With the CFL regular season over and done with, it's time for some playoff football. What a regular season it was, though. With many tight games and some great Labour Day classics, it was one of the better CFL seasons in recent memory. But now all that is over and teams that did make the post-season need to focus on their playoff opponents.
In the east, the Montreal Alouettes unsurprisingly finished first by a mile and picked up the first round bye. In the eastern semi-final the Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the Toronto Argonauts. This game should be a hard-fought defensive battle between the two teams. They are evenly matched so it will be a fight right to the final play. The Argos come into the game on a positive note after finishing the season with a win while the Tiger-Cats look to bounce back at home after a two game losing streak to finish off the 2010 season. They have home field advantage and if the regular season counts for anything, the Tiger-Cats should move past the Argos to the east final for a game against the Alouettes. The teams played each other three times during the season and the Tiger-Cats took the season series 3-0 with only one close game along the way.
For the Alouettes, it is simply a waiting game. When their opponent is decided, the Alouettes will have a full week of rest under their belts. The eastern final could go either way, as both Hamilton and Toronto have beaten the Alouettes badly. The Alouettes are most likely hoping for the Tiger-Cats as they have had their number during the season, taking the season series 2-1. The Argonauts are more of a worry for the Alouettes, as the season series was split at two games a piece. Again the east final, much like the east semi-final, is a toss-up. Most likely, though, the Montreal Alouettes will come out on top and head to Edmonton for the Grey Cup final.
In the west, things are a little bit more spread out. The match-up for the western semi-final will feature the Saskatchewan Roughriders at home in their sea of green at Mosaic Stadium squaring off against the B.C. Lions. The Riders are the undisputed favourite in this match-up with a record of 10-8, playing against a team with a record of 8-10. The last game the two played against each other went to the Lions, giving them an edge coming into the western semi-final clash. The game will be a good one, both teams are offensively minded which means lots of exciting plays. The Lions come into the game riding a three game win streak, but fans will give the Riders a boost. B.C. could pull off the catastrophic upset but they will need everyone to play their hearts out.
Awaiting the result of the western semi-final game is the powerhouse of the league, the Calgary Stampeders. Not only did they finish the season with a solid 13-5 record but they had the most offensive points total and allowed the third lowest number of points against total in the league. These guys have the whole package, great offense, great defence, and on top of that, a great group of coaches. The Stamps earned a well-deserved break from action. Whichever team they end up battling for the right to represent the west, it will be a close game. The Riders and Stamps had tough, spirited battles all season long, with Calgary topping the green machine two games to one. The Stamps dominated the B.C. Lions the first two games they played, but the Lions gave them trouble during their last two games and upset to pick up desperately needed wins. Either team they face, the Calgary Stampeders will need to be ready, forget about their great season and remember that anything can happen in the playoffs.
The likely final is Calgary versus Montreal, with Calgary as the favourite to win it all.