Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Finals

Grey Cup berths are on the line as familiar foes renew acquaintances in the CFL divisional finals on Sunday.

The Ottawa RedBlacks, a team that looked every much of an expansion team but 365 days ago, have shown that with the right plan, the right draft and a lot of belief impressive results can be found and surprises can become the narrative to CFL seasons.

Led by the CFL's elder statesman Henry Burris, the RedBlacks surged through the final two months of the season, taking advantage of the depleted line ups of their rivals, while putting together weekly game plans that not only found success, but built confidence as the season rolled on.

With some impressive victories over Hamilton in back to back games at the end of the season, Ottawa vaulted into first in the East and a chance to rest up during Semi Final Sunday, confident that whichever squad prevailed last week, they would be prepared in seven days time.

As fate would deliver, the Ti Cats are the ones that had to book the flight to Ottawa, one more chance for Hamilton to reverse the bad karma of November and take the step that many expected at the start of the season of a trip to Winnipeg for the Grey Cup.

Yet, it's the RedBlacks in the favourites role, having show no fear or intimidation of the Cats through the year, the Eastern Final offers Ottawa the opportunity to make 2015 the benchmark kind of year for teams looking to rebuild (in the case of Ottawa just building).

They kick it off at 1 PM and TD Place Stadium will be sold out, football truly back in the nation's capital, with hopes and wishes of one more game to come riding on each and every down.

In the West, it's yet another chapter in the Battle for Alberta, a series that slipped a few notches on the intensity level for a few years as the Eskimos retooled, but now is back full on, with the Esks the team to beat, built on an explosive offence and one of the toughest of defences in the league.

Calgary stumbled a few times through the 2015 campaign, injuries provide part of those tribulations, inconsistent play as well making a rare arrival in the foothills city.  Still, a Grey Cup champion is always a team to be wary of and the Eskimos know exactly what will be in store for them as Calgary takes to the field at Commonwealth.

The match up more than anything a showcase of coaches as Chris Jones who has turned the Esks around in remarkable fashion faces one of the foundation blocks of coaching these days in the Stamps John Hufnagel.

Hufnagels teams come prepared, and with two top echelon QB's calling the signals on Sunday, the result by game's end should be significantly different than when the two teams last met in a playoff matchup with a Grey Cup trip in the balance.

Both Eastern and Western Finals offer up no shortage of plot lines and many match ups to follow.

When you get to the Final Four of any sport, you want the teams that have been hungry all year and dedicated to their goal to be the ones teeing it up and kicking off, this year, there are no surprises really, Ottawa announced early on that they were making a charge, while the three others in this weekends games the most likely of entrants when the league rolled out the 2015 season.

Some great football would seem to be in store over the six or so hours of Canadian Football on Sunday, when the lights come down late Sunday evening, two deserving squads will be making plans for Grey Cup in Winnipeg, whichever of the four making that trek will be full value for the trip ahead.

Below, is our archive for the Eastern and Western Finals.

Sunday, November 22

Hamilton Tiger Cats at Ottawa RedBlacks
( 1 PM ET, 10 AM PT )  TSN

Game Preview

-- Burris two wins away from CFL history
-- RedBlacks predict dogfight with Tiger Cats
-- For Ticats, time to respond again
-- Ticats' Simoni says, let Justin make the call

Game Reviews: Game Recap Stats Review Highlights


Sunday, November 22

Calgary Stampeders at Edmonton Eskimos
( 2:30 MT, 1:30 PT, 4:30 ET) TSN

Game Preview

Game Reviews: Game Recap Stats Review Highlights

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Semi-Final Sunday, November 15, 2015

The road to Winnipeg at the end of the month begins Sunday as the Divisional semi-finals kick off the CFL's playoff season on two fronts

The Toronto Argonauts look to keep their strong season long performance on the road (as if they had a choice on that path) in place as they head to the Hammer and another instalment of one of the league's most hard hitting rivalries.

Toronto takes on the Tiger Cats in the early game of Semi-Final Sunday, a battle of teams that have struggled over the final few weeks, with both watching the Ottawa RedBlacks sprint by them in the October push towards the playoffs.

