The CFL playoffs are here and so is our panel to offer their predictions
Rider Fan Forum | by Gregory Beatty
The CFL West has been ultra competitive this season. Sitting at 13–5 and hosting the West final against the winner of the Nov. 10 semi-final between Winnipeg and Calgary, the Riders have MORE than held their own.
But will that translate into playoff success? To look ahead, we’re joined by our Rider Fan Forum panel of Ron Mexico, Cal Corduroy, Ivanka Trudeau and Earl Camembert.
The Riders finished with their best record since 1970 but I wouldn’t describe their performance as dominant. What impressed you about the team and what’s got you worried?
RON MEXICO Almost everything impressed me. They won some tight games, including a couple of walk-offs, which showed an ability to handle adversity. I was a bit put off by their inability to win in Calgary on Oct. 11 — that would’ve pretty much sewn up first place. I realize the Stamps are good and Calgary is a difficult place to play, but it was a missed opportunity. Other than that, there wasn’t much to complain about. Although I still say Jon Ryan is overrated as a punter. Sure, he’s good. But he’s punted too many balls into the end zone for rouges.
CAL CORDUROY Good teams find a way to win. And no matter how you cut it, 13–5 is their best finish in nearly 50 years. Our defence has been good for most of the season, and despite our pathetic offensive coordinator, we have somehow managed to screen pass our way to the top. Obviously, a healthy Cody Fajardo matters. But two of the three main contenders (Hamilton and Winnipeg) are going with QBs who weren’t starters back in June. This is one of those seasons where the team that plays their best on game day wins. There’s no “team of fate” à la the Washington Nationals in baseball this year.
IVANKA TRUDEAU I’m definitely impressed. Fajardo and the rest of the team were able to secure victories, even if we were down early or late in the game. I’m also impressed with our coaches — particularly head coach Craig Dickenson for his demeanour and way of always teaching our players to be better; and defensive co-ordinator Jason Shivers who has done just as well as his predecessor. I also really enjoyed Jammin’ with the Riders! Haha! I am worried by some of the sloppy mistakes and penalties. We won’t get away with that in the playoffs. And I am concerned about Fajardo’s injury.
EARL CAMEMBERT The Riders were extremely resilient and won games when I was throwing in the towel after the first quarter. The Oct. 26 game in Edmonton is a prime example, but there were others. In the rematch that clinched the West Division, they overcame their idiot kicker missing four field goals and still won — without their starting QB to boot. What worries me is that a lot of things went their way, or at least seemed to go their way. Key injuries to opponents, a two-game suspension to a star RB for using a performance-enhancing drug, and so on. Can they keep it up in the West Final?
Along with Calgary and Winnipeg in the West, Montreal hosts Edmonton in the East semi-final. Who do you like in those games?
RON MEXICO Calgary over Winnipeg and Montreal over Edmonton. On an unrelated note, I think Rider DB Nick Marshall (although a good player) is a hot dog who is going to cost us a dumb penalty before the season is over.
CAL CORDUROY Winnipeg is horrible. It looks good on their boob coach Mike O’Shea. They’ll bow out mercifully to the Stamps. The other game is tough to call. If QB Trevor Harris plays well, the Esks can win. Although my preference would be for the Als to give it to Edmonton’s boob coach Jason Maas.
IVANKA TRUDEAU I don’t think Calgary has been playing very well lately (yes, they beat us on Oct. 11, but only by two points, and we beat ourselves with penalties and mistakes), so I might give the advantage to Winnipeg. I definitely would if the game was in Winnipeg, but I’m not sure Zach Collaros can do enough on offence to combine with good Bomber defence and special teams to beat Calgary in Calgary.
In the East semi-final, I think Montreal will beat Edmonton. Khari Jones has done a great job with that team and I hope it continues for him (but not against us if they make it to the Grey Cup, of course!)
EARL CAMEMBERT I don’t think Calgary is very good. Plus, as a general statement, they can suck it. They barely beat BC in the last game of the year. Winnipeg should win if they get some decent quarterbacking from Zach Collaros (and he doesn’t get clocked and have to leave the game). Montreal will beat Edmonton. Jason Maas will screw something up, while the Great Gazoo (check out the helmets Khari Jones wore as a player) won’t.
The Riders and Hamilton host the West and East finals on Nov. 17. Are they destined to meet in the Grey Cup in Calgary on Nov. 24, or can they be beaten?
RON MEXICO Calgary swept the season series 2–0 so obviously they can beat the Riders. Hamilton’s amazing record surprises me, but they can be beaten too. Neither will be beaten though, and it will be Riders-Tiger Cats in the Grey Cup.
CAL CORDUROY Hamilton will emerge from the East. The West is a tougher call. The Riders can beat the Stamps, but it won’t be an easy game, and it will depend on Fajardo being healthy, our defence playing at the top of their game, and our “offensive” coordinator losing his mind and getting the ball downfield.
IVANKA TRUDEAU I see the Riders winning at home to make it to the Grey Cup. The team never quits and has enough talent to win as long as they don’t take too many penalties. For the East final, my head says Hamilton but my heart says Montreal — which would be amazing considering everyone I know had Montreal pegged for last in the league this year.
EARL CAMEMBERT Neither Montreal or Edmonton can beat Hamilton, they cruise through in a walk. The Riders, though, can be beat. But they have home field, which I think makes a difference. It’s gonna be close, though, which means I’ll have to stay to the end even though I’m sure I’ll be freezing my ass off. Pass the hand warmers.
What’s your bold Grey Cup prediction?
RON MEXICO I think Hamilton beats Saskatchewan in a relatively close game. On a related note, I’ve always thought the 1989 Grey Cup was nowhere near the best Grey Cup ever played. I think to be the best Grey Cup there has to be some defensive performance. There was none in that game.
CAL CORDUROY Let’s call it a year of destiny. Riders squeak out a victory over the Cats 24–20.
IVANKA TRUDEAU Riders, of course!! BEL13VE!
EARL CAMEMBERT Dane Evans will join Joe Zuger, Chuck Ealey, Mike Kerrigan and Henry Burris as Hamilton QBs who have played the Riders in the Grey Cup. While Zuger and Ealey won, Evans will suffer the same fate as Kerrigan and Burris. Being in Calgary, the Grey Cup will be like a home game for the Riders which will be the difference. Hamilton beats anyone else who gets to the Cup except the Riders.