Sunday, October 30, 2011

CFL Gameday: Calgary at Montreal (October 30)

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers opened the door on Friday night, Sunday will see if the Montreal Alouettes take advantage of the generosity.

The Alouettes host the Calgary Stampeders in a game that has first place possibilities for both teams on the line.

A win by Montreal and they once again are can take the lead from the Bombers for first place in the CFL East,  an opportunity that the home town crowd might wish to see, providing for yet another CFL East final at Molson Stadium in a couple of weeks.

With a victory, the Stamps can join the logjam for first in the West, where both BC and Edmonton hold down the top spot, with the advantage going to BC on the strength of their win on Saturday night.

Calgary enters today's game still confident in Drew Tate's skills at QB, Tate who took over the top job from Henry Burris last week has had a fairly rewarding time at the pivotal position, though it remains to be seen if in the tension of a key life or death game his relative inexperience, compared to Burris' veteran poise will come back to haunt the Stamps.

Montreal of course will rely on the always poised Anthony Calvillo, who had a very unlike Anthony kind of game last week in Winnipeg, look for him to seek out a bit of revenge for that first half performance taking out his frustrations on the Stampeders secondary.

With but one more week to go in the 2011 season, we still have some key games to determine placements for five of six playoff bound teams (all but Hamilton (who have know for a couple of weeks that it's all road games, all the time in the playoffs) still control their fate in this last week dash to the playoff rounds.

Game Time 1 PM ET (10 AM PT, 11 MT) Molson Stadium  TSN

Pre Game

Calgary Herald-- Richardson salivating at Stamps matchup
Calgary Sun-- Stamps road-testing best in Alouettes
Globe and Mail-- Stamps, Eskimos to honour high school players killed in crash
Montreal Alouettes must win against Calgary Stampeders ...

Quick Snaps Montreal Alouettes
Quick Snaps Calgary Stampeders

Post Game

Calgary 32 at Montreal 27
Attendance-- 24,051

Calgary Herald-- Stampeders hang on to narrow lead, edge Alouettes 32-27
Calgary Sun-- Stamps claim crucial CFL win over Alouettes
Globe and Mail-- Missing ingredient confounds Alouettes
National Post-- Stampeders tied for first in West with win over Alouettes Stamps hold off Als to stay in hunt for West title

Saturday, October 29, 2011

CFL Gameday: Edmonton at British Columbia (October 29)

The showdown for the West takes place tonight at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, the hometown Lions who had their remarkable string of eight wins snapped last week in a listless effort against the Tiger Cats, will hope to regroup to take on the surprising Edmonton Eskimos, the current holders of top spot in the West.

Edmonton comes into BC Place feeling pretty good about themselves, having returned to the form that captivated CFL fans at the start of the season, peaking as it is at the most opportune time in the CFL season going into the playoffs.

BC on the other hand was brought back down to earth last weekend, the Tiger Cats administering a thorough trashing of their cousins of the animal kingdom, revealing a few things that Wally Buono will have to work on should he want to be playing host to the Grey Cup game at his home stadium at the end of November.

The task to claim first could be a tough one for the Lions, who feature a number of injuries, a battered squad that dipped into the retirement list this past week to shore up a position and bring in some experience heading into the playoff stretch.

With the labour troubles apparently taken care of BC Place, there should be a sizable crowd in attendance to cheer on the Lions as they seek to reclaim first place, with an eye on the east from last night, the Lions will no doubt hope to provide a better finish for their fans than what they may have watched on TV from Winnipeg last night.

Game Time 7 PM PT (10 ET, 8 MT) BC Place Stadium, TSN

Pre Game

Vancouver Province-- Lions - Eskimos rivalry resume with first place on line
Vancouver Sun-- Players to watch, three themes to the game
Edmonton Journal-- Healthy Eskimos aim to take out ailing Lions
Edmonton Sun-- 2007 again for Esks' Tillman
Globe and Mail-- Lions limp into clash with Eskimos
National Post-- Lions come to believe in Lulay

Quick Snaps British Columbia Lions
Quick Snaps Edmonton Eskimos

Post Game

Edmonton 20 at British Columbia 29
Attendance-- 29,749

Vancouver Province-- Undermanned  B. C. Lions roll to home victory over Edmonton Eskimos
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. Lions move into first place driver's seat with win over Eskimos
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos fail to clinch first in West
Edmonton Sun-- Lions edge Eskimos
Globe and Mail-- Lions roar past Eskimos
National Post-- Short handed Lions beat Eskimos

CFL Gameday: Hamilton at Saskatchewan (October 29)

A mean nothing game if ever there were one is on the CFL schedule for Saturday afternoon, the playoff bound Hamilton Tiger Cats travel to Regina to play the playoff out Saskatchewan Roughriders, the only real question being who does Marcel Bellefeuille start and how long will any of those starters stay in the game.

Playing out the string of a season is never a fun experience, especially when you know you can't improve on your placement in the standings, a position the Tiger Cats are in secure in third just waiting until the CFL Eastern semi final in two weeks.

At least they still have some football to play in the post season, that's not the case for Saskatchewan, a team that went from Grey Cup appearances in the last few years to tumbling to the bottom of the CFL listings, leaving the folks on the cold prairie to have little to do come mid November.

Saturday's game or course allows the Riders to evaluate those players that may be on the bubble for a return to the green and white in 2012, it also offers Hamilton the opportunity to fine tune an inconsistent offence, but on the other side of that coin, the need to avoid any kind of injuries to star players that would make the road trips required to Grey Cup Sunday even harder than the task is already.

