How the East will be won… again

The East Division is once again in turmoil. We have had coaching changes in two cities, an injured quarterback threatens to wreck the tail end of the defending champion’s season and it seems like the Argos take one step forward and two steps back on a weekly basis.

But one team is going to win this division and host the East Final, while another is going to finish second and host the East Semi Final against the fourth-place West Division team (I’m not even hedging my bets here; 4th in the West will once again have a better record that first and second in the East). But who will it be?

Last year, when the East was also a logjam of mediocrity, I decided to put on my prognosticator cap and see if I could predict the outcome of the 2016 turtle derby. The results were a mixed bag. I correctly picked the two teams that would make the playoffs, Hamilton and Ottawa, but got their records and their order of finish wrong. I did, however, nail the Als finishing third at 7-11 and the Argos finishing in last. So, not bad. Not perfect, but not that far off either.

Let’s see if I can do better this year.

Ottawa Redblacks
Current record: 4-7-1
Remaining schedule: at Montreal at Winnipeg, vs. Saskatchewan, at B.C., at Saskatchewan, vs. Hamilton
Remaining strength of schedule: .460
Toughness rank: 2

Ottawa’s season rest almost solely on when Trevor Harris returns from his shoulder injury. Without him, the Redblacks have to rely on Drew Tate (*gulp*) to pilot an offense that can be pretty deadly when it is playing at its best (it sports the league leaders in passing yards, passing touchdowns and receiving yards). If Harris returns earlier than expected, he has been put on the 6-game injured list and is expected to be out 2-6 weeks, Ottawa will remain the favourites to win the division. The only way the Redblacks’ season will go belly up is if Harris is lost for the remainder of the season. That would mean Ottawa would have to be all in on Drew Tate and you never go all in on Drew Tate.

Ottawa’s home futility, they are an abysmal 4-10-2 at home since the start of last season, won’t play much of a factor as they have just two home games remaining this season, though that season-ending date with the Ticats at TD Place could loom large in the race for first place.

Prediction: 6-11-1, 1st

Toronto Argonauts
Current record: 4-7
Remaining schedule: vs. Edmonton, vs. Montreal, at Hamilton, vs. Saskatchewan, at Edmonton, vs. Winnipeg, at B.C.
Remaining strength of schedule: .507
Toughness rank: 1

The Argos have the toughest remaining schedule, with five of their remaining seven games coming against the vastly superior West Division. But Toronto also plays four of their final seven at home, tied with Hamilton for the most home games remaining among East Division teams. Toronto is probably the most talented team in the East, but they have been all this season and have looked awful for long stretches. They are as confounding a team to figure out as any. If they put it all together, they can probably go a decent run, but with that daunting schedule, it doesn’t look likely.

Predictions: 6-12, 3rd (losing season series to Hamilton)

Montreal Alouettes
Current record: 3-8
Remaining schedule: vs. Ottawa, at Toronto, at Calgary, vs. Edmonton, vs. Hamilton, at Saskatchewan, at Hamilton
Remaining strength of schedule: .440
Toughness rank: 3

The Als are seemingly trying to wrest the title of biggest train wreck away from the Tiger-Cats (who themselves took the crown from the Saskatchewan Roughriders) now that they have fired their head coach and defensive coordinator just four days before they host the Ottawa Redblacks in a pivotal East Division showdown. At least the Ticats had the good sense to make their big coaching changes during a bye week.

Will the changes in Montreal spark a resurgence like it has done in Hamilton? Probably not. An offense that wasn’t working will now see Anthony Calvillo call the plays. Ask any Als fan how that went the last time. The Als are a mess and have been for a long time. This could be an ugly end to the season for Als fans.

Prediction: 4-14, 4th

Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Current record: 2-8
Remaining schedule: vs. Saskatchewan, at B.C., vs. Toronto, at Winnipeg, vs. Calgary, at Montreal, at Ottawa, vs. Montreal
Remaining strength of schedule: .425
Toughness rank: 4

Pros in Hamilton’s favour: they have the easiest schedule left of the four East teams.

Cons against Hamilton: they have to play four West teams, including Winnipeg and Calgary back-to-back, in their next five games.

The Ticats post-season hopes could rest on the outcome of their game this week against Saskatchewan. If they can beat the Riders, they have a shot to win six or seven games with four more East teams on the docket. If they lose to Saskatchewan, the Ticats chances go down significantly. The Ticats game at Tim Hortons Field against the Argos on Sept. 30 could be what ultimately decides each teams’ playoff fate.

Prediction: 6-12, 2nd (winning season series with Toronto)

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
Josh Smith

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About Josh Smith (303 Articles)
Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

25 Comments on How the East will be won… again

  1. white stallion in red // September 14, 2017 at 10:54 am //

    Pretty sad. People will start saying 4th in west is the best place to finish but they’ve been saying that for years and it’s never materialized

  2. Good god. Whomever wins it, please go on a run and restore some respect to this sad sack division. Don’t win with six. Get at least 8 like last year. It’s not great, granted, but compared to only 6…

  3. Bill deHoog // September 14, 2017 at 11:07 am //

    pretty fair evaluation
    Harris is expected to be out for 2 weeks
    Not a pretty East, but last year showed playoffs are different beast when it comes to playing the west

    • Were last year’s playoffs different from the regular season?

