Toronto Argonauts quarterback Chad Kelly will try to carry his regular-season success into his first career playoff start Saturday afternoon against the visiting Montreal Alouettes in the East Division final.
The winner goes to the Grey Cup final Nov. 19. Toronto won the championship last year.
“I definitely know it’s do or die,” Kelly said. “You must be in a different mindset to do a little bit more, but you’ve got to treat it as if it were the same game you’ve been playing.”
Kelly posted a 15-1 record in his starts during his first season as a No. 1 quarterback. He helped the Argonauts to a 16-2 mark that matched the CFL record for most regular-season victories.
Kelly completed 270 of 394 passes (68.5 percent) for 4,123 yards with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Kelly was named the East Division’s nominee for the CFL’s outstanding player award.
“I want his approach to be the same,” Toronto coach Ryan Dinwiddie said. “You just have to do the things that got you to this stage. Play confident, play calm and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.”
Kelly played a key role in Toronto’s 24-23 Grey Cup win last year over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Kelly replaced injured starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson in the fourth quarter, completing four of six passes for 43 yards and making a 20-yard run.
Toronto won the division final against Montreal last year and also all three games between the teams this season.
Montreal (11-7) is on a six-game winning streak after defeating the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats 27-12 last Saturday in the East semifinal.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo was 15-for-23 in passing for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
Montreal finished second in the East and the first-place Argonauts had a first-round bye.
“We’ll have our hands full and our work cut out for us,” Fajardo said. “Sixteen-two has only been done once in the CFL, especially with them coming off a bye and being healthy. But sometimes when you play the week before, you have momentum and high energy going into a final as opposed to being on a bye week.”
Toronto will be without wide receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (hip), defensive back Maurice Carnell IV (knee) and running back Dan Adeboboye (ankle).
Montreal will be without wide receivers Kaion Julien-Grant (shoulder) and Chandler Worthy (ankle), defensive back Zach Lindley (head), defensive lineman Marcus Valdez (ankle) and offensive lineman Pier-Olivier Lestage (knee).
–Field Level Media