You know the old saying: time flies when you're enjoying a version of football that has all sorts of amazing perks. The home stretch of the season, the final seven weeks, the last one-third, has arrived, and for one team, everything could be settled and determined in just one fell swoop. The Toronto Argonauts locked in a playoff spot a week prior, and regarding Week 15, they were one win away from locking up first place in the East Division. All they had to do was defeat the Montréal Alouettes yet again, but it looked a bit iffy for the Boatmen.
Toronto entered the fourth quarter with a deficit, and it did look like the boys would be on their way to their second loss of the season, but they would tie the game with a touchdown. Even so, the Alouettes had the ball with a chance to regain their lead, but Cody Fajardo's interception put the kibosh on the Als' plans. The turnover resulted in a Boris Bede field goal to give the Argos the lead, but the Alouettes still had one more chance to at least force overtime. They managed to get to field goal range, but their kick was blocked, and that sealed a 23-20 victory for the Argos.
So as a result of this win, the Argonauts have clinched first place in the East Division, and they will host the Eastern Final on Saturday, November 11. It's amazing. The Boatmen have clinched everything with so much time left. Honestly, as an Argos fan, I'm a bit nervous, because that is a lot of meaningless football to play before the playoffs start. Even so, the Argos have, once again, locked up that short road to the Grey Cup.
After that game, the second half of the Friday night doubleheader was a Western battle between the Edmonton Elks and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Once upon a time, the Elks were an easy win. It definitely seemed like it would be the case for the Riders, who led 10-0 after the first quarter. However, the Elks had other ideas. They took over the rest of the game. The Riders had no answers, especially in the fourth quarter, which saw Edmonton outscore the Riders, 16-0. The Elks won, 36-27, their fourth win in five games after starting 0-9. This winning tear has the Elks moving into the playoff race, something that nobody thought would happen after Edmonton started 0-9.
The Saturday action kicked off with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and shockingly, the TiCats pulled off the upset over the team who has haunted them in recent years. A 29-23 victory for Hamilton, keeping them alive in the playoff race, while Winnipeg suffered a loss that they definitely didn't need. This was because of what happened after this game: the BC Lions, who are battling the Bombers for the West Division, pulled of a big comeback against the Ottawa Redblacks, which was capped off by a missed field goal returned for a touchdown. BC won, 41-37, an amazing and high-scoring affair in Vancouver.
Here's how things look after Week 15. In the West Division, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers still lead at 10-4, but the BC Lions are close behind at 9-4. The Saskatchewan Roughriders drop to 6-7, the idle Calgary Stampeders remain 4-9, while the Edmonton Elks are closing in at 4-10. Edmonton has moved withing 2.5 games of a playoff position, and there's a good chance that they may actually surpass their provincial rivals in the standings. As for the Riders, they continue to struggle, and if they're not careful, they could actually end up on the outside looking in.
In the East Division, the Toronto Argonauts are 11-1 and have locked up first place. In the battle for second place, the Montréal Alouettes and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are tied at 6-7, while the Ottawa Redblacks are 3-10, the first time that someone other than the Edmonton Elks has the worst record in the league. Regarding the second place tie, the Alouettes have the tiebreaker, as they won the season series over Hamilton. However, the Als have lost four straight games, and they cannot afford to continue their decline. Second place means home field in the Eastern Semifinal. The Als need to get home field, so they need to just continue to win games. That's it.
Week 16 kicks off on Friday, September 22 with the Ottawa Redblacks hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders, followed by the BC Lions facing off against the Edmonton Elks. On Saturday, September 23, the Montréal Alouettes will meet the Calgary Stampeders in a battle between struggling franchises, and that will be followed by the Toronto Argonauts hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
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