Defending champion Blue Bombers only CFL team to pin down playoff future

Five teams have clinched CFL playoff berths but only Zach Collaros and the Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers know when and where they’ll be once the postseason begins.

Winnipeg (league-best 14-3 record) has cemented first in the West Division. That means the Bombers will play either the B.C. Lions or Calgary Stampeders in the conference final Nov. 13 at IG Field.

Collaros was among a host of Bombers veterans who didn’t play in their 40-32 loss last weekend to B.C. Despite that, Collaros, the league’s outstanding player last season, continues to lead the CFL in TD passes (35) and is second in passing yards (4,115).

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Bombers rookie Dalton Schoen leads the CFL in receiving yards (1,357) and TDs (15) and is averaging a stellar 20 yards per reception (he has 68 catches). Canadian Brady Oliveira is second overall in rushing (929 yards).

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros completes a pass to Dalton Schoen, not seen, while falling during the second half of CFL football game against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver, on Saturday, July 9, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. (11-5) and Calgary (10-6) will square off in the West semifinal Nov. 6, but the location has yet to be officially determined. The Lions can clinch second with a road win in Edmonton on Friday night or a Stampeders loss in Regina on Saturday night.

If B.C. and Calgary end the season tied, the Lions will get second spot — and will host the West semifinal — based upon having won the season series.

The Lions will end their regular season on the road, visiting the Elks (4-13) on Friday before heading to Winnipeg on Oct. 28. Calgary concludes its campaign with a home-and-home series against Saskatchewan.

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The Roughriders (6-10) are also in playoff contention, but only for an East Division crossover spot. They’re battling the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-10) for the conference’s third and final post-season seeding.

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Edmonton is the only team to have officially been eliminated from CFL playoff contention. A big reason for that has been the Elks’ struggles at home.

Edmonton is 0-8 at Commonwealth Stadium and has dropped a league-record 16 straight games there. The Elks have been close, though, in their last two home contests.

Tyrice Beverette’s 100-yard interception return touchdown in the fourth quarter rallied Montreal to a 25-18 victory on Oct. 1. On Saturday night, Toronto outscored the Elks 22-7 in the second half en route to a 28-23 come-from-behind victory.

Click to play video: 'CFL playoffs: BC Lions jockey for playoff position'
CFL playoffs: BC Lions jockey for playoff position

The crossover race will become moot, though, if Hamilton defeats the Ottawa Redblacks (4-12) on Friday night and Calgary downs Saskatchewan on Saturday. In that scenario, the Ticats would secure the third and final East Division playoff spot.

Amazingly, Ottawa is still in playoff contention but would need help to reach the postseason. The Redblacks would have to sweep their home-and-home series with Hamilton and have Calgary defeat Saskatchewan twice to secure third in the East Division.

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But either a Hamilton or Saskatchewan victory would eliminate Ottawa from playoff contention.

The first two spots in the East have been earned by the Toronto Argonauts (10-6) and Montreal Alouettes (8-8). But who finishes where will be decided shortly as the two teams end their regular seasons facing one another.

Montreal hosts Toronto on Saturday afternoon before the two teams return to BMO Field on Oct. 29. The Argos captured a season-opening 20-19 home victory over the Alouettes in their first meeting back in June.

Toronto can clinch first — and home field for the East final — with one more victory. Montreal requires a sweep of the home-and-home series to finish atop the standings.

The second-place finisher will host either Hamilton, Ottawa or Saskatchewan in the East semifinal Nov. 6.

The East and West Division champions will meet in the Grey Cup on Nov. 20 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.

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Bomber fans excited over possibility of bringing Grey Cup to Winnipeg in 2024 or 2025

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