Category Archives: Mike Reilly

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Is the Edmonton Eskimos Playoff Spot Actually Secure?

This weekend the Edmonton Eskimos dropped their fifth game in a row as Hamilton defeated them on their home field as a last-second field goal banged off the uprights and in. They now have a record of 6-7 and suddenly don’t appear to be a shoo-in for the playoffs; as they appeared just a couple weeks ago. But let’s imagine, if the worst-case scenario happened and they lost their last five games to finish with a record of 6-12, would they still make the playoffs?

Here is the rest of their schedule:

Week 16: at Ottawa

Week 17: at Hamilton

Week 18: BC

Week 20: Saskatchewan

Week 21: at Saskatchewan

That’s not to say they will lose each of these games. However, if it were to happen, would the Edmonton Eskimos still make the playoffs? Right now, Edmonton is six points ahead of BC and Ottawa, who each have three wins. Toronto has a game in hand on those two and is four points behind their two wins. None of these teams are very good, but could any of them make a late-season surge and steal a playoff spot?
Contenders
Ottawa
The Redblacks are sputtering as much as any team in the league right now. After that, they play at Toronto in Week 18, at Hamilton, at Toronto and against Montreal. But, assuming they beat Edmonton this week—because that’s the premise, could they make a late run? Not likely. I don’t believe they will sweep Toronto or beat Hamilton or Montreal.
Toronto
After starting 0-6, the Argonauts have won two of their last six games; including a win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. They crushed the Redblacks in Ottawa in Week 13, and in that time McLeod Bethel-Thompson has shown signs of being a capable quarterback. They narrowly lost to Calgary last week and lost a one-possession game against Montreal in Week 11. The improvement over the season is obvious. They could win their next two games against Saskatchewan this week and then at BC. They get Ottawa after that before going to Montreal. Ottawa comes to town once again before they end the season at Hamilton.

I would give them a better chance to make the playoffs in the present circumstances than Ottawa. They get two home games against the Redblacks, but having to go to BC, Montreal and Hamilton they would need at least one win there to get to six wins (assuming they do defeat the RoughRiders). So could they catch a 6-12 Edmonton team? Possibly, but I would say they would have no higher than a 30% chance.
BC
The BC Lions have won two in a row over the hapless Redblacks. This week they take on Montreal, then host the Argos, go to Edmonton (which is a win we assume for this scenario), host Saskatchewan, then get a bye in Week 20 before hosting Calgary to close the season. They have had some close calls this season against Hamilton (twice), at Montreal, at Saskatchewan and at Calgary. BC’s only other win this season was over—you guessed it—Toronto.

What gives them hope is that they get four home games over their last five, and with Mike Reilly leading the show he could get hot at any point and string some wins together. I would give them a 50% chance to catch a 6-12 Edmonton.

I imagine they will win at least one of the next two games at home against Eastern opponents (Toronto and Montreal), if not both. But even if they only win one, and we assume they win at Edmonton they will be at five wins. Then, the game against the Riders would be a must-win because their Week 21 game with Calgary could very easily determine home-field advantage for the Stampeders.
Outcome
All this said I am hard-pressed to think that Edmonton will not win another game. If they don’t get off the skids this week against the Redblacks, heads need to roll. This is a must-win game against the worst team in the league. With the Riders form recently, the Esks could easily take a game from them. But I don’t see them winning at Hamilton. I also believe playing BC will be tough, because beating a team three times in a season is not easy.

If the Edmonton Eskimos win one more game this season, that should be enough to ensure a playoff spot. Two would all but secure it. However, if they don’t win another game this season, I would still give the Esks a decent shot to make the playoffs at 6-12, but it would certainly not be a guarantee.

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Saskatchewan Roughriders Final Stretch

The Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-5) find themselves four points back of first with two crucial divisional matchups against the Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers ahead before a date at McMahon Stadium with the Calgary Stampeders October 20th. The Saskatchewan Roughriders final stretch proves to be no easy task. However, it’s hard not to look ahead at that matchup and get excited for what it potentially means. The Roughriders are winners of six of their last seven games finishing up their final matchup against an Eastern Division opponent this past Sunday. A 34-29 victory over the Montreal Alouettes helped the Riders finish with a record 5-3 against Eastern opponents. Two of their most notable losses came at the hands of the Ottawa Redblacks.
A Look Ahead
Edmonton
Thanksgiving Monday could give the Roughriders and their fans a little extra to be thankful for. With a win over the struggling Eskimos and a Bombers loss, the Riders would clinch a playoff spot. Edmonton is trying to right the ship after appearing to have a stranglehold on second in the West mid-season. The Eskimos falling 30-3 at home against the Bombers doesn’t invite much confidence for this group going forward. However, any team with Mike Reilly under center should be taken seriously, regardless of recent performances. Reilly leads the league in passing yards with 4,383 and is currently second in passing touchdowns with 27. His favourite target, Duke Williams, leads the league in receiving yards (1,337) and receiving touchdowns (10).
Winnipeg
After a favourable 5-3 start, the Bombers have found themselves in a tailspin themselves going 2-4 since. At 7-7, the Bombers are in the middle of a dogfight for their playoff lives along with the Eskimos (7-7) and BC Lions (6-7). Three of these four teams will make the playoffs. One of which will be crossing over into the East to visit either the Hamilton Tiger-Cats or the Ottawa Redblacks. Nichols has maintained his starting job since standing on shaky ground post-Banjo Bowl, posting an 80% completion rate against Edmonton last week. For all their flaws, the Bombers will be another difficult test for this Roughriders squad that continues to squeeze out victories.
Calgary
Finally, the matchup that is sure to be circled on many fans’ calendars is the tilt on October 20th against the surging Stampeders. There is still an outside chance this game will have implications on first place in the West. However, the Riders have a number of factors working against them. The first being that the Stampeders are currently four games up on the Roughriders with a game in hand. Moreover, Calgary’s next two games are far more favourable than what the Riders are up against. While Saskatchewan will be playing the two aforementioned playoff-hungry teams, Calgary will be travelling to the 3-11 Alouettes and then host the hot and cold Lions a week later. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to suggest that Calgary could be 13-2 going into Week 19’s matchup. Even if the Riders go 2-0 as well, that still places them at 11-5 with just one game to play.
The Last Word
The Roughriders, however, have a slight advantage thanks in part to those who put together the 2018 CFL schedule. The Riders have their third and final bye on the last weekend of the regular season (Week 21). Regardless if the Riders finish second, third, or crossover to the East, they will have a bye week to prepare for whoever they match up against. There has been plenty of debate surrounding the benefits of bye weeks heading into the playoffs. Some view it as an opportunity to get a head-start in preparation on their opponent while others see it as the resting team developing “rust”. First place being out of reach may be of benefit for the Roughriders. If they were able to miraculously leapfrog the Stampeders, they would have two weeks off before the West Final. This is something Ottawa fans feared last season though it never came to fruition.

It’s difficult to not look ahead and get excited for all the potential playoff scenarios that exist for Saskatchewan. However, it starts with Monday’s game against a desperate Eskimos football club. If the Riders don’t respond with the same sense of urgency, as if their season is on the line (and it mathematically still is) then these scenarios become a lot less fun in the weeks to come.

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