I am a rider fan but also a CFL fan so this will be from that prospective. It is going to be a matchup between Calgary, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg of some sorts. With only Calgary having something to play for this week other than teams having pride and not wanting to go into the playoffs on a loosing note, I am assuming we will see lots of stars rested across the league. So I am looking ahead to playoffs.
Match up with Calgary
Quarterback- obviously advantage Calgary as Bo-levi and Mike Reilly are 1-2 and can be swapped around depending on how you feel
Oline and running game - beginning of the year It was easy to give this to the stamps and Don Jackson but lately the stamps running game has looked less than stellar. With the changes we have made to our online and a healthy fresh Marshall back I think Iam going to call this a draw and will go to who wants it more on game day.
Receivers- again beginning of the year a healthy Eric Rodgers, Kamar Jordan and Devaris Daniels, with Reggie Beggleton was likely the best receiving corell but after most of them going down and only Eric coming back so far and he looks like he is either nicked again or has other issues as he hasn't done much since coming back. Them getting Chris Mathews might have saved there bacon going into the playoffs. I like our receiving care looking to the future but they are rookies for the most part and we lack experience and leadership that is huge come playoff time. I give this a draw with calgary getting the edge if anybody returns from there injured list.
Defense- Calgary is a solid D and probably one of the most well rounded but they look vulnerable and beat up lately. This is good news for whoever plays the stamps. For what ever reason Chris jones has Calgarys number this year with what he does on D beating them twice and could have easily been three times if we had any offence in that game at all. So with that in mind I give us the slight advantage. Sometimes even though one team is clearly the better team for what ever reason they just can't beat that one team. (Iam talking to you Ottawa)
Special teams- I haven't payed much attention to Calgarys special teams but I would have to give an edge in punting to them, Call Field Goal even with maybe a longer leg to the riders. Returners also a slight edge to the riders in my opinion but see this as even overall coming down to who makes plays on game day
A healthy Calgary team and I would likely give them the hypothetical win but they look very beatable by anybody right now and the loosing streak going into the playoffs is likely to frustrate them. I'll give the edge to whoever the home team is in this one pulling it out.
Match up with Winnipeg
Quarterback - if we get the Matt Nichols thats shown up lately theres a huge advantage there, If we get the Matt Nichols from the loosing streak........Sadly there is probably still an advantage there compared to our situation.
Oline and running game- I don't care how much I hate the bombers (nothing personal I hate all teams come gameday) Andrew Harris is a beast and a game changer. Anytime you have a player that the other team has to gameplan around its a huge benifit to the others on O. If Lapo comes with a solid gameplan that you guys execute you have the advantage here but the Sask running game has gotten better since out Oline changes and a healthy Marshall made a return, him having fresh legs and low millage body is great. We will also have a fresh Thigpen going into the playoffs and while he's not a productive every down back he has the big play potential anytime he touches the ball (2 80+ yard runs this year) Advantage Bombers if harris stays uninjured.
Receivers- I will give a small advantage to you on this one I think your top two match up pretty good with our top two with Dressler being just a stud, I am basing this on my opinions based on receiving skills as with the sad O numbers we put up this year I have no stats to back me. I think we make up ground with the less used receivers as your other guys just don't seem to be that good.....That sounded like bashing sorry I just mean that there is room for improvement (I was very happy you didn't get Mathews) Demski seems to be a potential star but I have probably lost a few years off my life from watching him with the riders and bombers and yelling at my TV to just stop dancing and run. I like to see any Canadian do well and if he can sort that out with better ball security he will be a future star canadian. Like I said I really like our receivers but they are young and lots of rookies, they suffer from lack of leadership in the core and experience. The future looks bright based on what I see in practice and games with regards to there skills and improvements they have made this year.
Defence- This one was hard so I did my best to take off my slightly green tinted glasses and be objective. I think the Bombers have the Better traditional Defence. If I had to pick a defence for a full season I would probably take the bombers with a few tweaks. I think we have a edge in Defensive backs as that would be the only weakness I see on the bombers with everybody healthy. Heres the thing If I had to pick a Defence for one game I am probably taking the riders. They are built to be disruptive, fast, athletic, they are also a solid D choice and they cause confusion. They have legitimate Big Play potential every time they step on the field. I don't know how many times this year I have yelled at the TV "Please D just bail out the O one more time we need you to do something" and they answered. Momentum swings are huge in games and even more so in playoffs. Big plays get in players heads and start to demoralize a team. If Our D gets one or two early I think the LDC and BB memories start creeping into Matts head and thats how we will win.
