I am a huge fan of the CFL. If the CFL was a cult, I would have drank the grape Kool Aid a long time ago, in fact I would have been banging on a tambourine and singing ‘Hari Krishna’ in an airport many years in the past — if this league was a cult.
Fortunately, the CFL is a football league so I simply have to tune in every weekend from Canada Day until the last frosty weekend in November to worship the league. This year the playoffs will exclude the hapless Saskatchewan Roughriders, but that fact will not diminish my interest in the 2011 season.
Currently, five teams in an eight-team league share identical 10-7 records, two of which (Edmonton and Winnipeg) were bottom feeders last year. The beauty of the CFL is the possibility that one season can make a big difference in the fortunes of your team. In fact, seven out of eight teams have won Grey Cups since 1999, and that is parity baby.
However Danny O’Keefe was right; “Some gotta win, some gotta lose” in song and football seasons. The unprecedented logjam of teams at 10-7 leaves the CFL in full playoff mode as they enter the last weekend of the regular season.
The question becomes who wins and who loses the last game of the season? Who gets a week off from beating the liver out of each other in a semi-final game?
The answer my friend is likely blowing in a cold November prairie wind for a few teams.
The playoff implication games kick off in Edmonton in the Friday night game with the Eskimos hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Now who was the cruel (insert your favorite appropriate profanity here) who scheduled a November night game in Edmonton?
The only way to sell out that scenario would be an outdoor Oilers game at about 10 times the price of an Eskimos ticket. I am not saying that fact is right — or even sane — but it is a fact.
Anyhow, the Riders have not won a game against a West Division opponent all season and will set a dubious team record for this sorry achievement with a loss to the Eskimos. Everything points directly toward a winless record after the game, except for the faint hope clause in football.
Look for an emotional game from the Riders and an attempt to win one final game for head coach Ken Miller. It may be enough to turn the tide for a Rider victory.
The Calgary-Winnipeg game is a tough one to call, but I expect that the Bomber defence will turn up the heat against rookie Stamp quarterback Drew Tate.
It is likely that Calgary’s defence will do the same against Bomber quarterback Alex Brink, the likely starter for Winnipeg.
It will be a good litmus test for both teams, but I lean toward Winnipeg in this game because Tate will face relentless pressure from the Winnipeg front four while the Bombers’ ball-hawkish secondary works against a rookie pivot.
The last game of the weekend will feature the B.C. Lions in a late West Coast game against their easternmost opponents, the Montreal Alouettes. The time zone difference and the talented Lions will dispatch the Als very easily in this game. Next week: the playoffs