Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell got a nice accolade this week when he was named as the West Division’s nominee for Most Outstanding Player. On Sunday he'll try to lead the Stamps to another Grey Cup Final.
The pressure is hot and heavy on the Stampeders as they have to fight the Bombers to get to a third consecutive Grey Cup. There are also the critics who are quick to remind them that they have lost back-to-back Championships games after cruising through the regular season as the CFL’s top team.
The Stampeders will host a playoff game for the seventh consecutive season, and it’s also the seventh time they have made it to the West Final. Calgary has a career 34-20 record at home during the post season. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was in 1982 in the Western Semi-final; however, the last time they met in the post-season was in the 2001 Grey Cup in Montreal, where the underdog Stampeders knocked off the Bombers 27-19.
During the regular season, these two teams split the two game series, each winning at home. In those two games, the teams averaged 57.5 points scored per game. This is the first divisional final for the Blue Bombers since the 2011 season, when they defeated the Tiger-Cats to make it to the Grey Cup. Overall, they have a playoff road record of 22-32 for a .407 winning percentage. Of note, home teams in the West Division final are 27-19 (.587) since the 1972 season.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Blue Bombers punched their ticket to the West Division finals, with a 23-17 win over Saskatchewan in Regina. Now, they’ll have to win on the road once again if they want to play in the league championship game. Frigid temperatures took over the game in Regina this past Sunday, the temperature hovering around -15 celsius at game time, which meant the team’s run game would have to be on point, and it was.
Running back Andrew Harris, who won back-to-back league rushing championships, showed why he is the Western nominee for Top Canadian player. Harris carried the ball 19 times for 153 yards and a touchdown. It’s the third time this season that he’s rushed for over 150 yards in a game, and the first time he’s rushed for over 100 yards in a post-season game. It gave the Bombers their first playoff win since the 2011 season.
Early weather reports out of Calgary say temperatures will be above freezing, but no matter the temperature, this Bombers offence will win or lose on the legs of Andrew Harris. Could this be the year for the Bombers? The team will head to Calgary winning six out of the last seven games.
The Stampeders crawled to the regular season’s finish line snapping a three-game losing streak to beat the short-handed BC Lions on the last regular season game of the season. Maybe Head Coach Dave Dickenson said it best, “I don’t think anyone’s scared of us right now, I really don’t.” After burning through the first three months of the regular season with only one loss, this team hit a bump in the road, and completed the last nine games with a 5-4 record.
During their playoff bye week, the Stampeders received some great news involving their quarterback. Bo Levi Mitchell was nominated as the West division representative for the Most Outstanding player award. It’s the third time Mitchell has been nominated for the award, and he is looking to win it for a second time (previously won it in 2016). He’s been the key to the Stampeders 13-5 passing for a career high 35 touchdown passes this season.
The Stamps own the number one ranked defence in the CFL, giving up a league-low 363 points against, forcing a league-high 20 fumbles, and led by the CFL’s top tackler Alex Singleton with 122 on the season.