TORONTO — The stage has been set for the 104th Grey Cup Playoffs.
It took until the 81st game of the season but the BC Lions’ win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday night made it official: BC will play host to Winnipeg in the Western Semi-Final while Hamilton will play host to Edmonton in the Eastern Semi-Final as the party gets started on Nov. 13.
The Ottawa REDBLACKS and Calgary Stampeders, meanwhile, will wait to determine their opponent in the Eastern and Western Finals on Nov. 20.
All games can be seen on TSN and RDS, as the post-season culminates with the 104th Grey Cup Championship presented by Shaw at Toronto’s BMO Field on Nov. 27:
The action starts on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1:00 p.m. ET when the Eskimos visit the Ticats at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field. The Eskimos are the defending Grey Cup Champions but needed some time to get back on track after losing a number of key free agents as well as the majority of their coaching staff following last November’s championship win.
Led by the league’s leading passer in Mike Reilly and the prolific receiving duo of Adarius Bowman and Derel Walker, the Esks fought hard to make the playoffs among highly-competitive West Division opponents but could be peaking at exactly the right time.
Jason Maas’ team has won five of its last six games, scoring 40 or more points in three of them while outscoring opponents by a total of 202-144 over that span.
The Ticats, on the other hand, will lean on one of the league’s most talented front sevens on defence along with the fierce competitiveness of Zach Collaros, who will look to overcome a number of injuries on offence and lead Hamilton to its fourth straight appearance in the Eastern Final.
Traditionally one of the CFL’s toughest teams at home, the Ticats have struggled in the Hammer this year and will look to recoup some of that home dominance as the calendar changes months.
» Eastern Semi-Final: Edmonton at Hamilton
» Western Semi-Final: Winnipeg at BC
» Eastern Final: TBD at Ottawa
» Western Final: TBD at Calgary
» 104th Grey Cup Championship
On the other end of the country, the BC Lions host their first playoff game since the 2012 season when they lost the Western Final to Calgary. The Lions have been reinvigorated by Wally Buono’s return to the sideline and Wally’s team fought hard to earn second place in a hotly-contested West Division.
Jonathon Jennings, Emmanuel Arceneaux and Bryan Burnham are exciting to watch but shouldn’t overshadow the team’s league-leading rushing attack or the work Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill have done on the defensive side of the ball.
While the Lions are a balanced team with no glaring holes, their opponent, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, appear to some like a team of destiny. Quarterback Matt Nichols fought the Bombers out of an early hole while their defence leads the CFL in takeaways and turnover ratio, winning games on the strength of big game-changing plays.
The Bombers took both regular season contests and forced five interceptions in two games by the young sophomore Jennings, while the Lions will hope the third time’s the charm against a tricky Bomber defence.
For wall to wall coverage on the road to the Grey Cup, CFL.ca has you covered with all the latest insight, analysis and breaking news throughout the playoffs.
Pictures courtesy of CFL.ca