July 21st, 2024

Stampeders looking to make CFL playoffs for an 18 straight season

By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press on October 18, 2023.

It’s been a difficult year for the Calgary Stampeders but they’re still in control of reaching the CFL playoffs for an 18th straight season.

Calgary (5-11) is currently fourth in the West Division, just two points behind Saskatchewan (6-11). The Stampeders visit the B.C. Lions (12-5) on Friday night while the Roughriders conclude their regular season hosting the Toronto Argonauts (14-2) on Saturday night.

Calgary will clinch a playoff spot with a win over B.C. and Saskatchewan loss to Toronto. Conversely, the Riders would advance if they downed the Argos and the Lions defeated the Stampeders.

Even if Calgary and Saskatchewan both win or lose this week, the Stampeders would still cement third with a home win over Winnipeg on Oct. 27, the final week of the CFL regular season.

A difficult road? Certainly, considering Calgary is 2-6 on the road and 3-6 against West Division rivals while the Lions are 6-2 at B.C. Place and 8-3 within the conference.

However, win out and Calgary punches its playoff ticket regardless of what Saskatchewan does.

Calgary is coming off a 26-19 home win over Saskatchewan. The loss was the Riders’ sixth straight and took them from controlling their playoff destiny.

However, Calgary will face a B.C. squad that still has something to play for.

B.C. remains in the hunt for first in the West Division, although that quest could end abruptly. A Lions loss Friday or Winnipeg win Saturday over the Edmonton Elks (4-13) would secure the Bombers (12-4) top spot and home field for the conference final.

The Lions are coming off a 33-30 road win over Hamilton. Former Ticat Dane Evans replaced an injured Vernon Adams Jr. to complete all four passes he attempted for 42 yards on B.C.’s final drive, setting up veteran Sean Whyte’s game-winning 48-yard field goal.

Adams Jr. still finished 21-of-30 passing for 296 yards with two TDs and an interception. He’s currently the CFL passing leader with 4,653 yards and has a league-high 10 games of 300 or more yards passing.

B.C. defensive lineman Mathieu Betts is also leading the CFL in sacks (17). The Montreal native needs one more to establish a single-season league record for most sacks by a Canadian.

B.C. is 2-0 versus Calgary this season, although the last meeting between the two was Aug. 12 (won 37-9 by the Lions at B.C. Place Stadium). Adams Jr. has thrown for 300 or more yards in both contests with six combined TDs and two interceptions.

B.C.’s defence has four sacks versus Calgary, with Betts claiming one.

Calgary starter Jake Maier completed 47-of-67 passes over the two games but for just 297 yards with a TD and interception. Linebacker Micah Awe – the CFL’s leading tackler with 113 – registered a combined 18 tackles (four for loss) and an interception.

Pick: B.C.

Toronto Argonauts versus Saskatchewan Roughriders (Saturday afternoon)

At Regina, Toronto recorded eight of its club record-tying nine sacks in the second half of last week’s 40-27 home win over Ottawa. The unit leads the CFL in that category (63), interceptions (21) and forced turnovers (46). Quarterback Chad Kelly is expected to start although backups Cameron Dukes and Bryan Scott could also play. Saskatchewan is 4-4 at home but 1-4 versus East Division teams and lost to the Argos earlier this summer in Halifax.

Pick: Toronto.

Edmonton Elks versus Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Saturday night)

At Winnipeg, the Bombers are 8-2 within the West Division and 7-1 at IG Field. That could all be moot should Calgary win Friday night but the home team has won nine straight versus Edmonton. Zach Collaros has a CFL-high 32 TD strikes but there’s also the matter of Brady Oliveira (league-high 1,426 rushing yards) and a stout defence. Canadian starter Tre Ford has led the Elks to all of their wins and has certainly been impressive but the club has lost three straight and is 2-8 within the division and 2-6 on the road.

Pick: Winnipeg.

Last week: 3-1.

Overall: 53-22.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2023.

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