Game Time 1 PM ST (3 ET, Noon PT) Mosaic Field TSN

Pre Game

Hamilton Spectator-- Cats vs Riders

Friday, October 28, 2011

CFL Gameday: Toronto at Winnipeg (October 28)

The role of spoiler beckons for Jim Barker's Argonauts tonight, a role they've been familiar with over the last few weeks of this CFL season of disappointment for the Double Blue.

A few weeks ago, the Argos provided a setback for the quest for first in the West of the Calgary Stampeders, in the process knocking starting QB Henry Burris down a notch on John Hufnagel's Stampeder depth chart.

Last week they almost did the same favour to the Edmonton Eskimos, though they waited until the fourth quarter to show signs of life, but when they did they almost derailed the Eskies as well.

Tonight, they seek to level the field for the Montreal Alouettes, as the Argos take on the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg, with Winnipeg gaining the advantage last week with their win over the Als, a win tonight could certainly improve their chances of securing first in the CFL East. A loss, combined with an Alouette win  on Sunday would make the race a down to the final game of the season affair next week.

The Bombers no doubt have the most to lose tonight, the Argos a loose squad playing for what is left of pride in a woeful season and perhaps for a few spots on the roster in 2012, Winnipeg which has had a mostly impressive run through 2011 with only a few hiccups has the chance to regain that swagger of the start of the year.

It's been a pretty good year for sports fans in Winnipeg, the Bombers have been rolling through this year with a Grey Cup final date in their sights, with two weeks to go in the season they no doubt remain focused on that goal, for the Argos tonight offers up a chance to throw a wrench into the plans.

Game Time 7 PM CT (8 ET, 5 PT) Canad Inn Stadium TSN

Pre Game

Winnipeg Sun-- Time for Blue to step up
Winnipeg Free Press-- Bombers keep winning lineup for Argos tilt
Toronto Sun-- Argos make Bombers nervous
Toronto Star-- Argos jobs on the line with two games left
National Post-- Argos learn from their rivals' setbacks

Quick Snaps Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Quick Snaps Toronto Argonauts

Post Game

Toronto 27 at Winnipeg 22
Attendance-- 29,751

Winnipeg Sun-- Turnovers kill Bombers
Winnipeg Free Press- Bombers' 27-22 loss to Argos a debacle
Toronto Sun-- Argos' Parker can put on a show
Toronto Star-- Bomber hit on Argo QB sparks war of words
Globe and Mail-- Argos dent Bombers' title hopes

Thursday, October 27, 2011

CFL Regular Season Week 18

The CFL heads into the final two weeks of the regular season, battles for first place in both divisions still a raging.

In the East the Bombers and Als will be hoping to use these final two weeks to put their stamp on the top spot, a loss perhaps fatal to the final results for 2011.

Winnipeg it would seem should have the easier path this week with a home date against the Argonauts, though as Toronto has shown these last two weeks they aren't going to just play out the string, if the chance to play spoiler comes up they intend to make a run at it.

For Montreal a home date against the Calgary Stampeders offers up a fair amount of drama, beyond the Als wish to keep their eyes on the eastern prize, the Stamps are still inclined to find a home playoff date at McMahon on the calendar.  With both BC and Edmonton ahead of them in the West a loss on the road could prove fatal to their quest for that playoff date.

Two teams playing for first in the West will meet head on in Vancouver this weekend, as the Eskimos arrive on the coast to take on the Lions. Edmonton currently has a two point lead on the Leos, a win could guarantee them the top placement in the West, a loss takes the run for the Western division title right into the final week of the season.

Two teams with little to play for this week will meet in Regina on Saturday, Hamilton which will see playoff action this year but can't move beyond their third place finish in the east will shake out some cobwebs in a what amounts to a scrimmage against the Riders. Saskatchewan, eliminated from the playoffs a few weeks ago will be running an evaluation session on the weekend, checking the pulse of their players to see who may no longer have the desire to wear the Green and White in 2012.

The weekends football options can be found below.

Friday, October 28-- Toronto 27 at Winnipeg 22  (A--29,751
Saturday, October 29-- Hamilton 3 at Saskatchewan 19 (A--29,073
Saturday, October 29-- Edmonton 20 at British Columbia 29 (A--29,749) 
Sunday, October 30-- Calgary 32 at Montreal 27 (A-- 24,051)  

Twelve Men Prognostications: Predicted Winners

British Columbia

Weekly Record -- 2 - 4
Overall Record-- 38 - 68

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CFL Players of the Week - Week 17

Three quarters of Eskimo football was all that the judges needed to see this weekend, despite the near miraculous comeback of the Toronto Argonauts, the Eskimos efforts in the first three quarters provided for two of the four Gibson's Players of the Week Award winners.

Ricky Ray's offensive output on Friday evening in Toronto was more than enough to secure his spot was Offensive Player of the Week, while Jerome Messam once again collects a Gibson's Award, his fifth one this year for his work as Canadian Player of the Week.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defence is one of the most feared in the CFL and once again one of their group is an award winner, as Jason Vega picked up the defensive player of the week award, thanks to his play on Saturday which included four tackles and two sacks of Anthony Calvillo.

Wrapping up our look the awards this week, Justin Medlock snares another Special Plays player of the week, thanks to his perfect day at the field goal tee, going seven for seven, providing for 21 of the Ti Cats 42 points over the BC Lions.

The full review of the awards for week Seventeen can be found below.

