It’s crunch time in the Hammer. Four games remain on the Ticats’ 2012 schedule, all of which will decide their playoff fate.
Although it’s not inconceivable that Hamilton could catch Toronto for second place in the East, the main competitor for the last playoff spot in the division is the Eskimos via the crossover.
Each week the numbers can swing drastically, so let’s take a look at what lies ahead for both the Eskimos and Ticats
We’ll start with the Green and Gold. The Eskimos have the tougher schedule over the final four regular season weeks. Edmonton is home to Saskatchewan, on the road at BC and Montreal and finish out the regular year on home turf against provincial rival, Calgary.
A quick overview of the Eskimos schedule reveals they play arguably, many would agree, the CFL’s top four teams to finish out the season.
As for the Ticats, they are home to BC, at Calgary, home to Winnipeg and at Toronto to bring their regular season to a close.
It’s not quite as daunting a task in front of the Tabbies, especially compared to the gauntlet the Eskimos have to run through down the final stretch. Although, in the anything-but-predictable CFL, no lead is ever safe and anything is possible.
Hamilton starts their drive for a playoff spot by hosting the league leading and defending Grey Cup Champion, BC Lions, tonight.
It looks like a tough ask for the Ticats to get a win, but they have played their best football at home this year and have actually beaten BC in two of their last three meetings at Ivor Wynne.
A trip to Calgary awaits the Ticats in Week 17. McMahon Stadium. Although, the man who helped engineer a number of those victories, Henry Burris, will be standing on the visitors sideline this time around and he knows a thing or two about getting a victory in that building.
It’s then back home for the final game at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Week 18, with the pesky Bombers traveling to Hamilton. The Bombers have surprisingly won both meetings this season, but the motivation of winning the last ever game to be played at the historic stadium should be more than enough for the ‘Cats to come up with a solid effort.
Hamilton ends their regular season on a short week, making the quick trip down the QEW to Rogers Centre for a date with the Argonauts - a game that could ultimately decide their playoff fate.
Basically, all Hamilton has to do is win one more game than Edmonton over the last four weeks. Crossover rules state that the team who is attempting to make the playoffs from another division must have more points than the third place team in said division to claim the post-season spot.
Using Hamilton and Edmonton as a real example, the Eskimos are currently two points up - one win - on the Ticats.
If, at the end of the season, the two teams are tied in terms of points, Hamilton gets into the playoffs.
However, if Edmonton maintains their lead and finishes the season with more points than Hamilton, the Eskimos would claim a crossover playoff berth.
If Hamilton wins four straight games to end the season there is a 100 per cent chance they make the playoffs, while 3-1 finish gives them a 90 per cent shot.
Of course, part of Hamilton’s fate is tied to what Edmonton does over their remaining four contests. And, again, those percentages will fluctuate based off of results in the last four weeks of the season.
If all of the numbers, scenarios and crossover rules have you confused, one thing is clear: if you’re a Ticats fan, you should be supporting Saskatchewan, BC, Montreal and Calgary one week at a time, in that order, down the pressure-packed stretch of the CFL regular season schedule.