Riders’ playoff odds tumble after Ticats’ victory in Friday Night Football thriller

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

In the year that new Mosaic Stadium will host its first-ever Grey Cup, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are a good bet to miss the playoffs.

Friday Night Football produced arguably its best doubleheader of the season in Week 19, treating viewers from coast to coast to a couple of thrillers. First, the Montreal Alouettes came from behind on the road to beat the Ottawa Redblacks, then a sizzling last-minute touchdown lifted the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to their first win in Calgary since 2004.

While the early game helped Saskatchewan’s chances of making the postseason slightly by pushing the Riders’ magic number to finish ahead of Ottawa to just one Roughriders win or Redblacks loss, Hamilton’s win officially put Rider Nation’s playoff hopes on life support.

As a matter of fact, the chances of Saskatchewan making the playoffs hover between 20-29 percent. That’s compared to the Tiger-Cats, who now stand a 65-75 percent chance of making the East Semi-Final and avoiding any crossover. Ottawa still has a slim 5-7 percent chance of getting there.

Getting to the Grey Cup — remember when the Riders were 4-1 and the dream was still alive? — will prove to be even more problematic for the green machine.

While mathematically still possible, the likelihood of the Riders playing in the Grey Cup on their home soil as they did back in 2013 has dwindled to between 4-7 percent.

Now that the Ticats and Riders are tied with identical 6-10 records going into the final two weeks of the regular season, it is Saskatchewan on the outside looking in for the first time all year.

By virtue of any crossover team needing a superior record to the third-place finisher in the East, the Tiger-Cats hold the ever-so-crucial tie-breaker.

In order for the Riders to get in, they must earn at least a split in their season-ending home-and-home series with the Stampeders while hoping the Ticats get swept in their own back-to-back set with the Redblacks.

The Riders could also sneak into the crossover by way of sweeping Calgary and getting a split between Ottawa and Hamilton.

Failing either scenario, the green and white are toast.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.