Both squads have had to deal with a number of key injuries at the starting QB position, the Argos finally getting Ricky Ray back into the lineup as the season was closing, how he adjusts to the sudden shift from idle to full throttle will probably tell the story as to whether the Argos move forward. Should Ray not find his rhythm, or the Cats begin to pull away, the key to the game could be if head coach Scott Milanovich sticks with his long time starter or turns to Trevor Harris, the more than able back up in  who carried the Argos for the bulk of the season.

The Cats will be tossing the ball to Jeremiah Masoli, with head coach Kent Austin only making that decision on Friday afternoon, giving one of the Cats depth players his first start of the year and only his second bit of game action.

The always snarling Ti Cat defence will also have a pivotal role in the semi final, ready to pounce on any opportunity to make the Argos pay the price for any incursion on the Cats side of the 55 yard line, looking to shut down the Toronto offence, aided by the what should be the usual cast of characters that make Tim Horton's Field one of the toughest stops on the CFL tour.

In the West, the Stamps and Lions will renew what has been a fairly interesting tango over the last few years, Calgary hols favourite status for the second half of the Semi-final Sunday doubleheader, a strong offensive squad that can put points on the board quickly and without mercy.

Defensively, the Stamps have found home field to be a helpful aspect of their game, leading the league in points allowed per game while defending the turf of McMahon Stadium.

The Lions have been an enigma for much of the season, occasional indications that they were finally hitting a groove, would suddenly give way to bouts of giving games away, mental mistakes and undisciplined play at times undermining much of what they had hoped to achieve through the season.

The Leos head into Sunday turning to rookie QB Jonathan Jennings and that's a start that's well deserved, for it was mostly through Jennings that British Columbia even remained in the playoff conversation this year.

He's had an accelerated curve through the season, whether he can take things to one more level given that short amount of time as the go to guy will provide us with an idea if the Lions ambitions beyond this weekend will come to pass.

If they are looking for omens, BC can take some incentive from another British Columbia based football team, on Saturday the UBC Thunderbirds went into McMahon Stadium and wrenched a playoff victory from the U of C Dinos, an impressive performance that left the top ranks Dinos somewhat shocked by games end.

One day later, the Lions will be hoping to deliver the same kind of feeling to Calgary's professional team as well.

Below, is our archive for Semi Final Sunday.

Sunday, November 15

Toronto Argonauts 22 at Hamilton Tiger Cats 25
( 24,029  )  

Game Preview

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Shaw Top Performers for Week Twenty

The RedBlacks brought their regular season to a successful finish, taking down the Hamilton Tiger Cats to claim first place overall in the CFL East, earning a bye for Ottawa into the CFL East Division final and securing two of three spots on the weekly honours list in the process.

Not surprisingly, considering the year he has had, Henry Burris once again took the first place finish of the last week, this sixth time he has been placed among the list of three, twice as Top Performer, the most recent placement coming after he threw six career high touchdown passes, amassing a total of 358 yards going 28 for 37 on his overall passing game.

Greg Ellingson, also of the RedBlacks benefited from a few of those Burris tosses, collecting 152 yards, with three touchdowns against the Cats.

John Bowman brought some positive news to a generally crummy year for the Alouettes, earning  his first Top performer honours for the week, based on three sacks in the Als final game of the year against Saskatchewan.

No results from the fan voting for week number seven have been released as of yet.

The CFL's Shaw Top Performers for Week Twenty

1st -- Henry Burris -- QB  -- Ottawa RedBlacks -- 100 points

2nd -- Greg Ellingson  -- WR  -- Ottawa RedBlacks -- 50 Points

3rd --  John Bowman -- DE -- Montreal Alouettes  -- 25 points

Fan Vote -- Ballot Results not released yet--10 Points review of the Players of the Week

Twelve Men on the Field Archive of the Shaw Top Performers Listings for the 2014 season

Friday, November 06, 2015

CFL Week Twenty

Finalizing the eastern division playoff situation is all that remains for the final week of the CFL's regular season, with Ottawa and Hamilton both still in the conversation for first place overall and home field advantage at playoff time.

Toronto launches the final weekend of play hosting the Blue Bombers tonight at Rogers Centre, their final appearance in the home that this year never was.

The Argos move over to BMO field for the start of 2016, hoping that the new environment will bring back the once loyal legions that supported the team

The outcome Friday won't make any difference for the Double Blue and their playoff future, with a road trip on the agenda for November 15th, the only thing to finalize whether its Northeast or southwest that they will travel.

