With two weeks left in the season, most of the playoff picture has already been settled; this year, Hamilton, Montreal and BC find themselves on the outside looking in, but so far, only Calgary has clinched the division. As a result, with a few games going counter to the picks I’ve made below could make for an extremely interesting Week 20 – Winnipeg hasn’t locked up the second seed in the West yet, while the East is still up for grabs between Ottawa and Toronto. As the temperature continues to drop, the intrigue continues to heat up.
Onto the games!
WEEK 18 RECAPS
Saskatchewan 30 vs. Calgary 7: For the first time since 2015, Calgary lost at home, and for the first time since 2014, the Roughriders beat the Stampeders. While it was a night of storylines, to be sure, nothing was better than the story of Saskatchewan starting their top receiver Duron Carter at cornerback for this game. With a playoff berth on the line, Carter came up huge in his first career game on defence, including a fourth quarter interception of Bo Levi Mitchell that he turned into a 43-yard pick-six that iced the game for the Riders. Saskatchewan had an excellent outing all around in this one; while Brandon Bridge, who played the majority of the game at QB for Saskatchewan, threw two picks of his own and no touchdowns, the rest of the team stepped up to compensate, and Vernon Adams scored on a short QB keep, while punt returner Christion Jones had a 61-yard return TD as well; the defence also sacked Bo Levi Mitchell twice and picked him off. Calgary had a good night on the defensive side of the ball, with four sacks and two picks of their own, but they just couldn’t get much of anything going offensively in this one, with no touchdowns scored at all – just two Rene Paredes field goals and a punt single in all.
Winnipeg 28 vs. Toronto 29: Thanks to a strong fourth quarter, Toronto managed to complete the comeback against the Blue Bombers. It was an offensive night for both teams, with Argos QB Ricky Ray cracking 5000 yards passing for the first time since 2008, and becoming just the fourth CFL quarterback to have over 60,000 pass yards in a career. Bombers receiver Weston Dressler led the way with 129 yards and a TD on eight catches, while the Argos’ DeVier Posey had 128 on 5 catches. RB James Wilder Jr., back in action after missing the previous game against the Eskimos, had 112 yards on 18 carries as well as 2 touchdowns on the night. With the win, Toronto re-takes top spot in the East, while with Winnipeg’s loss, Calgary has clinched the top seed in the West Division once again.
Edmonton 35 vs. BC 29 (OT): It wouldn’t be the 2017 Lions if there wasn’t a massive blown lead involved; the Eskimos scored 22 unanswered points to cap off the big comeback in overtime with a touchdown pass from Mike Reilly to Cory Watson. The worse part? The comeback started with just over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter… the victory was right there, and once again, BC continues to disappoint. While they didn’t turn the ball over, they couldn’t sustain drives at the end of the game, and the Eskimos made them pay dearly for it… Mike Reilly, in particular, had a stellar night for Edmonton, leading the way with 397 yards on 31-41 pass attempts and two touchdowns, while adding two rushing majors as well. The Eskimos are re-discovering their ability to close out games, and they could prove to be deadly in the playoffs if they can keep this up.
Hamilton 43 vs. Montreal 16: Just euthanize the Alouettes already. The league’s worst offence and defence gave up 40 unanswered points at home to Hamilton, who are looking to finish 2017 on a high note despite missing the playoffs this season. The Ti-Cats had a solid effort, but it was Brandon Banks, in particular, who had a stellar night on both offence and special teams, racking up 129 yards and a touchdown on 6 catches, plus 111 return yards on 4 attempts, including a 65-yard return TD. Meanwhile, Montreal apparently played a guy named “Matt Shiltz” at quarterback for the second half of this game; seeing as I didn’t watch this game, I’m still not certain that he actually exists and is a real live person. At this point, I suppose the Als could do a lot worse than play a ghost at QB; their D already appears to be transparent enough to begin with. Besides an early TD, the only other Montreal points came in garbage time off a Tyrell Sutton rushing TD, a 2-point convert, and a single point off a kickoff. The Als are just going through the motions still, which I believe are resembling the clockwise swirling motion of a toilet bowl.
