Tuesday, October 31, 2017
THE POINT AFTER: TROUBLE IN BOMBERLAND
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers' quest for an elusive home playoff game might've hit a snag.
Starter Matt Nichols is questionable for Friday night's regular-season finale at Calgary after suffering a leg injury in Saturday night's 36-27 home loss to B.C. Nichols, 30, has started all 17 of Winnipeg's games, passing for 4,472 yards with 28 TDs and just eight interceptions.
Running back Andrew Harris (967 yards rushing, 100 catches for 829 yards) left the B.C. game following a helmet-to-helmet hit but he's expected to play.
Winnipeg (11-6) is tied with Edmonton for second in the West Division, two points ahead of Saskatchewan (10-7). A win over Calgary or an Eskimos loss to the Roughriders on Saturday would give the Bombers second and home field for the conference semifinal Nov. 12.
That would be Winnipeg's first home playoff game since 2011. But the Bombers have been unable to take care of business the last two weeks, losing to Toronto (29-28) and B.C. when a win in either game would've given them second.
If Calgary beats Winnipeg on Friday and Edmonton dispatches Saskatchewan, the Eskimos will host the Bombers in the West semifinal.
Saskatchewan would clinch third by beating Edmonton and visit Winnipeg in the West semifinal. The loser of the Eskimos-Riders game will become the East Division's third playoff seed.
A Winnipeg loss and Saskatchewan win would create a three-way tie for second in the West. But the Bombers would finish No. 2 based on head-to-head records with the Eskimos being the cross-over team.
Ottawa (8-9-1) and Toronto (8-9) have secured the East Division's first two playoff spots. The Argos can clinch first - and host the conference final - with a tie or win over B.C. (7-10) on Saturday night.
A B.C. win would mean Toronto hosts the crossover team in the East semifinal. Ottawa would entertain the winner at TD Place in the conference final.
RARE STREAK: The Calgary Stampeders are in unfamiliar territory.
Edmonton defeated the Stampeders 29-20 on Saturday, handing them a second straight loss. Calgary last suffered consecutive defeats early in 2012.
But Calgary has struggled since a lopsided 59-11 home win over Montreal on Sept. 29. The Stamps needed a 62-yard pass interference call to set up Rene Paredes' 17-yard field goal on the final play to secure a 28-25 road victory over Hamilton before dropping a 30-7 decision to Saskatchewan on Oct. 20.
The Stampeders have already clinched first in the West and home field for the division final heading into their regular-season finale Friday night against Winnipeg.
LEWIS DONE?: It appears Nik Lewis has called it a career.
The veteran slotback signalled the end of his illustrious 14-year career following Montreal's 37-12 road loss to Saskatchewan on Friday night.
"Thanks everyone,'' Lewis tweeted afterwards. "Can't wait for the book to come out on how I spent my last 4,877 days. #TimeWellSpent.''
Lewis, 35, had three catches for 30 yards versus Saskatchewan, giving him 73 receptions for 649 yards and a TD in 14 games this season. He had a career-best 102 catches for 1,136 yards and three TDs last year.
Montreal (3-14) ends its disappointing season Friday night in Hamilton. Neither Lewis nor veteran quarterback Darian Durant are expected to play.
It's certainly been a terrific run for Lewis, who was a walk-on at Division II Southern Arkansas. The five-foot-10, 240-pound receiver recorded a CFL-record 1,051 catches for 13,778 yards and 71 TDs, registering 10 1,000-yard campaigns, one short of the league mark.
The CFL's top rookie in '04, Lewis was a three-time league all-star and helped Calgary win Grey Cup titles in 2008 and '14.
The native of Mineral Wells, Texas, left the door open to returning next season, saying he'd mull it over if Montreal's new head coach really wants him to play. However, in typical Lewis fashion, he followed up by stating he doubted that would happen.
MOTHER KNOWS BEST: Diontae Spencer is keeping a memento of his record-breaking performance in the family.
Spencer amassed a CFL-record 496 all-purpose yards in Ottawa's 41-36 home win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night. That broke the previous mark of 474 yards set in 2000 by Winnipeg's Albert Johnson III.
Spencer said afterwards he's giving his mother, Vanessa, his game jersey.
"That's my biggest fan,'' Spencer said. "Growing up, single parent, she's the reason I go so hard.
"I just want to give it to her just to show I am proud of her sticking with me throughout life and giving me the chance to be in this position.''
Spencer had nine catches for 133 yards, seven punt returns for 169 yards, six kickoff returns for 165 yards and a missed field goal return for 29 yards.
BANKS STILL SHINING: Brandon Banks' torrid late-season run continues.
The speedy receiver had 13 catches for 193 yards and two TDs in Hamilton's 41-36 road loss to Ottawa on Friday night, his fifth straight 100-yard receiving game.
Banks has 52 catches for 893 yards and seven TDs in Hamilton's nine games under interim head coach June Jones. The five-foot-seven. 155-pound Banks had just eight receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown in the Ticats' 0-8 start under former head coach Kent Austin.
Hamilton (5-12) has been eliminated from playoff contention but Banks (60 catches for 935 yards) is closing in on his first 1,000-yard receiving campaign. That would be a heady accomplishment given the start Banks endured but also a timely one as Banks - who took a reported $50,000 pay cut before this season - is scheduled to become a free agent in February.