Offensive Player of the Week
Edmonton Eskimos- Quarter Bac

Defensive Player of the Week
Winnipeg Blue Bombers -  Defensive End/Linebacker

Special Teams Player of the Week
Hamilton Tiger Cats -Kicker

Canadian Player of the Week
Edmonton Eskimos - Running Back

Items of Note

CFL Regular Season Week 17

The week's highlight game lived up to its billing in Winnipeg, a winning streak came to an end, a new quarterback's star was on the rise in Calgary and the Argos almost played spoiler for the second week in a row.

Some of the key moments of week seventeen can be found below.

British Columbia at Hamilton

Some streaks are destined to come to an end and for some the end of a streak is a welcome thing, such was the fate of Saturday's wrap up to Week seventeen of the CFL Schedule.

The British Columbia Lions finally tasted defeat once again, a bitter reminder of what the start of the season tasted like and for a good portion of their match up with the Tiger Cats, it seemed as though the Lions of July had returned to the field.

The Tiger Cats playing their last game at Ivor Wynne Stadium the Cats sent off their ancient home in fine style, dominating the Lions in all aspects of the game. Bringing to an end their two game losing skid, their troubles over the last two weeks has been an unwelcome distraction for a team that had high expectations for 2011, but one that tells the tale of the Cats inconsistent season.

On Saturday, the Cats resembled the team that Marcel Bellefeuille probably imagined he had, though the fact that he had to rely on Jason Medlock's foot on seven successful field goal attempts suggest that he still has a bit of work to do with the Ticats offence.

Medlock accounted for half of the TiCat points on their 42-10 victory over the Lions, both Kevin Glenn and Quinton Porter saw action at quarterback, providing for real time, live action scrimmages for the most part, the Cats stuck in that CFL never land of holding down third spot with no hope of advancement.

The Tiger Cats play out the rest of the schedule in a similar fashion, waiting for their Eastern Semi final appearance on November 13th, hoping to work out the inconsistencies while avoiding injuries.

The value of Saturday's game was much higher for the Lions and with their loss, which ended their winning streak at eight games, the Lions find themselves back into a race for the CFL West title.

Should they offer up the same kind of effort against the Eskimos this weekend, then they'll be making plans for a CFL West semi final, maybe at home, maybe not. all depending on whether they can cobble together the start of another streak, a streak of two.

That of course will be a considerably harder task, the first step is this weekend against the Esks and the Lions bring a list of injured players to add to their troubles, key among them the state of the health of Travis Lulay who was a frequent target of a ferocious Tiger Cat defence on Saturday night.

The Lions haven't said much about their battered line up in the early part of the week, but the health status of some key players could tell the tale if the Lions remarkable run back into contention in the CFL will carry forward towards the playoffs.

As for Hamilton, there is only one streak they are concerned about now one that would be required starting on November 13th and coming to an end on the 27th...

Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats maul Lions 42-10
Vancouver Province-- Lions win streak ends at eight in Hamilton
Vancouver Sun-- Injuries continue to chip away at B. C. Lions roster in loss to Tiger-Cats
Globe and Mail-- B. C. Lions still have much more work to do
National Post-- Lions' storybook season could have trick ending

Montreal at Winnipeg

It was billed as the showdown of the week in the CFL East and by the game's end it didn't disappoint.

Saturday's matchup between the Alouettes and the Bombers at times resembled a heavyweight prize fight, both teams took their slugs, made a few potentially disastrous errors and the righted themselves to offer up one of the most exciting finishes to a CFL game this year.

The game provided a rare occurrence in CFL circles, a less than perfect display of quarterbacking by Anthony Calvillo, the Als quarterback was clearly rattled by the Bombers always intimidating defensive corps, offering up four interceptions, a rather rare thing from the CFL's top quarterback of recent years.

The Bombers put seven points on the board thanks to one of those picks, but couldn't capitalize on their other opportunities in the first half, heading to the locker room with a 10-9 lead, no doubt aware that their lack of ability to take advantage Calvillo's struggles in the first thirty minutes.

And, as we've seen in the past, when challenged with a bit of adversity, AC tends to deliver, despite that less than successful portion of his day, Calvillo still managed to bring the Als back on track. He regained his mojo in the third quarter pacing his team through the second half, taking control of the flow of the play and propelling his squad to a 25-10 lead heading into the final quarter.

With such shifts in momentum through the game, the fourth quarter would not disappoint, especially for the hometown fans who would quickly have cause to exchange their boos for cheers as the Bombers launched their comeback leading up to a wild finish, the kind of which that CFL fans sometimes take for granted.

Making the best use of the gusting, blowing winds of Manitoba, the Bombers with that wind at their backs set the stage for Chris Garret's twin touchdown runs to secure victory 26-25.

The fourth quarter was vintage CFL, the elements as key to the result as the players on the field, the resolve of the Bombers not to let the opportunity escape key to the comeback victory that made for a remarkable sports day in the Manitoba capital.

The win took the Bombers to the top of the CFL East, tied with the Als for the chance to host the CFL East final, with their victory over the Als,  the second of the three head to head matches this year, the Bombers took on the role of favourite in the CFL East, the final two weeks providing for more drama as the two teams battle on to secure that top stop.

Winnipeg Free Press-- Bombers come bad from 15 point deficit to beat Als
Winnipeg Sun-- Solid Bombers defence praised
Globe and Mail-- Bombers roar back to beat Alouettes Montreal Alouettes blow 15 point lead, lose to Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Saskatchewan at Calgary

Two teams in very different situations took to the field on Friday in Calgary, on one sideline the Stampeders still in the thick of the CFL West race, with a playoff home date still a possibility, over on the other, the Saskatchewan Roughriders playing out the string on a beyond disappointing season, the frequent Grey Cup finalists not even in the hunt for a playoff spot in 2011.

