Well, would you look at that? Playoffs have already come around. While the CIS are midway through their playoff run (and we'll get to that, just as soon as we have a little bit of free time on the weekend) the CFL starts its second season Sunday with a pair of games in the East and West Semifinals.
For a bit of a primer, here is each teams' record since Labour Day:
BC's run is all that more impressive because Edmonton went on an astounding run too. The Lions had to win three straight to even make the playoffs to inch out the Esks who had a massive turnaround with the hiring of Eric Tillman. Even then, the media have already called for the head of coach Richie Hall and a decision will be made sometime today over his fate.
But that's not really necessary now. The CFL released their award finalists this week:
Most Outstanding Player:
West: Henry Burris - Calgary
East: Anthony Calvillo - Montreal
The race for MOQB tends to be one of the tamest. Take the quarterback from the best team in each division and give one of them the MVP, as has happened the past three seasons. Henry Burris threw for 4945 yards with a 38:20 TD:Int ratio and a 101.9 rating. Calvillo threw for 4839 with a 32:7 TD:Int radio and a 108.1 rating. It probably belongs to Calvillo, but he operates with such a ruthless efficiency and doesn't have the "anything can happen" feel about his throws. The Calgary passing game is so much more fun to watch, but probably because the chances of an Interception are higher.
West: Juwan Simpson - Calgary
East: Markeith Knowlton - Hamilton
It's harder to do this with players who play different positions because you have to weight importance, which is completely subjective. Normally that would be the case, but seeing as Knowlton is a back for the worst passing defense in the league, I'd give this out of default to Simpson.
West: Andy Fantuz - Saskatchewan
East: Dave Stala - Hamilton
Fantuz had slightly better statistics (1380 to 1015 receiving yards and 87 to 85 catches with an equal number of touchdowns ) but he's surrounded by better receivers to take the heat taken off of him and Stala has never really been the deep threat, which keeps his numbers low. Can we really award an individual award based on one fourth of a catch per game, which sometimes doesn't even depend on the play of the receiver? Hell yes. Fantuz.
Special Teams Player:
West: Yonus Davis - BC
East: Chad Owens - Toronto
Owens. Davis' play may have turned the Lions fortunes around (particularly that blowout at McMahon) but Owens has been a consistent dangerous threat all year and is a blast to watch. You must be this tall ---> to win an individual CFL award.
West: Solomon Elimimian
East: Marcus Thigpen
Thigpen got off to a quick start but cooled off. 6 return touchdowns was still the highest in the league and he was good for a catch per game, but it seemed as if he got all his production out of the way early. Elimimian, other than having one of the more fun names to say, was an important part in the BC defense when they needed it most, with 13 tackles in the final three weeks. Based off nothing other than importance, I give it to Elimimian.
West: Ben Archibald - Calgary
East: Marwan Hage - Hamilton
Do you know anything about linemen? Neither do I. Give it to Archibald, because his name comes highest alphabetically. I've always been a numbers person, and even if I weren't, I find lineman schemes so chaotic I can't for the life of me figure out what's going on unless somebody royally messed up in there. I have mad respect for what those guys do, but I have no friggin clue how to judge performance.
Saskatchewan @ BC - Gametime weather: Sunny 2/-6
The Lions went from cheering for the Riders in one week against Edmonton, to playing them the next, to cheering for them against the Eskimos in the final week, to playing them again in the playoffs, so forgive us if this game doesn't have the rivalurious flair that BC and Saskatchewan used to have.
Forgive the homerism, this one has upset potential: the Lions had 23 interceptions this year, where Darian Durant led the league in passing INTs with 20. History is on the side of the Lions, who won the Grey Cup after an 8-10 record in 2000, where they boasted a moderately efficient defense and a problematic offense. The painting can be had here with the same dried up shades.
Upset potential: 7.
Toronto @ Hamilton - Gametime weather: Rain 12/2
There is no rain in the Canadian football playoffs! One of these teams will be finally eliminated after slow second halves. Three of the Ti-Cats five second half wins have come against Toronto, at home, with the far better passing game, they are definitely the favourites.
That doesn't mean it's a foregone conclusion: these teams have the best two defenses in the league in points scored, enough of a determinant that the game should be close and always within one or two quick scores. That gives Toronto a slight avantage knowing that Chad Owens can break open a huge return at anytime. That may be the only saving grace for the Argos, lest Cory Boyd, who lost the rushing title to Fred Reid due to not playing the final week, has a great game against a competent Hamilton run defense; third in yards allowed and first in yards per carry.
Upset potential: 4.