The CFL 2015 West Final playoff game is finally here after 21 weeks of triumph and defeat. After a somewhat anti-climatic West Semi-Final last week with the Calgary Stampeders and the B.C. Lions, we are now down to West Finals – the final step to the Grey Cup. We’re looking at one team that is rested after three weeks and a team who is struggling to fix their injured offensive line. Calgary heads to Edmonton this Sunday in the CFL West Finals with a long road ahead, but each have their roadblocks. Who will prevail?
2015 West Final
LWOS Staff Predictions
Kelly Bale: Calgary 32 – 41 Edmonton
Matthew Bin: Calgary 29 – 21 Edmonton
Gina Schiltz: Calgary 24 – 23 Edmonton
Nicholas Di Giovanni: Calgary 25 – 27 Edmonton
Greg McCulloch: Calgary 24 – 21 Edmonton
Lance Keiser: Calgary 31 – 19 Edmonton
Greg’s Thoughts: As the John Hufnagel coaching farewell tour heads to Edmonton for the West final this weekend, there are a few concerns about the team heading into the game. For instance, in the three regular season games against Edmonton, the Calgary Stampeders offence was never able to figure out the Eskimos defence. The Stamps high powered offence blew up the rest of the CFL at an average of 29 points per game, yet when they faced the Eskimos their output was halved to a mere 14.3 points per game. However, while Edmonton is very familiar with the Calgary aerial attack featuring Bo Levi Mitchell and company, they have yet to see trade deadline addition and 1000-yard rusher Jerome Messam in the Stamps backfield. Although, the Stamps are entering Sunday’s game with a banged up offensive line with more question marks than starting linemen at the moment which could hurt both aerial and ground games.
While most will want to talk about Edmonton’s strong defence, Calgary’s defence is not one to ignore. During the regular season the Stamps only allowed 19.2 points per game, had the league’s best passing defense, and held four teams to single digit scores. In three, tightly-contested meetings, with the Eskimos, the Stampeders only allowed an average of 16.3 points.
Special teams for Calgary is the forgotten aspect of the game. However, when you have arguably the best kicker/punter combo of Rene Parades and Rob Maver, and an electric return man like Tim Brown not being mentioned means you are doing your job.
The Stamps are in for an uphill climb on the road this weekend. However, if they can get past the O-line issues and score more than a couple of touchdowns they could be taking the Hufnagel tour East down the TransCanada to Winnipeg for Grey Cup 103.
Kelly’s Thoughts: The Eskimos face the tough task of playing against the Stampeders after three weeks of rest. They earned that break with a little help from the CFL scheduler who gave them a bye in the final week of the season and by securing first place in the CFL’s Western Division and earning a bye to the 2015 West Final.
With the layoff, and the Esks not having played a meaningful down in nearly a month, the offence could be hard pressed to find the chemistry that had been building with Reilly and his receivers. Establishing a solid running game early and throughout the first half will alleviate some of the pressure to throw the ball downfield with risk of turnover. The much celebrated receiving corps including Adarius Bowman, Derel Walker, and Kenny Stafford, will have to protect the ball on their touches and perhaps serve as bait for lesser-known but highly skilled Kendial Lawrence and Devon Bailey.
The defence may actually benefit from the layoff having much needed rest for their bodies and a stockpile of game film on their opponents to study on the break. Chemistry does not factor in as much on this side of the ball. If every player does his job, and wins the one-on-one battles, they will play well as a unit. The front four including Willie Jefferson, Eddie Steele, Almondo Sewell, and Odell Willis, will have to keep in the Calgary quarterbacks personal bubble to keep league leading receiver Eric Rogers off balance. The defensive backs in Edmonton are good but with Mr. Rogers, it’s his neighbourhood to lock down. The Eskimos can do it with constant pressure.
Special teams must also shine for the Green and Gold. Maybe Chris Jones will go deep into his bag of tricks? The aforementioned Lawrence has not been his usual dynamic self at all times in 2015. He needs a monster game to flip the field for his team. A score on a missed field goal, punt, or kickoff and the subsequent traditional backflip would be an added bonus for everyone but their opponents. Sean Whyte, the diminutive Edmonton kicker, will have to be dialed-in on his targets to prevent a former Eskimo Skye Dawson from burning them on returns.
After all the debate on advantages and disadvantages, defence and offence, this games is going to come out to who really is the best team in the West. It really is a tough call. We have two teams, both very strong. It seems to be almost unanimous among the CFL Staff; but this is the CFL; impossible to predict. Regardless of who wins the CFL 2015 West Final, they have to go through the East to win the elusive 2015 Grey Cup.