Ladies and gentlemen, we present one of the greatest rivalries in the CFL! The Montreal Alouettes and Edmonton Eskimos, who have faced off in 11 Grey Cups, will go head-to-head in the East final today [1 p.m. ET, TSN]. Of course, it's somewhat odd to see Edmonton in the East final, but the shockingly bad East division this year and the strength of the West led to them crossing over and knocking off the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week. That made them the first crossover team ever to win a playoff game. If they keep it up, we could see a very Western final between Edmonton and either B.C. or Calgary. This should be a great one, particularly with Ricky Ray and Anthony Calvillo, two of the league's best quarterbacks, going head-to-head. For a full preview, take David Lee Roth's advice and go ahead and jump!
(Note: Out of Left Field is not responsible for any injuries incurred while jumping. Also, all numbers used in this post are regular-season unless specified otherwise; the larger sample size is more useful to my way of thinking.)
Edmonton: 10-8 (fourth in West)
Montreal: 11-7 (first in East)
Edmonton: Ricky Ray, 422 completions on 605 attempts (69.8 per cent) for 5661 yards (9.36 yards per attempt, 13.41 yards per completion), 26 touchdowns versus 17 interceptions, 101.8 QB rating in 18 games, 12 300-yard games
Montreal: Anthony Calvillo, 472 completions on 682 attempts (69.2 per cent) for 5633 yards (8.26 yards per attempt, 11.93 yards per completion), 43 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions, 107.2 QB rating in 17 games, 12 300-yard games
Advantage: Montreal. This one is pretty close, as the numbers show. Both QBs air the ball out all day, and they've found a lot of success doing it; they're first (Ray) and second (Calvillo) in the league in passing yards, and they're only 28 yards apart. However, Calvillo gets the nod here thanks to his amazing TD/INT ratio, and he also played in one less game.
(Note: The CFL's passing stats have Calvillo with 5624 yards, while TSN's stats give him 5633 yards. Apparently, CIS isn't the only league with inconsistent stats!)
Edmonton: Wide receiver Kamau Peterson, 101 receptions for 1315 yards (13.0 yards per catch average) in 18 games (73.1 yards per game average), four touchdowns, five 100-yard games
Montreal: Wide receiver Jamal Richardson, 98 receptions for 1287 yards (13.1 yards per catch average) in 18 games (71.5 yards per game average), 16 touchdowns, four 100-yard games
(Notes: Edmonton wide receiver Kelly Campbell also is right up there with 54 receptions for 1223 yards (22.6 yards per catch average) in 15 games (81.5 yards per game average), seven touchdowns and five 100-yard games, as is Montreal slotback Ben Cahoon with 107 receptions for 1231 yards (11.5 yards per catch average) in 17 games (72.4 yards per game average), seven touchdowns and four 100-yard games).
Advantage: Edmonton. Again, this is a pretty close one, but Peterson has slightly better numbers than Richardson and Campbell is a great big play guy.
Edmonton: Running back A.J. Harris, 557 yards on 99 carries (5.6 yards per carry) in 11 games (50.6 yards per game), six touchdowns, one 100-yard game
Montreal: Running back Avon Cobourne, 950 yards on 145 carries (6.6 yards per carry) in 12 games (79.2 yards per game), six touchdowns, seven 100-yard games
(Note: Both backs are also extremely effective as pass receivers, which they spend a good amount of time doing thanks to the pass-happy nature of their team's offences.)
Advantage: Montreal. The Alouettes have a pretty solid running game with Cobourne, so they can go to the ground if the pass doesn't work. With Edmonton, it's more frequently pass or nothing.
Edmonton: Defensive linemen Jim Davis and Dario Romero are tied for the team lead with six sacks.
Montreal: Defensive lineman Keron Williams leads the team with 10 sacks. Linebacker John Bowman has eight.
Edmonton: Cornerback Jason Goss, who has five picks and a total of 182 resulting yards off them, including two pick-sixes.
Montreal: Defensive backs Reggie Miles and Davis Sanchez both have three picks.
Montreal head coach Marc Trestman is in his first year in the CFL, and has had a pretty impressive rookie campaign. Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia grew up in Montreal won the Grey Cup in his rookie campaign with the Eskimos in 2005, but his team hasn't made the playoffs since. Their showdown will be interesting to watch. Edmonton has the historical advantage over Montreal, beating them eight of 11 times in the Grey Cup, but Montreal has the hometown crowd on their side. It's also interesting that the two teams were only one victory apart in the regular season, but that was enough to give Montreal first in the East and Edmonton fourth in the West.
Prediction: This is a tough one to call. The teams are pretty close in most of the statistical categories. However, I like Edmonton's pass-heavy offence against Montreal's generally weak pass defence [CBC.ca, and I think the Eskimos will pull this one out.