A team-by-team look at the CFL playoff race

With just weeks remaining in the CFL regular season, there is still much to be decided.

Calgary and Ottawa have the inside track on the division titles but still have some work to do lock things down. Meanwhile, there’s now a full-on battle for the final playoff spot in the West and what looks to be a crossover into the East while Toronto and Montreal have reached desperation mode (if they weren’t there already.)

Let’s take a look at what each team in the league has left on their dance cards.

East Division

Ottawa Redblacks wide receiver Greg Ellingson (82) is surrounded by teammates wide receiver Diontae Spencer (85), wide receiver R.J. Harris (84), and quarterback Trevor Harris (7) after scoring a touchdown against the Edmonton Eskimos during second half CFL football action in Ottawa on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ottawa (8-5)
Games remaining: 5
Schedule: bye, vs WIN, at EDM, vs HAM, at HAM, vs TOR
Home games: 3
Opponent winning percentage: .444
Division series status: 2-0 vs MTL (win), 1-0 vs HAM (two games remaining) 0-1 vs TOR (-1 point.)
Key matchups: vs HAM on Oct. 19, at Ottawa on Oct. 27.
Sports Club Stats Playoff Chances: 99.9 per cent

The Redblacks have won two straight against West Division opponents, no small feat when you consider the East is 22-11 against the West this season. With a two game lead over Hamilton, Ottawa now has the inside track on a division title and a first-round playoff bye: a single win in the home and home series against Hamilton will likely do it.

Hamilton (6-7)
Games remaining: 5
Schedule: vs B.C., bye, at TOR, at OTT, vs OTT, vs MTL
Home games: 3
Opponent winning percentage: .442
Division series status: 2-0 vs TOR (win), 1-0 vs MTL (+39 points, one game remaining), 0-1 vs OTT (two games remaining.)
Key matchups: at OTT on Oct. 19, vs OTT on Oct. 27.
Sports Club Stats Playoff Chances: 99.1 per cent

The loss to B.C. was devastating on all kinds of levels, not the least of which is that it made a division title much far more difficult to achieve. Still, the Ticats have three of their last five at home and a sweep of the two-game set against Ottawa would put a first-round bye very much in play.

Toronto Argonauts mascot Jason leads the team onto the field before the CFL football game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Saturday, September 22, 2018 in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jon Blacker

Toronto (3-9)
Games remaining: 6
Schedule: at CAL, at B.C., vs HAM, vs MTL, at MTL, vs OTT
Home games: 3
Opponent winning percentage: .479
Division series status: 1-0 vs OTT (+1 point, one game remaining), 0-2 vs HAM (loss), 0-1 vs MTL (two games remaining.)
Key matchups: Everything.
Sports Club Stats Playoff Chances: 2.3 per cent

Another week, another tough loss for the Argos whose slim playoff hopes took yet another hit when they fell to Saskatchewan on Saturday. They’ve now lost four straight and need victories in at least three of their remaining six games to have any hope at defending their Grey Cup title (and they’ll still need help.)

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) gets sacked by Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Craig Roh (93) during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg Friday, September 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Montreal (3-10)
Games remaining: 5
Schedule: vs SSK, vs CAL, bye, at TOR, vs TOR, at HAM
Home games: 3
Opponent winning percentage: .482
Division series status: 1-0 vs TOR (two games remaining), 0-1 vs HAM (-39 points, one game remaining), 0-2 vs OTT (loss.)
Key matchups: Everything.
Sports Club Stats Playoff Chances: 0.3 per cent

The Alouettes are in the middle of a tough four-game stretch against West Division teams, having lost the first two. Like Toronto, they’ll need to win at least three games to keep a crossover team at bay and that’s, shall we say, extremely unlikely.

West Division

Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson reacts to a play during first half CFL action against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, in Regina on Sunday, August 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith.