The Stamps, a team that has no shortage of controversy the last few weeks made the dramatic move of starting back up quarterback Drew Tate in Friday night's game,  Tate came on in relief last week in Toronto and almost rescued a terrible Stampeder effort, his reward for that task was the start on Friday indicative that John Hufnagel is more than a little concerned about the consistency of long time CFL star Henry Burris.

Tate's debut as a starter was a quite successful session, the Stamps finding confidence in Tate's abilities as the game moved on. Calgary held the halftime lead 17-10 thanks to some stellar passing by Tate in the first thirty minutes, showing little in the way of nerves with his chance to start.

The Riders appeared on the cusp of turning the game around in the third, picking off a Tate pass and taking it towards the Stamps end zone, but a few plays later the Stamps' Charleston Hughes picked off a pass of their own, snuffing out the Rider drive, setting up a four yard Jon Cornish drive for another touchdown.

A tally that brought the score up to it's final result of 25-13, a key win for a struggling Stampeder squad and one that keeps their hopes of hosting a playoff game still alive.

The Riders started Darian Durant at QB a questionable move considering the status of his injured foot, with the season lost one has to wonder what was the purpose of putting Durant at further risk, one of the many questions that seem to be popping up around the Riders camp these days.

For Saskatchewan these last few games are more along the lines of extended practices and try out sessions, the only real consequence of their work the opportunity to play spoiler for the playoff bound teams and their status in the standings.

On Friday, the Riders came up with blanks both on the field and in the role of spoiler.

Calgary Herald-- Tate guides Stamps to win over Roughriders
Calgary Sun-- New Stamps QB worth watching
Regina Leader Post-- Darian Durant survives scare as Riders lost 25-13 to Stampeders
Globe and Mail-- Drew Tate spurs Stamps past Riders
National Post-- Tate aims to improve on Stampeders scoring chances

Edmonton at Toronto

It took them about three quarters to warm up to the task, but in a wild fourth quarter the Toronto Argonauts almost snatched victory from the Edmonton Eskimos, coming up just a little bit short, much to the relief of the Eskimos who almost let their first place maintaining win get away from them.

For most of the Friday Night Football opener, the Eskimos were in control of the game, Ricky Ray taking advantage of far too many Argonaut mistakes, staking the Esks to a 31-10 lead deep into the fourth quarter.

With less than 6 minutes to go in the fourth, the Argos struck quickly twice picking up fourteen points in the waning moments, the Eskimos suddenly making costly errors that had head coach Kavis Reed less than impressed with his squad as they wasted away a 21 point lead.

The Argos almost pulled off the improbably comeback when they recovered a second on side kick, that after the usually reliable Jerom Messam coughed up the football, setting the stage for the Argos last, if unsuccessful drive, the Argos coming up short when the final whistle sounded to give the Esks their 31 to 24 victory..

For Eskimo supporters the fourth quarter was perhaps was a worrisome thing to watch, the teams inability to stem a sudden surge by the last place Argos.

For Argo fans the fourth quarter theatrics were not the only bright spot on the day, the game also featured a record breaking performance from Chad Owens, who reached the 3,000 all purpose yards mark in consecutive seasons, a mark that places him atop the listings in professional football.

It is a coveted achievement for Toronto fans, considering the woeful nature of the way their season went,  an achievement that stands out for 2011, a tribute to Owens skills, one wonders how many yards he may have added to the totals had the Argos been more competitive at the start of the season?

The Eskimos collected the valuable points and kept their hold on first in the CFL West, a race that would appear to be one that will go down to the last week of the season with three teams seeking the advantage. Edmonton can dash the hopes of the Lions quest this weekend when they take on BC,  a game that becomes a showdown for first in the West.

And owing to a possible labour disruption at BC Place there's a possibility that showdown game could be played at the friendlier confines of Commonwealth Stadium, a decision that will be made early this week.

Edmonton Journal-- Argos come within a TD of unfathomable comeback against Edmonton
Edmonton Sun-- Esks Thompson made it interesting
Toronto Sun-- Owens blasts into record books
Toronto Star-- Owens' record lone bright spot for abysmal Argonauts
Globe and Mail-- Eskimos hang on to beat Argos
National Post-- Argos run out of time against Eskimos

Saturday, October 22, 2011

CFL Gameday: British Columbia at Hamilton (October 22)

British Columbia brings its eight game winning streak into Ontario to wrap up week seventeen of the CFL Season, a chance to keep pace with the Edmonton Eskimos atop the CFL West, not to mention make life just a little bit more difficult for the Calgary Stampeders in their quest to regain the division lead.

They take on a Hamilton squad that knows that their playoff future involves a road game in the CFL East's semifinal, a fate that leaves head coach Marcel Bellefeuille with a bit of a dilemma, does he go full tilt into his final few games of the 2011 season, or does he judiciously pick and choose when to play his starters, assessing who has the hot hand, protecting key players from possible injury, for the Cats their whole season now rests on that semi final in November, the next few weeks basically hard tackle practice scrimmages to work out the troubles that have dotted their season thus far.

The Lions have been on fire since August, the Cats not so much so, more of a step forward, two steps back, it will make for an interesting study into approaches as they lead up to kick off at Ivor Wynne.

