CFL Playoffs: Can the Calgary Stampeders Win the Grey Cup?
But can the Stamps maintain their momentum and put away the Argos?
The regular season sends a bit of a mixed message.
On the one hand, the Stampeders finished with a solid 12-6 record, the second best record in the CFL this year. The Argonauts on the other hand finished at 9-9. That was good for second in the East Division but only the fourth best overall in the league.
Moreover, Calgary's offense was the second best in the CFL, scoring 535 points on 6,786 net yards. Its defense gave up the third fewest points (430).
Toronto by contrast were sixth best in offense (445 points scored on 6,449 net yards) and defense (491 points).
Just going by those raw numbers, the Stampeders should take this game by a 29-24 score.
But that's not the complete picture.
Toronto won both games against Calgary this year, taking the first game 39-36 and the second 22-14. It would seem they have the Stampeders' number.
In particular, the Argos seem to have Jon Cornish figured out. In two games against Toronto this year, the CFL's leading rusher was held to just 82 yards combined on the ground, which is right in line with his per-game average for the year.
If the Stampeders can establish the run and get Cornish producing on the ground the way he typically does, those extra 40 yards of offense could be the difference in the game. Plus, if the Argos' defense has to spend all its energy containing Cornish, it will open up passing lanes for the Stampeders' dangerous group of receivers, led by Nik Lewis, Marquay McDaniel and Maurice Price.
Kevin Glenn once again needs to come up big, make good decisions and keep the turnovers to a minimum as he did against the BC Lions in the West Final, passing for 303 yards and three touchdowns with only a single interception.
On the other side of the ball, Calgary has to control the Ricky Ray/Chad Owens show.
Ray threw for 399 yards last weekend against the Montréal Alouettes in the East Final and Owens, the CFL leader in all-purpose yards this year, was on the receiving end of 207 of them.
Take Owens out of the game and the Stamps will be in good shape.
The X-Factor, of course, is the venue.
Toronto should be comfortable playing at home in the Rogers Centre with a friendly crowd in the stands. Then again, they were only 4-5 at home this year.
Meanwhile, Calgary went 5-4 on the road.
The Calgary Stampeders are going into Grey Cup weekend, though, in some circles as the clear underdog. If they play the the way they've been doing so far in the playoffs, those prognosticators may be proved wrong.
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