CFL DIVISION SEMI-FINALS PREVIEW

2022-11-04 · 4 min read · CFL/Football
Hamilton Tiger Cats and Calgary Stampeders

Peter Power/CP | Larry MacDougal/3DownNation

The CFL playoffs are here as the Toronto Argonauts, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers await their opponents in a week.
Sunday’s East and West Semi-Final couldn’t be tougher to call as the Montreal Alouettes only had one more victory than the Tiger-Cats during the regular season.
Out West, the BC Lions and Calgary Stampeders posted identical 12-6 records, with the Lions getting the edge because they won two of the three head-to-head battles against the Stamps in 2022.
Here is a look at the two matchups and my predictions.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Montreal Alouettes
After a 1-3 start to the regular season, Alouettes general manager Danny Maciocia fired Khari Jones as he returned to the sidelines.
As Montreal prepares to host their first playoff game since 2019, they will be looking to win their first postseason encounter since 2014.
The strength of this club all season long has been on defense, with Maciocia’s team possessing one of the top defensive units in the CFL, led by Jamal Davis.
Davis had 10 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in six games this year, while they have two top 10 defensive tacklers in Wes Sutton (7) and Adarius Pickett (10).
Trevor Harris finished the regular season third in passing yards (4,157), with Eugene Lewis being his go-to guy, racking up 1,303 receiving yards, the third-highest total in the league, including 22 pass catches versus Hamilton in 2022 and two TD catches.
The undisciplined play of Montreal has held them back from achieving more success this season, with the Als surrendering 1,574 yards worth of penalties, more than any CFL squad this season.
Orlondo Steinauer’s club turned it on when it mattered most, winning their final four games of the regular season to sneak into the playoffs.
The offense finished third in the league in overall passing yards (5,006), and a much better running game has aided them as well.
Sean Thomas-Erlington and Wes Hills averaged over eight yards per carry in their regular-season finale, winning 23-16 over the Ottawa Redblacks.
In 2022 they allowed the fewest first downs in the CFL (341), while also conceding the lowest first-down average yards (6.1).
Quarterback Dane Evans has had to put together long drives behind centre for Hamilton this season, with the Ti-Cats beginning their drives on average near their own 35-yard line, the third-lowest among playoff teams.
Defense and Hamilton seem to go hand-in-hand with the Tiger-Cats changing momentum this year thanks to their outstanding cover game, producing 19 interceptions, tied with the Calgary Stampeders and BC Lions for second in the CFL.
  • Prediction- Hamilton Tiger-Cats 27-23 Montreal Alouettes
Hamilton’s experience in these big games should come in handy at this stage of the season, and they are peaking at the right time, while also rediscovering that winning feeling.
Both quarterbacks have been in their share of big games in this league, but the Ti-Cats takeaway ability has me tipping them to return to the East Final for a third consecutive campaign.
Calgary Stampeders at BC Lions
The Stampeders in the postseason is as synonymous as Canada and hockey with Calgary in the playoffs for a 17th consecutive year, the fourth-longest run in league history.
It’s no surprise that their offensive strength lies in their ability to run the ball effectively, and they did that as well as anybody in 2022, gaining 2,436 yards on the ground, along with 24 rushing scores, with Ka’Deem Carey leading the CFL with 1,088 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
Calgary averaged 6.6 yards rushing this season, while Jake Maier has been solid since taking over from Bo Levi Mitchell at quarterback, as he has not tossed an interception in back-to-back games.
They finished the season with the third-most first downs (375), though they had the lowest second-down conversion percentage in the CFL this year (41.4%).
Dave Dickenson’s team have handled opposing teams along the line of scrimmage in 2022, allowing a league-low 17 sacks, while also producing the most in the CFL (56).
BC is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2018, and they have their star quarterback Nathan Rourke back behind centre.
While he was far from impressive in his regular-season finale, going 7/11 for 68 yards in limited action against the Blue Bombers, he showed before his injury how accurate he could be, completing 78.3% of his passes, besting the 77.3% mark set by Ricky Ray in 2013.
Dominique Rhymes was second in the league in receiving yards (1,401) and touchdown grabs (11), while James Butler put up some big numbers on the ground, running for 1,060 yards, second only to Carey this season.
Rick Campbell’s team led the league in net offence this season (6,923), averaging the second-most gains per pass and producing the most completions of 30 yards or more (31).
In these playoff games, every point earned is valuable, which means it could come down to the kickers.
The Lions and Stamps have been virtually automatic in the kicking game, with BCs Sean Whyte making 92.3% of his field goals, the highest percentage in the CFL and Calgary’s Rene Paredes in second, having made 90% of his kicks.
  • Prediction- Calgary Stampeders 30-28 BC Lions
I believe Nathan Rourke will win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award in the coming years and help BC win some Grey Cups, but not this season, as he did not look mobile or accurate in Winnipeg and I am not convinced he’ll be able to fix his timing and mechanics in the span of a week.
Maier is also in his first playoff game, but he has a dependable ground attack and a group of experienced players to lean on, which I believe will give Calgary an edge.
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By: Joel Lefevre

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