Saturday saw the CFL's playoff positioning finally decided in the final game of the regular season. Winnipeg's win over Ottawa Friday ensured that the Edmonton Eskimos would be the crossover team, which led to them not trying all that hard in their win over Toronto Saturday, but that Bombers' victory Friday meant that the B.C. Lions needed at least a tie in their final game against Saskatchewan Saturday in order to host the West semifinal. The Lions got much more than that, beating the Roughriders 41-18 to clinch second in the West and a home playoff date against Winnipeg next week.
The Eskimos may have received the best deal out of all of this, as heading to the East against 7-11 Hamilton and 8-9-1 Ottawa looks substantially better for them than facing 12-6 B.C. and 15-2-1 Calgary in the West. No crossover team has made the Grey Cup to this point, but Edmonton may be better positioned than any past team. For one thing, they're 10-8, which is better than a lot of crossover teams have been. For another, they're the defending Grey Cup champions, so they have plenty of playoff experience, and they've been very hot in recent weeks, winning their last two and five of their last six games. Most importantly, they're going up against an exceptionally weak slate of opponents, at least by regular-season record; Ottawa is the first team in CFL history to win a division with less than a .500 record.
Meanwhile, the Lions at least have the advantage of hosting the West semifinal. There hasn't been a lot between them and the 11-7 Bombers this year, and Winnipeg's actually won both meetings between the teams this year, but only by a total of five points. Thus, home-field advantage may be quite important in this one. Both the Lions and the Bombers have played well lately, and there hasn't been a lot to separate them, so having the crowd on their side may be essential for the B.C. squad. That isn't necessarily enough, as Winnipeg will be a tough opponent and the 15-2-1 Stampeders lurk for whoever wins the West semifinal, but it could be a nice little advantage for the Lions. We'll see how they do.