LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL West Final – Edmonton Eskimos @Calgary Stampeders Sunday Nov. 12 4:30p EDT (10:30p CEST)

CHRIS O’LEARY
@OLEARYCHRIS
CALGARY — Saturday was for walkthroughs, but a weigh in might have felt more appropriate.

The Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders meet today with a berth in the 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw on the line, the two heavyweights the only two teams left standing in the West Division.

Calgary (13-4-1) has the better record than Edmonton (12-6) and owns the season series 2-1, but to even things out, the Eskimos are the hotter team coming into the game. They’ve won six straight, including last week’s 39-32 Western Semi-Final win over Winnipeg. After clinching the West Division, the Stamps lost their final three games of the season. Edmonton was responsible for one of those losses.

“We’re two teams headed in the same direction and that’s the Western Final, in my opinion,” Esks QB Mike Reilly said. “We’ve obviously both had pretty good success this season in a very difficult division. We went through a six-game losing streak and came out of it the other end and everyone’s saying we’re the hottest team in the league on a six-game win streak or whatever it is right now. I don’t put any stock into that. I put stock into what I’ve seen when I played against them and I know they’ve always played extremely hard and with a lot of pride, especially when they’re playing against us.”

Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson admitted on Saturday that with the division clinched so far out, a human nature element may have crept into how his team closed out the season.

“I think we took a breath and forgot that it takes a lot to win a football game,” he said. “We were willing combatants but it takes a little extra and you have to have that inner drive. When you start worrying about your health and worrying that you’re healthy at the end of the game, a lot of times injuries happen and you lose your momentum. I felt like we fell into that trap a little bit.”

It was thrown out there in that press conference that there might be another trap, set for Edmonton to fall into. In their three final, inconsequential games, Dickenson increasingly rested veteran players and trimmed down the playbook for his team as it faced three West opponents to close out the schedule.

“Once you’ve locked up first place, you want to play good football. You don’t want to go out there and lose games,” Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said. “We just wanted to do certain things and not show too many things. We wanted to give some guys some rest but not too much rest, so that we go into the playoffs healthy. I think it’s paid off.”

The idea didn’t seem to cause Esks head coach Jason Maas much stress. He cited a Calgary defense that allowed 16 points per game this year and said he didn’t expect drastic changes.

“I’d be shocked if they come out and play a completely different defense. Something we’re not exactly prepared for. Will it have a wrinkle or two? Yeah, I’m guessing it would,” Maas said. “You’ve had a week or two to prepare, you’ve played against us three times. So there are obviously things that you feel comfortable about or want to change. Their defence is great. I don’t know that you’d need to change anything.”

As it stands, this is The Battle of Alberta in its truest form. This is the third time in the last four years these teams have met in this game. It’s Calgary’s No. 1 defense lining up against Edmonton’s No. 1 offense (27.2 points per game). It’s Edmonton’s incredibly tough defensive line trying to get to Mitchell, and Calgary’s O-line opening up lanes for the run game and letting Mitchell put his well-rested arm to work. It’s the 13th time ever that these two have played in the Western Final. The count is deadlocked at 6-6.

“This is the one that all the fans are waiting on, to me. You can’t get no bigger than this,” Eskimos defensive end Odell Willis said. “The match ups …. this is what you want, this is the game you want to be at. This is the game you want to be doing your reports on, so you could live it. You never know, it might be an instant classic or it might be a blowout. Either or, the buildup for this game is the one you want to be at and the one you want to be around. Hopefully we can put on a good show.”

Reilly:

“I always want to play against the best. I’ve said that for my whole career. I love playing against the best and this year with 13 wins they were the best. Playoffs are a whole different beast and I’m excited to go out there and play against them.”

Photo: The Canadian Press

By the numbers:

3.2 — Jerome Messam‘s yards per carry over the last four games of the season, with 119 yards on 37 carries.

6 — Consecutive division finals appearances by the Stampeders, one short of the team record seven set from 1990 through 1996. The CFL record is 10 in a row by Edmonton (1973-82).

7 — The number of four-man combinations at receiver for the Stamps, who have missed their two leading receivers (Marquay McDaniel and Marken Michel) over the last three games.

10 — The number of points the Eskimos have led by at least once in each of their last six games, all victories. Each win on the Eskimos’ six-game winning streak has come against a different opponent.

17 — Losses for the Calgary Stampeders over the last five years, compared to 71 wins. Of those 17 losses, six have come after clinching first place, half of which have come this year.

33.8 — Edmonton’s scoring average over the team’s six-game winning streak.

70 — The floor for C.J. Gable throughout his five starts for the Edmonton Eskimos, including 107 yards in the Western Semi-Final. Gable has 473 yards on 89 carries for the Esks with a 5.3-yard average and four rushing touchdowns.

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2017 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

If you can’t watch it live, each game is available for viewing through the remainder of the season.

LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL Playoffs – Edmonton Eskimos @Calgary Stampeders Sunday Nov. 12 4:30p EDT (10:30p CEST)

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