It's a game with many subplots, but perhaps none greater than the return of Arland Bruce to Hamilton, Saturday's game offers up an opportunity for a wee bit of payback to the land of oska wee wee, Bruce of course left the Cats for the Lions den earlier this season under less than amicable discussions.

Travis Lulay has been among the top of the league's quarterback class since that Lions run began in August, he has had deadly accuracy when finding Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce III to name a few, the Lions running game has also made a key impact on their success, galloping for yardage that changes the tempo of most games.

For Bruce Saturday's game offers up an opportunity for a wee bit of payback to the land of oska wee wee, Bruce of course left the Cats for the Lions den earlier this season under less than amicable discussions.

The Cats can't say that's been their reality of late, there have been struggles at QB, a running game that has been hot and cold as well, concerns that have led them to their current two game losing skid.

A streak could be broken tonight, or a streak will continue on, it's all dependant on which team comes out on top as week seventeen comes to a wrap

Game Time 7 PM ET ( 4 PT) Ivor Wynne Stadium TSN

Pre Game

Vancouver Province-- Lions' Arland Bruce is pro turnaround specialist
Vancouver Sun-- Lions veteran McCallum still has a leg up on the competition
Hamilton Spectator-- This is no Holloway-Barnes re-enactment
Globe and Mail-- New faces in old places greet Arland Bruce III
National Post-- Ticats veterans address slump

Quick Snaps Hamilton Tiger Cats
Quick Snaps British Columbia Lions

British Columbia 10 at Hamilton 42
Attendance-- 25,536

Post Game

Vancouver Province-- B. C. Lions win streak ends at eight in Hamilton
Vancouver Sun-- Injuries continue to chip away at B. C. Lions roster in loss to the Tiger-Cats
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats maul Lions 42-10
Globe and Mail-- Tiger Cats rout Lions
National Post-- Ticats halt Lions' eight-game winning streak Lions mauled by Tiger-Cats

CFL Gameday: Montreal at Winnipeg (October 22)

A chance to put some space between first and second place and clinch an Eastern title is up for grabs on Saturday afternoon, as the CFL East leading Alouettes travel to Winnipeg in a marquee matchup for week seventeen.

The Als who have begun to swing into a homestretch trot of late,  have climbed past the Bombers in the CFL's east, a long hard slog that had a few pitfalls along the way but as the colder weather arrives and the season winds down, it's a replay of a march that has been seen many time in recent CFL history.

Though truth be told, the Als have usually had first place nailed down well before the waning weeks of October. With Anthony Calvillo once again rattling off the records and conducting his offence like a maestro at the Montreal Symphony, the Als have once again served notice that they very well could be the team to beat in the East.

Winnipeg of course held the lead for a good portion of the season, a few injuries along the way however and the Swagger tailed off for a bit, rising up from time to time as the Winnipeg defence found ways to keep their team alive through those lean weeks of offensive troubles.

The last few weeks have seen the Bombers find ways to win, not quite as convincingly as in the early portion of the season, but good enough to keep the pace to a fashion with the Als as the two battle down the stretch for the Eastern Final playoff home date.

A good portion of that battle could be finished by today should the Als win they would clinch the Eastern title and avoid a return visit in November's cold, however, if the Bombers find their game and take it to the Als in front of what will be another CanadInn stadium sellout, well, then it's destined to be a photo finish to the wire in the final two weeks of the 2011 season.

Game Time 2 PM CT (3 PM ET, Noon PT) CanadInn Stadium TSN

Pre Game

Winnipeg Sun-- Where the East is won
Winnipeg Free Press-- Bombers gunning for top spot in the East
Globe and Mail-- Bombers and Pierce look for rhythm against Als
National Post-- Bombers persevere through injury bug Als face Bombers with eyes on East Division prize

Quick Snaps Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Quick Snaps Montreal Alouettes

Montreal 25 at Winnipeg 26
Attendance-- 30,360

Post Game

Winnipeg Sun-- Bombers rallied against champs
Winnipeg Free Press-- Bombers come back from 15 point deficit to beat Als
Globe and Mail-- Bombers roar back to beat Alouettes
National Post-- Blue Bombers reclaim East Division lead Anthony Calvillo shoulders blame for loss

Friday, October 21, 2011

CFL Gameday: Saskatchewan at Calgary (October 21)

Friday night is football night for Alberta, the Eskimos will have done battle with the Argos by the time the Riders and Stamps take to the field at McMahon Stadium tonight, so the Stamps will be more than aware just how important the two points up for grabs could be.

The result of last weeks loss to the Argos, has put the Stamps in peril of losing out on a home playoff date, watching the rival Eskimos and the streaking BC Lions stake out the top of the CFL West for the battle for the western title.

That mis-step last week also has caused more than a bit of turmoil in the Stampeders camp, coach John Hufnagel has shifted Henry Burris to back up status, handing the starting assignment to Drew Tate, who makes his first CFL start against the Riders tonight.

We're still not sure that this isn't some kind of message delivery session for Hufnagel, eager to get his once starting QB's attention heading into the playoff race, the idea that the Stamps have decided to rework their offence over the last three weeks of the season would seem to be a little drastic and perhaps even a little bit dangerous.

How the Stamps respond to all the drama of the week remains to be seen, but we can't help but think that the competition had a little bit to do with the Hufnagel decision, no offence to the Riders but their quality of play this year makes them the perfect team to try and send a message through.

Tate may find that he has just enough success to put the Riders away, but not enough to knock Burris out of the starter's role for future weeks, then again the frustration that Hufnagel has had with his quarterback and his team for that matter has been well documented.

Friday night's game may just provide the punctuation mark on some of his oft repeated refrains of the last few months.

