It has been a while since the Stampeders have played in a Western Semi-Final game.
Since 2015 in fact as the last three years the Stamps won the West Division and found themselves waiting for the results of the semi-final matchup to see who would be coming to Calgary for the right to play in the Grey Cup.
This year marks just the fifth time since 2008 that the Stamps will be involved in this game, the fourth time as host. Seven times they won the West Division crown and this years matchup represents a rematch of last years Western Final, which Calgary won on their way to a Grey Cup title.
If Calgary is looking to add to the three game Grey Cup appearance streak and attempt to defend at home, they will need to first get past the Bombers.
Here are the five keys to the game as I see it:
Bo Levi Mitchell plays like Bo Levi Mitchell
Bo Levi Mitchell is a divisional playoff stud. He has the highest playoff QB rating of anyone that has put on the pads in the CFL through his six years as a starter. Only Darian Durant is even close.
He has lost a divisional game just once, in 2015 to the Eskimos, when the Stampeders had to force offensive linemen to flip to the other side of the ball due to a disastrous run of injuries to their defensive line.
Even in that game he threw for 381 yards, two scores and one pick. That is half of his career divisional playoff interception total.
Simply put, Bo gets the Stampeders to the dance. He will be looking for his fifth Grey Cup appearance this season.
Shut down Andrew Harris
Andrew Harris is one of the greatest Canadian running backs this league has seen and he continues to assault the record book. However, the Stampeders have been very effective in limiting Harris on the ground.
Only counting games in which he carried the ball, Harris has run for 1,259 yards against the Stampeders in 25 games for an average of just over 50 yards per game.
He has only rushed for more than 100 yards against the Stampeders twice in his entire career. The second came this year in August, when he posted exactly 100, the first time he hit triple digits against Calgary since 2013.
Harris is a dynamite running back, especially dangerous as a weapon in the passing game out of the backfield, but if he isn’t able to duplicate his August success it may become a long day for our next person to watch.
The Zach attach is bach
Zach Collaros has played exactly one full game before the playoffs in the 2019 season and it was a victory over Calgary late in the season that prevented the Stamps from winning the west.
Collaros is also playing in just his third playoff game ever and getting to him early and forcing him into second and longs will be key for the Calgary defence.
Without Cordarro Law, the Stamps may get less pressure on Collaros, but given the return of Cory Greenwood in the middle of this defence, Collaros may have to beat the Stampeders with his arm.
However, as the last average depth of pass exceeding eight yards was in 2015, Collaros may need to rely on his receivers grabbing YAC in order to move the chains.
After blowing out his ACL in the 2018 Labour Day Classic, Kamar Jorden has spent the last 14 months rehabbing to be ready for this opportunity.
Despite not playing a regular season game, Jorden will make his 2019 debut in the playoffs.
It will be very interesting to see the production between Jorden and Reggie Begelton, especially after Eric Rogers was left off the roster this week due to an ankle injury.
If Jorden is even 80-85 percent of who he had become before getting injured, it could be a long day for the Winnipeg secondary who had their challenges this season as they averaged over 300 yards against per game through the air.
Cover Janarion Grant
In Week 9 the Stampeders got a first hand look at Janarion Grant and didn’t care for what they saw.
That’s because what they saw was his heels as he returned two punts for touchdowns in a game that was decided by just two points.
If they can limit the damage of Grant, then the Stampeders will have a very good chance of being victorious.
The winner of this game will head into the unfriendly confines of Mosaic Stadium next week to face off against the well rested Riders.