I’ve been saying since the 2010 CFL season kicked off way back on July 1 that the East Division was going to be won by either the Montreal Alouettes or the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and I’m going to stick by that.
The East: The Ticats might have what it takes
Montreal is the prohibitive favourite, having won 38 games over three seasons under the direction of head coach Marc Trestman – a dominant force with more than its share of great leaders like Anthony Calvillo, Ben Cahoon, Anwar Stewart, and of course, Trestman himself.
Hamilton is the polar opposite of the Als – an unproven team of talented players and leaders that don’t necessarily have the big-game experience usually required to go all the way, but a team with a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that can’t be ignored. In my mind, the intangible here is quarterback Kevin Glenn.
Glenn was more or less picked up off the scrap heap when the Ticats signed him to back up up-and-comer Quinton Porter before the 2009 season. But anyone who is close to the league knew that Glenn wasn’t ready to be dismissed as a has-been just yet, and after battling for the starting job last year, he stepped up to the top in 2010 and posted one of the best seasons of his career. The real intangible here, however, isn’t the fact that he had a good season, however. No, it has to be his will to win – having gotten almost all the way there in 2007 only to miss the game with a broken arm and watch his Winnipeg Blue Bombers fall to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
One should never underestimate a quarterback’s will to put a team on his shoulders – and that’s why I believe the Tiger-Cats are going to beat the Argonauts tomorrow (1 p.m., TSNHD) at Hamilton’s Ivor Wynne Stadium.
On the other side of the coin tomorrow will be Toronto’s Cleo Lemon, who led the Argos to a 9-9 season – which can only be considered a huge step in the right direction after the Double Blue finished a combined 7-29 from 2008-09. Lemon and new head coach Jim Barker are taking their team forward and will be a force in years to come, but they’re just not ready for the next step in Year 1.
That element, plus the fact that the Argos had the lowest-scoring offence in the CFL this season spells the end of the road for 2010 tomorrow afternoon – but the start of an exciting trip for 2011 and beyond.
The West: Riders will win easily
Frankly, I find the Riders-Lions matchup in the Western Division Semi-Final less interesting. Anyone can see the Lions are but a shade of their former selves, while the Riders are still among the cream of the CFL crop. In fact, despite the Riders finishing a second-best 10-8 to Calgary’s 13-5 this year, I believe Saskatchewan is a vastly superior team in one key department: heart. But that’s a topic to be addressed in the Western Final preview…
Tomorrow, the Riders will dominate the Lions much like how Montreal did to BC in last year’s Eastern Final. I’m not sure it’ll quite as bad as the 56-18 score the Als posted over the Lions at the Big O in that game, but I fully expect Rider pivot Darian Durant to have a big game, using his unbelievable corps of Canadian receivers to full advantage.
Oh, and don’t forget that the game is being played in Regina – hosting a playoff game there is like spotting the home team a pair of majors before kickoff.
I’m definitely taking the Riders in this one. And by 20 points or more.