TORONTO — As all four teams in the CFL East heat up, so does the race for both the division title and a coveted playoff spot. While one team, Hamilton, is in a strong position entering the season’s final five games, a couple of losses for any of the four Eastern clubs could be devastating.
CFL.ca considers the playoff chances of each of the East Division’s four teams heading down the stretch, in particular what each team must do in order to continue playing football into mid-November.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-7, first place in the East Division)
The Ticats have a strong shot at not just making the playoffs, but winning the East Division title. They enter this final stretch on a four-game winning streak and have only lost once in their last six games since gunslinger Zach Collaros returned from injury.
These next three games will tell pretty quickly the Ticats’ fate, as they play the Argos twice – both on the road. Winning one of those games assures Hamilton the season series win, while winning both can assure the Ticats a higher standing than their Southern Ontario rival.
Tracking the East
The East has been a wild ride of late, with each team entering Week 16 on a winning streak. Check in to see who has the edge heading into the final five weeks of the CFL season.
– A 3-2 record or better clinches the playoffs for the Ticats, as it assures they finish higher in the standings than either Toronto or Montreal as well as in all instances, Ottawa. It also guarantees a home playoff game. A division title also isn’t out of the question, as Hamilton would finish 9-9, meaning Toronto or Montreal would have to finish the season 4-1 just to tie.
– A 4-1 record combined with any two Montreal losses guarantees a first-place finish for the Ticats. If Hamilton goes 4-1 but the one loss is to Montreal, the Alouettes can clinch first place by going either 5-0 or 4-1.
Week 16 – @ Toronto Week 17 – Vs. Ottawa Week 18 – @ Toronto Week 19 – @ Ottawa Week 20 – Vs. Montreal
Toronto Argonauts (5-8, second place in the East Division)
The Argos are only the third-hottest team in the East, but may be playing some of the best football. Dating back to a heart-breaking loss in Calgary, the offence has been the league’s hottest. The defence is also playing better of late, and best of all, four of the team’s final five games are at home.
After a tough start marred by a difficult schedule and injuries on offence, the Boatmen should be happy to control their own destiny, with pivotal home games against Hamilton, Montreal, and Ottawa.
The bottom line:
The road ahead
October football is here, which means every game matters that much more. Find out who your team is playing down the stretch.
– A 4-1 record that includes two wins over the Ticats guarantees a division title for the Argos, who play Montreal twice and Hamilton twice. If the 4-1 record includes one loss to Hamilton, the Boatmen would need Hamilton to lose one additional game. Four wins would also be enough to guarantee second in the division and a home playoff game.
– A 3-2 record gives the Argos a pretty good chance to earn second in the East, as Hamilton and Montreal also have to play each other. But the Boatmen would need some help from the Ticats’ and Alouettes’ opponents – namely Ottawa and Saskatchewan.
– A 2-3 record leaves the Argos needing lots of help from Hamilton and Montreal’s opponents to make the playoffs. If the two wins come against Montreal, then one more Alouette loss guarantees second place for the Argos. If the two wins come against Hamilton, then the Argos need the Ticats to lose twice.
– It is possible for the Argos to win the division with a 7-11 record (2-3 in the last five), if their two remaining wins come against Hamilton and the Ticats lose two of their three additional games, and the Alouettes finish 2-3 with only wins over Toronto. That would lead to a three-way tie at 7-11. In the same scenario, an Ottawa win over BC would actually lead to a four-way tie at 7-11 in the East.
Week 16 – Vs. Hamilton Week 17 – Vs. Montreal Week 18 – Vs. Hamilton Week 19 – @ Montreal Week 20 – Vs. Ottawa
Montreal Alouettes (5-8, third place in the East Division)
The Alouettes are tied in record and current winning streak with the Argos at 5-8, but trail in the tie-breaker based on an earlier loss this season. The team has been on fire, however, since inserting Jonathan Crompton as the starting quarterback, and has a chance to continue its recent dominance with four out of five remaining games against East Division foes.
Montreal, like Toronto and Hamilton, controls its own destiny, but with three of five remaining games on the road, it won’t be an easy path. This weekend’s game against the Riders will be a big one at home, but it gets even bigger after that with a road trip to Toronto and a chance to tie the season series.
The bottom line:
– A 5-0 record clinches the East Division for the Alouettes, as they’d be assured at the very least a record equal to Hamilton and better than Toronto, as well as the tie-breaker with the Ticats.
– A 4-1 record that includes a win over Hamilton, an addition Ticat loss, and an additional Argo loss guarantees the Alouettes the division, as the best the Argos can finish would be 8-10 while the Alouettes would hold the tie-breaker with Hamilton
– A 3-2 record gives Montreal a strong chance, especially if two of the three wins come against Toronto. If the two losses are to Toronto, though, the Alouettes could be in trouble.
– A 2-3 record leaves the Alouettes needing help, as the Argos would have to go either 2-3 with two losses to Montreal, or otherwise 1-4. Alternatively, a 2-3 record with a win over the Ticats and three additional losses by Hamilton would put Montreal ahead of Hamilton based on the tie-breaker.
Week 16 – Vs. Saskatchewan Week 17 – At Toronto Week 18 – At Ottawa Week 19 – Vs. Toronto Week 20 – At Hamilton
Ottawa REDBLACKS (2-11, fourth place in the East Division)
The REDBLACKS have a hill to climb, as they need help from someone else even if they manage to win their final five games. Still, it’s impossible to rule anything out, especially considering the fact that this has been a much-improved team in recent weeks.
If the REDBLACKS can knock off the Lions in BC this weekend and get some help from Saskatchewan against Montreal as well as the Ticats, the REDBLACKS would sit just two games out of a playoff spot heading into next weekend.
The bottom line:
– A 5-0 record down the stretch finishes the REDBLACKS at 7-11 on the season. That plus two additional losses by the Argos and three additional losses by the Alouettes to other opponents would give the REDBLACKS, at the very least, second place in the East. The REDBLACKS can win the division with a 5-0 finish if the Ticats finish 1-4, the Argos 2-3, and the Alouettes 1-4 – all of which are possible given the current schedules.
– It is also possible for a four-way tie in the East, if Ottawa wins out; the Argos go 2-3 with their two wins coming over Hamilton; the Alouettes go 2-3 with their two wins over Toronto; and the Ticats go 1-4 with their only win over Montreal.
Week 16 – @ BC Week 17 – @ Hamilton Week 18 – Vs. Montreal Week 19 – Vs. Hamilton Week 20 – At Toronto