Saturday, 19 November 2011

Preview: East Division Final

Despite all the headlines that off-the-field matters are garnering, there is still a game to play on Sunday. A game that I am fairly sure is pretty important.

Sunday's East Division Final is the biggest game for the Tiger-Cats since their last trip to the East Final, which also happened to be their last game against Winnipeg in the playoffs, back in 2001.

The Tiger-Cats are coming off a game where their Offense scored 52 points, but it would be stunning if they matched that output (or even came close) against Winnipeg's. The Winnipeg Defense likes to create turnovers and get sacks, leading the league in both categories during the regular season. It will be of the utmost importance to keep Kevin Glenn upright and for him to avoid turning the ball over.

Winnipeg's Offense is not the type that keeps Defensive Coordinators up at night. The Bombers did not score more than 33 points in a single game all year (they did it twice). In contrast, Hamilton scored 33 points or more on seven occasions in 2011. If the game does become an offensive shootout, the edge goes to the Tiger-Cats.

The Bombers, however, have the edge on Defense, with a ball-hawking Secondary and one of the fiercest pass rushes in the entire CFL. The Cats are no slouches themselves, but Winnipeg has the defensive advantage. A game where points will be at a premium would benefit the Bombers, but not kill the Cats. That said, Hamilton only recorded one victory in 2011 when they scored fewer than 30 points, but never lost when they scored over 30. If the Cats get to the 30-point mark, they should win the game.

It is expected to be cold and windy in Winnipeg on Sunday, so the running game and field position will probably be deciding factors in which team books their flight to Vancouver.

All the off-field stuff has added fuel to the fire that is the burgeoning Hamilton-Winnipeg rivalry, but the game still needs to be played.

And that game should be pretty good.

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