Special teams- Advantage Riders. Sorry but it's the only glaring hole I see on the bomber team. The return game is not there and thats huge. Even if you tear off a grey cup win I think the special teams coaching and return men could use a huge upgrade. If you had better starting field position and a big play threat I think your record would be much different. However even with the advantage playoffs are a new season and it will be who comes to play on game day. Field position can't be overlooked in 3 down football where a mistakes kill a drive.
I see this going three ways.
60% chance its a defensive slobberknocker with Winnipeg playing safe smart ball on offence and pulling out a win
39% chance the riders get there big plays on defence and special teams and do enough on O to win. This would have been a lower percentage but you can't deny home field advantage and I would have upped yours if we had to play in that ridiculously loud stadium of yours.
1% chance Mcadoo and the O have been playing possum and keeping the playbook secret all season doing just enough to get into the playoffs and they are going to come out and be dominant with people from across the league dropping there jaws to the floor. Hey I need this hope after watching 18 games of our Offence this year
I feel we are close but I have more faith in Next year with a different QB situation as I feel we are just not quite there. This years run will be great for all the rookies to gain that needed experience though and I have high hopes. BUT it's the playoffs and any given team on any given day can win especially in this west division.
Lets face it Hamilton is too nicked up to make a run and BC is absolutely terrible on the road so I assume it's a solid chance Ottawa is in the Grey Cup unless they self destruct
Quarterback - Advantage Redblacks, Harris is inconsistent but good enough to win and I hope we make a play at him in free agency.
Oline and Running game - Probably advantage Powell since there getting him fresh for playoffs but I like our new oline a bit better than theres so I will call it a draw and see who shows up to win the trenches
Recievers - Advantage Redblacks Easy choice, Ellingston, Sinopoli, Spencer, Harris is probably the best core on paper going into the playoffs with the injuries across the league
Defense- Advantage Riders if we don't play that stupid three man rush and let harris get comfy. They owned us in the regular season with that. You beat Harris by knocking him around and getting pressure leads to bad throws and mistakes takes him out of the zone he can get in and be great. If we come with a smarter game plan I thing we could easily have the advantage here.
Special teams- we will call a close draw. Gameday will decide who wins this one but if if came down to a field goal Iam sure they feel confident in Ward.
I think this matchup is 55% Ottawa and 45% Riders. You can't ignore them owning us in the regular season but I feel like we lost with correctable mistakes I feel the way the riders win this game is if after playing in nicer weather Ottawa falls apart in a cold Grey Cup
Ottawa is my choice based on there teams health less games to get there and weaker opponents. Any team could take it this year but if I was putting money down today I would likely put it on Ottawa.
Officiating- This will always be looked at poorly by the loosing team or guys who just have a hate on for no reason. It's easy to blame a loss on. Truth is if you PVR a game and watch close you can almost call a hold on every play by every team, with a close second being illegal contact on most plays. Heck OPI could be called a lot too if that one in the last rider game was called a push off that happens a lot heck it happened on the Chris mathews play the same game. The other one we deserved lol. I don't want to watch football with that many flags, The officials have to decided what impacted the play and is it worth calling or the game would be unwatchable plus they have to do that with stuff happening at 100mph. This human factor will always lead to mistakes and when they happen to your team it sucks. Truth is if you go to a game day thread for any teams fans for the same game you are likely to see the loosing teams fans hating on officiating, The winning teams fans ok with the officiating, A rivalry teams fans complaining that the refs always help (insert team here). All I hope for is that none of the games are decided by a glaring miscall. That the players get to decided it and the better team walks off the field without controversy cause I think were in for some really good playoff football.
I would love to get some Bomber fans perspectives on how they match up with potential opponents. Either way I think we are in for a heck of a west division playoff run and some great games ahead.