The 105th Grey Cup Game is finally upon us and the festivities are underway all week long in Ottawa. The c,hilly weather forecast won't stop the fun, but it could affect play on Sunday at TD Place. Showers are expected Saturday and on Sunday the temperature is expected to drop back down to between -3 and -8 Celsius (17-26 Fahrenheit). With the Stadium right at the water's edge, the cold moist air is going to seep into the bones and make every hit sting.
Calgary's Campaign (13-4-1)
The Stampeders broke their 3-game losing streak by holding the league's most prolific offense for three quarters and squeezing by the Edmonton Eskimos 32-28 in the CFL West Division Final.
Bo-Levi Mitchell has been playing through a throwing arm injury, but seems to be back in form. He dropped a TD pass into the hands of Marquay McDaniel and connected with 20 of 32 attempts for 228 yards.
You could say that well-roundedness is an asset in football; it keeps opposing defenses off-balance and guessing and the Stampeder attack is definitely well-balanced. Roy Finch and Jerome Messam combined for 152 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdown (Finch finished with an outstanding 233 all-purpose-yards). So, what is a defense to do? Pull in to stop the run and resort to soft zones and beatable man-coverage in the secondary.
It's amazing that the Stampeders lost three straight to still finish with the best regular season record. I could list off their games, but it is self-evident; they were beating everyone up until their recent slide.
Toronto Argonauts Campaign (9-9)
The East was very weak this season. I take issue with the entire division being .500 or worse in the regular season with the exception of the champs … who just happened to land exactly on .500. Nonetheless, the Argonauts have their tickets to Ottawa in hand and Toronto fans are excited to see the Argos in the championship game.
15-year veteran Field Marshall Ricky Ray dropped 266 yards on the Roughriders defense in Sunday's CFL East Division Final, quite a few of which came in epic fashion in a late-game drive, marching down the field to setup the game-winning score. That said, the offense is still sputtering and the game could be a loss if not for Terrance Plummer's Pick-6.
Though the Argonauts have struggled, Ricky Ray has plenty of Grey Cup experience and much of the talk about the Stampeders having an advantage due to their Cup appearance last year, I believe, is moot. When the team leader has multiple Grey Cup Games under his belt, winning three, and been crowned Grey Cup Most Valuable Player, the 'pressure' isn’t going to get to him. So, between suiting up and starting in the NFL and being a 3-time CFL champion, the big time lights and camera flashes aren't going to sting his eyes. But his offense still needs to execute, and that has been their issue all season long.
Matchup Assessment And Thoughts
Unfortunately for the Argonauts, the Stampeders have gotten the better of Toronto nine out of the last ten times the teams have met. After a Bodog review, Calgary has been listed as 7-point favorites on Sunday. Again, this doesn’t bode well for the Argonauts, as the Stampeders have also covered the point-spread in seven of the last ten meetings.
The last time the Argos beat the Stampeders was way back in July of 2013. And since then, all games have been decided by no less than a double-digit margin of victory for Calgary. On August 26th, the proverbial bullet in the foot for Toronto was the 8 turnovers in their 23-7 loss to the Stampeders. With the offensive proficiency possessed by this Calgary team, Ray and company can ill-afford to give the ball away.
Both teams stack up nicely in passing yards and completion percentage. Calgary averages 71.02% and 269.28 yards through the air, while Toronto averages 69.00% and 264.58 in their air-attack. This is quite comparable. However, where things start getting lop-sided is rushing yards and scoring efficiency. The Stampeders pound the ground for 121.70 yards per game, almost doubling that of the Argonauts' 67.30 ypg … this is also paramount in the 33.10 to 19.40 scoring disparity. Calgary puts up near 14 points more per game.
Toronto is motivated and have won three straight games and Calgary is re-finding their form after a tough slide ... but I think the determining factor is simple: The Stampeders are simply a better team.
I have a feeling that they are going to dominate the Argonauts on Sunday.
(By RodPedersen.com Staff)