By Avry Lewis-McDougall
Where the heck did the summer go?? Week 18 in the CFL just wrapped up and it’s deep into crunch time when it comes to the playoff race with jockeying for position or just looking to end the year strong with the postseason long in the rear view mirror.
Remember the jokes about how the West was so dominant over the East in 2014? How all of the West should have crossed over and just decided the Grey Cup among themselves when not a single Eastern team had more than a win almost midway into the season? While funny it wasn’t good for the image of the CFL. Move forward to 2015 and 2016 and there’s been true dog fights in both divisions for playoff position to end each season with the one exception being Calgary’s domination on top of the rest of the league.
The defending Grey Cup Champs in the form of the Edmonton Eskimos who looked to be in serious trouble at 5-7 just a few weeks ago when it came to their playoff hopes but now could be the third place team in the West Division. BC may have beaten them in Vancouver this week but that doesn’t mean their chances of playing through the West are over.
On top of the West sits the Calgary Stampeders at 15-1-1 which is not surprising but what is great to see is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at 10-6 and 2nd in the division. After four straight sub-eight win seasons it appears that Mike O’Shea’s crew has finally turned a corner. They can’t be taken lightly come playoff time, especially if they end up going on the road as they have a 6-2 record away from Investors Group Field.
Hamilton and Ottawa are once again battling for Eastern supremacy with the RedBlacks leading with a mark of 7-8-1 and Hamilton behind them with a mark of 7-9 and this could allll be blown to bits in the playoffs if either BC or Edmonton crosses over.
To the credit of both Hamilton and Ottawa though, their double over time battle was incredible football and if we get that in the playoffs I may faint.
RedBlacks-Eskimos Part 2? TigerCats-Stampders Volume 3? Edmonton-Calgary: ALBERTA RUNS CANADA?? Why can’t all of these games happen in November?
From parity to one of the strangest situations in the league. The Montreal Alouettes are in a state of dysfunction From the Duron Carter-Rick Campbell incident, the Rakeem Cato-Duron Carter verbal exchange and now Kenny Stafford and Carter are no longer members of the Alouettes.
The past few seasons have been tough for the third incarnation of the Als who missed the playoffs for the first time in their current state and at 5-11 will be watching the postseason from home again.
The two positives for the Als this season? Montreal has one of the better defenses in the league allowing 382 points which is only behind Calgary who has allowed just 352 points.
The other being the fact that they finally got their second win over a team in the West even though it was the equally struggling Saskatchewan Roughriders to the tune of a 19-14 score as Vernon Adams Jr in his first CFL start as a QB got the win in a not overly flashy game numbers wise but did enough to leave Regina with two points.
Going into next year though, where do you really begin to turn the club around? Does the Jim Popp era have much time left?
From when I first started watching the CFL in elementary school the two teams that seemed to be the most untouchable were Montreal and Edmonton. Either one of these teams being in a tailspin was something that I just wouldn’t have been able to compute at eight years old.
The dramatic downward spiral of this franchise that began with an 8-10 season in 2013 in the final season of Anthony Calvillo’s career could may not be over yet, and I wonder what next for the seven time Grey Cup champs?
Year One at BMO Field
The Toronto Argonauts out Rogers Centre. Excellent. Attendance at BMO. Not so excellent. During the 2016 season the double blue averaged just 16,000 fans per game down at Exhibition Place. The home side struggling this season with a mark of 5-12 with only two wins coming at home (along with the Blue Jays success and hockey returning) didn’t help things either in terms of attendance and with the Grey Cup just being a month away right now we’re not on pace for a sellout.
Ticket prices for the 104th Grey Cup earlier this year saw the lowest tickets going for $169 with the most expensive ones at almost $900. With slow sales prices have been slashed but that has angered some fans whom had purchased the tickets at the higher prices and wanted refunds as a result. Tickets for a league title game won’t be cheap but I’ll admit my eyes did bulge out of my head at the cheapest ones being $169.
I’m not saying give them away but to get people in some from the jump should have been under $100, bring in the families and the college students find ways to get the next generation hooked without breaking their bank accounts.
There’s still time for this to for sure turn around and I want nothing more than BMO to be absolutely jam packed come the night of November 27th but after tough times at Rogers Centre starting things of at a new stadium has to be a tough pill to swallow.
I’m not saying give away tickets but seeing some tickets over $500 right now does make my eyes bulge . Here’s hoping that 2017 can be a year of not just on field success (the last Argos season above .500 was 2013 and they haven’t won a playoff game since 2012) but off the field as well to sustain football’s future in Toronto.
Blink and before you know it it’s going to be November. Let’s see what the last four weeks of the CFL regular season bring.