The CFL season is winding down and the playoff picture is getting tighter for the teams not at the top of the rankings. Last week we saw some surprises that resulted in that picture becoming more muddled. This week things could open up for some teams because no team has been mathematically eliminated to this point.
Saskatchewan Roughriders(6-7) v. Ottawa Redblacks(3-10)
While no team has been officially eliminated, the Ottawa Redblacks are on the verge of being eliminated. It’s an extremely long uphill battle for them as they crawl to the finish line. It feels like years ago now that Dustin Crum had some magic in his arm that led to some Redblacks hope, it fizzled quickly. That hasn’t stopped the team from playing tough. They’ve lost a majority of games in close games but unfortunately the results haven’t landed in their favor. The Roughriders, meanwhile, are directly in the middle of this playoff brawl for the final spots. Last week they fell short to the surging Elks, which has muddled the picture even further. Dolegala has improved and played well, but the lack of consistent QB play has led to some shocking losses and could put the Roughriders in jeopardy of a playoff birth. A win over the Redblacks tonight would be a giant step in the right direction.
Prediction: Ottawa falls short, again. Saskatchewan 26-19
BC Lions(9-4) v. Edmonton Elks(4-10)
The surging Elks, under the play of Canadian QB Tre Ford, has brought them within striking distance of making the playoffs. While the ten losses on the season make it difficult for them to achieve that goal, it’s not out of reach. A big win last week put the Elks another step closer, but they need a lot of help. A big win over the struggling Lions(recently), will be another step forward. They just need other game’s results to land in their favor. The Elks were once 0-9, but a 4-1 record in their five games make them the hottest team in the league. The Lions were looking like one of the best teams in the league to start the year. They were offensively amongst the best producing teams and their defensive unit was one of the tops in the league. But a 3-3 record in their last six games has resulted in the Lions moving in the wrong direction and sliding into the playoff abyss. Luckily for them, the nine wins they’ve achieved should be enough to keep them in the playoffs.
Predictiion: Elks continue their great play, BC escapes. BC 33-23
Montreal Alouettes(6-7) v. Calgary Stampeders(4-9)
The Stampeders have had everything go wrong this year, despite being one of the healthiest teams in the league. Jake Maier has been one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the league. While they’re one of the youngest, the Stamps have played good enough to remain in the playoff picture. They need help with results, as well. Teams like Hamilton and Saskatchewan need to stumble down the stretch in order to get into the playoffs and contend. But most importantly, they need Montreal to stumble, as well. Their opponent this week, the Alouettes are currently tied with three other teams, but Calgary and Edmonton can close the gap. The Alouettes have had some issues offensively, but having Cody Fajardo under center is a big help. A win tonight will bring Montreal a step closer to their regular season goal of a playoff berth. The Stamps need to get more consistent with their OL play and tonight and will be a good test for them as they fight for their 2023 season.
Prediction: Calgary suffers a setback; Fajardo balls. Montreal 28-20
Hamilton Tiger-Cats(6-7) v. Toronto Argonauts(11-1)
The best team in the league already has their playoff ticket punched, with 6 weeks left in the season. The Ticats, on the other hand, are entrenched in this playoff mess. Unfortunately for them, they have the toughest match this week and there’s not a clear path to victory. Hamilton stuck through the rough patches with Taylor Powell and Powell has improved over the last several weeks. Last week, he led them to a victory over the playoff-bound Blue Bombers. With six weeks left, the Argos have already clinched the East division but don’t expect them to let their foot off the gas. While they have to play smart and fast to avoid any major injuries heading into the postseason, they also have to finish off this regular season and launch into the playoffs with all that momentum. Chad Kelly is still playing for an MVP and pride is going to want the team to finish off the season with one loss.
Prediction: Toronto continues their tear through the schedule. Toronto 34-19
With the season winding down, week 16 might be one of the biggest weeks of the season considering the matchups. This week will be about losing ground or gaining ground in the crucial playoff picture.