As playoff excitement builds, you’ll find no shortage of articles breaking down matchups, prognosticating favourites and trying to look trendy with a sneaky dark horse pick. This piece isn’t one of those.
Instead, if you keep reading, you’ll find out why your team, that’s right the one YOU specifically cheer for, won’t be hoisting and drinking beer out of the Grey Cup on November 26th.
Shall we get started?
Regular season record: 10-8 (4th in the West)
Killer stat: 44 sacks allowed (worst among playoff teams)
The most obvious thing to point out when talking about Saskatchewan is that a crossover team has never made it past the East Final, so what makes Rider Nation think anything about this group screams history in the making? Is it the fact that their best offensive player starts on defence? Or that their two QB rotation system consists of a journeyman with a history of delivering stinkers in the playoffs and a rookie who leads the league in dropped interceptions? Also, Brendon LaBatte (the team’s best offensive lineman) is out injured. But hey, at least you won’t have to re-live this, as Chris Jones and his coaching staff can (probably) count to 13.
Regular season record: 12-6 (3rd in the West)
Killer stat: 495 points against (most among playoff teams)
In the regular season, the Eskimos were flagged 158 times and there’s no indication that their undisciplined play won’t carry over into the playoffs. That’s why the smart money is on the over when it comes to Jason Maas blowing a gasket at key moments. If a head coach can’t keep his cool, do you really think his players will in a pressure-packed playoff game? Edmonton might be riding a five-game winning streak but their defence gets pushed around and they happen to play the Bombers on Sunday, the only team they’ve failed to beat this season.
Regular season record: 12-6 (2nd in the West)
Killer stat: Opponents average 396.9 yards of offence vs the Blue Bombers
The good news for Winnipeg is that QB Matt Nichols will play on Sunday. The bad is that he’s currently held together by duct tape and positive vibes. Speaking of injuries, the Bombers also won’t have their leading receiver or best defensive playmaker for the duration of the playoffs. Plus, you just know Mike O’Shea is going to outthink himself and call a fake field goal from the 1-yard line that somehow results in a 109-yard pick-six.
Regular season record: 13-4-1 (1st in the West)
Killer stat: 64.6% QB completion rate
It can’t be called a choke job if you aren’t Grey Cup favourites, right? Maybe that’s an unfair shot at a perennial double-digit win team but it can’t be a coincidence that every Stamps fan you meet knows how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. In any case, the ice-cold Stampeders are losers of three straight and QB Bo Levi Mitchell has a bum shoulder. Given their history of underwhelming playoff performances, why should this year be any different?
Regular season record: 8-9-1 (2nd in the East)
Killer stat: 56 points off of 22 turnovers
Not only do the Redblacks suck at generating turnovers, but even when they do force a takeaway, they rarely turn it into points. That bodes ill for a team that’s played in a CFL record 14 single score games. But given that every Redblacks game is basically a toss up, there’s still a 50 per cent chance they get to the Grey Cup game. That said, if there was ever a team capable of disappointing 35,000 rabid fans at home, this is it. After all, R-Nation has sold out nearly every game in franchise history, yet Ottawa sports a feeble 16-29-2 lifetime record at TD Place.
Regular season record: 9-9 (1st in the East)
Killer stat: 130 pressures allowed
Ricky Ray might be a future Hall of Famer in the midst of a MOP-type season, but he’s got the mobility of a statue. All of the weapons at his disposal (S.J. Green, Armanti Edwards, James Wilder) and Mark Trestman’s play-calling wizardry are for naught if Ray is laid out on his back. And although the Argos are hosting the East Final, is it really home field advantage if there are more opposing fans in the building than local ones? I kid, but it’s a given that either R-Nation or Rider Nation is invading the 6ix on Nov. 19th.
*Hamilton, BC and Montreal are not included in this article because upon further review, the Command Centre has confirmed that they did not make the playoffs