      Edmonton versus Ottawa had two Ottawa wins.
      Edmonton versus Hamilton was a split where the visiting team won.

      Seems pretty the same in the playoffs, don’t you think?

    • I`ll say…look how Ottawa is faring this season, compared to last year..

  4. rider rooter // September 14, 2017 at 11:14 am //

    This is why the CFL needs to look at a new play off structure. Last year proved that Ottawa did not deserve to be in the championship game. Edmonton had a better record that both first and second in the east. The east teams needed to go on the road.

    • That statement might make sense if Ottawa had been pounded in that championship game. Being that they won it, it makes little sense to suggest that they didn’t measure up. Never mind the fact that they swept Edmonton as well.

      • white stallion in red // September 14, 2017 at 12:40 pm //

        Of course you would think that CC Rider 😉

      • CC. Exactly

      • Ottawa went into the playoffs last season with a losing record.

        With other teams in the east unable to field starters, RB`s were blessed with a weak conference.

        As far as the Grey cup is concerned, ANY teams can get single game luck…

  5. Josh Smith predicted the four eastern teams will win a combined total of 9 games, yet they only play Sask a total of 5 games. Where on earth will the east get those other 4 victories from?? I hope Cal & Edm. LOL just funning you, Cal & Edm are too strong BAZINGA

    • You need to read the article again or replace the batteries in your calculator. Ottawa (6) Toronto (6) Montreal (4) Hamilton (6) adds to 22.

  6. New playoff format. 1st place in each division gets the bye to the east and west final. The remaining 4 teams are all wildcards and ranked by record.

    • I strongly disagree.

      The CFL requires ticket sales to survive. Under your scenario, teams will be eliminated earlier in the season. This will result in sagging attendance and eventually the CFL would become a five or six team league.

      Before any radical changes are made to the playoff format, an imbalanced schedule (where teams play more games within their division) should be implemented.

  7. rider rooter // September 14, 2017 at 12:41 pm //

    Maybe I am wrong but I think the Esks had 2 more points than both of the east teams in the standings, thus the east teams should have played the play off games in Edmonton. You make appoint the Red Blacks won so be they are the champs. Like the 89 riders. I the only point I have is home field advantage under the current structure.

    • You’re probably right (and Edmonton might have had even more, I can’t be bothered to check) but then you’re essentially calling for no divisions at all.

      Otherwise, what’s the point of being the top team in the division? What difference does it make if you have to go on the road anyway? Theoretically you should get a better match-up but if my better match-up means I have to travel to BC instead of Winnipeg, why would I want to do that? I’d just as soon tank and travel half the distance.

      The possibility of playing at home, however, is a huge incentive to actually win the division (even if no one in the East right seems to want to). Even for Ottawa who, for whatever reason, can’t seem win to win in their own park.

    • So Edmonton finishes 4th and gets a home playoff game while Winnipeg finishes 3rd and has to go on the road to BC? That makes no sense.

    • Edmonton had three more points than Ottawa and six more than Hamilton.

      As for home field advantage – Edmonton lost at home to both Ottawa and Hamilton in the regular season so it didn’t seem to mean much.

      On the road for the regular season, Edmonton lost to Ottawa but beat Hamilton.

      On the road for the playoffs, what happened in the regular season continued.

  8. white stallion in red // September 14, 2017 at 12:42 pm //

    To a date the east has won 13 games combined. Calgary is 1 field goal away from 10…Horsepower!

  9. The east looks like it will be a four-way tie for fourth place, with individual series wins determining the order of finish. Of course, I could have said a four-way tie for first, but they are all terrible.

  10. Dundas dude // September 14, 2017 at 1:56 pm //

    How did a dominant west play out for y’all in 2016? The format is what the format is and you can’t bellyache after the fact. If finishing fourth in the west is so grand, how many crossover teams have won the cup?

    18 games is a long season(s). The Ticats have a shot now, and hopefully they make the most of their advantages like the RedBlacks did in ’16. Go Cats!

  11. Have to agree with Dundas. Is it fair the Grey Cup is a one game shot rather than a best of 3? The best teams don’t always win the championship, nor even get to the game. The 16-2 Esks never got to the Grey Cup. That format is what it is also. If the Eskimos were the better team last year, prove it by beating Ottawa, whether home or away. Stamps a better team – prove it by beating Ottawa on neutral ground. 6 of 9 teams get a shot. Why not have at least 2 from the East?

  12. At this point, if no East team reaches 9 wins by the end of the regular season, let them play one another in rotation until one finally does, even if we have to play the Grey Cup game in waist-high snow.

    Of course then they’d probably play to all ties for a month…

  13. Hamilton had seven wins last year tied with Montreal but won the season series. Doubtful they can will the season series against Toronto this year.

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