While the Stamps are playing for their season now, Saskatchewan is just playing out the season.

Ken Miller getting a little weary it seems of all the attention of late, the early days of his return which were hailed as a good day by some for Rider football have long since faded, instead now the same problems that Greg Marshall had to endure have once again popped up and like Marshal, there seems that there has been little that Miller has been able to do to change those problems.

It's too late for the Riders this year, the Stamps however still have a bit of time to work out their troubles, how they react to the week of change leading up to today's game could provide us with an idea as to how the rest of their season is going to go.

Game Time 7:30 pm MT (6:30 PT, 9:30 ET) McMahon Stadium TSN

Pre Game

Calgary Herald-- Stamps are in "prove it" territory today
Calgary Sun-- New Stamps QB set to start against Roughriders
Regina Leader Post-- Roughriders and Stampeders' views differ regarding quarterbacks
Globe and Mail-- Time running out for Stampeders to pick up the pieces Stamps confidence shaken by losses

Quick Snaps Calgary Stampeders
Quick Snaps Saskatchewan Roughriders

Saskatchewan 13 at Calgary 25
Attendance-- 29,698

Post Game

Calgary Sun-- Stamps well above passing grade
Calgary Herald-- Tate guide Stamps to win over Roughriders
Regina Leader Post-- Darian Durant survives scare as Riders lost 24-13 to Stampeders
Globe and Mail-- Drew Tate spurs Stamps past Riders
National Post-- Tate wins first start, Stampeders down Roughriders

CFL Gameday: Edmonton at Toronto (October 21)

The anticipation in Toronto must be high, the Argos on the cusp of achievement at last, the prospect of two wins in a row in this 2011 season on the table for tonight's matchup with the Eskimos, the planning of the parade route must have gone on long into the night.

Well, ok, there's probably not much anticipation, possibly even little interest in week seventeen's kickoff game at Rogers Stadium, but hey, they drew up the schedule, may as well finish the season off.

The Argos if nothing else, can provide the same service for the Eskimos that they did for the Stamps last week, provide the role of spoiler to the feel good story in Alberta's northern reaches this season, the Stamps of course will be hoping that whatever it is that the Argos did to them, they do to the Eskies, if for no other reason than to keep their hopes of a home playoff date at McMahon Stadium alive for another week.

Toronto, playing out the string and observing player efforts for consideration next year will have nothing to lose of course, long since eliminated from any playoff aspirations in the East, the Argos can play pretty well carefree and take chances that team seeking a playoff spot may not take.

The Argos are hoping to end the season on a winning note, providing something to build on for the 2012 year, to that end, the players realize that these final weeks are really an audition for next years opportunities, a lack of resolve and effort no doubt to be marked down on the list of positive and negatives of a year that went wrong early on.

Edmonton on the other hand will have to be all business, methodical and true to the blueprint, probably more aware that a mistake could be costly to the long term plan of a playoff spot and further march into the post season.

The key for Kavis Reed's squad is to continue to work in sync, putting some of the setbacks of the year behind them, providing the momentum heading into the final weeks of the season and wherever that playoff spot may take them.

Game Time 6:30 ET (4:30 MT, 3:30 PT) Rogers Centre TSN

Pre Game 

Toronto Star-- Winning still top priority for Argos
Toronto Sun-- Argos hope he's Mann enough
National Post-- Argos look to future after dismal season
Edmonton Journal-- Argonauts still dangerous - Reed
Edmonton Sun-- Esks QB hopes for early birthday present

Quick Snaps Toronto Argonauts
Quick Snaps Edmonton Eskimos

Edmonton 31 at Toronto 24
Attendance-- 19,176

Post Game

Toronto Sun-- Argos get black jack against Esks
Toronto Star-- Owens' record lone bright spot for abysmal Argonauts
Globe and Mail-- Eskimos hang on to beat Argos
National Post-- Owens makes history, Argos fall short
Edmonton Sun-- Esks' Messam almost messed up
Edmonton Journal-- Argos come to within a TD of unfathomable comeback...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

CFL Regular Season Week 17

The CFL heads into the final three weeks of the 2011 season with a showdown in River City as the headline attraction.

The Alouettes head off to Winnipeg for a Saturday showdown that  should the Als grab the win could add some clarity to the race for the CFL East title, on the other hand should the Bombers claim victory make the final two weeks of the season will provide for even more drama.

The weekend kicks off with the Argos hoping to make it two in a row against Alberta as they host the Eskimos at Rogers Centre, Toronto provided a setback to the Stampeders quest for first in the west last week, Friday offers the chance to do the same for the Eskimos.

The Stamps can rebound from last weeks disappointment as the floundering Riders arrive at McMahon Stadium to play out the rest of their season, Calgary set to shake things up a bit has tagged Drew Tate for the start on Friday.

The weekend wraps up in Hamilton on Saturday, when the Lions seek to make it eight wins in a row as they take on the Tiger Cats, Hamilton has been mostly cold rather than hot over the last few weeks, with first place starting to fade from their view, there may still be time to claim the semi final hosting spot with a run over the last few weeks for second place, a feat that of course will require a bit of help from their eastern brethren.

The weekend schedule can be found below.

