The Calgary Stampeders clinched first place in the CFL West Division in Week 16. And now this weekend’s Semi-Final will determine who will meet the Stamps at McMahon Stadium in the West Final on November 20. The Stampeders are preparing for either the B.C. Lions or Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Ask any player and all will say it doesn’t matter who they play. But come Sunday, the West Semi-Final TV will be a must see for the Calgary Stampeders.
West Semi-Final TV is a Must See for the Calgary Stampeders
Regardless of fans’ suspicions or wishes, the Stampeders players will never answer the question of who they would rather play in the Finals. The Stamps will prepare for both the B.C. Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Both are good teams. And both will be tough opponents for the Stampeders.
The Stampeders have the luxury of getting the week to heal, strengthen and study game film. Of course, some debate whether the extra time is a positive or negative. Especially this year, as the Stamps had the misfortune of a bye week in Week 20. This gives the Stamps three weeks between their final-game loss to the Montreal Alouettes and the West Final. But no matter where you stand on that issue, the Stamps will have a lot of time to prepare. And prepare they will.
Must-See TV: B.C. Lions
Calgary only lost two games this season. But one of their losses was against the B.C. Lions in Week 1, by a score of 20-18. The next time the two teams met, the game went into overtime with a nail-biter ending. Calgary won that 44-41. A couple weeks later, Calgary defeated the Lions a little more convincingly, 37-9.
So what do the Stampeders have to watch for against the Lions? They will be watching tape on how to stop receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux. Arceneaux sits third in the league with 105 catches for 1,566 receiving yards. Also, quarterback, Jonathon Jennings is third in the league in passing, just under Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell. Jennings has thrown 5,226 yards and 27 touchdowns. With the combination of Jennings and Arceneaux, Calgary’s defence will have to diligent in their coverage.
Two threats sit on the B.C. defence that Calgary will need to contain. Soloman Elimimian sits at the top of the league with 129 defensive tackles, eight sacks, and one interception. Linebacker Adam Bighill is third with 108 defensive tackles, five sacks and one interception. Both of these linebackers will have Mitchell in sights, so Calgary’s offensive line will be watching how to keep them in tact and protect their quarterback.
Two of the three times Calgary and B.C. have met in the regular season, it has come down to a field goal. Calgary can’t ignore the fact that Paul McCallum has once again come out of retirement to help Wally Buono and the Lions win games. McCallum has only played one game this season, but made all four of his attempted field goals. His CFL record for most successful consecutive field goals was broken by none other than Calgary’s Rene Paredes. But McCallum’s CFL career and success can’t be ignored.
Must-See TV: Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Blue Bombers have had quite the season. After a fairly slow start, the Bombers grabbed the attention of fans and critics around Week 6 when they started their seven-game winning streak. That streak was broken by the Stampeders in Week 14, with a 36-34 Calgary win. But the Bombers proved they were a force to be reckoned with.
What will Calgary be watching for from Winnipeg? Calgary’s defence will have find ways to cover Winnipeg receiver Weston Dressler. His numbers might not be topping CFL charts, but he finds ways to make big plays. Dressler’s ability to weave through coverage and dodge tackles has given him 80 catches and over 1,000 yards this season. Another Bombers weapon is running back Andrew Harris. Harris has ripped through defences rushing 974 yards and has four touchdowns. Harris sits third in the league behind Calgary’s Jerome Messam for yards from the ground.
On Winnipeg’s defence, Calgary will be watching rookies Taylor Loffler and Kevin Fogg. Both defensive backs have four interceptions and Loffler has four forced fumbles. Winnipeg also tops the league with 30 interceptions this season. Calgary’s main focus against Winnipeg has to be ball security. Turnovers cost games and Winnipeg has a good history of causing turnovers this season.
Both the Lions and Blue Bombers are formidable opponents. They’ve earned their spots in the West Division. One can debate who’s better and analyze statistics until the end of time. But when it comes down to it, both teams can win the Semi-Final.
In the playoffs, stats are just stats. Games won and home-field advantage are just ways critics and fans try to make the best predictions. But it’s the CFL and anything can happen. On Sunday, all bets are on the fact that the West Semi-Final will be must-see TV for Calgary and the rest of the CFL.
Main Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.