It looks like the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will need all nine of their lives to make the CFL playoffs.
Despite owning a 6-11 record the Ticats remain in playoff contention in the East Division, but barely. Hamilton must beat the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre on Thursday then have the Calgary Stampeders defeat the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday to make the CFL post-season for the fourth straight year.
But either a loss to Toronto or Edmonton victory will squash Hamilton’s post-season aspirations.
The Ticats did their part with a 28-18 home win over Winnipeg on Saturday. They then got a huge helping hand from the Montreal Alouettes, who beat Edmonton 27-25 on Sunday.
The Eskimos could’ve clinched a playoff spot with a win and thus eliminated Hamilton from post-season consideration. The Ticats ended Winnipeg’s playoff hopes with their victory.
Toronto became the latest CFL team to punch its playoff ticket, clinching second in the East Division with a 31-26 road win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday night. The Argos will host the conference semifinal Nov. 11 — their first home playoff date since ’07 — but won’t know who they’ll face until this weekend.
Saskatchewan can secure third in the West with either an Edmonton loss or a season-ending victory over B.C. on Saturday night. The good news for the Riders is the Lions have already cemented top spot in the conference but the defending Grey Cup champions lost a lopsided 41-21 decision to Calgary on Friday night and undoubtedly want to head into the playoffs on a more positive note.
Should Saskatchewan and Edmonton finish tied, the Eskimos would get third in the West after winning the season series 2-1. The Riders would then assume third in the East and travel to Toronto to open the playoffs.
There’s a sense of irony that quarterback Kevin Glenn could have a hand in Hamilton’s playoff bid. The 33-year-old Detroit native spent three seasons with the Ticats before going to Calgary in the deal that brought Henry Burris to Steeltown last off-season.
Glenn led Calgary (11-6) to 10 of its wins and second in the West after assuming the starter’s job when Drew Tate suffered a shoulder injury in July. Tate has fully recovered and Stampeders coach John Hufnagel wants both quarterbacks to play against Edmonton before deciding upon a playoff starter.
Calgary running back Jon Cornish will have a shot at making CFL history in that game. The native of New Westminster, B.C., leads the league in rushing with 1,388 and only needs 50 yards to become the league’s top-rushing Canadian in a single season.
Norm Kwong currently holds the mark of 1,437 yards. If Cornish finishes the season as the CFL’s top rusher he’ll be the first Canadian to do so since Ottawa’s Orville Lee in 1988.
Cornish heads into the final week of the regular season with a 145-yard advantage over Saskatchewan’s Kory Sheets.
Toronto also faces a decision regarding its starter, veteran Ricky Ray. The 33-year-old quarterback has guided the Argos to consecutive victories since returning from a knee injury.
Ray has thrown four TD passes in each victory. He has also surpassed the 4,000-yard passing plateau for the seventh time in his 10 CFL seasons and sports a career-best 68.6 per cent completion average.
The Argos were 1-2 with backup Jarious Jackson when Ray was hurt. They could either limit Ray’s playing time against Hamilton — or hold him out altogether — to ensure Ray was healthy and fresh for the playoffs.
Regardless of who plays quarterback, Toronto’s Chad Owens will also be chasing CFL history. The Argos’ receiver/kick returner needs just 73 yards to break Mike (Pinball) Clemons’ single-season all-purpose yards mark of 3,840.
Owens also needs 233 yards to become the first pro football player ever to surpass the 4,000-yard plateau. He’s also currently the league’s leading receiver with 91 catches for 1,289 yards, 48 yards ahead of Calgary’s Nik Lewis, who has a league-best 100 receptions.