BYE: Ottawa (7-9-1)
WEEK 19 PREVIEWS
Hamilton (5-11) vs. Ottawa (7-9-1), Friday, October 27th, 7:00 PM EST: With a win and with an Argos loss, Ottawa can clinch the East for the third year in a row; that’s a lot of “if”s, though, really. Hamilton will not be going quietly, despite missing the playoffs this year, and since their coaching change they’ve been a far, far superior team than the one that started the year 0-8. The season series sits at 1 game each for these teams, and Ottawa will need to win this game without one of their top receivers in Brad Sinopoli, who’s been shut down for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
Montreal (3-13) vs. Saskatchewan (9-7), Friday, October 27th, 9:30 PM EST: If Saskatchewan wins and Edmonton loses, they’ll be sitting in a tie for the third playoff slot in the East, making the results of Week 20 all the more interesting. The difference between finishing third and fourth is a few thousand miles of travel; the fourth-place team will travel to the East to play the second-place team as the crossover; it’s far more preferable to have a shorter distance to go, for sure. Meanwhile, Montreal may or may not even show up this week. I, for one, wouldn’t be shocked to hear that the team plane just decided to visit the Caribbean rather than head to Regina at the end of October; that just seems like a no-brainer move to me when your season’s gone as poorly as it has.
BC (6-10) vs. Winnipeg (11-5), Saturday, October 28th, 4:00 PM EST: Edmonton can still potentially catch Winnipeg for the #2 seed in the West if they win and the Bombers lose, so don’t expect this to be a halfhearted effort from the home side. After choking away the lead last week against the Argos, expect the coaching staff to be hard on this team to try and close out this game and finish strong. Wally Buono might also want to consider sending the same message to his Lions, considering how they pissed away last week’s matchup against Edmonton, but with the organization already looking ahead to 2018, that seems like an awfully moot point right now. What do I know, though? I’m just the guy who write snarky predictions late at night when I’m overtired and irrational.
Calgary (13-2-1) vs. Edmonton (10-6), Saturday, October 28th, 7:00 PM EST: Yes, Calgary’s already won first place in the West, plus the season series against Edmonton courtesy of back-to-back victories in early September, but they also are trying to avoid their first back-to-back losses since 2012 – a remarkable run of consistency for a franchise. Because of this, I expect they’ll dress their usual starters – don’t expect the first-stringers to get a rest until next week, when Calgary wraps up the year against Winnipeg at home. Meanwhile, Edmonton had a fantastic final few minutes to cap off a big win against the Lions, but this week is clearly going to be a much tougher test for them, even with Calgary’s currently sub-par offence. I hope this is a good one – it’d be nice to see this week wrapped up with a few fireworks between these Alberta rivals.
BYE: Toronto (8-9)
STANDINGS AND STATS
East Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
West Division Standings
|Team||Games||Wins||Losses||Ties||Points For||Points Against|
x- clinched playoff berth
y- clinched division
c- clinched crossover playoff berth
e- eliminated from playoff contention
- Reilly, EDM – 5252
- Ray, TOR – 5205
- Nichols, WPG – 4442
- Harris, OTT – 28
- Nichols, WPG – 28
- Reilly, EDM – 27
- Messam, CGY – 951
- Harris, WPG – 903
- Powell, OTT – 893
- Zylstra, EDM – 1514
- Ellingson, OTT – 1394
- Green, TOR – 1379
- Hughes, CGY – 9
- Butler, TOR – 9
- Johnson, CGY – 8
- Gainey, SSK – 9
- Randle, WPG – 5
- Heath, WPG – 5
- Paredes, CGY – 50
- Medlock, WPG – 46
- Hajrullahu, TOR – 43
All the cool kids were in the 2-2 club this week, apparently.
Remember to submit your picks here! http://www.pooltracker.com/join.asp?poolid=138425
|Rank||Total Points||Weekly Score||Win Percentage|
|Game Time Decision||48||2-2||65.75%|
|Joliet Jake Delhomme||28||0-4||38.36%|