The Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders already know they’ll be hosting one playoff game.
On Saturday, they’ll decide when.
The Riders host the Stampeders at Mosaic Stadium (TSN, 5 p.m.), with the winner finishing first in the West Division and securing home field for the conference final Nov. 22. The loser will host the semifinal contest the week before.
The Riders will definitely have home-field advantage playing before their always enthusiastic fans.
But Calgary had a good dry run playing in a hostile environment Saturday night, making a key late drive at B.C. Place before Sandro DeAngelis’s 27-yard field goal on the game’s final play secured a 28-26 victory over the Lions.
“You have to be able to do those type of things to be successful in the CFL,” said Stampeders head coach/GM John Hufnagel, a former Roughriders quarterback.
“Anytime you can accomplish it, that’s more confidence you’ll have when you get in that situation in the future.
“Yes, it probably will (be noisy at Mosaic). In that last drive the (B.C.) fans got really involved and were real loud so it was good that we were able to have that type of noise and still be able to execute at a high level.”
But the Riders and Stampeders won’t be the only CFL teams looking to pin down playoff spots.
Six of the league’s eight clubs are heading into their regular-season finales this weekend unsure about their post-season plans.
There’s no shortage of potential scenarios with several things still up in the air, including the order of finish in the West Division, the second-place team in the East and whether all four Western clubs will qualify for post-season play.
“Our league is known for games that end in wild finishes, but the 2009 season will long be remembered for featuring its own thrilling climax,” CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said in a statement.
Only the Montreal Alouettes (who’ve clinched first in the East) and Toronto Argonauts (eliminated from playoff contention) know their playoff fates.
That makes their game Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre (TSN, 11 a.m.) the only meaningless one on the schedule.
The B.C. Lions kick off the weekend hosting the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday night (TSN, 8:30 p.m.).
They’re tied for third in the West Division with identical 8-9 records so the winner will clinch the conference’s final playoff spot.
Should the Lions and Eskimos tie, B.C. would take third by having won the season series. But Edmonton would clinch the crossover and become the East Division’s No. 3 seed.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be cheering against the tie, and with good reason.
Should B.C. or Edmonton win outright, the Ticats will be guaranteed of finishing no worse than third in the East, clinching them their first playoff spot since 2004.
The loser of the B.C.-Edmonton game could still make the playoffs as a crossover team but would have to wait until Sunday to finally learn its fate.
That’s when Winnipeg (7-10) hosts Hamilton (8-9) at Canad Inns Stadium (TSN, 11 a.m.) in the regular-season finale.
The Bombers must win to clinch second in the East and host the division semifinal Nov. 15.
A loss would eliminate Winnipeg from post-season contention.
And like Calgary, Hamilton heads to Winnipeg on a high note.
The Ticats dominated Saskatchewan 24-6 on Saturday at Ivor Wynne Stadium, successfully executing on both sides of the ball in gusting winds up to 80 kilometres an hour, recording six sacks and four turnovers against the Riders.
Similar conditions could exist Sunday in Winnipeg. However, Ticats quarterback Kevin Glenn — a former Bomber — says his teammates know what it takes to succeed in cold, blustery conditions.
“That’s just Winnipeg,” he said. “But guys have played in it before, it won’t be anything new.
“We just have to go out and play football.”
Winnipeg is also coming off a lopsided 48-13 road loss to Montreal on Sunday.
If B.C. and Edmonton tie and Winnipeg wins, the Bombers would host the Eskimos in the East semifinal.
Should either B.C. or Edmonton win outright and the Bombers down the Ticats, Hamilton would return to Winnipeg for the opening round of the playoffs.
Should Hamilton and Winnipeg tie, the Ticats would clinch second and host the fourth-place West team in the East semifinal.
The Western squad would gain the final Eastern playoff spot based on having more points than Winnipeg.
A home playoff game would be Hamilton’s first since 2001.
Montreal (14-3) hosts the East final Sept. 22 regardless of how it fares against Toronto (3-14). The Alouettes were a perfect 9-0 at home this season.
Calgary (10-6-1) enters Saturday’s game against Saskatchewan atop the standings but the Roughriders (9-7-1) can clinch first — and home-field advantage in the conference final — with a win. That would give the Riders the season series.
And in the CFL it only matters that a team reach the playoffs, not how it gets there.
In 2000, a B.C. Lions club that posted an 8-10 regular-season record beat Montreal (12-6) to capture the Grey Cup.
The following year, Calgary had the same mark but ended its season by stunning heavily favoured Winnipeg (14-4) in the CFL’s title game.
The West and East Division champions will square off in the Grey Cup game Nov. 29 at McMahon Stadium.
The Stampeders are attempting to become the first team to win the CFL title in their home stadium since the ’94 B.C. Lions.