Yes, dear readers, it’s time for the first annual 2007 CFL Playoff Preview. I’m sure that all of you are clearing your weekend schedules over the next few weeks in order to make time to watch the upcoming games. And, once those NFL games are done, you might be flicking through the channels and happen upon other football games being played. These are CFL (or Canadian Football League) games. It’s kind of a big deal for us here in the Great White North. Oddball Canadian rules football is the national sport. Well, lacrosse is the national sport, and hockey is the most popular sport. Curling gets good ratings, too. Okay, oddball Canadian rules football is a sport played nationally (except for the East Coast, which is commonly ignored and forgotten about by the rest of Canada as part of a phenomenon known as “common sense”) and it is very popular among those who live too far to drive across the border to an NFL game or are too simple-minded to work their TV remotes (see the Hamilton Tiger-Cat fan pictured above).

If you do happen upon a CFL game on TV, you will notice some of the rules are different. Unique features of the Canadian game include:

* Larger fields
* One extra player per side
* A single point score called a “rouge”
* All wide receivers are allowed to be in motion
* A ball made of ice
* Fields made of ice
* Punters made of ice
* Players on horseback
* Fur uniforms
* Mountie hats instead of helmets
* A maximum number of American players per team
* A minimum number of openly gay players per team

Pictured above: Quarterback, Hamilton Tiger-Cats

It’s a whole different ball of wax, people. Pay attention and you’ll be enthralled by the uniqueness of the Canadian game. There is one thing the NFL and the CFL can agree on, though: the absolute need for team named after an ethnic slur for native people. Redskins fans, meet Eskimos fans.

After the completion of the 18-game regular season last week (Food Court Lunch Trivia: there are 18 games because there are 18 weeks of daylight in Canada each year), the playoffs start this weekend. The match-ups are as follows:

SUNDAY, 2 P.M. ON CBC MONTREAL ALOUETTES @ WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS

The Alouettes are named after a small bird (a lark)….Besides that, we really can’t help you. We at Food Court Lunch didn’t watch much CFL this year, so we really have nothing insightful to say about the team. However, we are able to reprint the lyrics to the French Canadian folk song “Alouette” (with English translation). We are pretty sure that if you read between the lines (and we mean really read between the lines), this will tell you all that you need to know.

Alouette, gentille Alouette
Skylark, nice skylark
Alouette, je te plumerai
Skylark, I shall pluck you
Je te plumerai la tête
I shall pluck your head
(Je te plumerai la tête)
(I shall pluck your head)
Et la tête
And your head
(Et la tête)
(And your head)
Alouette
Skylark
(Alouette)
(Skylark)
O-o-o-oh (This must be sung at an embarrassingly loud volume)
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Je te plumerai le bec
I shall pluck your beak
(Je te plumerai le bec)
Et le bec
(Et le bec)
Et la tête
(Et la tête)
Alouette
(Alouette)
O-o-o-oh

The song continues in this fashion, with the body part of the bird in each verse being substituted with a new one, with the previous items being recited at the end:

Et le cou
And your neck
Et le dos
And your back
Et les ailes
And your wings
Et les pattes
And your feet

As we at Food Court Lunch recall the song, it then descends into a horribly graphic series of verses about the plucking of the bird’s internal organs and genitalia. What this has to do with the CFL — you got us.

The Blue Bombers are hosting the Alouettes for this playoff game. Playing a game at home is usually an advantage for a football team, but in the case of the Blue Bombers, their home is Winnipeg. Given that most right-thinking adults do their best to leave Winnipeg as quickly as humanly possible, it’s not much of an advantage. In fact, it is common practice for Winnipeg players to defect to other teams while on road trips. All the players mill about after the game, shake hands, and BAM! — the entire Blue Bomber roster is making a break for the other team’s change room. They are the Cuban baseball players of central Canada.

Pictured above: A typical Blue Bomber road trip

PREDICTION: WINNIPEG 38, MONTREAL 20

SUNDAY, 5:00 P.M. ON CBC

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS @ CALGARY STAMPEDERS

There is a common joke about the CFL that it has only eight teams but two called the “Roughriders”. This is not funny, as this joke is in fact based on mistaken information. There is no longer a team called the “Roughriders (or “Rough Riders”) in Ottawa. Ottawa lost the privilege of being able to call its team by that name in 1992 when it was defeated by Saskatchewan in the “Roughrider/Rough Rider Bowl”. Subsequently, the Ottawa team changed its name to the “Senators” and switched to hockey. This explains why they were terrible for several years.

Should have stuck to football, boys.

As our sexually promiscuous readers surely knew, “Roughrider” is also the name of a condom:

Ironically, if one of the Saskatchewan players had lived up to the team’s namesake, he would have saved himself a lot of grief. Oh, and HIV as well. Don’t forget the HIV. Grief and HIV.

Food Court Lunch would provide you with brief details of the Calgary Stampeders, but given that we are all Torontonians, we are fearful of adding to the cesspool of Western Alienation in which Calgarians love to wallow. Really, it’s a province of victims. We feel really, really bad for you and your massive plots of oil-filled sand. As such, go screw yourselves, you whining cowboy jackasses “GO STAMPS!”

“I am extremely alienated. Now where’s my gold belt buckle?”

THE DIVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

The winner of the Montreal/Winnipeg game will play the Toronto Argonauts in the Eastern Division final. Although the Argonauts are the favourite to come out of the East, they can be beaten through one of two ways: 1) exploiting weaknesses in their run defence, and 2) elaborate ponzi schemes.

Pictured above: The Argonauts’ achilles’ heel.

The winner of the Calgary/Saskatchewan game will play the B.C. Lions in the Western Division final. The Lions are favoured to win over whatever team plays them due to the powerful combination of weak CFL drug testing and a proliferation of accessible narcotics in Vancouver. Ricky Williams didn’t come to the CFL because he liked the uniforms, people.

Home-grown field advantage: Vancouver

THE GREY CUP

It’s greyish. It’s a cup. What else do you want from us?

Exclusive Food Court Lunch Trivia: Since 1994, the original Grey Cup has been replaced with a replica trophy made of John Candy’s hollowed-out skull. He would have wanted it that way.

We hope you enjoy the CFL games this weekend. To get you in the mood, listen to these CFL fight songs. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the crack of the designated gay defensive end colliding with the ice punter.

Cheers,

The Food Court Lunch Canadian Sports Bureau