Calgary (10-2)
Games remaining: 6
Schedule: vs TOR, at MTL, vs B.C., vs SSK, at WIN, at B.C.
Home games: 3
Opponent winning percentage: .426
Division series status: 1-1 vs SSK (one game remaining), 1-1 vs EDM (lose series on point differential), 1-0 vs B.C. (two games remaining), 1-0 vs WIN (+13, one game remaining.)
Key matchups: vs SSK on Oct. 20.
Sports Club Stats Playoff Chances: 100 per cent

Calgary has two straight against the weakest teams in the East Division coming and has the easiest remaining schedule of any team in the CFL. They have a two game lead over Saskatchewan for first in the West and a game in hand: the Oct. 20 game against the Riders could decide the division… but not if the Stamps take care of business against everybody else.

Saskatchewan Roughrider running back Tre Mason. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jon Blacker

Saskatchewan (8-5)
Games remaining: 5
Schedule: at MTL, vs EDM, at WIN, at CAL, vs B.C., bye
Home games: 3
Opponent winning percentage: .522
Division series status: 2-0 vs WIN (win), 1-1 vs CAL (one game remaining), 1-0 vs B.C. (+3, one game remaining), 0-1 vs EDM (-7, one game remaining.)
Key matchups: vs EDM on Oct. 8, at CAL on Oct. 20.
Sports Club Stats Playoff Chances: 96.4 per cent

The Riders have all but locked up a playoff spot but it could be anywhere from first in the West to the crossover. Best case scenario – and one that’s certainly attainable – is probably a playoff date at Mosaic for the West Semi-Final, making the home game against Edmonton in two weeks time a big one.

Edmonton Eskimos running back C.J. Gable (2) fumbles the ball as he is tackled by Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Anthony Cioffi (24) during first half CFL football action in Ottawa on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Edmonton (7-6)
Games remaining: 5
Schedule: vs WIN, at SSK, vs OTT, at B.C., bye, vs WIN
Home games: 3
Opponent winning percentage: .555
Division series status: 1-1 vs CAL (win on point differential), 1-0 vs WIN (two games remaining), 1-0 vs SSK (+7, one game remaining), 1-1 vs B.C. (one game remaining.)
Key matchups: Sept. 29 vs WIN, Oct. 8 vs. SSK, Oct. 19 vs. B.C., Nov. 3 vs WIN.
Sports Club Stats Playoff Chances: 83.8 per cent

The loss to Ottawa on Saturday put a big dent in the Esks’ hopes for a division title and have dropped them smack dab in the middle of the West Division playoff race. With four of their last five against divisional opponents – and with three season series still to be decided – every game from here on in will be meaningful for the Esks.

 

B.C. Lions’ Bryan Burnham (16) keeps his foot in bounds to score the tying two-point conversion as Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ Cariel Brooks (26) defends with no time left during the second half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, on Saturday September 22, 2018. B.C. won in double overtime. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. (6-6)
Games remaining: 6
Schedule: at HAM, vs TOR, at CAL, vs EDM, at SSK, vs CAL
Home games: 3
Opponent winning percentage: .596
Division series status: 0-1 vs SSK (-3, one game remaining), 1-1 vs EDM (one game remaining), 0-1 vs CAL (two games remaining), 1-1 vs WIN (loss on point differential),
Key matchups: Every one.
Sports Club Stats Playoff Chances: 56.9

The Lions have won three straight, including the miracle on Saturday night over the Ticats that gave their post-season chances a massive boost. The good schedule news: a game in hand over the Bombers and a home game against Toronto still to come. The bad: two games against Calgary.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Marcus Sayles (36) runs after intercepting the pass intended for Montreal Alouettes’ Adarius Bowman (19) during the second half of CFL action in Winnipeg Friday, September 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Winnipeg (6-7)
Games remaining: 5
Schedule: vs. at EDM, at OTT, vs SSK, bye, vs CAL, at EDM
Home games: 2
Opponent winning percentage: .646
Division series status: 1-1 vs B.C (win on point differential), 0-2 vs SSK (loss), 0-1 vs EDM (two games remaining), 0-1 vs CAL (-13, one game remaining.)
Key matchups: at EDM on Sept. 29, at EDM on Nov. 3
Sports Club Stats Playoff Chances: 61.2 per cent

The Bombers have the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the CFL and the Lions, with whom they are tied for fourth in the West, have a game in hand. On the plus side, the Bombers already own the season series with B.C.

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1568 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.