Likability rankings for the six 2021 CFL playoff teams

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What was once nine has now become six and fans of the B.C. Lions, Edmonton Elks and Ottawa Redblacks might be looking around wondering what to do for the next three weeks.

Maybe you don’t want to root for anyone else and will just enjoy the games stress-free, but in case you want someone to hitch your wagon to, I am here to help.

Just like we did in 2017, 2018 and 2019, I am here to help you pick a team to cheer for during the CFL playoffs — not based on record or the likelihood they will win the title, but based on something much more important: likability.

Here are my likability rankings of the six CFL playoff teams.

6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

In the three previous editions of these rankings, the Bombers always finished second. Their roster of fun players plus the title drought made them an easy team to back. But with a championship secured and the league’s best record, the Bombers slide all the way to the bottom. Besides, the last time we let Winnipeg win we lost a season due to the damn pandemic. We can’t let that happen again.

5. Toronto Argonauts

The city doesn’t support the team, they spent oodles of money to buy themselves out of irrelevance, and do they have any players who you’re aching to see get a ring? There is just nothing here to sink your teeth into.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders

We all know how obnoxious some Riders fans can be, and Cody Fajardo’s season-long whine-fest hasn’t really made them any more appealing. Much like the Argos, there isn’t much to grasp onto here from an outsider’s perspective.

3. Calgary Stampeders

A yearly resident of the bottom half of these rankings, the Stamps shoot up the charts thanks to dealing with the one thing they haven’t dealt with in over a decade: adversity. The Stamps have gotten hot at the right time, but this was a year unlike any other for them in a long time.

Seeing Bo Levi Mitchell get humbled a bit after having so much success has added to the intrigue around this team. An all-road path to a championship for the first time in a decade makes cheering for Calgary a little easier than before. Don’t be afraid to give them some consideration.

2. Montreal Alouettes

If Vernon Adams Jr. was still playing, the Als would be No. 1 without question. They were first last time and not much has changed with them. But the downgrade in likability from Adams to Trevor Harris is immense. Adams plays the game with a reckless abandon that I quite enjoy, while Harris is, well, boring.

The other components are there to make them likeable, but they lack that one last ingredient to have them be the first team to top the rankings twice.

1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats

I can already seeing the backlash: “You’re only putting Hamilton first because you like them!” Firstly, duh, these are likability rankings after all. Secondly, this is the first time the Ticats have ever topped these rankings, so to say I don’t drip in objectivity when it comes to this is insulting and incorrect.

Honestly, aside from maybe the unreasonable dislike of franchise stalwarts Simoni Lawrence and Brandon Banks, what is there to dislike about this team? They haven’t won in forever, they aren’t the front runners we thought they would be, and they get the chance to send their long-suffering fan base home happy by potentially winning a Grey Cup on home soil — the first Grey Cup played in Hamilton in a quarter century, I might add.

You add it all up, sprinkle that little je nais se quoi on top and you have the recipe for the most likeable team in the 2021 CFL playoffs.

Josh Smith 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.