B.C. @ Montreal
Montreal: Few may have had the foresight to see that relieving the former Heisman Trophy winner and Ohio-State standout in Troy Smith back in mid-October may have been the best decision made by Montreal all season long. Crompton has been a major part of bringing the Montreal squad back to life with a playoff berth against B.C., however, the bulk of the credit should be doled out to what may be one of the most explosive receiver sets this Alouettes team has showcased in several seasons. The potent combination of Duron Carter and S.J. Green may be the best one-two punch in this league from a receiver standpoint, and with a capable gunslinger in Crompton. He can play conservative (a la Calvillo) in letting his receivers extend plays, but has the proven arm strength and sensibility to create big plays downfield even whilst under-pressure. The key will be for Crompton to not let the moment cripple him, as he has already proven to himself and the league that he does in fact belong in Montreal.
B.C.: It’s all about King Solomon and his subjects. The Lions understand where their team’s bread is buttered, and for LB Solomon Elimimian, his 2014 campaign has caused nothing short of cardiac-arrest for opposing offensive linemen this season. A stellar 143 defensive tackles, including five sacks, will cause Elimimian and the Lion’s linebacking core to be the focal point of Montreal’s game-plan heading into Sunday’s matchup. Elimimian’s fellow linebacking teammates in Adam Bighill and Jamall Johnson (with contributions on special teams) have been no slouches either. The only question surrounding B.C.’s chances arrive, once again, behind centre in long-time veteran Kevin Glenn, with an up and down post-season career thus far, but has shown spurts of excellence when given defensive support on the other side of the ball early on.
My pick: B.C.
Saskatchewan @ Edmonton
Edmonton: Let’s be clear on one thing: the job that Chris Jones has done with an Eskimos club that was not only physically damaged, but emotionally as well after last season’s abismal performance has been nothing short of remarkable. This Eskimos’ defense, widely held as the best in the league, will get a boost from the offense with Adarius Bowman at his predictable slotback position and Jon White starting a running back for the Esks. Synonymous with the Eastern semi-final matchup, the biggest worries for Edmonton revolve around its recently-announced starting QB Matt Nicholls, despite whispers that Mike Reilly may in fact be able to start Sunday. We will see how it all unfolds but one thing that’s for certain is that this Eskimos’ defense may show significant signs of distress if DE Odell Willis does not bring consistent pressure in the pocket towards Saskatchewan’s Kerry Joseph, who admittedly is not as mobile as in previous seasons.
Saskatchewan: For the Riders, they claim that even with Mr. Joseph behind centre, it’s business as usual from an offensive standpoint. Rob Bagg, Chris Getzlaf, and a recently re-joined Weston Dressler will all need to be in anticipated top form come Sunday to combat a stingy Edmonton defense. Chris Jones may have brought new life to the Eskimos, but this is a Roughriders team that has much disdain for the Eskimos after facing them three times already this season, with minimal changes in personnel overall. And let’s not forget, Corey Chamblin did take this team to a Grey Cup championship last season. Expect the Roughriders to find new life this Sunday, ending Edmonton’s impressive turnaround season. Chris Jones’ time with the Eskimos will come soon enough, but the Roughriders have some revenge to exact first before all is said and done.
My pick: Saskatchewan