Lions favoured over Stampeders with good reason | Football | CBC Sports

CFLLions favoured over Stampeders with good reason

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 | 11:12 AM

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Tim Brown (35) of the Lions has racked up nearly 500 yards in runbacks in three games against the Stampeders in 2012. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press) Tim Brown (35) of the Lions has racked up nearly 500 yards in runbacks in three games against the Stampeders in 2012. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

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CBC Sports football contributor Malcolm Kelly explains why he believes the B.C. Lions will prevail over the Calgary Stampeders in the West Division final at B.C. Place on Sunday.

All columnists have a little guy who sits on your shoulder offering a contrasting opinion to the one you've just poured hours into developing and writing.

Mine has been whispering the same thing in my left ear all week: "Pick the Stamps ... Pick the Stamps ... Pick the Stamps." So to prove I can be my own man and not give in to doubt and irresolution:

The B.C. Lions (13-5) will defeat the Calgary Stampeders (12-6, 1-0 in playoffs) in the CFL's West Division final on Sunday afternoon at B.C. Place.

Last week, we came within mere seconds of nailing the upset before the Stamps pulled out the miracle comeback over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Much of the argument for the visitors was based on Drew Tate being the wrong choice as Calgary's starting quarterback.

That wrong choice completed 22 of 36 pass attempts for 363 yards and two touchdowns, but still looked a little out of it right up until that last toss for the TD.

Following the game came the mystery of whether Tate was actually concussed by that hit from Tearrius George (one game suspension to be served next year) or it only made him, you know, like, woozy, man. Like, kind of out of it there in that far out kind of way.

Could he play? Was he concussed? Well, Tate isn't playing. Not, you understand, due to a concussion, but because of a just discovered broken bone in his throwing arm. The one that threw the long, winning TD.

Now it's Kevin Glenn, who was 47 of 78 for 660 yards, two touchdowns and three picks in his trio of starts against the Lions this season. Not fab, but he knows what's going on out there and that's going to be an advantage for Calgary.

Not enough.

B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay, meanwhile, was only healthy for two of the three games against the White Stallions (going 2-0), but he still completed 53 of 70 for 572 yards, five touchdowns and no picks.

He also had nothing to do with the Week 18 debacle in Calgary, where the Lions arrived at the airport and apparently kept on going for some partying in Canmore, while a bunch of imposters gave up 34 points to start the game and lost 41-21.

Parsing the stats between these two clubs is mostly an exercise in bouncing off the walls for 30 minutes and winding up back where you started.

The Stamps scored more, but gave up more points. B.C. and Calgary rank 1-2 in first downs, net rushing and pass completion percentage. However, the Lions are better in most defensive categories, especially against the run, and that's enough to take away the point-scored advantage.

So when you go tilting at the orange-and-black windmill, there has to be other things that catch your attention. Such as:

-- For Glenn and his strong receiving corps to be truly effective against a Lions' defence that plays mostly zone, he needs a running game. Jon Cornish led the league, but his three contests against B.C. produced minus-1, 61 and 86 yards. Lions also led the CFL in yards given up on the ground - just 76.4 on average.

-- Andrew Harris, who doesn't get as much ink out of the B.C. backfield, is just as good as Cornish, tossing down 1,830 yards from scrimmage (running plus catching) to lead the league. So despite all the hype, the teams are a wash at running back.

-- Leos slotbacks Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce are healthy for this one and, even though they together add up to 72 years old, they can still be difference makers.

-- Tim Brown of B.C. was second in combined yards this year, miles back of Toronto's Chad Owens, though still impressive with 2,687. Harris had almost 500 yards in runbacks against Calgary in three games and the Stamps can't match that, even with Larry Taylor back from injury.

-- Saskatchewan's Darian Durant threw for 435 yards and four TDs against the Stamps last week. What's Lulay going to do?

There's a couple more, as well.

Glenn is an experienced guy, but he will be up against the loudest stadium in sports. Just sitting in the press box it feels like a high-pressure system is floating slowly through your head.

A little harder to pin down is that there's something weird going on in the Calgary room that shows a lack of leadership and responsibility.

A John Hufnagel team does not have a player pull his pants down to moon the Rider crowd. It does not have a player call out the offensive line (same guy).

It most certainly does not have a great receiver like Nik Lewis put out an abhorrent, misogynistic tweet this week that distracted the team, peed off the coach, left everyone shaking their heads and resulted in a player Twitter ban until after the playoffs.

The voice on my shoulder is wrong this time. It's the Lions all the way.

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