The Calgary Stampeders path was one of their own making after downing the Bombers in Week 19.
Win your final two games and the only thing that stands between them and a home Grey Cup would be a West Final hosted at McMahon Stadium.
However, Winnipeg has thrown a major wrench in the Stamps’ plans by claiming the season series with a last-second field goal win.
As a result, Calgary can finish anywhere from first to third based on the Week 21 slate of games. A loss to B.C. and Calgary would find themselves on the road in Winnipeg to start the playoffs, a win would see them host the Bombers, and a win combined with an Edmonton win over Saskatchewan would give them first in the West Division and that coveted home West Final bye week.
Certainly a change from past seasons where the Stamps had locked up the division well before the final regular season game.
Some thoughts on the Bombers win:
Bo in playoff form
Bo Levi Mitchell missed seven games this season and since coming back has had performances that would have him in the mix for MOP talk if you pro-rated everything out. His performance against the Bombers, where he threw for 350 yards on 31/43 which included four touchdowns, was exactly what the Stamps are hoping continues as the playoffs loom.
Since returning from injury Bo is averaging 331 yards per game and has thrown 15 TD’s against 8 interceptions. Three of those interceptions were in the Labour Day rematch game against the Eskimos.
In fact the later you start looking at Bo’s stats, the better they get as the first two games of the comeback were against the #1 rated defense of the Edmonton Eskimos.
The problem here is that Bo can’t win the game by himself. 350,4,0 should be enough to win most weeks. This time, it wasn’t.
Off the mark
Any time a kicker misses in today’s CFL it generates discussion.
Rene Paredes missed two kicks in the game, one field goal attempt and one convert. The convert was taken back for a two-point conversion which means a three-point swing on the scoreboard. Given the Stamps lost by a single point, that sure stands out.
Other return TD’s have cost the Stamps wins this season as well. Brandon Banks in Hamilton provided the winning points for the Ticats. And there were a pair of punt return TD’s that Winnipeg scored in these two teams’ first meeting this season. An error-free day for special teams usually means the Stamps will come away with the win.
Historically, Paredes is one of the best ever to strap on the pads as a kicker. However, this will likely go down as his third-worst season from an accuracy standpoint. It is worth noting how far the game has come in this regard as Lui Passaglia, Dave Ridgeway and Paul Osbaldiston spent the majority of their careers hitting fewer kicks in what will be remembered as a disappointing one for Paredes.
The victim of his own success, Paredes misses seem magnified.
A source in the know told me that the wind at IG Field typically stays above the goalposts due to the design of the stadium. That is why you will see weird results kicking into it when the flags at the top of the posts seem still.
Don’t worry, it’s no rush
This may be a chicken and egg conversation with how well Bo Levi Mitchell has been playing, but the Stampeders rushing attack has been completely MIA (missing in action) this season.
After the game against the Bombers, the Stampeders have 1,247 rushing yards this season, last in the CFL. The Argos passed the Stamps to sit at 1,264 yards on the ground.
Injuries have definitely played their part here, with Romar Morris, Don Jackson, Ka’Deem Carey and Terry Williams all missing games this season at running back.
On the offensive line, the Stamps have seen a rotating crew where there are different combinations almost weekly. Including occasionally shifting centre Ucambre Williams out to play tackle, switching sides for Derek Dennis and a host of other changes that can mess with run game chemistry.
Now that the games are getting colder and the run game is more likely to feature heavily, the Stamps are going to need results out of the backfield or it could be a short November.
Decked to ground by Nathan Holley
Nate Holley was not supposed to be the answer for the Stampeders coming out of camp at linebacker.
Cory Greenwood and Wynton McManis were to be the guys who led the charge to replace Alex Singleton and Jameer Thurman after they found themselves NFL jobs.
However, as Greenwood and McManis have both struggled with injuries at times, Holley has gotten a chance to thrive.
With 89 tackles on the season so far, including 20 on special teams, which is fifth best, Holley sits tied for third in total stops. He is behind only his teammate McManis and Ticats’ Simoni Lawrence right now.
Depending on this weekend, the Stampeders could have the top two tacklers in the CFL. Not a bad transition indeed.
Next up for the Stamps is the final regular season game of the year. The Stamps face off against the Lions. Heading in they will know exactly what the playoff picture will hold for them as they will have seen the results of the Saskatchewan, Edmonton game earlier in the day.