Heat's On in Hogtown
Who can remember a time when so many NFL teams were featuring more prolific and exciting offensive attacks than any CFL team?
Indianapolis, St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego and Cincinnati are all more inventive and entertaining to watch right now when they have the ball than any team north of the border. You could probably toss New Orleans in there, as well.
Only B.C., and sometimes Calgary, have come close to consistently producing offensive excellence this season in the CFL. In the East Division, it's been three yards and a cloud of crushed rubber tires all season long.
That's not the way it's supposed to be. Comparing the two leagues is generally pointless because they are so different, but by tradition we have expected the CFL to feature teams with a greater appetite for putting the ball in the end zone.
Not this season.
In that light, the CFL has got to be hoping the five playoff games over the next three weeks produce some real fireworks.
In Toronto, meanwhile, the Argonauts are clearly facing more pressure entering the post-season than the other five playoff-bound squads.
In a matter of hours over the weekend, the Argos went from hosting the Eastern final to having to play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next weekend just to earn the right to journey to Montreal a week after that for the game that will determine this year's eastern champ.
After the Argos lost to Saskatchewan and Montreal at home to end the season, it's an open question what the fan response will be for next week's division semi at the Rogers Centre. For a franchise that has a lot of tickets to sell for the 2007 Grey Cup, every game is a litmus test of this market's interest in all things CFL.
But if the Argos go down to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, it will almost certainly usher in an era of major personnel changes for the Boatmen.
Since winning the 2004 Grey Cup, the Argos have taken great pains to maintain roster stability, particularly on defence.
But a loss to the Bombers, a strong defensive team that at best will have starting QB Kevin Glenn behind centre but on the limp next Sunday, would signify a need for the Argos to revamp their lineup.
Offensively, this team has consistently under-produced for three years now despite having a lot of flashy names.
Defensively, there's nothing to complain about, really, but the group is getting older and the manner in which Robert Edwards churned for fourth quarter yards in Saturday's 24-20 Montreal win at the dome suggested an Argo defence that ran out of gas.
It bent and bent, but this time, it finally broke.
Winnipeg's Charles Roberts led the CFL in rushing this season and averaged five yards a pop against the Argos this season. If the Toronto defence can't control Roberts next weekend, it'll be a sure sign there's need for change on that side of the ball as well.
If the Argos get through this game, a lot of the pressure will be off as they head to Montreal and then, theoretically, Winnipeg for the Grey Cup game.
But they have to win next Sunday. More than Winnipeg or the two clubs playing in the Western semifinal, Saskatchewan and Calgary, the Argos are facing a must-win proposition.