The final week of the Canadian Football League has arrived, and we are just several games away from finding out who will host the Eastern and Western finals and which teams will face off in the Semi’s.
For the Calgary Stampeders to have a remote chance at hosting the big game, they’ll need to beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers while having both the B.C. Lions and Edmonton Eskimos lose their games against the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders.
For B.C., they are sitting comfortably, holding both season series over Edmonton and Calgary, so a win there and they will host the divisional game.
Finally, Edmonton and rookie head coach Kavis Reed would like nothing more than to win and have B.C. lose to host the divisional final game after finishing last in the division just a season ago.
With Hamilton locking up the sixth and final playoff spot several weeks ago, head coach Marcel Bellefeuille and company looked to tweak their game plan in preparation for the postseason.
They are currently 2-6 on the season away from Ivor Wynne Stadium but are tied with Montreal for one of the best home records at 6-3.
Several missed opportunities over the season have Hamilton looking to win on the road against either Winnipeg or Montreal. Should Hamilton head to Montreal, they have not won there since 2002 in week 17, when they won 29-26.
Hamilton is currently employing a two-quarterback system that has seen limited success. To make matters worse, Kevin Glenn and Quinton Porter have yet to make a solid case to play an entire game.
For Toronto, they have played the spoiler role quite well in recent weeks after being knocked out of the playoffs.
They have won games over Calgary and Winnipeg but lost to Edmonton after late heroics were unsuccessful.
Heading into the final game, the Argonauts will be without quarterback Steven Jyles after he was placed on injured reserve after being hit hard by Johnny Sears last weekend in Winnipeg.
Either way, this will be a good test for several of Toronto's backups as they prepare for the 2012 season. Meanwhile, Hamilton will look for any shot at consistency and putting up offense after being shut down a week ago in Saskatchewan.
Friday evening will showcase the Saskatchewan Roughriders heading to Edmonton to face the Eskimos. Through nine games this season against Western opponents, the Roughriders have come up empty.
They are last in the division with a 5-12 record after defeating Hamilton last week. Ryan Dinwiddie will most likely be at the controls once again with Darian Durant out for the season.
Saskatchewan head coach Ken Miller announced earlier in the week he will step down as the head coach as well as the vice president of football operations at the conclusion of the season.
As the offseason approaches, the team is already facing a fair number of questions regarding talent as well as head office personnel, and the latest news is another blow the club will have to sort out.
For Edmonton, they have had a bumpy ride since the start of the season and have an opportunity to rebound and secure a spot in the Western Final on Friday night.
Defensively, the club put up strong numbers against the run, allowing only 58 yards rushing. Offensively, running back Jerome Messam is only 19 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard mark.
For Saskatchewan, they will continue their spoiler role while many players will be auditioning for jobs in the offseason as the Eskimos look to fine tune any issues they might have as they prepare for the postseason.
This will be a must-win for Ricky Ray if he wishes to host the Western Final, and he will do all he can to put a win on the board.
Saturday will feature a double-header with big Eastern division implications on the line as both Winnipeg and Montreal are one game away from hosting the finals.
Winnipeg needed just one more win last week to host the Eastern Final. However, they fell short and will look to defeat Calgary this week for that shot.
The team will be without premiere quarterback Buck Pierce, who suffered what was labeled a leg injury before being diagnosed a knee injury.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will also be without the services of Johnny Sears after his hit on Steven Jyles last week. That hit resulted in a one-game suspension for Sears and fines for Rob Murphy and Taylor Robertson after their comments were posted on Twitter.
With Pierce out, this will give Alex Brink just his third start in two years, but he has shown a lot more poise and pocket awareness since his inception.
For Calgary, they too will want a win to keep pace in the West, but they are only .500 at home. Drew Tate will start once again in favour of Henry Burris, who may have played his last down in Calgary.
In their win over Montreal, Calgary allowed 380 yards passing by Anthony Calvillo, something that few clubs can rebound from and still win a game.
They will need to provide better coverage in the secondary and limit Greg Carr’s presence while limiting the run game. Through the last three games, Calgary has allowed 479 yards on the ground.
Between the two clubs, you would have to nod your head toward Winnipeg wanting to win this game more, with the new stadium next season, 20 years without a Cup and their first postseason game since 2008.
The final game of the week will have the B.C. Lions hosting the Montreal Alouettes. Through nine games at home, B.C. has won six, including the last four games.
Travis Lulay has thrown one interception in his last four starts behind eight touchdowns. His ball control will be crucial once again this week.
Looking at one of their biggest games of the season, Montreal will have wished this was a home game after a near perfect home record of 6-3 record. However, they will be without the services of receiver Kerry Watkins and offensive lineman Josh Bourke, both placed on the nine-game.
The league announced the Most Outstanding Player nominations, and quarterback Anthony Calvillo leads the Alouettes once again. This might come as a surprise to many however as receiver Jamel Richardson made a strong case after going 12 games this season with over 100 receiving yards.
One shocking statement to look at is how over the course of the season quarterback Anthony Calvillo's age may have caught up on him. No more has Calvillo looked like the dominant quarterback the league has seen for many years.
Through the latest set of games, you can see Calvillo struggle, overthrowing or missing his receivers, unable to scramble and made to look, well, human.
B.C. will look toward exploiting that as they try to wrap up first in the West while Montreal tries for a win to potentially secure the East.
Either way, this game will come down to ball control between Travis Lulay and Anthony Calvillo, and for this I will give the young apprentice the win.
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