Week 16 Review of the Canadian Football League
Week 16 in the Canadian Football League (CFL) is in the books and the playoff picture is shaping up. We know who will be there, but we don’t know how they’ll rank.
|Canadian Football League|
The good people of Montreal, Quebec have one again been guaranteed what has become a Fall right of passage: a home playoff game for their scrappy Allouettes.
The playoff picture in the CFL became ever clearer in Week 16, and with only three weeks left to go before the post-season, teams are running out of time to prove on-field that they deserve to finish top of their division.
The Saskatchewan faithful, having grown accustomed to success over the past two seasons with their Riders making back-to-back Grey Cup appearances, will likely find being eliminated from playoff contention a bitter pill to swallow. The Lions are 9-6, while the Riders drop to 4-11, joining the Toronto Argonauts as the only teams eliminated from the 2011 post-season.
In the biggest upset of the week, the Toronto Argonauts came back with 0:10 seconds on the clock in the 4th quarter on Friday at the Rogers Centre to hand the visiting Calgary Stampeders their second straight road loss decided by a mere two points. After going into the locker room down 28-9 at half time, Calgary Head Coach John Hufnagel opted to bench starting QB Henry Burris in favour of back-up Drew Tate. It was an exercise in opposites. After Burris went just 6 for 11 for 65 yards with two interceptions in two quarters of play, Tate rallied the Stamps in commanding fashion, scoring 20 second-half points while holding the Argos off the score board.
The final drive of the game should have ended at the Argo 50 yard line, but untimely Calgary penalties kept the drive alive, allowing the Argos to march to within 20 yards of their end zone. It set up an easy Noel Prefontaine field goal which gave the Argos a 31-29 victory with no time remaining.
The BC Lions pull into a first place tie in the Western Division with Edmonton Eskimos, continuing their 8-game winning streak after starting the season 0-5. They have not lost a game since August 13. It was a hard fought game in Regina, where the Saskatchewan Roughriders sought to keep their playoff hopes alive with a win over BC. And after taking a lead into the locker room at half time, and extending that lead in the third, an anemic offense combined with a softening defense to surrender the lead to the Lions who never looked back on their way to a 29-18 victory.
Tate finished an impressive 19 for 28 passes for 263 yards, although he failed to come away with the win. Allowing the Argos to play spoiler was not in the cards for the Stamps, who looked to stay atop the race for first in the West. The Stamps drop to 8-7, and fall one game behind the Lions and the Eskimos for first place.
Montreal continued their winning ways under perennial All-Star QB Anthony Calvillo. The Allouettes improve to 10-5 on the season, and enjoy the best record in the CFL after holding on to beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 27-25 at Molson Stadium. Hamilton made it interesting in the final minutes of the game, but looked significantly outplayed by the Allouettes throughout much of the game. Hamilton Head Coach Marcel Bellefeuille’s decision to switch between starting QB Kevin Glenn and back-up Quinton Porter didn’t seem to phase the Montreal defense, so much as it robbed the Ti-Cat offense of stability. Both QB’s put together were not able to post the numbers that Calvillo amassed; neither could Hamilton’s receivers match the strength of Jamel Richardson and Brandon Whittaker for the Als.
These two teams split the season series at two games a piece, and may meet again in the post-season. Hamilton drops to 7-8, but has been assured of a playoff birth. They will likely be looking for revenge.
The final game of Week 16 saw the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head to Edmonton to take on the Eskimos, but they left their offense at home. In a game where the Bombers needed to win to keep pace with the Allouettes in the East, the Bombers are showing signs of strain due to critical injuries sustained in the past few weeks.
Winnipeg QB Buck Pierce threw three interceptions, and the Bomber offense was able to muster a single touchdown, ran in from the one yard line by back-up QB Alex Brink.
Meanwhile, Edmonton QB Ricky Ray had a good week, spreading the wealth among 8 different receivers, two of them for touchdowns as the Eskimos won 24-10. While Ray gave up two interceptions on the night, it was the Edmonton defense that came to play, holding the Bombers to just 10 points in the game. Winnipeg drops to 9-6 for second place in the East, while Edmonton keeps pace with BC for first in the west at 9-6.