The Canadian Football League might take a lot of stick for the quality on show. This is perhaps unfair, as it will always be compared to its cousin south of the border, and that juggernaut is a completely different stratosphere due to marketing.
But there is nobody telling me that there’s currently a better divisional run-in than the West Division in the CFL.
While it may not have the ultimate plight should you finish fourth – the Eskimos are fourth and currently sit with a playoff berth – Calgary, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg all sit with ten wins, keeping homefield advantage and a bye to the divisional final up for grabs in the final weeks of the season.
Here are some of the key fixtures ahead of Week 19.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ Calgary Stampeders: +245
Saturday October 19th, 7PM
While the other three games feature one side with it all to play for, this is the big clash of the third-last week of the season.
Calgary have won five of their last six, but have been less convincing as time goes on. As of right now, I think they’re the team most would be comfortable playing in the postseason, given their offensive struggles, last week aside.
Of course the important thing to remember here is that these sides play each other twice in consecutive weeks: once in Calgary and then the return leg in Winnipeg. It alters your psyche somewhat as teams can pre-determine that they’re content with splitting the mini-series and taking their chances elsewhere in the final games of the season.
But this can’t be the case for Winnipeg, as they have a bye in Week 21, meaning that they have to win both games to be assured of finishing ahead of the Stampeders.
Expect more urgency from the league’s best offence, resulting in a huge win for the Blue Bombers on the road.
Toronto Argonauts (+10.5) @ Montreal Alouettes: -110
Friday October 18th, 5PM
This might be the dud contest of the week, as Montreal are assured of a spot in the postseason, while Toronto’s league-worst defence would rather the season had ended already.
That’s not to say the Argonauts have been considerably worse than the Redblacks, it’s just difficult to pick between them. Should Toronto take a lengthy trip to Montreal seriously, they could easily catch a semi-interested Montreal unit by surprise and go ahead early.
Back Toronto to cover spread, given the minor motivation of not finishing below Ottawa for the season.
Saskatchewan Roughriders (-5) @ BC Lions: -110
Friday October 18th, 10PM
The Lions wave of momentum in recent weeks probably papers over some severe fundamental cracks, but they have enough about them going forward to be relatively positive ahead of 2020.
However, what comes with that optimism is limbo – the need to be looser with play-calling, the temptation to try new things and the lack of gameday speed that we’ve grown accustomed to.
This might be a home game, and this may well be an exhibition, but you can’t be confident in the Lions after their six-point total last week took all meaning away from this game.
The Roughriders have been better on the road in the second half of the season, and they’ll cover the spread here en route to challenging the Stampeders into the final fortnight of the season.