Ottawa will be looking to make sure that the Argo travel planners charter a bus for Hamilton  as the RedBlacks take on the Ticats tomorrow at TD Place field in the nation's capital, an Ottawa win secures first place and a bye into the Eastern final, a significant achievement for the still new franchise.

As for Argos, they probably won't be too concerned about the need to make it road trip journey for a berth in the 2015 Grey Cup, it's not like they've spent much time in Toronto this year in the first place and the road has been a pretty successful place for the team through much of 2015.

Saturday also features the Lions and Stamps at BC Place, a preview of sorts of what will be the Western Semi Final match up next Sunday in Calgary, though we suspect that the back up talent will get most of the play on Saturday night, while the two teams rest up their starters for the real drama eight days away.

Sunday finds the Alouettes and Riders bringing their seasons to an end, as the two teams not invited to the CFL's playoff dance meet up to bring the regular season schedule to an end.

Below, is our archive for week number Twenty

Check back regularly through the weekend for updated material.

Friday, November 6

Winnipeg Blue Bombers 11 at Toronto Argonauts 21
( 17,511 

Game Preview

-- Swayze Waters back for Argos' final game at Rogers Centre
-- Blue Bombers bright spot Western takes hat trick of award nominations

Game Reviews: Game Recap Stats Review Highlights


Saturday, November 7

Hamilton Tiger Cats 28 at Ottawa RedBlacks 44
( 24,459 )  

-- Tailback William Powell back at practice

Game Reviews: Game Recap Stats Review Highlights


Saturday, November 7

Calgary Stampeders 28 at British Columbia Lions 7
( 22,900 )  

Game Preview


Game Reviews: Game Recap Stats Review Highlights


Sunday, November 7

Saskatchewan Roughriders 30 at Montreal Alouettes 24
( 20,511 ) 

Game Preview

Thursday, November 05, 2015

CFL Top Performers for October

Henry Burris picked in October where he left off in September, rattling off victory after victory for the Ottawa RedBlacks and claiming spot after spot in the weekly award listings. Such was the work of the Riders QB that once again  he has claimed the top spot for the monthly overview, with 1,724 yards through the air and a completion percentage of 73 percent, a mark which included six TD completions. Though the 2015 season Burris has led the league in passing with 5,335 yards, tossed 20 touchdown passes and held to the 70 per cent range through much of the year when it comes to completion rates on the season.

Another QB who has had a fairly good year has been Mike Reilly, who once back in the line up after recovering from injury hasn't looked back as he and the Eskimos tore up the West Division this season, with October the exclamation mark on the year thanks to a 5-0 record.  Through the month, Reilly threw for 1,579 yards and nine TD completions, securing first place in the West and a home playoff date in three weeks time.

One of Reilly's favourite targets claims the third and final spot of the month, with Adarius Bowman providing some of the heavy artillery in an impressive Eskimo arsenal. On the month Bowman accumulated 558 receiving yards on 37 receptions, picked up a pair of TD's during the Eskimos undefeated march through October.

All three players will have their bonus points added to the Top Performers listings through to the end of the season.

The CFL's Shaw Top Performers for September

1st -- Henry Burris  -- QB -- Ottawa RedBlacks -- 200 points

2nd -- Mike Reilly -- QB -- Edmonton Eskimos -- 100 Points

3rd --  Adarius Bowman  -- SB -- Edmonton Eskimos -- 50 points review of the Players of the Month

Twelve Men on the Field Archive of the Shaw Top Performers Listings for the 2014 season

Shaw Top Performers for Week Nineteen

The Eskimos not only are ruling on the field these days, but when it comes to the Shaw Top Performers, there's a pretty good chance that when you glance over the weekly listings you'll find an Eskimo or two on the page.

Such is the case this week, with the Esks claiming two of three spots in the weekly rankings.

Leading off with Wide Receiver Derel Walker, who claims the top spot this week thanks to three touchdown passes over the weekend against the Montreal Alouettes, his three TD's doubled his output on the year to six, while the 128 yards on 10 catches moved him  to the 1100 yard total for the season. With Esks holding the bye for the final week of the season, Walker puts the wrap on his regular season numbers with 89 receptions.

