Everyone wants to be hot heading into the CFL post-season, but that team holding that title right now resides in the coldest city over the past few weeks.
The Calgary Stampeders may be experimenting with their quarterbacks and trying to overcome injuries, but they enter the final week of the regular schedule as the team with the most sizzle.
With a 4-1 mark so far in the final third of the campaign, the Stamps have weathered the storm better than anyone.
And with two straight wins in the cold, they look most prepared for the West Division semifinal, even with QB Drew Tate getting worked into action while veteran pivot Kevin Glenn takes a seat.
“Regardless of what happens this week, we feel comfortable and confident we can beat anybody in this league on any given day,” Stamps leading receiver Nik Lewis said. “We have to show up. When we show up, we’re a dangerous team.”
The Stamps have done this while having 14 players on the long-term injured list — the latest addition being defensive end Stevie Baggs. With Baggs out for the year with a quad injury, that makes it six defensive linemen gone long-term.
But the Stamps keep plugging and playing, with veteran Anwar Stewart as a great example. The former Montreal Alouettes stalwart was signed three weeks ago, and in his third game, he produced four sacks, tying a team record.
The Stamps know their recent play means nothing come the playoffs. Last year, they entered the post-season on a three-game winning streak but lost in Edmonton. The strong finish beats the alternative, though.
For the second consecutive week, the CFL is closing an old stadium. After the Tiger-Cats said good-bye to Ivor Wynne last week, Winnipeg will dismantle Canad Inns this winter, as well. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced Tuesday that pieces of the old barn will be up for sale. Everything from the seats to pieces of the turf will be on the block. The bonus is everything will smell like beer … No Saskatchewan Roughriders player has led the CFL in receiving yardage since 1965, when Hugh Campbell did it, and it looks like that run won’t end this year. Weston Dressler went into last week leading the league, but he quickly dropped to third. He is now 83 yards behind Toronto Argonauts pass-catcher Chad Owens with Lewis sitting second … Stamps RB Jon Cornish needs just 50 yards to pass Normie Kwong for best rushing season by a Canadian running back. He’s had two runs against the Edmonton Eskimos longer than that, so it shouldn’t be a problem, right? The Stamps might want to rest their No. 1 back in the finale, though … Esks stud receiver Fred Stamps has rocketed up the receiving yardage list in recent weeks. Before Week 15, the Eskimos slotback sat ninth, and now he’s up to fifth.
The last two crossover teams have won the East semifinal, so the Argos might want to root for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to claim the final spot in the East Division. The Eskimos are 2-0 against the Argos this season, while the Riders are 1-1. The Argos are 2-1 against the Ticats heading into the final week but would need to lose in order to give the Hamilton crew a chance at playing them the following week … The only team with a losing record to host a playoff game in the past 10 years was the 2008 Blue Bombers, who lost to the Eskimos … What a swing the Ticats can take this week. They can win, have the Eskimos lose and make the playoffs with just seven victories. They could lose, have the Bombers win and clinch the first overall pick in next year’s draft … The Argos are the only team that will host a playoff tilt with a losing record. Sure, the club wants a big home crowd, but the three best-attended games at Rogers Centre this season were all losses … CFL salaries aren’t disclosed, but in the playoffs, everyone makes the same money. The playoff shares have gone up slightly this season. The division winners and semfinal participants get $3,400, while $3,600 goes to the final teams. Those totals are up $100 each this year. The Grey Cup shares remains the same — $16,000 for the winners and $8,000 for the losers.
Owens is looking to be the first player to lead the league in receiving yards and kickoff returns yardage. The Argos receiver has healthy leads in both, but the biggest number is the 72 he needs to break Pinball Clemons’ total yards record of 3,840. With 232, he could be the first to reach 4,000 … Als QB Anthony Calvillo keeps setting records. He needs one more TD pass for his first season where he had one each game. He topped 5,000 yards for a seventh time going over that mark, which is one more than Doug Flutie … If the Lions have fewer than six turnovers this week, they will set the league record for fewest in a season, a mark currently held by the 1967 Ottawa Rough Riders and 2006 Lions led by Dave Dickenson … Als head coach Marc Trestman needs one win to become the winningest bench boss in team history with 60.
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