The CFL’s muddled playoff picture should come more into focus after this weekend.
By Sunday, the four West Division post-season participants could be decided as well as top spot in the East Division. Then again, it could just as easily come down to the final week of the regular season, which would only be fitting given the wackiness that’s been 2018 thus far.
Last week, the CFL revealed no less than 64 potential playoff permutations. After the weekend’s action, that number has been reduced to 32.
Calgary (12-4) will know by Sunday if it has clinched first in the West Division or will require a road win in Vancouver on Nov. 3 to do so. The Stampeders will secure top spot with a victory or tie in Winnipeg on Friday night or a Saskatchewan loss or tie the following night versus B.C.
But the Stampeders have dropped two straight, both losses coming at home where they’d been unbeaten. The latest was a 29-24 decision to Saskatchewan on Saturday night.
A loss to Winnipeg and a Saskatchewan win over B.C. would force Calgary needing a win or tie versus the Lions in the regular season-finale to secure home field for the West final Nov. 18.
Saskatchewan (11-6) can still clinch first with a home win over B.C. (9-7) on Saturday and Calgary dropping its remaining two games. That would leave both tied with 12-6 records but the Riders would get first after winning the season series.
Winnipeg (9-7) would clinch a playoff berth with a win or tie against Calgary and thus eliminate the Edmonton Eskimos (8-9) from post-season contention. The Bombers have won four straight and will be rested coming off the bye week.
The Bombers would finish third with a victory and B.C. loss to Saskatchewan, leaving the Lions as the crossover team.
The irony is Edmonton will be cheering for provincial rival Calgary this weekend. A Stampeders win would keep the Eskimos in playoff contention heading into what would then be a crucial showdown with Winnipeg at Commonwealth Stadium on Nov. 3.
In that scenario, Edmonton would gain the crossover spot with a win over Winnipeg, which would be eliminated. The best the Eskimos can do is finish fourth in the West standings.
As for the East Division, Ottawa (9-7) can cement top spot with a road win over Hamilton (8-8) on Saturday. The Redblacks gained the upper hand by rallying for a 35-31 home win over the Ticats on Friday night to open the home-and-home series.
An Ottawa sweep would result in Hamilton finishing second and hosting the crossover team in the East semifinal Nov. 11.
But Ottawa would still control its own destiny even with a Hamilton victory. In that scenario, the Redblacks could still cement first with home victory over Toronto on Nov. 2, regardless of what the Ticats do the following day against Montreal.
The only way Hamilton can finish first is by winning its last two games (versus Ottawa and Montreal) and the Redblacks dropping their final two regular-season contests. And the Ticats would have to do it without Brandon Banks.
The speedy receiver suffered a season-ending broken clavicle Friday night. It’s a huge loss for Hamilton as Banks had eight catches for 133 yards and a TD against Ottawa prior to getting hurt.
Banks is second overall in CFL receiving with 1,423 yards on 94 catches with 11 TDs, tying him with teammate Luke Tasker for the league lead in that category.
It’s been a rough season for Hamilton receivers. Canadian Shamawd Chambers, Jalen Saunders and Chris Williams have all suffered with season-ending injuries while Terrence Toliver is also hurt.
If there’s any good news, it’s Terrell Sinkfield Jr., who re-signed with Hamilton on Oct. 11, could return to the lineup Saturday.
UP IN SMOKE: Recreational marijuana use became legal in Canada last week and it seems it didn’t take CFL fans long to take advantage.
On Saturday night, the Saskatchewan Roughriders defeated Calgary 29-24 at McMahon Stadium. That prompted an interesting tweet from veteran Stampeders punter Rob Maver.
“McMahon smelled like a Rolling Stones concert circa 1975 tonight @ halftime – fitting for Rock and Red night. #Legalized,” Maver said.
PAYING DIVIDENDS: The late-season acquisition of receiver DeVier Posey paid off big for the B.C. Lions on Friday night.
Posey had five catches for 113 yards and three TDs as B.C. rallied for a 42-32 home win over Edmonton. The victory was the Lions’ third straight, but more importantly earned them a playoff berth.
Posey, the MVP of Toronto’s Grey Cup win last year, joined the Lions in September after being released by the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. The six-foot-two, 210-pound former Ohio State star has 22 catches for 302 yards (13.7-yard average) since arriving in B.C. but the three TDs were his first of the season.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press