris lead an unstoppable offensive attack, while Adam Bighill has been a monster on defence. Who can, realistically, beat this well-oiled machine? The answer is no one. B.C. is the hottest team heading into the post-season and will moonwalk to a second straight championship.
Carlan: Toronto Argonauts.
Ricky Ray is playing his best football of the season and the defence is back to playing the stellar football they played even when they had Cleo Lemon at quarterback. And for the first time in a long time, Toronto will host a home playoff game. Truth be told, it hasn't really been that long. The last time the Rogers Centre was the site of an Argos playoff game was 2007. But in the CFL, that's an eternity. Couple that with the fact that Toronto's major sports teams haven't provided the city much to cheer about in recent memory and the Argos marketing department won't have to do much to get butts in the seats come the post-season. If Hamilton sneaks into the playoffs (which I predict will happen) and with Montreal waiting patiently for the East semifinal victor, the Road to the 100th Grey Cup could be short and sweet for the Argos.
3. FOOL'S GOLD: MOST OVERHYPED PLAYOFF TEAM?
Andy: Montreal Alouettes.
The most overhyped squad in last year's playoffs was, most certainly, the East champion Alouettes. We all know Anthony Calvillo can win games almost singlehandedly and is looking to end his epic career with another Grey Cup ring. Not with the crew you have this season, Mr. Calvillo. Chris Jennings has been a nice surprise in the running game since replacing the injured Brandon Whitaker. But his inexperience will be exposed and the Alouettes, overall, are simply not good enough. Montreal has an inflated 11-6 record in a division that gives it the bonus of playing against the disaster that is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as well as the incredibly inconsistent Tiger-Cats and Argonauts. You heard it here first -- the Alouettes will be one and done in this year's playoffs.
Carlan: B.C. Lions.
The last time the league saw a repeat Grey Cup champion was the Alouettes in 2009-10. So we don't really have to dig too far back in the record books to say that it is possible. However, after Doug Flutie led the Argonauts to back-to-back titles in 1996-97, it took eleven years before we saw another repeat champion. It's hard to repeat. Very hard. Ask anyone that's ever repeated as champion and they'll tell you. Just don't ask anyone who played on the Eskimos of the late 1970s and early '80s. All year long, the Lions have looked like the team to beat. They should finish with the best record in the CFL. They were the first team to lock up a playoff spot and will be sitting at home awaiting the winner of the West semifinal. The only thing B.C. has to do was STAY HEALTHY. And while Lulay will be ready to go in the West final, the big question will be 'How healthy is he?' Add to that the fact that they haven't played a meaningful game since Thanksgiving and we may see some rust. I'm just saying, Lions fans, it's not looking good.
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