CFL playoffs: Expect Stamps to roll through Lions
Calgary will come out Rocky Mountain high and beat B.C.
The Calgary Stampeders (14-4) will defeat the visiting B.C. Lions (7-11) on Sunday (4:30 p.m. ET) in the West semifinal at McMahon Stadium.
Let's recall a nightmare for Stampeder fans that starred one Darren Flutie. Yes, that's the wrong Flutie.
Back in 1994, the 15-3 White Stallions of QB Doug Flutie, receiver Allen Pitts and a fabulous collection of other parts, took on the huge underdog Lions in the snow at McMahon for the West title.
Not a chance. No way. No how. And yet…
There was Leo's backup QB Danny McManus, four yards from the end zone, zeroes on the clock, dropping back and finding The Wrong Flutie for an historic touchdown that stunned Cowtown and sent B.C. to a Grey Cup game it would win.
Thought about that a lot this week.
There is a difference between then and now – those Lions had won 11 games and tied another. This group has seven wins and is in the playoffs because of the West's incompetence this year, and the fact Montreal never had a quarterback.
Not saying an upset can't happen, only that it's not likely.
We know the Stamps will come out Rocky Mountain High, both for their own goals and to make sure coach John Hufnagel goes out on a winning note before handing the reins over to Dave Dickenson for 2016.
That's important, but also something to watch because this league's history is filled with clubs who came out too high in the playoffs.
Bo Mitchell, the West's nominee for Most Outstanding Player (he won't win, it's Henry Burris by a landslide), has had his normal strong year, throwing for 4,551 yards, 26 TDs and only 13 picks.
It's fascinating that Bo didn't go off once this year, topping out at 333 yards (lowest of the regular starters), but part of that was because Dickenson runs a balanced offence out there.
Rogers top receiver
Eric Rogers, the CFL's top catcher, isn't just productive (1,448 yards), but spectacular to watch. He has Marquay McDaniel (1,038) along to help.
Then there's the running game, and here the question arises. Jerome Messam has had his best all around season, split with Saskatchewan and Calgary. He was third in rushing, but best in average of the regulars, and totaled 1,503 in combined yards.
When Hufnagel (the GM) picked him up to sub for the still concussed Jon Cornish, Messam had two games to learn the offence, running for 121 vs. the Riders and 59 against a B.C. defence trying not to show too much.
Which Messam do you get? The man's been a yo-yo his whole career. A good Messam performance vs. the Lions, however, and this one's over early.
Looking at the defences, Calgary leads B.C. in every key category, save for interceptions (23-18 Lions). This has been strange because coming into 2015, everyone was talking about how the Leos still had a defence to be proud of. It proudly gave up 140 points more than the Stamps.
Everywhere you look, it's coming up White Stallions.
How this can go wrong
- QB Jonathan Jennings continues to develop at his propitious rate. The rookie is the best of the inexperienced starters this year (James Franklin, Jeff Mathews, Jacory Harris, Rakeem Cato, Brandon Bridge, Brett Smith, Keith Price, Dominique Davis — it's been one of those seasons), and has shown he can move the offence. He's also shown he can throw picks (10 in just six starts), so buckle up, B.C. fans, it could be bumpy.
- Andrew Harris is allowed to rumble. B.C.'s running back led the league in both rushing and yards from scrimmage. Yes, he's been injured off and on, and sometimes disappeared for head-scratching periods, but he can dominate a game even against a fine defence.
- Calgary is caught looking past the Leos towards a showdown with the Eskimos.
Says here the White Stallions have far too much experience for that.