2016 CFL Playoff Preview

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The CFL will travel back to Toronto once again in the place that hosted its fair share of Grey Cups with a new look.

BMO Field will play host to the 104th Grey Cup for the first Grey Cup in the stadium that stands in the footprint of Exhibition Stadium.

The old Exhibition Stadium played host to 12 Grey Cups in its time and now with the Toronto Argonauts moving back to the CNE grounds the CFL follows suit with its biggest show of the year.

It will be a return to the past but it might also be something that has never been seen in 104 years of the championship game.

This year the CFL is seeing another crossover in the league but in the history of the crossover, there may never be a time where it looks so good for an all-west final.

The CFL crossover is an interesting part of the league that is meant to even out the inequality throughout the league.

It doesn’t always come into effect as the crossover is only seen when one division is much weaker than the other.

Ever since the introduction of the Ottawa REDBLACKS into the league, the crossover has been a major factor in the playoffs.

The last three years have seen two crossover teams as the east has been lagging behind on competitiveness.

Every team in the east has been struggling to find their way since Ottawa came into the league with inconsistency in every city.

Ottawa and Hamilton have been the two teams that have been able to find their way through the bad seasons to the Grey Cup and this year they are the only two to make the playoffs.

Despite the fact that they both made the playoffs they did so with terrible records and very inconsistent years.

They have looked good on some days and far from playoff teams on other days making them two interesting parts to this year’s playoffs.

The fact that both of these teams didn’t really have successful years also adds some intrigue to the crossover.football-sidebar

The terrible seasons by the top two teams was only outdone by the very bad seasons by the two bottom teams.

Those really bad years left a spot open for the west which has had a much better season from top to bottom.

The west division has been better than the east for the entire season and their records reflect that.

So it seemed obvious that one of them was going to find its way to the east and the Edmonton Eskimos were the team to get the chance.

Generally, these crossover teams are just slightly better than the third place team in the other division while the two eastern teams are much better.

That isn’t the case this year as the Eskimos have been the better team throughout the year.

The two eastern representatives finished with losing records while Edmonton enters the playoffs with 11 wins.

The Eskimos have a chance this year to flip the crossover on its head as the crossover is usually a bad thing for the western team.

This year it might be the easiest path to the Grey Cup as the Eskimos have a chance to make history.

There has never been an all-west final as the crossover has never been able to win in the east and find their way to the championship.

If there was ever a time where it seemed more realistic it would be now as the Eskimos are the best crossover team to play the worst division representatives ever.

The Esks will try to accomplish what nobody has before as they look to defend their Grey Cup title in a historic playoff.

CFL East

The East was once again a division where nobody seemed to want to end up first as no team could really get a stranglehold. In the past, there was usually at least one good team that came out on top easily and had a good shot at the Grey Cup. This year that hasn’t happened as the Ottawa REDBLACKS finished first but did so with a losing record. They are the first team to ever win a division with a losing record as they have seen their quarterbacks play great and then falter. They seemed to have found some type of consistency with Henry Burris at the helm in the last few weeks of the season. If he can continue that the REDBLACKS might be much better than their record indicates. If he can’t get back to being the good veteran that guided the REDBLACKS to the Grey Cup last year they will be in trouble. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a team with a lot of potential that hasn’t been met all season. Zach Collaros is back but he hasn’t been the same quarterback any time he has played this year while their defence is no longer the anchor for this team. They can do it as the talent is there but if they continue to fall short of what their potential is they will not likely see these playoffs go on very long. Then there is the Eskimos who are the team that everyone is watching as the crossover team. They also haven’t been the team they were last year when they won the Grey Cup but that was expected with a change of coaches. With Jason Maas taking over, the Esks struggled to get going but at the end of the season, they looked much better. They will try to take that momentum into the playoffs where they hope to defend their title by going through the east. This division has not been strong throughout the last few years but this year they have reached new lows. Both Hamilton and Ottawa have not had seasons that convince anyone they should be headed to the Toronto for the Grey Cup. Meanwhile, Edmonton seems like the best team in the east this year as they have played better, especially at the end of the year, than either of the two east representatives. It could be historic as the Eskimos do look like the team to beat even if they have to play away games the entire way through the playoffs to earn their ticket to Toronto.

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CFL West

The west division was by far the better division this year much like they have been over the last few years. The division is full of great young quarterbacks and good defence making it very hard for any team to come through and win the division. Throughout these few years, Alberta has seen some of the best teams who somehow come through the great athletes and teams to take the division and that has happened again. The Calgary Stampeders have been the best team in the country from start to finish as they have dominated their entire schedule. With 15 wins they almost captured the most wins in CFL history and right now the entire team from offence to defence to special teams is playing better than anyone. Their one big question will be if the three-week layoff for their top players is enough to end that great season before they have a chance to play for the Grey Cup. With resting their top players in Week 19 then a bye week for Week 20 and another bye for winning the division some of the best players will not have played in three weeks. If it makes them lose that competitiveness and makes them start slow in the division finals it could be a wasted season. The two teams they need to beat will be tough as they have been great all year in somewhat surprising seasons. The BC Lions had a resurgence after a rough 2015 all thanks to their offence finally meeting their defence at the same level. Jonathan Jennings has been one of the brightest young stars in the league as he has led the BC offence to new heights this year and he hopes to do so throughout the playoffs although his inexperience could be a factor when the games get bigger. In Winnipeg, the thought was that they were going to have the same season as the years before with a disappointing start. Then Matt Nichols came into the lineup and the Bombers went on a massive run that put them into the playoffs. That run didn’t end well as they didn’t have the best end to the season but with Nichols, in place, this offence is much better. Their defence isn’t the best in the league but it did do enough to help them into the playoffs this year. The west is a tough division but there is one team that everyone is going after and they have ben from the start. The Stamps are clearly the best team in the league but the playoffs are not the regular season. They will be favourites but the other two teams could throw a wrench in their plans.

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104th Grey Cup:
It is a dream match-up for many CFL fans as the Battle of Alberta has been the best match-up for two straight years. It will be again as the last two Grey Cup teams face-off to see who is the best in the biggest game possible. It will be the ultimate provincial bragging rights as one will walk away the champion and the other will go home empty handed. The team arriving to a hero’s welcome will be the Stamps. Simply put they have been the best team in the country all year without showing any signs of faltering. They have been the best team from Week 1 and they will remain the best team when the season ends.

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