Friday, October 21-- Edmonton 31 at Toronto 24  (A-- 19,176) 
Friday, October 21-- Saskatchewan 13 at Calgary 25  (A-- 29,698)
Saturday, October 22-- Montreal 25 at Winnipeg 26 (A--30,360)
Saturday, October 22-- British Columbia 10 at Hamilton 42  (A--25,536) 

Twelve Men Prognostications: Predicted Winners

British Columbia

Weekly Record -- 3 - 4
Overall Record-- 36 - 64

CFL Players of the Week - Week 16

Two running backs found success and recognition in the same game as part of the Gibson's Player Award selections for week sixteen, on the strength of their hard fought victory over the Stamps, Toronto's Cory Boyd was named the Offensive Player of the week, while Jon Cornish picked up yet another Canadian of the week award, all be it in a losing cause for the Stamps, his selection marks the third time this year that Cornish has been recognized.

Montreal's dominating defensive corps was saluted once again, this time as Chip Cox collected the Gibson's Award for Defensive play, his third such honour by Gibson's this year.

And Paul McCallum made it back to back selections, picking up where he left off last week as Special Teams player of the week, his second victory in a row, making for his fourth selection of the year.

The full review of the awards for week Fifteen can be found below.

Offensive Player of the Week
Toronto Argonauts - Running Back

Defensive Player of the Week
Montreal Alouettes - Linebacker

Special Teams Player of the Week
BC Lions -Kicker

Canadian Player of the Week
Calgary Stampeders - Running Back

Items of Note

CFL Regular Season Week 16

The race in the west tightened up over the weekend, while in the east it became advantage Montreal as the CFL wanders towards the end of the 2011-12 regular season and on into the post season.

A big weekend for Argo fans, who finally found something to celebrate, while in Saskatchewan, the dreams of the pre season have given way to the cold reality that there will be no playoff football at Mosaic Field this year.

Week sixteen unfolded as thus.

British Columbia at Saskatchewan

The CFL's hottest team met up with the coldest one as the wrap to week sixteen of the CFL season, and while the Riders put on a pretty good show for the hometown crowd, the Lions eventually got into gear and claimed the two points, extending their winning streak to eight and keeping their name atop the CFL West standings, sharing space with Edmonton for another week.

The Lions 29 to 16 victory was enough to eliminate the Roughriders from even fanciful thoughts of playoff football this season, but in Vancouver the victory has provided for the prospect that the Grey Cup host city may actually have a rooting interest at the end of November.

Three quarters provided little in the way of excitement, but as the fourth progressed the Lions provided some visuals as to why they've been so successful over the last two months, mostly on the strength of Travis Lulay's arm and the sure hands of Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce III.

A pass to Bruce, his only catch of the game as things turned out proved to be the nail in the Riders coffin for the game and post season plans as the Lions receiver trotted 72 yards for a touchdown that propelled the Lions into the lead and on to victory.

Combined with Geroy Simon, the Lions offensive weapons in the aerial attack provide perhaps the best combination in recent CFL history, as the final weeks progress one imagines that Bruce will be getting more looks down field, if only to keep CFL defences honest, a move that can only add benefit to both Simon's stats and the prospect of adding to the running game numbers as well.

Defensively the Lions have been solid since about August, keeping the opposition numbers down while the offence found the time and the recipe for success, heading towards playoff time, the Lions have put it all together at exactly the right moment.

Vancouver Sun-- Lions overcome rough start to dispose of Riders
Vancouver Province-- Lions defeat Roughriders 29-18
Globe and Mail-- BC Lions kick aside Riders
National Post-- Roughriders eliminated from playoffs

Hamilton at Montreal

Inconsistency has been the hallmark of the Tiger Cats season thus far, every step forward seemingly followed by a couple of steps back. Such was the case on the weekend as the Cats with the possibility of  closing some ground on the top two teams of the CFL East.

Yet by the time the final gun sounded at Percival Molson Stadium, the Alouettes once again claimed the two points on the strength of the 27 to 25 victory, while the Tiger Cats could at least claim a playoff spot (thanks more to the troubles of the Roughriders) for their efforts.

And while post season play is guaranteed now, the longevity of that play could be short lived unless the Tiger Cats begin to get their act together on the field.

Montreal on the other hand seems to be finally hitting its stride, mainly on the arm of Anthony Calvillo who has continued to make the fall of 2011 a memorable time for CFL fans.

The Also are dominant on both offence and defence, the few problems of the early part of the season now seemingly taken care of, the game plan from Marc Trestman seems quite in place with everyone on the same page.

The big test for the Als comes this weekend when they travel to Winnipeg, a victory there most likely puts them in the drivers seat down the final weeks of the season to yet another first place finish and a chance to host the CFL Eastern final.

The early part of the season is very much part of the past for the Alouettes, with football weather settling in and the season's weeks dwindling to a few, the Als are back where everyone expects them to be, battling for first place and looking to the playoffs.

Globe and Mail-- Alouettes clinch home playoff date with victory over Ticats Alouettes gamble nearly backfires
Hamilton Spectator-- Ticats make playoffs for third straight season
Toronto Sun-- Alouettes narrowly edge Tiger-Cats

Winnipeg at Edmonton

Swaggerville met the City of Champions on Saturday, both titles a little tattered of late, indicative of the hard path there is to keeping your momentum alive in any sport.

The Bombers arrived in Edmonton in a tooth and nail battle with the Alouettes for claim to first in the East, the Eskimos have surprised CFL followers this year by taking a rebuilding year and turning it into a potential first place drive, by the time the bodies stopped clashing and the injured were tended to the Esks would prevail with a hard earned 24 to 10 victory.

It was one of the most physical of CFL games this season so far, two teams that made some crushing tackles, attacked the offensive and defensive lines with relish and created havoc for quarterbacks on both sides of Commonwealth Stadium.

