CFL Western Division Final Gambling
Stampeders Visit Lions for Right to Represent West in the Grey Cup
Back in the summer if you would have asked most “experts” who they thought would fight for the Western Division Championship in the CFL they would have said Calgary and BC. Well, the prognosticators got it right! The Lions begin their Title defense on Sunday when they play host to the Calgary Stampeders, a team that has played the Lions close this year and will likely do so again in the West Final.
Calgary Stampeders (12-6) vs. BC Lions (13-5)
Date/Time: Sunday, November 18, 4:30 PM ET
Venue: BC Place
Stamps vs. Lions Betting Lines from betonline.com
Spread: Lions -6 1/2 (-110)
Moneyline: Stampeders +230: Lions -270
Over/Under: 50 1/2 points
The Stampeders earned their shot at the Lions with an exhilarating 36-30 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week. Drew Tate won CFL Offensive Player of the Week after passing for 363 yards and two scores. He made John Hufnagel look like a genius despite all of the controversy about naming him the starter. He looks to be back to form after missing most of the regular season with injury and he provides a nice boost to a passing offense that ranked fifth in the CFL during the regular season.
The Lions will not only have to contain Drew Tate but they will have to hope to slow the league leader in rushing – Canadian Jon Cornish who rumbled for 1457 yards this season – 109 last week on 19 carries. Cornish scored 11 times on the ground this season, added 38 catches for 338 yards and two more TDs.
All told, the Stampeders have a formidable, balanced offense especially since Drew Tate is back in the fold. They led the league in points scored this season with 535 will be a stiff test for certain this week in the cozy confines of BC Place.
As for the defense, Calgary has been nothing special – middle of the pack in almost every statistical category.
The BC Lions are as healthy as they have been in quite some time. Hopes are that rust won’t creep into what they hope to do offensively. Travis Lulay, one of the aforementioned injured players returns after a good 2012 campaign in which he recorded a 100.7 QB rating, he passed for 4231 yards and 27 TDs. But he did miss a few important tune-up games down the stretch.
Lulay will have all his weapons back in an offense that was 4th in the CFL in passing even though Mike Reilly played the better part of three games. The Lions also owned the top ranked running offense thanks to Andrew Harris who had 1,112 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, to go along with 75 catches for 718 yards and four scores.
BC’s defense was incredible this season. They have 4 2012 divisional all-stars including Keron Williams who led the league in sacks with 12 and defensive back Korey Banks who also made the list for the seventh consecutive year after logging 50 tackles and an interception. The Lions ended the season at or near the top of almost every statistical category – they are a nightmare for the opposition!
• Calgary is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
• The total has gone OVER in 5 of Calgary's last 5 games
• The total has gone OVER in 4 of Calgary's last 5 games when playing on the road against British Columbia
• Calgary is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games when playing on the road against British Columbia
• British Columbia is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
• British Columbia is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
• British Columbia is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Calgary
• The total has gone OVER in 4 of British Columbia's last 5 games when playing at home against Calgary
The Lions won the season series 2-1 this season but in the last game the Stamps blew out their division rivals in a game that Travis Lulay remained on the sidelines. As far as the head-to-head record between these two clubs in the division finals is concerned, they've clashed a total of five times, with the Lions ahead by a count of 3-2. The teams have alternated wins over the last four encounters, with Calgary posting victory in the most recent meeting in 2008, and BC moving on following their 2000 matchup. Going back to 1945, the Lions have taken part in the division finals a total of 20 times and have been victorious in half of those efforts, while Calgary has been here on 30 occasions, but advanced just 12 times.
This game has all the makings of a classic! But there is no doubt who the better team is. If Travis Lulay can shake the cobwebs, the defense and Andrew Harris should be able to do enough in support of their QB. While 6 1/2 points is on the high side, I like the Lions to avenge a 20 point loss to Calgary in the last meeting, to get a lead and to ride Andrew Harris late and advance to the 100th Grey Cup.
Pick: BC Lions -6 1/2
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