The playoff matchups are all set as the Canadian Football League gets ready to move into the money rounds of the 2021 season.
Several surprise results marked Week 16 of the regular season, but the final round of games didn’t chew up and spit anyone out as far as teams not making the postseason was concerned.
Edmonton (3-11) scored the first upset of the final week’s action with an unexpected 13-7 win against an inconsistent Toronto (9-5). Not that it really mattered, as the Argos had already locked up first place in the East Division and a home game in the Eastern Final but going into a bye week on the back of a loss to an underachieving team is probably not the best preparation.
Edmonton led by a single point at the end of the first quarter and held on for the victory for the remainder of the contest. It was Toronto’s first loss at home at BMO Field this season.
Next up, Montreal (7-7) faced off against an ordinary Ottawa (3-11) and despite the Alouettes being favourites going into Friday’s early game, the Redblacks came away with a narrow 19-18 come-from-behind win at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.
Montreal took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter and had looked the goods up until that point, but Ottawa had other ideas. Rookie quarterback Caleb Evans led the Redblacks on a game-winning touchdown drive late in the piece, and with the two-point conversion, Ottawa finished their losing season on a high.
One of the highlights for the Alouettes was the two touchdowns by receiver Jake Wieneke. He now leads the CFL with 11 receiving TDs this season.
In the other game Friday night, B.C. (5-9) gave their fans something positive to think about during the offseason with a 43-10 pounding of the Elks in Vancouver. To be fair to Edmonton though, they were backing up on just three days’ rest from their game Tuesday.
Lions’ quarterback Nathan Rourke showed that he has the potential to become the next standout Canadian QB given more game time. He had a stellar performance in which he threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns. On top of that, he rushed for three TDs of his own. The Lions had built what was an unassailable lead by halftime and the fading Elks were never in it.
In the early game Saturday, Hamilton (8-6) hosted Saskatchewan (9-5) and clobbered them 24-3. The result means the Roughriders can probably be put in the same category as the Argonauts i.e. inconsistent.
Granted they finished second in the West but have not really stamped themselves as consistent. The Ticats used both quarterbacks Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans and they got the job done. The Riders rested their starting QB Cody Fajardo and played Isaac Harker.
Continuing in the theme of topsy turvy results, Winnipeg (11-3) travelled to Calgary to take on the Stampeders (8-6) and came away in a not dissimilar position to Toronto in terms of losing to a patchy team ahead of a bye. It was also their second straight loss.
The Blue Bombers had a 12-0 lead starting the fourth quarter but then had a meltdown as Calgary stormed back to win 13-12 via a last-minute field goal by kicker Rene Paredes.
So, to the playoffs and the matchups are set. In the East Division, the Tiger-Cats will host the Alouettes, and that semifinal can literally go either way. They split their head-to-head series this year although Hamilton had a +14 points differential from their two games. And the playoff match will be in the Hammer so they may well start favourites.
As for whether Montreal sees its upset loss to Ottawa in the final week as a setback going into this one because it’s an away game, Als’ kicker David Côté thinks not so much.
“No, it’s not a setback,” he told 13th Man Sports. “We think we can play some good football away as well. It’s the start of a new season for everyone, so we will need to play our best football no matter where we play.”
In the West Division, Calgary will be on the road in Regina to tackle the Roughriders in a semifinal the Riders would be expected to win, but as we’ve seen all season long, nothing is certain in the CFL.