It’s playoff time in the CFL and six teams are dreaming of the potential postseason run that could end at the 100th Grey Cup. The Edmonton Eskimos travel to Toronto to take on the Argonauts in the Eastern Conference Semifinal on Sunday afternoon, while the Saskatchewan Roughriders head to Calgary for their Western Conference Semifinal showdown.
Edmonton at Toronto (-3.5, 50.5)
Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed announced Thursday that veteran QB Kerry Joseph will start and Matt Nichols will be his backup. Reed is hoping Joseph can relive his playoff run in 2007 when he led the Roughriders to the Grey Cup and was named MVP in the game played in Toronto. There have been plenty of distractions off the field for the Eskimos ahead of the Eastern semifinal due the firing of general manager Eric Tillman this week.
Toronto’s success hinges on the red-hot arm of QB Ricky Ray. The former Eskimo has completed 70 percent of his passes for 688 yards and eight touchdowns since taking three games off to rehab a sore knee. The veteran passer is 8-4 all-time in the postseason, but is 0-2 against his former club this campaign.
Edmonton is 4-1 ATS in its last five meetings with Toronto and has covered in its last four division semifinal games.
Saskatchewan at Calgary (-5.5, 51.5)
With just a 3-6 record on the road in 2012, Saskatchewan is going up against a Calgary squad that has won five in a row at home. It's going to be cold (around -15 Celsius with the wind chill) with clear skies and 10 mph winds at McMahon Stadium. That means ball control will be important - and the Riders have a potent rushing attack led by Kory Sheets.
Calgary has lost three straight playoff games, and the last four times these teams have met in the playoffs, the Riders prevailed. Stamps coach John Hufnagel announced Tuesday that “he is playing a hunch” by naming Drew Tate the starter at QB over veteran Kevin Glenn. Tate has battled with a shoulder injury for the majority of the season and has seen limited game action since returning on Oct. 26, tossing only 22 passes. Glenn was statistically the fourth-best QB in the league this season and had the second-highest completion percentage (66.7).
These teams met three times during the regular season, with Calgary taking two of those contests. However, the most recent encounter in late September went in favor of the Riders, 30-25. The Roughriders are 4-0 ATS in their last four playoff road games, while the Stamps are 0-4 ATS in their last four playoff tilts.