Underdog Esks?

Eskimos receiver Andrew Nowacki hangs onto the ball in the Labour Day rematch. (David Bloom,...

Eskimos receiver Andrew Nowacki hangs onto the ball in the Labour Day rematch. (David Bloom, Edmonton Sun)

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:40 PM ET

EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos, insists Kavis Reed, should be the undeniable, unquestionable, indisputable, incontestable, incontrovertible, indubitable, irrefutable, unmistakable, unequivocal, unimpeachable underdogs for their first home playoff game since 2004.

 

“Obviously we are,” said the rookie head coach of Sunday’s Western Conference semifinal against the Calgary Stampeders.

“We have to be!

“There’s no reason we would be the team that would be the favorite!

“Although we’re at home, I think everyone is going to look at it that we’re not the one who is battle tested. They’re battle tested.

“We have some guys who have been in this situation before but for the most part this is a very young team and this is a new situation for us.

“I’d be lying if I said experience didn’t matter because once you’ve walked down that path in the playoffs you understand the road you know how to prepare for it. For a lot of our guys it’s going to be a novel prep week, novel in terms of the game and novel in terms of the atmosphere around it. So we’re going to have to learn on the fly.”

He does have a point with that.

The Edmonton 46-man roster features only 62 games of CFL playoff experience, led by seven games played by quarterback Ricky Ray and former Alouetes kicker Damon Duval, the latter of whom successfully passed a kidney stone Sunday.

The Stampeders have 136 games of CFL playoff experience.

“I have to put Calgary 1 and 1A with B.C. in terms of if I had to choose the top teams in this league going into the playoffs, especially the way they’ve been playing offensively. Very efficient,” said Reed.

The Stampeders are the hottest team going with a three-game winning streak going into the playoffs.

“They have a a seasoned coaching staff. John Hufnagel’s leadership has led that team to a Grey Cup championship.

“I feel with our youth and our inexperience, they should be the favorites.”

It is, one has to admit, hard to project any home field advantage here for the Eskimos.

I mean the last time the Eskimos won a home playoff game against Calgary was 1987.

That’s the year Eskimos Gord Hinse, Rod Williams, Weldon Brown, Lee Robinson, Dylan Steenbergen, Hugo Lopez and Matt Nichols were born.

The last time the Eskimos played the Stampeders in a playoff game in Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton lost 34-16 in the 2001 Western Final. The previous time the two teams played in the post-season, the Stampeders emerged with a 38-36 Western Final loss victory here in 1991.

You have to go back to 1987 and a 30-16 win in the semifinal to find the last Eskimos win over Calgary here.

The Eskimos are second because they won the season series against the Stampeder with both wins coming in Calgary. However, the Stampeders bounced back with a 30-20 win in the Labour Day rematch and will come to town Sunday with a win this year in Commonwealth Stadium in their back pocket.

Thus, there’s reason to buy into Reed’s contention that the Stampeders should be favored and that it’s hard to project any home field advantage here for the Eskimos.

No team in the CFL had a better away record than Calgary’s 6-3 mark. And the Eskimos, while ending up 6-3 at home, lost three consecutive home games by a combined count of 100-42 to B.C., Calgary and Montreal before a combined attendance of 121,162.

So that’s it then?

As this gloriously goofy season in the Canadian Football League proceeds to the playoffs, it would only be right for Kavis Reed’s home team to end up going into the game as the underdog?

Uh, not so fast, fella.

Upon request, the international betting agency Bodog.ca produced an early line for the game late Sunday afternoon.

Edmonton by 3½.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca 


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