I am glad the regular season is over.
When a football season begins I am rejuvenated. In the months of August and September I enjoy the grind and through mid-October to November I am enamored with playoff talk and positioning.
But it happens every year - when the final whistle is blown to end a season I say yee-haw! Good! It's playoff time.
The regular season is the price you play for the playoff experience and opportunity to possess a ring. It is a long stressful price but to be in the playoffs it's different. Gone is all discussion about records and who is an "all-star" and what I did or you did. Enter the reality that if you can win three games starting Sunday you can create a memory that will never fade and will always produce a smile when called upon.
Football players pull together come playoff time and it is something unique to see and be a part of. Practices are quieter, meeting almost somber in atmosphere. Not that it does not happen during the regular season but in playoff football it is almost physical in its vibe. Over the next three weeks players re-dedicate, re-focus and realize that this is it. The season will be all worth it or just another year in the books.
For Winnipeg and Edmonton the question is "Where do we go from here?" There is rebuilding and refining in football and Winnipeg is rebuilding. Edmonton is too but with Mike Reilly at quarterback they are a few steps ahead in the personnel department than the Bombers. Change started on Monday in Edmonton with the dismissal of head coach Kavis Reed as in the last three years, they went from 11-7, to 7-11, to 4-14 this season.
I think Montreal is the most dangerous team in the playoffs. Statistically Calgary was the best defence as they allowed the fewest points, 413 over 18 games, about 22 a game. But Montreal has singular game-changing players who create turnovers. Slowly but surely Jim Popp has improved his team and depending on quarterback Troy Smith, Montreal could win it all.
In BC eleven wins in one football season is solid but that is the issue - it is solid but not dominant. It was an awkward season with the Lions. Not great, not bad, just weird. Good one week, not so good the next. No running game, good defence but bad red zone defence. Just seems like the lions never hit their stride this year as they have in the past.
In Hamilton they are better and improving. I can't thank the University of Guelph enough for providing a home (and for being a home for a 220,000lb Purolator tackle hunger donation) but it is time for the Ticats to go back to Balsome Avenue and King Street. If they need some cheap labour come February I am around and willing. They need their home stadium back. Good team trying to be great but they are headed in the right direction.
For the Riders of Regina the dream is still alive! BC won it all two years ago, and Toronto did last year and so can the 2013 Riders. At one point they were 8-1 and then adversity hit both on and off the field. On field is to be expected, off field can be tolerated. The Riders can win it all or could be one and done. Self control and emotional focus for key individual players are issues and must not be seen as an issue come Sunday.
Finally, Toronto and BC. Not complicated at all. Just lay out a practice and meeting schedule that helps your team peak come the 17th of November. And hope that BC, Saskatchewan, Montreal and Hamilton beat each other up real good. No more tracking records or resting, or injuries or alibis. This is it - the best type of football, one game by one game by one game.
Winner take all.