A new year, another chance at history.
The Calgary Stampeders shouldn’t let this opportunity go to waste.
Sure, the 13-1-1 Stamps could win the West Division with one more victory in their final three outings, starting with a home date against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday night at McMahon Stadium.
Why not win five more straight games and finish the year undefeated after July 14? That loss to the Montreal Alouettes, and an opener sawoff against the Ottawa RedBlacks, are the only blemishes in another brilliant season for the Stamps.
A year ago, the Stamps were in the same position, with a loss and early tie sparking them to a long winning streak. They went into the final week of the season at 15-1-1 before losing to the Alouettes (what is it with the Stamps playing in Montreal?) with mostly backups getting the action and Drew Tate under centre.
There’s a case to be made for the Stamps resting players after they clinch first and lock down the West final Nov. 19, but there is no reason to do that this year.
Not that the loss to the Als changed anything when it came to the playoffs in 2016. The Stamps rolled into the Grey Cup by easily whipping the B.C. Lions and then came up short against the RedBlacks in one of the most thrilling championship games in CFL history.
Let’s consider where the Stamps are now though.
In the final three weeks, they face the Riders, the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, with the final game at home Nov. 3.
There be 15 days off to regroup after the regular season closes if they have first locked up, so any of those bumps and bruises will have time to heal.
One of those three West teams will be the opponent in the West final, so this is a chance for the Stamps to leave their rivals with thoughts that they are facing a major uphill climb when they come into McMahon for a berth in the Grey Cup.
For the first time in months, the Stamps are getting healthier rather the other way around thanks to a bye prior to the final month of games. The bye weeks came at perfect times this season, nice and evenly spaced.
Receivers DaVaris Daniels and Kamar Jorden and running back Jerome Messam all returned from various injuries against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last week as the Stamps squeaked out a road win on a last-second field goal.
There is more good news on the horizon as returner Roy Finch is expected to return by the end of the regular season, and defensive end Cordarro Law is making a recovery from a broken leg and hopes to give the top-ranked defence another boost.
Regardless of how it looked, the trip to Hamilton was an 11th straight victory. They are dominant at home and manage to just get things done on the road. It’s a good combo, especially seeing as how they have one more road outing in Edmonton and then the Grey Cup in Ottawa, if they get that far.
Only the 1989 Edmonton Eskimos at 16-2 were better in 18 regular-season games than last year’s Stamps, but now this group has a chance to best that mark.
This group already has impressive marks on their resume, including a record amount of straight wins against divisional opponents (16) and a home win streak that stretches back to 2015 (17 games).
Now the Stamps could lose two of their final three regular-season games then go on to win the Grey Cup and it would be an unqualified successful season.
This team keeps raising the bar on impressive feats though, and how much more impressive would it be to see 18 wins in 20 games that mattered this season?
There are those who call the Stamps ‘chokers’ because they don’t win more Grey Cups, so that could be a rallying cry over the next month.
What is a better rallying call though than being part of an all-time great team? This team has a chance to go down in history as one of those in the conversation as best ever though. What could be better than that?
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