2017 CFL Preview: Early Playoff Outlook

playoffoutlook

It is the only place that the battle between the two divisions really comes to life as the fight for the playoffs is the spot where West takes on East.

That is all because of the newest team and now defending champion Ottawa REDBLACKS that caused the rearrangement of the league.

That brought up the crossover as a much more realistic possibility as the West with five teams now had a much better shot of heading east for the playoffs.

It also came at a time where the differences between the two divisions have never been bigger.

The top young talent is all in the west with the quarterbacks counting among the best in the league and among the top prospects in the league.

The East has been a division full of veterans that are beginning to fall and not performing at their top potential.

That has caused a major rift among the divisions and it has led to a very slanted league where the West is the top team.

Last year that was even more real when the REDBLACKS won the East division just barely above .500 after a tie put them over the edge.

Meanwhile, the Tiger-Cats finished second with a losing record and that left things exposed for the rest of the division.

In the west, the battle was much tougher as the only losing record in the entire division came from Saskatchewan.

That put the Edmonton Eskimos in the perfect spot to take a spot away from the western teams.

It also led to the very real potential of the Eskimos moving all the way through the eastern division and into the Grey Cup.

If that was the case the CFL would have seen the first ever all-western final and potentially the most important chapter of the Battle of Alberta.

It wasn’t to be though as the REDBLACKS came through to defend the east and take on the best team in the league.

The Grey Cup game was a microcosm of the division battle as there was the dominant Stampeders that were looking to compete the best season ever and the underdog REDBLACKS looking to fight through.

The REDBLACKS took the win and surprised everyone as they were able to fight through and take the win.

It was a disappointment for the West and validation that for the East that they are still in the fight to sin championships.football-sidebar

As a new season begins the West has some unfinished business and they hope once again to produce four playoff teams.

The east is rising though as the teams in the East look better than in the past few years and they hope that they can bring some balance back to the league.

The battle between the two divisions will never be over as every year the debate about who is better will continue.

Some will take it even further by suggesting that the divisions are terrible and that the league should simply be one big group.

That way the best teams will always make it and the Edmonton Eskimos won’t have to travel to the East despite their better record than the eastern division champions.

The divisions are here to stay though and while they are here the battle between the two will continue.

As the crossover becomes a bigger deal though these unbalanced years the battle will only heat up as now they are all competing for the same playoff spots.

The West hopes that the pattern fo western dominance can continue and they will hope that it can lead to a title.

Meanwhile, the East hopes that the changes made can bring balance back to the league and bring them back to prominence.

CFL East

The east is rising as teams have made some big changes to be more competitive this year after an embarrassing 2016. Only one team had a winning record last year in the east and the REDBLACKS only got that winning record through a tie. Things needed to change for every team as they need to get back to being competitive despite the fact that they are currently the home of the defending champions. There were some serious changes made this year for a number of teams while others hope for overall better years for any number of reasons. The REDBLACKS are heading back to the drawing board a bit with the fact that Grey Cup MOP, Henry Burris is gone and Trevor Harris will look to keep up the performance of the defending champions. There are also a number of losses throughout the team that every championship team suffers but they are still a very talented team. The biggest challenge will be from the Ti-Cats but Hamilton is once again riding the hope that they can stay healthy. That has been the only real issue for the Ti-Cats as they struggle to stay on the field and meet the potential that they have. If they can stay healthy they are dangerous but if not they could fall to last year’s record. In Toronto, the Argonauts made the biggest changes hiring Jim Popp and Marc Trestman to lead a new path. They will look to take that new path to the playoffs and back to a level where they can compete for the Grey Cup. They might be fighting with the Alouettes for the final spot as Montreal is hopeful that Darian Durant is the solution at quarterback. If he can be they might be able to fight for the playoffs this year with a winning record. The East has a lot of potential but a lot of things need to go right for some of the teams if they want to have the same type of fight that the west has. It seems like things are trending in the right direction though and three teams will make the playoffs with the Alouettes seemingly the odd one out. As they fight through the playoffs the Argonauts will be good but not good enough and the losses of the REDBLACKS might be just too much to overcome. The Ti-Cats will not stay entirely healthy but healthy enough to take the Eastern title and get another chance at the Grey Cup.

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East Division Champion:
ham-tiger-cats

CFL West

The battle for the West is one of the toughest things to predict in the CFL as there are so many good teams it is hard to see who could shine through. The last few years have seen the west be defined by the Battle of Alberta but has also seen the rise of other teams. The BC Lions are getting to a point where they can truly compete for a Grey Cup and the Blue Bombers showed that they might be able to get back to being competitive for the first time in a very long time. The fact that these four teams are all looking to make the playoffs and that they have the ability to do just that makes things difficult. There may only be three spots in the playoffs for the Western teams but four teams that all look like they are playoff calibre. Of course, any team could falter and make things easier but if they continue to be what they have been it is going to be a fight to the end for the three spots. The Calgary Stampeders are relatively unchanged but that is not a bad thing for the best team in the league. They still have the most balanced team in the league and it is going to be tough to knock them off even if they don’t have the same level of seasons. Their long-times rivals will be back to test them every step of the way though as the Eskimos are riding a late-season boost from last year. With things in a more stable opposition they are sure to challenge for first place again this year but might come up short. Another big battle could be for the final spot as the Lions are a strong team on the rise and the Bombers are a team looking to be the same thing after a good 2016 campaign. Both will look to challenge for the playoffs but the Lions are just a little further along. The Riders will sit on the bottom for another year as the rebuild is in full swing in Regina. AS the playoffs begin the Battle of Alberta will be what defines the top team for another year. The Lions are just not up to par of either of the Alberta teams and that will set up another important chapter of the provincial rivalry. Calgary will come out on top though as they are just a better team in every aspect with no weaknesses.

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West Division Champion:
cgy-stampeders

105th Grey Cup:
The 105th Grey Cup won’t feature the hometown favourites but there is plenty to play for in this match-up from a few years ago. The last time the Ti-Cats made the Grey Cup they took on the Stampeders in the infancy of their period of dominance. Bo Levi Mitchell rose to real fame in that game as he led the Stamps to the Grey Cup win and shut out the Ti-Cats for another year. Those wounds are still fresh for Hamilton and they will head into the Grey Cup with a lot to prove. They will put up a fight but the Stamps have something to prove as well after losing the Grey Cup only a year ago. They will take the title and once again defeat the Ti-Cats as the best team in the league.

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