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Intimate details give the Argonauts edge over Stamps

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If this were an easy game to call, it wouldn't be appropriate as the 100th Grey Cup.

As a Bombers fan or alumnus, the team to support at the Rogers Centre on Sunday is the Calgary Stampeders. There are eight players on the Stamps' roster that have spent time with the Blue Bombers, a number of whom would still be playing here if it were up to them. The ex-Bomber patriots include Stevie Baggs, Arjei Franklin, Dorian Smith, Romby Bryant, Kevin Glenn, Jabari Arthur, Obby Khan and Rene Paredes.

So while my heart, and most likely yours, will be with the Cowtown Cowboys Sunday evening, my mind tells me that Blue and Gold nostalgia will not be a deciding factor in this contest.

To start breaking down this matchup, let's begin with the reasons why the Argonauts could win.

While Kevin Glenn is playing inspired football and is most dangerous when he feels he has something to prove, he is up against the CFL's version of the Hollywood Top Gun pilot, Ice Man, i.e. Ricky Ray. He is so cool under pressure and nonchalant, many mistake his stoic persona for indifference, but he is anything but. He is a future Hall of Famer, an all-star, a former Grey Cup MVP, and he is hitting his stride within the Scott Milanovich- designed offence.

The best player in the CFL right now also happens to play for the Argos, and that is Chad Owens. He used to be a league-wide problem when he was only a special teams player in the CFL. Now he is also the most threatening and productive wide receiver in the game who just broke the all-time league record for yards from scrimmage. If he can hang onto the football -- which is more challenging for Owens than you might think -- he will effect the outcome of this game.

The Argos also have an unheralded running game to balance their passing attack.

All-world

While Chad Kackert has fewer than half the carries and yards of all-world Stampeder Jon Cornish, he does have the best yards-per-carry average of any tailback in the league with more than 30 carries.

The swing vote for me, however, when it came to deciding on who to bet on in this game, began with an examination of the two games the Argonauts and Stampeders played in the regular season, where Toronto won both contests by a combined score of 61-50.

While the pundits will tell you how hard it is to beat any team three times consecutively, this fact may be altered by the intimate knowledge Toronto has of Calgary.

Chris Jones, former defensive co-ordinator for the Stamps for four years, is now the defensive co-ordinator for the Argos. His familiarity with Stampeders personnel and offence may be part of the explanation why Toronto has been so effective at nullifying some key Stampeder weapons. In the two regular-season games they played this year, Cornish was limited to 39 and 43 yards rushing, while Glenn averaged only 232 yards in the air.

The reasons why the Stampeders could win the centennial Grey Cup are more basic, but just as critical. They are quite simply the hottest team in the CFL right now. They won their last six games in a row, they knocked off the defending Grey Cup champions at home, and are apparently up in arms because they can't find suitable hotel lodgings for their horse. Talk about a deadly combination of confidence and fury.

They have the most outstanding Canadian and MVP runner-up in their stable with Cornish, a defence led by former Bombers assistant coach Rick Campbell that is overachieving, and one pissed off quarterback at the helm.

Last, but certainly not least, for those of you that understand the merit of trench play in professional football, the Stamps have by far the best offensive line in the CFL. If they continue to monopolize the line of scrimmage, like they have the last six weeks, and don't force Glenn into a gunslinging duel with Ricky Ray, they could be the X factor in determining the outcome of this game.

Either way it goes, the stage is set for a competitive game worthy of 100-year credentials.

Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, usually appears Tuesdays and game days in the Free Press.

Twitter: @DougBrown97

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 24, 2012 $sourceSection0

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