Here we go again. The two best teams in the East Division will meet for a fourth and final time in the 2018 season with everything on the line. Both are hoping to punch their ticket to Edmonton, Alberta, and a date with the Grey Cup.
The Redblacks will be hosting the Eastern Final for the third time in four years and have a home playoff record on 33-14 for a winning percentage of .702. This will be the Tiger-Cats’ third appearance in the Eastern Final in the last six years and their first since 2015. As a road team in the post-season, they are 15-29 (.344) in the last 44 games. During the regular season, the Redblacks swept the Tiger-Cats in three games, outscoring them by an average of nine points. The two teams battled in back-to-back games in late October, so they are no strangers to one another. Of note, home team in the Eastern Final is 31-13 since 1973.
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli showed why he was the East division nominate for the league’s Most Outstanding player award with his effort on Sunday afternoon. Masoli led a revamped offence that shocked the BC Lions for 28 points in the first half. At one time the Tiger-Cats were up 44-0. Masoli was 14-of-19 for 259 yards and three touchdowns, in a very clean game for the offence. Just when the Ti-Cats seemed to be down and out late in the regular season – losing their last three games of the year – they bounced back with their best effort of the year.
It’s hard to believe but a running back turned receiver was the unsung hero of the game. Playing in only his fifth CFL game, Bralon Addison had the game of his life, catching five passes for 124 yards, helping Hamilton stretch the field in the absence of all-star Brandon Banks (currently on IR). Luke Tasker caught two touchdown passes and 70 yards of receiving. Linebacker Larry Dean led a unit that completely shut down the Lions, and even scored a defensive touchdown. They’ll have a greater task facing a Redblacks team that will be well rested after enjoying a bye week last week.
The Redblacks enter this game with a lot of confidence. They employ a top quarterback, a pair of 1000-yard receivers, the league’s second-leading rushing, a coach of the year nominee and three straight wins against their opponent on Sunday afternoon. On that last point, a fourth victory will be the toughest. “You throw all that out, what happened in the regular season doesn’t matter,” said Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell to the Ottawa Sun. He’s right, it’s a win and you’re in scenario of both of these teams. These two teams know each other inside and out; it could even get personal for some players, although it’s unlikely anything will be said publicly. Some CFL insiders think Quarterback Trevor Harris could be feeling a bit of an awards snub. Harris put up similar type numbers than his counterpart in Hamilton, and was even the pivot of record in all three wins against Tiger-Cats, but for some reason, Jeremiah Masoli got the nomination as the East’s MOP. This game might provide a little extra for the veteran CFL signal-caller. With all the talk of the team’s great offence, the team’s defence doesn’t get the respect it deserves. During the regular season, they allowed the third least amount of points against, (one point behind second place Winnipeg), and boast two members of the secondary that have five interceptions each (Rico Murray and Jonathan Rose), which is tied for tops in the CFL.