Defence has been one of the keys to the rise of the RedBlacks this season and last weekend Shawn Lemon provided some of the evidence for the ability of the Ottawa defence to shut down opponents. Lemon picked up a pair of sacks on the way to the RedBlacks 12-6 victory over the TiCats, marking the fifth QB sack of the year for one of the leaders of the Ottawa defensive unit

Eskimos QB Mike Reilly replays last week as he rounds out the three selections on the week, passing for 308 yards in the win over Montreal, while completing 29 of his 35 passes, three of them for majors to the previously mentioned Derel Walker on the way to the Esks victory over the Als.

No results from the fan voting for week number seven have been released as of yet.

The CFL's Shaw Top Performers for Week Seventeen

1st -- Derel Walker -- WR  -- Edmonton Eskimos -- 100 points

2nd -- Shawn Lemon  -- DL  -- Ottawa RedBlacks -- 50 Points

3rd --  Mike Reilly -- QB -- Edmonton Eskimos  -- 25 points

Fan Vote -- Ballot Results not released yet--10 Points review of the Players of the Week

Twelve Men on the Field Archive of the Shaw Top Performers Listings for the 2014 season

Friday, October 30, 2015

When the Argos say they play for each other; they really mean that they play for each other

2015 by any measure has been perhaps the most baffling season ever for the Double Blue, a year that has seen the team collectively use up more Air Mile reward numbers than most Canadians use on an extended summer vacation.

Owing to any number of reasons, availability of their usual home the Rogers Centre became problematic for the Argos for much of the season, starting with the Pan Am games which saw Toronto punted from the stadium for the start of the season, a moment in CFL time thad delivered the Argos to Northern Alberta as the home team for Fort McMurray

Then came the fall and the Major League baseball run of the Blue Jays which found the Double Blue dispatched to Ottawa once and twice to Hamilton for home games through October.

Such has been the state of their season, that the Argos probably should have adopted the theme from Where in the World is Carmen San diego as their official team song for the year.

All in all, if gate receipts were to be the measure of the team this year, the financial books probably are smeared in red, an incidental account somewhere in the back pages of the Bell/MLSE reports.

The average attendance numbers for the Argos for 2015 to be forever marked by a string of asterisks dotted across the road maps of the nation.

Our attendance tracker will give you a glimpse into the state of the home by way of the road trip attendance figures for 2015, where the term lots of good seats available has never been more true.

As seen from a recent TSN broadcast, Argos (home) games
in Hamilton and elsewhere haven't really packed the stadiums

On the field though, the Argos seem to have taken the challenge of the endless road trip of 2015 as one of those US against the WORLD scenarios, rattling off win after impressive win, all of them while using their back up quarterback Tervor Harris at the helm, while Ricky Ray convalesced through the majority of the season.

Tonight, (providing they can remember how to find the stadium) the Argos reintroduce themselves to their Rogers Centre locker room, with a 7 PM match up with the British Columbia Lions, it marks the first time that they've had to make their way downtown since September 11th.

And for the first time in months, with the exception of news out of the Leafs camp, the Argos will have the news cycle to themselves, the Blue Jays now done for the year (with the off season drama perhaps to capture a bit of media attention for sure).

Toronto FC (the less than enthusiastic partner in the new digs for next year), has seen their season come to a conclusion as well.

So for the next two, three, maybe four more weeks if all goes well, perhaps the Argos can carve out some space and attention from the various media outlets of the Big Smoke.

They play their final regular season home game next week with Winnipeg coming to town and that milestone for the year gives us a thought, that the Argos perhaps may want to offer up a salute to their less than helpful landlords at the Rogers Centre as well.

Considering some of the anger that seems to be percolating towards Rogers Communications with the departure of the Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos over the last few days. Maybe the Argos should provide the opportunity for Toronto sports fans of all persuasions, football, hockey, soccer and baseball to provide AA a proper and grateful send off from Toronto fans.

Anthopoulos bafflingly allowed to leave Jays in search of ‘right fit’
Alex Anthopoulos' Toronto Blue Jays departure a failure by ownership, and not a surprising one
Blue Jays ownership responsible for this ridiculous ending
To say Alex Anthopoulos rejected an extension from Blue Jays is ridiculous
Rogers not getting AA to re-sign is shameful

From Twitter: A fairly accurate perception as to how
Toronto residents may be feeling about Rogers these days

We say, bring AA into the Argo tent for the night, hold an Alex Anthopoulos thank you celebration at half time during next weeks regular season ender.

