CFL Blitz: Playoffs, rankings, predicitions, by the numbers

Lions quarterback Travis Lulay throws a pass against the Roughriders at BC Place in Vancouver,...

Lions quarterback Travis Lulay throws a pass against the Roughriders at BC Place in Vancouver, B.C., Nov. 3, 2012. (BEN NELMS/Reuters)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:29 PM ET

POWER RANKINGS

1. (1) B.C. — Week off to rest bumps and bruises will certainly help. Tough team to beat at home with 8-1 record there this season.

2. (2) Calgary — Now that they’ve settled on their quarterback, the focus can be on how they are 9-2 heading into post-season.

3. (3) Montreal — East champs will try to get healthy during the bye week. The receiving corps is most beat up, and Anthony Calvillo will need as many weapons as possible.

4. (4) Toronto — With about 10 key players out for finale, the Argos showed off their depth. It’s all about Ricky Ray now though.

5. (5) Saskatchewan — They head into the post-season with a four-game win streak, and now they have decided to close practice all week to insulate themselves.

6. (6) Edmonton — Once they decide on a starting quarterback, it will be easier to project their fate. Matt Nichols has been red hot over the past five quarters.

7. (8) Winnipeg — With the current coaching staff set, the Bombers can set about a search for a defensive co-ordinator and start making a decision on the quarterback situation.

8. (7) Hamilton — A field goal away from the playoffs, now the Ticats turn their attention to the first pick in the Canadian draft. Changes will likely be made on defensive coaching staff.

BY THE NUMBERS

126.6 — Yards rushing allowed by the Eskimos defence per game this season, which was the worst in the CFL. No wonder middle linebacker J.C. Sherritt had 130 tackles to set a CFL record. The Eskimos gave up the second-most first downs behind only the woeful Tiger-Cats defence, but the Eskimos were still last overall in total yards allowed.

20 — Hours or so Riders rookie receiver Ismael Bamba spent in an equipment truck to get to Vancouver for the season finale. Without proper identification to fly, Bamba spent about 3,400 km on the road this weekend going from Regina to Vancouver and back. Bamba made his CFL debut against the Lions, catching one pass for 17 yards.

99.3 — Yards per game the Toronto Argonauts have been dinged this season on penalties. The Argos lead the CFL by 228 yards over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and they picked up 18 more flags (204) than the second-worst team, the Edmonton Eskimos. Giving up nearly a field of yardage per game can’t help the cause.

1 — In the final week of the regular season, only one No. 1 pivot started and finished the entire game for his team. That team also happened to lose. Tiger-Cats QB Henry Burris threw for nearly 500 yards in the loss to the Argos but he didn’t come away with the win after giving Toronto the chance at 14 points off turnovers early in the contest. Backup QB Quinton Porter threw just one pass this season.

UPCOMING GAMES

East semifinal: Edmonton at Toronto, Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

This is the first playoff meeting before the Grey Cup between these two teams. Still, there is plenty of familiarity between them. Argos quarterback Ricky Ray spent his entire career with the Eskimos, winning two Grey Cups, before getting traded to Toronto last December. In two meetings this year, Ray and the Argos stumbled on offence and the Eskimos won both times. While the Argos are set in their offence, the Eskimos are still deciding on a starting quarterback between Kerry Joseph and Matt Nichols.

Our pick: Eskimos by 3

West semifinal: Saskatchewan at Calgary, Sunday, 2:30 p.m. EST

This is the fifth time in seven years the rivals have met in the post-season, and the Riders have won all four. In fact, the Stamps haven’t beaten the Riders in the post-season since 1994, which is a five-game losing skid. The Stamps took this season’s series 2-1, and they actually had a seven-game regular-season win streak going before losing 30-25 Sept. 23 in Regina. The Stamps are the league’s hottest team, having won four straight and nine of 11, while the Riders went into the post-season with four straight losses.

Our pick: Stamps by 7

East final: Semi winner at Montreal, Nov. 18, 1 p.m. EST

Since 2006, it’s a pretty simple formula for the Alouettes. When they finish first in the East Division, they are Grey Cup participants. After a one-year break from hosting the East final, the Als are back with the home-field advantage for a fourth time in five years. In the 2010 game, they beat the Argonauts by 31, a year after whipping the B.C. Lions by 38. They also beat the Eskimos by 10 in 2008 before moving onto the Grey Cup.

West final: Semi winner at B.C., Nov. 18, 2:30 p.m. EST

The Lions won the West Division for a second straight season, which is great news for their fans. Since reopening B.C. Place after its renovation, the Lions have a 13-1 mark in their building. The only team to beat them at home this season was the Eskimos and they are going through the East Division for the playoffs. Quarterback Travis Lulay seemed to put any thoughts that his sore right shoulder will be a problem by playing a little more than a quarter in the season finale against the Riders. If Keron Williams can’t play, that would be a big loss for the Lions though.

BIG PREDICTION

Although the Lions proved otherwise last year, winning the Grey Cup as the host team is extremely difficult to do. Before B.C. accomplished the feat in 2011, it had been since 1994 (Lions again) that someone sipped from the Cup on their home turf. It won’t happen this year. There is just too much pressure on the Argos to participate in the 100th Grey Cup at Rogers Centre. The league would dearly love some excitement around the Toronto area, and the Argos being there would help, but it’s not going to happen.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

• Playoffs: An annual reminder that I’m horrible at growing a beard.

• My playoff beard > Sidney Crosby’s playoff beard. So, yeah, there's that.

— Eskimos FB Darcy Brown (@TheDBrown)

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNIanBusby


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