CFL’s muddled playoff picture is slowly starting to clear up

The CFL’s muddled playoff picture is finally starting to clear up.

The Ottawa Redblacks (7-9-1) and Toronto Argonauts (7-9) have both cemented East Division home playoff games. The Calgary Stampeders (13-1-1) have already secured a home playoff date but can claim home-field advantage for the West Division final with a win this weekend while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-4) can earn a home playoff date with a victory also.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-7) can punch their playoff ticket with a victory as well. But that would seem a difficult proposition at first glance given the Riders visit Calgary on Friday night.

After all, the Stampeders are riding an 11-game win streak and have won 17 straight at McMahon Stadium. But they were pushed to the limit last Friday in their 28-25 road win over Hamilton (4-11).

Rene Paredes’ 17-yard field goal on the final play was set up by a 62-yard pass interference penalty on Hamilton safety Courtney Stephen.

Calgary dismantled Hamilton 60-1 at McMahon Stadium on July 29. But on Friday night, the Ticats had more offensive yards (402-321), passing yards (326-279) and sacks (2-1) than the Stampeders while controlling the ball for over 34 minutes.

CFL rushing leader Jerome Messam had just 11 yards on six carries as Calgary ran for 42 yards overall on 10 attempts. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the league’s outstanding player last year, was 19-of-34 passing for 279 yards with a TD and interception.

Then again, Calgary has won the two previous meetings with Saskatchewan and is 7-0 within the West Division. Should the Stampeders lose to the Riders, they’d clinch first if Winnipeg lost in Toronto on Saturday.

Winnipeg won the previous meeting this season with Toronto 33-25 at Investors Group Field on July 13. The Argos are 5-3 at BMO Field but also a dismal 1-7 versus West Division teams and have lost two straight to Western clubs.

The Riders can clinch at least a crossover spot with a win or B.C. loss to Edmonton (9-6) on Saturday. The Eskimos have already clinched a playoff berth but would eliminate the Lions (6-9) from post-season contention with a victory.

Toronto has a game in hand on Ottawa in the battle for first in the East. The Redblacks complete their regular season hosting Hamilton on Oct. 27 while the Argos finish up against Winnipeg and B.C.

GETZLAF RETURNS: Chris Getzlaf is back with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Riders added the veteran receiver to their practice roster Monday. Getzlaf, 34, was released last month by the Eskimos after registering five catches for 43 yards and a TD in eight games.

Getzlaf, a Regina native, spent parts of nine seasons with Saskatchewan (2007-15) before signing with Edmonton as a free agent in 2016. Getzlaf began his CFL career with Hamilton in ’07, appearing in two games before joining the Riders’ practice roster that season.

Getzlaf registered 368 catches for 5,697 yards and 38 TDs with Saskatchewan. He was on the Riders’ practice roster for their ’07 Grey Cup victory but was named the top Canadian their ’13 CFL victory.

HARRIS WATCH: Running back Andrew Harris remains a threat to become the first CFL player to register 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.

Harris is third in rushing with 871 yards and has 94 catches for 816 yards. Winnipeg (11-4) has three regular-season games remaining so Harris must average 43 yards rushing and 61.3 yards receiving over that span to achieve the milestone.

Harris ran for 52 yards on 16 carries in Winnipeg’s 26-20 win over the B.C. Lions on Saturday but had no catches against his former team. He has averaged 58.1 yards rushing and 54.4 yards receiving per game this year.

No CFL running back has ever reached the 1,000-yard plateau rushing and receiving in the same season but Robert Drummond came close twice with Toronto. He ran for 935 yards and had 72 catches for 798 yards in 1996 before registering 1,134 yards rushing and 85 catches for 840 yards the following season.

ZYLSTRA LEADS THE WAY: Ottawa’s Greg Ellingson is no longer the CFL’s receiving leader.

Edmonton’s Brandon Zylstra now holds that distinction with 91 catches for 1,482 yards. Ellingson is second with 90 receptions for 1,394 yards but still has a league-best 11 TD grabs.

The other 1,000-yard receivers are Toronto’s S.J. Green (1,337), Winnipeg’s Darvin Adams (1,120), Saskatchewan’s Duron Carter (1,037) and Naaman Roosevelt (1,035) and Ottawa’s Brad Sinopoli (1,009). Hamilton’s Jalen Saunders (977 yards), B.C.’s Manny Arceneaux (953) and Bryan Burnham (935), Saskatchewan’s Bakari Grant (916) and Montreal’s B.J. Cunningham (900 yards) are all on the cusp.

There’s an interesting race brewing for the CFL rushing crown. Calgary’s Messam leads with 908 yards but Ottawa’s William Powell (892), Winnipeg’s Harris (871) and B.C.’s Jeremiah Johnson (854) are also contending.

Hurting Powell’s chances is Ottawa having just one regular-season game remaining. Calgary, Winnipeg and B.C. all have three to play.