We have a feeling it might bring in the largest crowd in years and in the end make for the most effective way say thanks to their landlord, bidding Rogers adieu as they make their migration to BMO field for 2016.

Can you hear the chants now, I think I can, that ever popular call of ARGOOOOOOS replaced with something along the lines of ...  Rogers S ....

CFL Week Nineteen

Playoff placements are on the line as the CFL heads into its final two weeks of the 2015 season. As teams battle it out for first place byes into the playoffs and others seek to claim a spot at the bottom of the playoff entry list, perhaps by way of a cross over berth in the case of the Montreal Alouettes.

The weekend begins with something unusual, a Toronto Argonaut home game that actually, really will take place that might be familiar to the Double Blue, with the Argos playing host to the British Columbia Lions at the Rogers Centre.

One hopes that the Argo players can remember how to get to that distant memory of a stadium, having been punted out of their digs a number of times through the year for a range of reasons.

However, with Blue Jays now finished with the baseball thing for the year, barring some other mysterious request from Rogers Centre management, the Argos should finish out the season of the extended road trip at home. Bonus points for them if they can claim First place overall, as it would mean one more home date in downtown Toronto, pending Rogers approval we imagine.

Saturday brings a double header with the Saskatchewan Roughriders winding down their year of woe with a match up in Calgary with the Stamps, with the Riders looking perhaps to play the role of Stampeder spoiler, leaving the path clear for Edmonton to claim the top spot in the West.

The night cap match up brings the Ottawa RedBlacks into Hamilton, with Ottawa seeking to keep pace with their eastern cousins and make the final week of the season one that could deliver no shortage of drama.

Sunday finds the Alouettes in Edmonton with what should be a must win situation, should they have any hopes of making a run for a crossover spot in the 2015 playoff derby.

Below, is our archive for week number Nineteen

Check back regularly through the weekend for updated material.

Friday, October 30 

British Columbia Lions 27 at Toronto Argonauts 25
( 14,236 )

-- Ricky Ray could be Argos' ultimate X factor
-- Rookie, vet an unlikley mirror matchup

Game Reviews: Game Recap  Stats Review Highlights


Saturday, October 31 

Saskatchewan 19 at Calgary 42
( 31,591 )  TSN

-- Boom goes Brackenridge in war of words

Game Reviews: Game Recap Stats Review Highlights


Sunday, November 1

Ottawa RedBlacks 12 at Hamilton Tiger Cats 6
( 24,340 ) 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Shaw Top Performer Week Eighteen

It was repeat weekend for two out of the three Shaw Top Performers for Week Eighteen.

Picking up where he left off a week ago, Eskimos Slot Back Adarius Bowman picked up his second consecutive first place finish, on the strength of a 200 plus yard game over the Riders. Bowman collected 13 receptions during the game, accumulated 208 yards and scored a TD in the Eskimos 35-24 victory over Saskatchewan. The back to back first place finishes compliment his first place award from Week 12.

Henry Burris once again had a stellar weekend leading the RedBlacks to a 27-20 victory over Winnipeg keeping Ottawa nipping at the heels of the Argos and TiCats in the very competitive eastern division. Burris passed for 412 yards, the fifth time this year he has topped the 400 plus mark. On the way to the RedBlack win Burris tossed the ball 43 times, completing 29 of his passes for a 67.4 percentage, of the 29 one provided Ottawa with six points marking his only aerial TD of the day, though he did plunge into the end zone on a push from scrimmage for another major.

Eskimos QB Mike Reilly rounds out the three selections on the week, passing for 377 yards, while completing 29 of his 39 passes, three of them for majors on the way to the Esks victory over Saskatchewan.

No results from the fan voting for week number seven have been released as of yet.

The CFL's Shaw Top Performers for Week Seventeen

1st -- Adarius Bowman -- SB  -- Edmonton Eskimos -- 100 points

2nd -- Henry Burris -- QB  -- Ottawa RedBlacks -- 50 Points

3rd --  Mike Reilly -- QB -- Edmonton Eskimos  -- 25 points

Fan Vote -- Ballot Results not released yet--10 Points review of the Players of the Week

Twelve Men on the Field Archive of the Shaw Top Performers Listings for the 2014 season