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Previewing the 104th Grey Cup

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Calgary, Ottawa face off for CFL championship

Despite the dropping temperatures, things are heating up on the gridiron north of the border.

The 104th Grey Cup is upon us. The Calgary Stampeders and the Ottawa REDBLACKS have gotten the job done in their respective division finals and are set to meet at BMO Field in Toronto, making it the 48th Cup to be hosted in the city, though it is the first in the new Argonauts stadium.

It's a tale of two seasons, really. Calgary seemed destined to make it to the big game this year as they demolished all comers; they managed to put up both the most productive offense and the stingiest defense on their way to rolling up a 15-2-1 record. Ottawa, on the other hand, squeaked into the playoffs thanks to a weak East division ' their record was a mere 8-9-1 and they actually gave up more points than they scored on the season. However, once the playoffs arrive, everyone is back to zero.

This is Calgary's second Cup berth in three years, while Ottawa is here for the second year in a row, despite this only being the expansion franchise's third year in existence.

To get here, the Stamps blew out a BC Lions team that probably deserved better. However, the Leos had no answer for Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell, who continued his season for the ages by throwing for 365 yards and three TDs on the afternoon; receivers Marquay McDaniel and DaVaris Daniels both going for over 100 yards and a score. The team also dominated the ground game with 166 yards, half of which came from Jerome Messam.

Oh, and the Calgary defense exerted their will over the BC offense ' they didn't allow a point in the first half and wound up giving up just 15 late points. The final score was 42-15 and it really wasn't that close.

As for the REDBLACKS, they actually pulled a bit of an upset in a game that, thanks to the crossover, wound up as a rematch of last year's Grey Cup. However, this time they managed to pull it out against an Edmonton Eskimos team that looked like a potential back-to-back champ.

Ottawa shrugged off a strong Edmonton defense and led by as much as 22 points, thanks to an efficient day from veteran QB Henry Burris and a shocking, game-breaking performance from backup running back Kienan LaFrance, who went off for 157 yards and a touchdown.

And despite a near-record regular season, the Eskimos offense never managed to exploit the REDBLACKS D. Edmonton QB Mike Reilly was good but not great, going for 340 yards and three TDs without a turnover, yet failing to complete half of his throws. Ottawa was able to stifle them enough to hold off a late surge and prevail, 35-23.

So which of these teams will hoist aloft the Grey Cup?

While there's something to be admired in the dogged scrappiness displayed by the REDBLACKS ' and it's undeniably impressive that they've managed their second Grey Cup slot in a row as such a young franchise ' the reality is that they just don't look to have the consistency on both sides of the ball that it's going to take to win.

Because make no mistake ' this Calgary team is a powerhouse. With the top scoring offense AND top scoring defense, the Stampeders are a squad that is firing on all cylinders. They won it all just two years ago ' and this group looks even better than that one did. They've got the advantage in star power and are peaking at the right time.

Sure, Henry Burris might have one more transcendent game left in his aging arm. And it's possible that the breakout by LaFrance is repeatable to a degree and the defense is able to muster up legitimate opposition to the Calgary attack. But there are a whole lot of things that need to go right for the REDBLACKS to get it done.

No, it seems more likely that Bo Levi Mitchell continues cementing his status as his generation's heir to the legendary CFL passers like Burris. He'll be choosing from among four receivers who caught at least 50 balls this year. League-leading rusher Jerome Messam is also a major part of the picture. Add to that a defense that includes a punishing pass rush led by sack leader Charleston Hughes and it all becomes clear.

Expect the Stampeders to bring the Grey Cup back to Calgary.

Final score

Calgary 35 ' Ottawa 20


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