2022-11-09 · 3 min read · CFL/Football
Winnipeg Blue Bomber and BC Lions

TSN | BC Lions photographer

We are down to the final four in the CFL, and appropriately the top two teams in the East and West Divisions will square off with a berth in the 109th Grey Cup in Regina on the line.
For Toronto, Sunday is a shot at redemption after losing the East Final last year, while the Bombers have a chance to duplicate what the Calgary Stampeders did from 2016 to 2018 and make it to three straight championship games.
Here is a look at each game, along with my predictions.
Montreal Alouettes at Toronto Argonauts
One of the biggest rivalries in the East Division in the early 2000s will be renewed on Sunday as the Alouettes look to make their first Grey Cup appearance since 2010 when they battle Toronto.
Danny Maciocia’s team got off to an early lead against Hamilton in the East Semi-Final and never looked back as Trevor Harris went 27/34 for 243 yards, plus a touchdown and an interception.
The Montreal pivot may have been inconsistent during the regular season, but it is this time of year when he has always thrived, completing 74.1% of his passes in his last six CFL playoff games, throwing for 2,002 yards and 11 touchdowns over that stretch.
All season long, the Alouettes have been tough defensively, making stops at crucial times, and they were huge last weekend, with six sacks, while Mike Jones had a pair of interceptions.
Besides penalties, perhaps the biggest concern for the Alouettes offensively has to be their inability to protect their quarterback, with Montreal allowing 47 sacks in 2022, more than any team still in the hunt for the Grey Cup.
After blowing a 12-point halftime lead in the 2021 East Final, Ryan Dinwiddie’s Argos have a shot to get back to the Grey Cup game on Sunday for the first time since 2017.
Throughout the 2022 campaign, the Argos were the most consistent team out East, and the only one in the division over .500 (11-7), finishing second in the regular season for passing yards (5,028).
McLeod Bethel-Thompson led the CFL in passing yards this season (4,731), and he will be getting a man with plenty of big-game experience back this weekend, as 2019 Grey Cup MVP Andrew Harris is ready to go.
Without him, the Argos have been almost exclusively a passing offense, posting the fewest rushing yards (1470), attempts (309) and touchdowns (nine) this season.
Toronto’s defence was stellar in the turnover department in 2022, creating a league-leading 48, while they ended the season tied with Calgary for the most defensive touchdowns (five).
  • Prediction- Montreal Alouettes 24-27 Toronto Argonauts
These teams were as close as can be in the regular season as all three games were decided by a single score, two of which Toronto won by a point.
I believe Bethel-Thompson has learned a lot from what went wrong in the 2021 East Final, while the Argos' defence should be able to pressure Trevor Harris and force some bad throws, which could make the difference.
BC Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
From the hop, it became clear that the Lions were not the same team we saw in 2021 when they missed the playoffs.
Nathan Rourke may not have looked his best in the West Semi-Final, but he did what was needed, throwing for 321 yards and a pair of touchdowns with zero picks, while Keon Hatcher had a monster game, catching eight passes for 162 yards and one score.
The Lions were one of the most electrifying offensive units in 2022, and they knew how to finish drives, putting up 39 touchdowns on 55 trips to the red zone, which translates to a conversion rate of 70.9%.
BC had more completions of 30 yards or more than any team in the CFL over the regular season, while boasting a league-leading completion percentage of 71.6.
In the cold Winnipeg weather having a successful ground game and a reliable kicker will be critical.
Rick Campbell has two players he can depend on for that, with Sean Whyte possessing the highest field-goal percentage in the CFL this year (92.3%) and James Butler finishing second in the league regarding rushing yards (1,060).
They went 29 years without winning a Grey Cup, and the Bombers are hungry to win it again as they prepare to host the West Final for a second consecutive season.
Zach Collaros has flourished under a Mike O’Shea offense in Winnipeg, coming off a career year in which he completed 305 passes for 4,183 yards and 37 touchdowns, making him the frontrunner to capture the league's Most Outstanding Player Award.
Winnipeg’s aerial assault was nearly unstoppable in 2022, as they threw 44 touchdown passes, more than any team this year, with a pass efficiency of 116.6.
Dalton Schoen was one of the biggest surprises offensively as he led the league in receiving yards (1,441) and touchdowns (16) in his rookie campaign, while Brady Oliveira had a great season running the ball, finishing third in yards on the ground (1,001).
If there’s a team out there that might be able to contain BC’s passing game, the Bombers' secondary seems to be the most likely.
Winnipeg have allowed a league-low 19 touchdowns through the air this year, while also conceding the second-fewest yards per attempt (7.8), along with 16 forced interceptions and the second-most pass breakups (61).
  • Prediction- BC Lions 24-30 Winnipeg Blue Bombers
For many BC players, Sunday will be unchartered territory, while for Winnipeg, it is a case of been there done that, something which should come in handy.
Rourke has a tremendous amount of character, but Collaros does not appear ready to hand over the reins to him just yet, and I expect the Winnipeg secondary will have an answer for the BC passing game.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre


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