Another season has come and gone, and I’m left here thinking that this season was one of the craziest seasons I’ve ever witnessed. Then I remember last season. And the year before.
Does the Canadian Football League ever stop surprising us?
Let’s get primed for another wild ride as we get inch closer to the 104th Grey Cup at BMO Field in Toronto.
The 10-8 Edmonton Eskimos visit the 7-11 Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday as the first Western crossover team since the BC Lions in 2014. The Lions were actually the last team to win a crossover game (in 2009), and the Tiger-Cats were on the wrong end of that game 7 years ago.
Has there been a crossover team as good as the Edmonton Eskimos, though? The Esks come into the game as 2½-point favourites and they just beat Hamilton by a field goal in Week 19 in a game that included one of those infamous CFL officiating blunders.
Tim Hortons Field will be rocking Sunday afternoon, but the Ticats haven’t won there since September 16th and are dealing with a multitude of injuries. Hamilton fans will be happy to hear that the Ticats have won their past four home playoff games and you can’t count out a team led by Kent Austin. They’ve been to the Grey Cup in two of the past three seasons and writing them off may just be a mistake.
The 11-7 Winnipeg Blue Bombers head to Vancouver this Sunday to battle the 12-6 BC Lions. The Bombers are five-point underdogs as they visit BC Place despite winning the only two meetings of the regular season and owning a stellar road record
Sunday’s game will be BC’s first home playoff game since the 2011 Grey Cup where they actually beat Winnipeg and coincidentally, this is Winnipeg’s first *playoff* game since that same Grey Cup.
BC is coming off two dominating wins over the lowly Saskatchewan Roughriders along with a close win over Edmonton while Winnipeg comes in with a home and home split with the Ottawa RedBlacks where one of the games had Ottawa sitting half their starters.
Matt Nichols will see his first playoff action since the 2012 East Semi-Final when he entered the game in relief for the Edmonton Eskimos only to suffer a gruesome ankle injury. This is Jonathon Jennings’ second career playoff start after last season’s West Semi-Final 35-9 drubbing at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders.
Wally Buono went out on top as head coach as a Grey Cup Champion in 2011 and you can bet his playoff experience will come into play against Winnipeg in Mike O’Shea’s first playoff game as a head coach. The Lions had two Grey Cup calibre games a few weeks ago and I expect this weekend’s game to be a contender for the most exciting game of the playoffs.
And here’s who I’m rolling with in DraftKings CFL daily fantasy football this week. in Draft Kings this week (yes, Draft Kings is continuing their daily fantasy game open for the CFL playoffs).
Jonathon Jennings (BC QB $9,900): Jennings struggled in last year’s West Semi-Final as a rookie but you can bet Buono will have him ready and prepared for this weekend’s home game. Winnipeg is the only team that has given up over 6,000 passing yards this season and Jennings should be ready for a feast. If Matt Nichols struggles like has the past two weeks and Jennings can limit turnovers, the Lions will past their way to Calgary for the West Final.
Jeremiah Johnson (BC RB $7,300): Johnson is substantially cheaper than John White and Andrew Harris on DraftKings but why? He has a better yards per carry average (5.86) than either back and has averaged 73.5 yards on the ground per start. The Lions were the only team to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards during the season and that offensive line will continue to roll this weekend.
Darvin Adams (WPG WR $7,600): Since Adams returned from injury two weeks ago, he’s been nothing short of dominant. He’s caught 15 balls on 23 targets for 187 yards and 3 touchdowns. Adams and Nichols clearly have some chemistry and BC does have a secondary that’s prone to big plays.
Brandon Zylstra (EDM WR $4,900): Zylstra had been holding his own even when Adarius Bowman and Derel Walker were in the line-up but he absolutely exploded when both star receivers rested against Toronto last week. He’s averaged almost 85 yards a game in six games this season and has double digit targets in each of the past two games. At $4,900, Zylstra is an absolute bargain with huge upside.
Finally, my wild-card pick this week is CJ Gable (HAM RB $5,200): The Tiger-Cats are last in rushing yards coming into this playoff game but if they want to beat Edmonton, they’re going to *have* to run the ball. Kent Austin will need to keep Edmonton guessing so they can keep Collaros upright and healthy. Gable is a threat on the ground but he’s a decent receiver that has 119 receiving yards over his past two games. Hamilton’s best chance is to get Gable involved and I’m willing to spend $5,200 to find out.
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