With just one week remaining in the CFL regular season, it is beginning to look like the 101st Grey Cup might be a repeat of the 2012 game.
Both the defending champion Toronto Argonauts and last year's West Division champion Calgary Stampeders have won their respective divisions and are riding winning streaks as they wrap up the regular season.
The Argonauts (11-6) have clinched first place in the East Division and have won two in a row.
Moreover, after being sidelined by injury for more than a month from late-August to mid-October, No. 1 quarterback Ricky Ray is back and playing like he hasn't missed a snap. In three games since his return he has passed for 1,054 yards and six touchdowns against just two interceptions.
If he gets banged up again, young Zach Collaros did a solid job filling in for Ray. In 13 appearances this year, Collaros has passed for 2,252 yards and a 99.1 passer's rating.
Toronto's defense is currently the best in the East, having surrendered the fewest points against in the division (435). Leading the way is linebacker Robert McCune, who is second in the CFL with 99 tackles, and Patrick Watkins, who is tied for third in the league in interceptions with five.
Consequently, the Argos look to be peaking at just the right time.
Meanwhile, in the West Division, the Stampeders (14-3) have the best record in the CFL, are on a five-game winning streak and their 542 points for are 49 more than any other team in the league.
Not only do the Stamps have the leading rusher in the league—Jon Cornish, with 1,799 yards on the ground and a 7.1 yards per carry average—but they also have the top pass rusher on defense: DL Charleston Hughes has 18 sacks on the year.
Place kicker Rene Paredes is having a spectacular season for Calgary. His 207 points are leading the CFL, and his success rate on field goals is a ridiculous 94.5 percent.
On the other side of the special teams game, Larry Taylor is leading the league in combined return yards (1,970), helping to provide the Stamps with excellent field position on every possession.
On top of it all, it appears that all three of Calgary's quarterbacks are getting the job done, no matter who gets the call. With Drew Tate injured for much of the season, Kevin Glenn has stepped into the No. 1 role under center and has done an admirable job; he has passed for 2,665 yards since taking over the job.
Last weekend against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Glenn had an off game, throwing an interception and losing two fumbles. Tate was called into action for the second half and guided the team to victory on the strength of 11-for-16 passing for 181 yards.
And on those nights when Glenn and Tate have both been out of commission, third-string pivot Bo Levi Mitchell has been able to fill in and look like a seasoned veteran. He has passed for 1,144 yards and 10 touchdowns in limited action.
In fact, all three Calgary quarterbacks—as well as punter Rob Maver—have passer's ratings over 100 this season.
Will the Argos and Stamps Face Each Other in the Grey Cup?
Put all together, the Stamps are looking more and more like the team to beat in the postseason.
As the division winners, both Toronto and Calgary get byes through the first round of the playoffs, so they'll get a chance to rest up and come into the postseason fresh and healthy.
Both the Argos and Stamps wind up their regular seasons on Friday night; Toronto hosts the Montreal Alouettes in the early game while Calgary visits the B.C. Lions in the late game. Both could be previews of the second round of the playoffs and could set the tone for things a couple weeks down the road.
Calgary is a combined 4-2 against the Lions and Roughriders this season, so they seem to have the advantage against either of their potential playoff opponents.
Toronto has been a little less dominant, beating Montreal both times they've faced each other while losing two of three against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but one of those losses to Hamilton came while Ray was on the shelf, so you can't count them out if they face each other again in two weeks.
Upsets are not unusual in the postseason, but both the Argos and Stamps seem to be holding all the cards right now. Don't bet against the two facing each other in Regina on November 24 in the 101st Grey Cup.
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