Then there were four. After two hard hitting and tightly fought contests this past weekend the division finals are now set for Sunday with a couple of great matchups on tap with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line.
Bet365 CFL Playoff Odds: Eastern and Western Finals
The East finals will take place in Toronto as the Argos will look to remain true to form and continue its impressive stretch with another strong outing against Saskatchewan. The double blue enjoyed its bye week to help mend some lingering injuries and most notably to star quarterback Ricky Ray who got banged up pretty good last game.
They now get set to welcome the Saskatchewan roughriders to what will be a sold out BMO field and the hopes of making another Grey Cup game. The only thing standing in their way is the same green machine Riders team that bested the Argos last time out, and most recently defeated the reigning champion Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa last week. The Riders are playing a great brand of football right now and head coach Chris Jones has the team playing unselfish and accountable.
The Riders are fresh off an impressive 31-20 victory on Sunday where they saw veteran running back Marcus Thigpen rush for 169 yards and a score. Saskatchewan also saw a good but not great effort from veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn who finished the game with 252 yards and a touchdown on 18-28 passing, and another score with his legs.
Sunday November 19th – Odds from Bet365 Sportsbook
SASK Roughriders +3.0 (1.90) 2.30 Money Line Over 53.0 (1.90)
TOR Argonauts -3.0 (1.90) 1.66 Money Line Under 53.0 (1.90)
Toronto finished the year 9-9 and in first place in the East division and will be hosting the same Riders team that swept the season series 2-0 during the regular season by a combined 14 points. Hopefully for Argos fans that extra week off of game film study will be vital on both sides of the ball. It’s no secret that Duron Carter is the primary offensive option for Saskatchewan’s passing attack as the veteran standout finished the year with 1043 yards and 8 touchdowns. However opposite of Carter is Naaman Roosevelt who ended the year with the same total touchdowns and 1035 receiving yards. Bakari Grant completes the trio of thousand yard receivers for Saskatchewan and poses yet another legitimate receiving threat after his team leading 84 receptions for 1033 yards and five majors.
Toronto will be looking for another magical game out of future hall of fame quarterback Ricky Ray who may very well win the Most Outstanding Player award behind his remarkable 5546 passing yards and 28 touchdowns on an impressive 71% passing efficiency.
This game should be settled by single digits and may showcase an awful lot of points considering the quality of playmakers on both squads.
Edmonton Eskimos at Calgary Stampeders (-5.0 points)
The second of this weekend’s games has all the makings of the best game of the year when the battle of Alberta takes place when the Stampeders play host to the Edmonton Eskimos in a battle of the two best teams in the league.
The Stampeders earned the top seed in the league courtesy of a 13-4-1 record and continue to be the New England Patriots of the league. However the team sputtered to the finish line with three straight losses to end the season and raised some concerns considering it’s the longest such losing streak since the 2007 season. Edmonton on the other hand have won five straight games and most recently upended the Blue Bombers 39-32 in the West semifinal.
Much like the Toronto Argonauts the Eskimos are led by a prolific passer as Mike Reilly led the CFL in nearly every offensive category, most notably passing yards (5830) and touchdowns (30). The 32-year old has put up an even better statistical season this year than he did back in 2016 and appears to be getting better with every passing season.
The obvious matchup to watch for in this game will be how the Edmonton offense will fare against the Stampeders defense which was by far the best in the game. Calgary’s defense has been the class of the league this season and has allowed a league low 349 points. The next closest scoring defense was 81 points worse than the Stamps and rest assured they will hone in on what Reilly is hoping to do offensively.
Sunday November 19th – Odds from Bet365 Sportsbook
EDM Eskimos +5.0 (1.90) 2.80 Money Line Over 52.0 (1.90)
CAL Stampeders -5.0 (1.90) 1.45 Money Line Under 52.0 (1.90)
Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell had a slightly down year by his standards however the 27-year old Texan still finished the season with 4700 yards through the air and 23 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions. Veteran homegrown running back Jerome Messam led the ground game for Calgary with 1016 yards and 9 touchdowns and accounted for a large percentage of offensive touches. The receiving corps headlined by Marquay McDaniel underwhelmed this season as his 65 receptions and 860 receiving yards are both team bests.
If the Edmonton offense can take advantage of some mismatches downfield and score some big plays, then it could very well be a long day for Calgary. The Stampeders owned the regular season series winning three games to one. The stakes are highest for game number five on Sunday afternoon.