Saskatchewan Looks for a Playoff Run; Winnipeg Continue Quest to Secure the East

Dorian McLean@Quartz87Contributor IIISeptember 22, 2011

The 13th week of the 2011 CFL season has arrived and so has Touchdown Atlantic, to be held in Moncton, New Brunswick, and played between the Calgary Stampeders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Calgary is coming into the week reeling off a 32-19 loss to the B.C. Lions, which saw Henry Burris throw for only 184 yards—his third lowest of the season. They will look to expand Hamilton’s losing streak to two games after Edmonton was successful last week.

This was the same game which saw both Calgary’s backs combine for 10 carries and 31 yards. For Calgary to be successful as was Jerome Messam against Hamilton, it needs to get its run game going against the league’s third-worst run defense team.

Through twelve games, Hamilton has allowed an average of 104.64 yards per game on the ground and allowed Edmonton to run for 222 yards, the most given up by any team this season.

Meanwhile, for quarterback Kevin Glenn, there continues to be questions surrounding the team after many missed opportunities, and dropped passes plagued the team in their loss.

Many of Glenn’s receivers were unable to haul the passes in, which dropped his completion percentage to just 61 percent, while throwing for 140 yards, the fewest this season for Glenn.

One of the highlights for Kevin Glenn was receiver Chris Williams, who really emerged this season but has been quiet the last two weeks, combining for only 115 yards after two back-to-back 100 or more yards each game and a touchdown.

Avon Cobourne has only contributed two 100 or more rushing yard games this season and has been held to just 30 the last two weeks on eleven carries. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats need their balanced attack in full swing if they want a chance at taking down Calgary.

The game has not been fair to Hamilton since 2005, only winning three of the 13 contests, with their last home win coming in 2009. I expect that streak to continue with Calgary looking to keep pace with Edmonton in the West.

The week will start off with the defending Grey Cup champions paying a visit to Edmonton, looking to take the season series for a second straight season.

Anthony Calvillo is coming off a frustrating game against the league leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers where the defense kept Calvillo guessing and unable to get many sustainable drives going.

It’s no secret that when Anthony has time in the pocket he can do his damage, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers ensured they took that part of his game out of the playbook.

Look for the Edmonton Eskimos to attempt a similar game plan. Receiver Jamel Richardson had four catches for 65 yards, most which came in the later part of the game. Sj Green was quiet, however, with three catches for 34 yards.

Running back Brandon Whitaker had a decent offensive contribution with 93 yards of offense but was unable to punch anything in.

For the Edmonton Eskimos, they will get another weapon back to their offense for Ricky Ray in the return of Jason Barnes.

Edmonton is coming off a win over Hamilton and have won its last two games. This was the same team who started the season undefeated after five weeks, but trouble began after facing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Receivers started going down with injuries, which saw the Eskimos lose three straight before picking up their sixth win over Calgary, before Calgary returned the favour.

A measuring stick was used against the Hamilton game to see who wanted their win more, and Edmonton showed on all three phases that it was more interested.

Edmonton will be in control of their own destiny, as four of the next seven games are against Western opponents. Picking up three wins against Eastern teams certainly won’t help, however, it is not the two-time defending Grey Cup champions, and Anthony Calvillo will surely rebound.

Saturday will feature a double-header with Winnipeg traveling to face the Toronto Argonauts for a third time this season, but first up, the B.C. Lions will travel to Mosaic Stadium and face the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

They started the season on the wrong path, going 1-7 and firing both their head coach and offensive coordinator. Those changes have since sparked a three-game winning streak and will look to continue winning against the B.C. Lions.

Saskatchewan has won the last five of eight matchups at home, including the last three, but may be without Andy Fantuz’ services this weekend.

If Saskatchewan wants to make the postseason within its own division, it has that chance, as their next six of seven games are against Western opponents. And they're in a prime position to control their own destiny as well.

The question heading into next season will certainly be about whether or not Ken Miller will be at the helm, but for now, they will look to continue their streak against B.C. and look at the postseason.

The last game of the double header will feature the league-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers, sitting at 8-3, facing the Toronto Argonauts for what will be a deciding game for Winnipeg.

A win by Winnipeg will give them the series clinch after Winnipeg already secured that against Hamilton. A win by Toronto will continue its climb from the bottom of the league, but there are way too many distractions for it to make a legit run.

The documentary that was shot this season featuring the Toronto Argonauts appears to have done more damage than good, as the team was unable to really focus on its troubled areas.

Their issues led to the firing of defensive coordinator Chip Garber, followed by the release of quarterback Cleo Lemon. Steven Jyles, who was acquired in the offseason from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, will make his second straight start.

This will be the first of two remaining games for Toronto, which will see quarterback Steven Jyles face his former team. Jyles, who injured his shoulder last season, is still finding his way back to form.

Unfortunately for Jyles, his receiving corp is not exactly at the top of the charts and wasn’t put in a great position last week. This team is just a few losses away from knocking themselves out of playoff contention.

The Winnipeg defense has awoken once again and sit atop the league in pass defense and third in rush defense at 242 yards and 90 yards, respectively.

They still lead the league in sacks and have the sack leader in Odell Willis, who has 10 of his own. One of Winnipeg’s troubles this season has been its run game, which still has Fred Reid looking to break his first 100-yard game.

As for Cory Boyd and Chad Owens, neither player has stepped up this season as they did in 2010, and will need to contribute more for their team to have a chance at winning down the stretch.

Toronto was looking to secure its second straight win in Week 2, but was unable to finish the game. During the second meeting in Week 4, looking for its second win, it led 17-3 after one quarter, but let Winnipeg score 30 points and lost, 33-24.

They will have Week 12’s offensive player of the week at the helm in Buck Pierce, along with receivers Terrence Edwards, Cory Watson and Clarence Denmark, while without Joe Lobendahn and Kito Poblah, both lost for the season. Each week, the team continues to build together and will look to capitalize on a wounded Argonaut team.

With Winnipeg slowly finding its swagger once again and Toronto’s never-ending questions and confusion, I see Winnipeg coming out on top and taking the season series. Winnipeg will then look towards Montreal next week to essentially keep its place atop the division.


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