Still, for the most part it was all Eskimos, as the defence shut down Buck Pierce and his offensive squad, more than a few of the Bombers players seemingly taking the night off, perhaps with thoughts of how best to prepare for Montreal in the weekend to come.

Ricky Ray led the Eskimos to their second win in a row, taking his team to the top of the CFL West, now tied with the BC Lions who have been on a roll over the last two months. The Eskimo win, combined with the Stamps loss on Friday adds a bit of swagger (if they can borrow from the Bombers) to Northern Alberta, fans of the Eskimos will take great pleasure in the prospect of an Eskimo playoff home date, whether a semi final or Western final, anything as long as the cousins to the south have to come for a visit.

For Winnipeg, it's simply a case of putting what the Free Press described as a "stink bomb" behind them, writing the loss off to a lost opportunity, needing to quickly turning their attention to Montreal, which comes to town on the weekend with the sole purpose of securing first in the East for themselves, with room to spare.

Edmonton Sun-- Bomber's can't snap Commonwealth jinx
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos defence comes up big
Globe and Mail-- Ricky Ray leads Eskimos past Bombers
Winnipeg Sun-- Good Bombers gone missing

Calgary at Toronto

By the time that Greg Wilson took to the field for Wendy's Kick to win at half time, he probably had an inkling that it wasn't going to be Calgary's day.  While Wilson was making his mental preparations for the half time kick to win contest, his hometown Stampeders were stumbling around making the Toronto Argonauts look like potential Grey Cup champs.

In the end, Wilson at least walked away with a 31,000 dollar cheque from Wendy's and their fellow sponsors, the Stamps, well they ended up on the losing side of  31 to 29 score and dropped a valuable opportunity to keep pace with the Lions and Eskimos in the CFL West.

The defeat at the hands of the Argos, probably left more questions in the mind of John Hufnagel, who only a few weeks ago questioned his squads dedication to the craft and toughness in a blistering assessment post game.

The loss has once again stoke some emotion in Calgary, where the fans are finding that the road to the Grey Cup isn't going to be a smooth and traffic free ride, but rather one along a congested trail with many a problem to come along and set them back.

High among their concerns it seems is a bit of dissatisfaction with the performance of Henry Burris this year, Burris like the team he leads has been wildly inconsistent this year and while there are calls for Drew Tate to take his place, not everyone believes that is the root of the Stampeder problem.

Still perhaps as a final wake up call before it's too late, Hufnagel has announced that Tate will start against the Riders this weekend, not surprisingly Burris isn't happy about that decision, a situation that may work in Hufnagel's favour by making his starter more competitive when he gets back in the line up, or it could spell the end of the Stampeder season if it wraps up in an aura of finger pointing and frustration.

Regardless, it makes for an interesting sub plot to the final weeks of the season in Calgary.

As for Toronto, a win is a win, a building block a building block, though they still almost managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the late going, however, for Argo fans hoping for better days ahead, Friday's game was at least an indication that the current roster still wants to compete, both for jobs and for the remainder of the schedule.

Globe and Mail-- Argos put the boot to Stampeders
Calgary Sun-- Argos upset Stamps
Calgary Herald-- Burris only part of Stampeders' problems
Toronto Sun-- Boyd and Kackert lead Argos

Sunday, October 16, 2011

CFL Gameday: British Columbia at Saskatchewan (October 15)

With a seven game winning streak in their pocket, the Lions arrive for week sixteens workday with perhaps two things on their mind, keeping their eyes on the task at hand and not letting any overconfidence seep into their thoughts.

Considering the woeful state of the Saskatchewan Roughriders this season, expecting to take two points out of Mosaic Field might be the first thing that pops into a players mind, but with nothing to lose but to play spoiler at this point (and maybe show a little something for management for next years considerations) the Riders could make the Lions last trip to Regina this year a lousy one.

The Lions have an opportunity with a win to gain back  their hold on the CFL West, Edmonton took over the top spot (temporarily if the Lions have their way today) when they knocked off the Bombers on Saturday night.

With the Stampeders stumbling on Friday , the final act of the four part CFL weekend provides the Leos with the chance to keep their momentum on the rise and put some distance between themselves and the Stamps, while keeping pace with Edmonton and setting up what could be a pivotal showdown in Vancouver in two weeks.

That in itself should provide the incentive to not take the Riders lightly, not that a team would heading into the face of the Mosaic Field faithful, a collective who probably won't be nearly as fanatical as they would normally be in a more competitive year.

That could be a bonus for the Lions, who will need to just concentrate on their own execution of plays rather than deal with the noisy extra curricula's of the once boisterous Rider Nation, a slightly subdued bunch these days it seems.

Game Time 2 PM ST ( 1 PM PT, 4 ET) Mosaic Field TSN

Pre Game

Vancouver Sun-- Lions' Olafioye soft-spoken pillar of the O-line
Vancouver Province-- Coach Buono refuses to play the blame game and takes the heat himself
Regina Leader Post-- Keith Shologan dealing with Riders' woes
Globe and Mail-- Yurichuk thrilled with chance to start for B. C. Lions

Quick Snaps Saskatchewan Roughriders
Quick Snaps British Columbia Lions 

Post Game

British Columbia 29 at Saskatchewan 18
Attendance-- 30,048

Vancouver Sun-- Lions overcome rough start to dispose of Riders
Vancouver Province-- Lions defeat Roughriders 29-18
Globe and Mail-- BC Lions kick aside Riders
National Post-- Roughriders eliminated from playoffs Leos wait until late to make it eight straight